View Full Version : Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire

01-07-2007, 08:25 PM
FCB mentioned the BHSC fire of 1977 in a different thread. As I posted, I remember seeing the news coverage of it from that night, but only vaguely.

Anybody here around Cincy at the time? Sounds like it was a pretty happening place to see and been seen. Anybody been there? Remember that night? In town when it happened?

My band teacher in jr. high school was there that night but didn't like to talk about it that much. Several of the friends in his party didn't make it out. A past coworker remembers seeing the glow of the fire against the night sky from his home across the river in Cincy.

Here's some background for those who have no idea what I'm talking about. Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverly_Hills_Supper_Club).

01-07-2007, 08:31 PM
That was the night of my HS graduation in SE KY. We came back to Hamilton after that and you could see the smoke and glow of the fire (or at least I think that's what it was) from I-75. Supposedly, my aunt lived near a couple who were at the club that night - the wife died and a few months later the husband remarried! :eek: :thumbdown

My parents had been there a few times - they said it was nice.

01-07-2007, 08:44 PM
Strange... I used wikipedia to read about the details on this about a month or so ago. I saw something about the Great White club fire and they mentioned this fire. I was a kid at the time of the fire, but I remember when it happened. It was huge news at the time. I can remember reading/seeing stories in the paper at the time and wondered how so many people could die in a fire. I thought, "Why didn't they just get out of the building?" Being a kid I didn't understand. I can also remember my parents telling me that their butcher's wife perished in the fire. Very tragic.

01-07-2007, 10:14 PM
My parents were pretty familiar with the place. On the night of the fire, they said that it seemed entirely possible that people could get confused and lose their way trying to get out. Also, my dad said the place was always packed with people, with a lot of chairs, tables, etc. cluttering hallways throughout the place. It was the picture perfect definition of a fire trap. From what I remember, the fire produced a lot of dense smoke in a hurry; survivors described it being black as night inside the place.

01-07-2007, 10:40 PM
Queen was on Don Kirschners Rock Show the night that the fire happened, I kid you not, my friend and I were psyched to see them perform their new hit... Bohemian Rhapsody.

As for the Supper Club my folks had gone there the week before IIRC.

01-07-2007, 11:15 PM
Here's what I remember, which is not much, because I was six at the time, it was a very strange night and I was a tired little kid. I know we were in the area the night of the fire. I think we were on our way back from a family trip to Texas. But I remember first hearing about it over the car radio. My most vivid visual memory was seeing the sky glowing behind the trees, I think we saw it on TV after reaching my aunt's house to stay the night. For some time afterwards, I would be worried about my parents whenever they went out to dinner.

01-08-2007, 02:11 AM
My Mother in law told me how she and her bowling team had been there about 10 days before the fire having a party.

01-08-2007, 08:10 AM
Our one-time landlady and her two daughters were killed in that fire.

01-08-2007, 10:29 AM
I was there with my brother and my sister & her husband about a week or two before the fire to see Sha-Na-Na (yeah, they had a lame TV show but what a GREAT band they were back then). The place was beautiful.

I grew up about 5 miles from there and remember the calls coming in on my dad's police scanner. The first calls were calling for backup for a possible small kitchen fire at The Beverly Hills Supper Club. Of course it escalated out of control within 2-3 minutes of the first call. Here is some more information on how the events transpired from The Cincinnati Post in 1997 on the 20th anniversary:

