Forbidden City, on the second floor
of 363 Sutter street, below Stockton, was one of several "Chinese nightclubs"
in San Francisco at the beginning of World War II, and certainly one of
the most successful.
"WHEN DOES CHARLIE FIND
TIME TO LOOK AT HIS FLOOR SHOWS?Every time you see Charlie Low he's
in the company of such interesting people you wonder how he finds time
to stop looking into faces and concentrate on his glamorous Forbidden City
revues. The celebrities posed with him this time are Jane Wyman and Ronald
Reagan of the movies. The show that's entertaining the visitors is one
of the celebrated all-Chinese revues with Dorothy Sun and Mary Mammon as
San Francisco Life, December
Low's competition included such
places as Club Shanghai and other Chinese nightclubs, owned by famed herbalist
Fong Wan. In 1949, writer Dick Hemp of the Chronicle wrote of
a feud between Charlie Low and Fong Wan:
"Fong presently has on
file in Superior Court a $50,000 suit against Charlie Low, another astute
Chinese night club entrepreneur, for allegedly 'stealing' an acrobat away
from Fong's Club Shanghai. "
"One Fong coup against Low is
already legendary in Chinatown and was struck when the herbalist bought
a six-story building at 334 Sutter streetacross from Low's Forbidden
City night cluband erected a huge neon sign directing passersby to
Fong's club around the corner on Grant avenue.
"Fong denies there was malice
in this action, however, and credits it to his acute business sense. 'I
know valuable building,' he declared. 'Never think of Charlie Low at all,
I bought building for $90,000 and next day am offered $110,000, to get
it back. Ha, ha.'"
Actor Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-
) had been called to active duty April 19, 1942, after a string of successful
Warner Bros. movies, including King's Row (1941) and Desperate Journey
(1942). He may have been waiting to begin work on the Irving Berlin wartime
musical This is the Army when this photograph was taken in October or early
November 1942. He is pictured with Jane Wyman, whom he married January
Lieutenant Reagan was assigned
to the Army Air Corps' motion picture unit because he was too nearsighted
for regular military duty. He worked on training and combat films until
his discharge, as a captain, December 9, 1945.
Reagan retired from acting in
1954, served six terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and was
elected governor of California (1966-75). In 1980, was elected the 40th president of the United States.
The second-floor space that once
housed Forbidden City on Sutter Street suffered a major fire in the 1980s,
though the building remained intact. A renumbering of the block also changed
the address of the former Forbidden City to 369 Sutter Street. In 2000 it housed
a computer instruction company.