The Viper Room was once considered the coolest nightspot in all of Hollywood. But ever since one fateful night in 1993, it has become far more renowned as a scene of tragedy. Indeed, the Sunset Strip joint is the place where River Phoenix, the iconic actor, suffered a fatal overdose.
Of course, the death of the Stand by Me star isn’t the only time the rock ’n’ roll landmark has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. In fact, tales of excess litter the venue’s history. These involve everyone from masked metalheads to squeaky-clean soap opera actors. And then there’s the illegal gambling rings, mysterious disappearances and ghostly happenings.
And the building itself has its own checkered past, too. Indeed, long before one-time co-owner Johnny Depp got his hands on the place, The Viper Room was a popular mobster hangout which counted the notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel among its clientele. Here’s a look at how the club gained its infamous reputation.