Tom Breneman with audience member. (c) LIFE
Radio entertainment was never more popular than it was in the 1940s. During this time radio stations were popping up all over Hollywood. Vine Street was a particular hub for radio. Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, and Milton Berle were some the names that ruled the air waves and their fans flocked to Hollywood, or "Radio City" as it was sometimes called, to be members of the studio audience - much the same way audiences sit in on some television shows.
Breakfast in Hollywood (1946)
One of the popular radio programs that broadcasted from Vine Street in Hollywood was Tom Breneman's "Breakfast in Hollywood." This morning show was an unscripted program with much audience participation and fans lined up outside the studio as early as 5am to take part.
In 1946 Breneman and United Artists released a film called Breakfast in Hollywood as a way to promote the radio program. The film is not very good but worth watching to get an idea of how the radio program went and for some interesting cameos by Hedda Hopper and the Nat King Cole trio.
Breneman originally hosted Breakfast in Hollywood from the former Tropics nightclub on Vine but later bought the Hollywood Recreation Center next door, converting the bowling alley into a restaurant and radio studio. Most of Tom Breneman's Hollywood Restaurant is torn down, however, the facade still remains. If you look at the two photos below you can see how the streamlined facade has been incorporated into what is now a condominium and retail space.
Tom Breneman's Hollywood Restaurant on Vine Street
Vine Street, Hollywood, California
Facade of former Tom Breneman's Hollywood Restaurant
On April 28, 1948, just before the broadcast of Breakfast in Hollywood was to begin Breneman had a heart attack and died. Garry Moore took over hosting duties but the show quickly failed without Breneman. After the radio program ended Sammy Davis Jr. and investors purchased the building. The next tenant would be ABC which used the space for ABC Radio Center. Eddie Cantor and Frank Sinatra both became disc jockey's at ABC and Louella Parsons did an interview show with celebrities at the Vine Street location.
Looking Southwest down Vine at Tom Breneman's
Former location of Tom Breneman's