Buck Jones Among Hundreds Killed in Cocoanut Grove Nightclub Fire

Nov. 30, 1942, Comics

Nov. 30, 1942, Cocoanut Grove Fire
Nov. 30, 1942: Saying “My hands are trembling all over this typewriter keyboard,” Associated Press writer Harry C. Glasheen writes of his experiences covering Boston’s Cocoanut Grove fire, which had a final death toll of 492 people, including Western movie star Buck Jones.

News accounts from 1942 say the fire quickly spread after bus boy Stanley Tomaszewski lit a match so he could see to screw in a light bulb that had been removed by a nightclub patron.  A transcript of Glasheen’s entire story is here.

Nov. 30, 1942, Nightmare

In the theaters: “Bambi,” “For Me and My Gal,” “George Washington Slept Here,” “The Navy Comes Through” and “One of Our Aircraft Is Missing.”

Coming attraction: Hedy Lamarr as Tondelayo in “White Cargo!”

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1942, Comics, Film, Fires, Hollywood, World War II and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Buck Jones Among Hundreds Killed in Cocoanut Grove Nightclub Fire

  1. It is a bitter irony that Buck Jones had a lifelong fear of fire and of dying in a fire. When he built his dream house out in the Valley (Magnolia Blvd? Chandler?) it was built to be as near fire-proof as then current building methods would allow.


  2. aryedirect says:

    After that banner cinema year of 1939, the war took its toll on high quality movies with an international appeal. Yes, some were still made despite the sudden shrinkage of ‘the foreign market’, but there were far fewer of them.


  3. Mary Mallory says:

    Wasn’t this nightclub owned by Barbara Walters’ father? And how were so many people let in to the club? How did it spread so quickly?


    • Earl Boebert says:

      No, it was owned by a hoodlum named Welansky, who packed the place and locked/bricked up doors to keep people in. Welansky was convicted of manslaughter and served four years until being pardoned by his crony Governor Tobin, who had been mayor of Boston at the time of the fire. Welansky died shortly after being pardoned.

      Barbara Walter’s father owned the Latin Quarter in NYC and worked at the Tropicana in Vegas.


    • Eve says:

      No, that was the Latin Quarter in New York, Lew Walters’ club.


  4. Eve Golden says:

    I read a book about that fire that said right afterwards, some papers tried to make Buck Jones look more heroic by claiming he had rushed back in to rescue people. But in reality the poor bastard died (well, was fatally burned, died later in hosp.) right at his table, never had a chance to get out.


  5. best book about this is “holocaust” by paul benzaquin. all standards regarding fabric & flammability today were born of this fire in boston.


  6. JAMES says:

    I had never heard of this fire before today. Thanks for posting this story.


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