Irwin Held, former owner of Barney’s Beanery, dies at 87

Irwin Held, who owned and operated the West Hollywood watering hole Barney’s Beanery for decades, has died. He was 87.

Held, who took over the bar and restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard in 1970, died Monday at his home in the Hollywood Hills of what his family said were natural causes.

Original owner John Anthony opened Barney’s in 1927. Two years after he died in 1968, Held took over the celebrity hot spot from Anthony’s family. Once known for attracting Clark Gable, Errol Flynn and other Hollywood actors and entertainers, a new generation of stars like Steve McQueen, Doors frontman Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin lined the bar.

“Probably every rocker that has ever come through L.A. has gone to Barney’s,” L.A. rock disc jockey Jim Ladd told The Times in 2010.

From the beginning, Held made headlines for refusing to remove a sign and matchbook cover featuring an anti-gay slogan posted by Anthony. In 1985, a year after West Hollywood incorporated, he finally took down the sign under the new city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.


Held, a New York native, sold Barney’s Beanery in the late 1990s.

A complete obituary will follow at


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