Cover image for Dancing at Ciro's : a family's love, loss, and scandal on the Sunset Strip
Dancing at Ciro's : a family's love, loss, and scandal on the Sunset Strip
Weller, Sheila.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
339 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F128.9.J5 W455 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
F128.9.J5 W455 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F128.9.J5 W455 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F128.9.J5 W455 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In 1958, young Sheila Weller was living a charmed life with her family in Beverly Hills. Her father was a brilliant and charismatic brain surgeon. Her mother was a movie-magazine writer whose brother owned Hollywood's most dazzling nightclub, Ciro's. Then Sheila Weller's world exploded. After she witnessed her uncle's frenzied physical assault on her father, a whole store of family secrets and dramas unfolded, rivaling those that transpired in the nightclub's dressing room and banquettes every night.Weller has written a deeply felt memoir of her family's richly accomplished but ultimately tragic life, contrasted with those most glamorous days of Hollywood's golden era. While vividly describing Lana Turner's, Frank Sinatra's, and Sammy Davis Jr.'s evenings - and breakdowns - at Ciro's, she captures a whole subgroup of American dreamers: the New York Jews who bounded from Brooklyn to Broadway and finally to Hollywood. They expected that success and proximity to glamour would erase centuries of anxiety and melancholy - but often discovered they'd only found a higher ledge from which to fall.Weller seamlessly weaves a history of the American nightclub into the saga of an unforgettable family that, while fatally flawed, is never whiny or "dysfunctional." The dreamy grandeur of Hollywood in the forties and the dark tensions of the fifties come alive through the pages and through the characters, for whom love - and the very idea of family - is almost biblically tested, but never quite extinguished.

Author Notes

Sheila Weller is the author of many books. A five-time winner of the Newswomen's Club of New York Front Page Award, she is Senior Contributing Editor at Glamour and has written for New York, Vanity Fair, The Village Voice, Self, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Ms., and Rolling Stone. She lives in New York City

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist Weller (Raging Heart: The Intimate Story of the Tragic Marriage of O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson) reconstructs the social striving and psychological excesses that plagued her family and relatives, owners of the posh Hollywood nightspot Ciro's. In the early 20th century, her father (Daniel Weller), mother (Helen Hover) and uncle (Herman Hover) moved to California. They were New York Jews moving west seeking fame and self-reinvention, she explains. They found it: Daniel became a respected neurosurgeon, Helen a celebrity journalist and Herman the proprietor of Ciro's. Much high life followed, until 1958, when Herman tried to kill his brother-in law, who was involved with Herman's wife. Divorce, professional decline, the closing of Ciro's, Sheila's estrangement from her father and more followed before that generation of her family died. While Weller claims to have written this as a love letter to her family, she doesn't succeed in making readers feel their story is exceptional or representative enough to merit telling. A few images, like the Hover family heading west, are iconic. It's also entertaining to learn the intricacies of Ciro's design and tidbits about stars like Sammy Davis Jr. But when Weller concludes that sometimes "empathy and epiphany is not in the cards," readers may be left wondering why Weller bothered to tell the story. Despite the meticulous research and American themes, Weller's memoir doesn't enliven her family or enlighten her readers. Agent, Ellen Levine. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s, Ciro's nightclub was the place to see and be seen. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis entertained crowds that included Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner. Weller, whose previous books treated O.J. Simpson (Raging Heart) and other true-crime stories, here tackles her own family's story of scandal, adultery, and attempted murder. Weller's father was a neurosurgeon, her mother a gritty reporter for Hollywood rags, and her uncle the owner of Ciro's. They lived a seemingly charmed life, enjoying the fame and prosperity associated with a Hollywood haunt, but it all fell apart when Ciro's went bust and her uncle tried to kill her father in front of Weller and her sister. Though her writing style is a bit turgid, memoir enthusiasts will like this heartfelt story of an insecure little girl trying to understand herself, her complex father, and her unstable mother. Celebrity bio enthusiasts will enjoy the Hollywood anecdotes. Recommended for public libraries.-Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Cty. Free Libs., Salinas, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Beverly Hills: January 8, 1958p. 1
Part I
Chapter 1 New York: 1887-1918p. 21
Chapter 2 New York: 1919-1932p. 36
Chapter 3 New York: 1932-1936p. 61
Chapter 4 New York and California: 1935-1939p. 75
Part II
Chapter 5 Hollywood: 1939-1941p. 97
Chapter 6 Hollywood, New York, Boston, Hollywood: 1941-1943p. 125
Chapter 7 Hollywood, Boston, New York Hollywood: 1942-1945p. 152
Part III
Chapter 8 Hollywood and Beverly Hills: 1946-1951p. 185
Chapter 9 Hollywood and Beverly Hills: 1948-1952p. 211
Chapter 10 Beverly Hills and Hollywood: 1952-1955p. 237
Chapter 11 Beverly Hills and Hollywood: 1955-1958p. 251
Part IV
Chapter 12 Beverly Hills: 1958-1959p. 271
Chapter 13 Beverly Hills; The High Seas; Great Neck, New York: 1959-1962p. 296
Afterwordp. 323
Acknowledgmentsp. 333