Timeline to disaster
8 p.m. - On a warm, Saturday night on Memorial Day weekend, the Beverly Hills Supper Club is crowded with between 2,400 and 2,800 people.
8:15 - Patrons in the Zebra Room begin complaining about the heat.
8:35 - The wedding reception in the Zebra Room at the front of the club breaks up early. The room is hot, and the consensus is that the air conditioning must be on the fritz. But behind the walls and the thin plywood paneling, the disaster is beginning. The wiring is smoldering.
8:50 - A reservations clerk smells smoke. She follows the aroma to the Zebra Room, opens the door and sees the fire. She alerts a fellow bartender, who grabs a fire extinguisher. He immediately returns, tells a waitress to call the fire department, and yells, ''Let's get the people out of here.''
9 p.m. - Wayne Dammert, the banquet captain, begins to lead some 220 people from the Crystal Rooms upstairs. The fire has spread up the spiral stairs, blocking off the main exit. Dammert leads the group through the kitchen to safety.
9 p.m. - In the Cabaret Room, busboy Walter Bailey jumps on stage to announce a ''small fire'' and ask people to leave. Many stay where they are, thinking it is part of the Jim Teeter and Jim McDonald comedy act.
9 p.m. - The headliner, John Davidson, is waiting for the opening act to end so his show can begin.
9:01 - The Campbell County dispatch center logs the first call - a fire at the Beverly Hill Supper Club.
9:02 - The fire is roaring down the corridor through the Crystal Room. Smoke comes in the air ducts, quickly filling the room with thick, oily black smoke. A fireball sweeps inside. Panic ensues. Some 1,200 screaming people are pushing toward the three small exits, throwing chairs and tables out of their paths. Some are climbing from table to table, stepping over others.
9:15 - The lawn outside the club begins to fill with gasping, singed patrons who have escaped. Inside, many are trapped inside the Cabaret Room.
9:25 - The fire grows in strength. Wooden timbers beging crashing inside. The glow from the windows resembles an burning furnace.
9:45 - Lifeless bodies are pulled from the Cabaret Room.
10:15 - The fire is at full strength. Rescue units from throughout the area converge on Southgate. The streets are blocked off to all but emergency vehicles.
10:40 - The full extent of the tragedy is becoming apparent. Bodies are covered with turquoise sheets. Three people are arrested for stealing from the dead bodies.
11:15 - Five people, presumed dead, emerge alive from the club, which is still burning.
12:10 a.m. - Firemen confirm 120 dead.
12:25 - The building is collapsing as the fire continues to blaze.
1:16 - The first bodies are brought to the temporary morgue set up at the Ft. Thomas Armory.
2 a.m. Although a few, small, stubborn fires remain, fireman have the blaze under control. By morning, all that is standing is the front facade and some outside walls.

From the corner of my street 5 miles as you looked in the direction of Southgate, the sky was orange that night.

I have a bar in the lower level of my house and have a few china plates as well as some gambling chips and a brochure advertising Pearl Baily coming to Beverly Hills displayed there. Such an enormous tragedy and it was also such a great historical loss. I remember seeing Joe DiMaggio on Johnny Carson one night and hementioned being in Cincinnati for an exhibition game and spending his night at The Lookout House (also lost to fire in the early 70s, though it was vacant due to renovations) and Beverly Hills.

I got to go there twice as a young teen and was just amazed by the place.

01-09-2007, 11:30 AM
Here is a list of the 165 adults and teen-agers, plus two unborn fetuses, who lost their lives in the 1977 Beverly Hills Supper Club fire:

Marian Adkins, 62, Ashland, Ky.
Amelia Arthur, 65, Covington
William Arthur, 57, Covington
Walter W. Backus, 50, Cincinnati
Ruth Backus, 49, Cincinnati
Warren Baker, 54, Dayton, Ohio
Jean Baker, 52, Dayton
Daniel Barker, no age, Trenton, Ohio
Mabel Barker, 56, Trenton
Martin Barker, 59, Trenton
John Beavers, 28, Grove City, Ohio
Ann L. Beer, 23, Oxford, Ohio
Donald Bezold, 33, Alexandria, Ky.
Patricia Bezold, 30, Alexandria
Barbara Bohrer, 23, Delhi, Ohio
Mary L. Bohrer, 55, Cincinnati
Thomas Bohrer, 25, Cincinnati
Jane Bohrer, 16, Cincinnati
Judy Bohrer, 28, Cincinnati
Raymond Bohrer, 56, Cincinnati
Doris Brown, 45, Kettering, Ohio
James K. Brown, 47, Lexington
Patricia Brown, no age, Lexington
Charlotte Burns, 58, Ashland, Ky.
Robert Burns, 60, Ashland
Maxine Butler, 56, Ashland
Roy Butler, 49, Ashland
Howard Carson Sr., 69, Covington
Josephine Carson, 65, Covington
Helen Castelli, no age, Crittenden, Ky.
Norbert Castelli, 55, Crittenden
Stewart Coakley, 37, Ludlow, Ky.
Geraldine Cole, 22, Jeffersonville, Ky.
Ellen Cooksey, 58, Ashland
Fred Cooksey, 62, Ashland
Carol Cottongim, 32, Hamilton, Ohio
Robert Cottongim, 34, Hamilton
Orville Coulter, 68, Ironton, Ohio
James Cox, no age, Florence, Ky.
James Crane, 19, Waynesville, Ohio
Harold Daly, 32, Washington Court House, Ohio
Rosemary Dischar, 38, Highland Heights, Ky.
Gloria Sue Duncel, 37, Hamilton
Rosemary Dwyer, 57, Lexington
Mary N. Dwyer, 25, Lexington
Sheila Dwyer, 22, Lexington
Elmer Ellison, 60, Covington
Nora Ellison, 38, Covington
Grace Fall, 48, Middletown, Ohio
William Fawbush Sr., 70, PeeWee Valley, Ky.
Marilyn Finch, 41, Elsmere
Virginia Fitch, 62, Ashland
Helen Floyd, 62, Ashland
James Fowler, 57, Ironton
Anna Freshner, 61, Lebanon
Fredrica Fryman, 35, Cynthiana, Ky.
Scott Fryman, no age, Cynthiana
Tracy Fryman, 17, Cynthiana
Willard Fryman, 38, Cynthiana
Lenore Gentry, 31, Cincinnati
Anna Gorham, 46, Lexington
Allen Gorham, 46, Lexington
Russell Gray, 23, Cincinnati
Carol Greer, 31, Florence
Frank Greer, 33, Florence
Clarence Gripshover, no age/hometown
Don Grogan, 51, Murray, Ky.
Felton Harrison, 73, Dayton
Douglas Herro, 27, Canoga Park, Calif.
Harry Hodges II, 29, Columbus, Ohio
Barbara Hous, 51, Trotwood, Ohio
Dottie Isaacs, 67, Dayton
Mary L. Ittel, 58, Hamilton
Ruth John, 59, Ashland
Lillian Jutzi, 58, Dayton
Raymond Jutzi, 67, Dayton
Robert Kettman, 34, Cincinnati
Susan Kettman, 33, Cincinnati
Tammy Kincer, 18, Lebanon
Lucy King, 57, Hamilton
Paul Kiser, 54, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Minnie Knight, 70, Germantown, Ohio
Donald Koontz, 48, Hamilton
Dorothy Koontz, 46, Hamilton
Carl Krigbaum, 55, Louisville
Diane Lape, 25, Cincinnati
Etta Leis, 70, Miamisburg
Gary Littrell, 50, Bright, Ind.
Sharon Littrell, 26, Bright, Ind.
Leona Long, 72, Dayton
James Lyon, 42, Ft. Mitchell, Ky.
Monica Lyon, 42, Ft. Mitchell
Margaret Malowan, 54, Dayton
Sharlene Matthews, 27, Cincinnati
Clark Mayfield, 35, Jacksonville, Ala.
Sara McClain, 72, Miamisburg
Collis Mitchell, 50, Dayton
Minda Moford, 16, Dover, Ky.
Agnes Muddiman, 48, Cheviot, Ohio
Everett Neill, 27, Ft. Mitchell
Paula Neill, 23, Ft. Mitchell
Jean Darelene Noe, 28, Taylor Mill, Ky.
Mildred Overton, 62, Huntington, W.Va.
Ruth Patterson, 67, Coal Grove, Ohio
Harold Penwell Jr., 28, Dayton
Hilma Catherine Pfieffer, 64, Dayton
Lawrence Phelps, 44, Lakeside Park, Ky.
Margaret Phillips, 65, Dayton
Alberta Pieper, 49, Louisville
Mary L. Pitsenbarger, 55, Greenville, Ohio
Nolan Pitsenbarger, 62, Greenville
Richard Pokky, 23, Cincinnati
Dorothy Polley, 72, Ironton
George Polley, 74, Ironton
Ethel Prugh, 55, West Carrollton, Ohio
L.J. Prugh, 56, West Carrollton
Gary Prugh, 30, Washington Twp., Ohio
Virginia Raitt, 34, West Chester, Ohio
Virginia Ramler, 52, Erlanger
Anna L. Reinike, 59, Kettering
Nell Reynolds, 71, Louisville
Elma Rhinehart, 74, Lewisburg, Ohio
Charles Rist, 59, Catlettsburg, Ky.
Maymia Rist, 57, Catlettsburg
Robert Roden Jr., no age, Taylor Mill
Terri Rose, 26, Deer Park, Ohio
Alma Schnapp, 67, Miamisburg
Joseph Schrantz, 63, Green Twp., Ohio
Mary A. Schrantz, 61, Green Twp.
Rosalie Schuman, 33, Lawrenceburg, Ind.
Robert Seaman, 57, Erlanger
Percy Shepherd, 64, Cincinnati
Charles Sherwood, 54, Dayton
Evelyn Shough, 67, Kettering
Donna Sue Skaggs, 22, Louisville
Paul H. Smith, 54, Cincinnati
Ann L. Stallous, 44, Murray, Ky.
Opal Stewart, 57, Harrison Twp, Ohio
Fred Stratton, 37, Norwood
John Strom, 52, Lexington
Laura Sykes, 29, Bright, Ind.
Robert Sykes, 29, Bright
Steven Taylor, 26, Cincinnati
Barbara Thornhill, no age, Cincinnati
Carolyn Thornhill, 35, Miami Twp., Ohio
Baby Thornhill, unborn fetus
Darlene Thornhill, 18, Cincinnati
Robert Thornhill, 36, Delhi Twp., Ohio
Rosemary Tilley, 33, Kettering
Glenna Turner, 63, Spring Valley, Ohio
John Twaddell, 52, Ft. Wright
Diana Tyra, 19, Louisville
Baby Tyra, unborn fetus
Doris Tyra, 46, Louisville
Phyllis Tyra, 24, Louisville
Mary Vogel, 29, Cincinnati
Ottillia Vollman, 84, Newport, Ky.
Fred Wade, 61, Wayne Twp., Ohio
Martha Wade, 61, Wayne Twp.
George Walker Jr., 32, Louisville
Beatrice Wenning, 57, Dayton
Gertrude Williams, 60, Dayton
Betty Wilson, 62, Miamisburg
Mary Ann Work, 29, Covington
Robert Zadek, 39, Miami Twp., Ohio
George Zorick Jr., 52, Cincinnati
George Zorick III, 32, Cincinnati

Dom Heffner
01-09-2007, 12:46 PM
Thanks for posting that, Minus5. I was 8 years old at the time and remember it happening but didn't realize the depth of the tragedy until I just read that.

Three people are arrested for stealing from the dead bodies.

You know, there are bad poeple and then there are these types of people.

01-09-2007, 12:48 PM
Thanks for posting that, Minus5. I was 8 years old at the time and remember it happening but didn't realize the depth of the tragedy until I just read that.


And it's amazing that from the amount of people with the same last names it seems that entire families were killed in the fire. Sad.

Dom Heffner
01-09-2007, 12:49 PM
You know, there are bad poeple and then there are these types of people.

And then are people who simply can't type....:)

05-29-2007, 11:03 AM
Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of this tragedy. I was 12 years old, but still didn't understand the scope of what had happened. I was also confused as to why something called "Beverly Hills" would be in Kentucky. Since this thread was started in January, I have researched this and have tried to educate myself.

The Louisville paper ran a front-page story Sunday...


05-29-2007, 11:22 AM
I was driving home from college for my summer vacation that night. I could usually pick up WLW around nightfall or Lafayette IN, whichever came first.

I remember listening to the tragedy unfold over the airwaves as I made the drive across IN and on to Beavercreek. It still sends chills down my spine.