Tail o' the Pup in its final location on San Vicente Boulevard in West Hollywood.
The much-traveled Tail o' the Pup hot dog looks to have a real home finally. Tommy Gelinas, the San Fernando Valley collector who lets the public in to see part of his collection on Saturdays at the Valley Relics Museum in Chatsworth, told me today that the iconic facade of the long-shuttered hot dog stand has been donated.
"We are picking up the hot dog in Lake Elsinore this Thursday and it'll make its way back to my T-shirt printing shop in North Hollywood," Gelinas says. "Once it's in North Hollywood I can assess it and get it cleaned up prior to going to the museum."
The Chatsworth museum is already pretty well packed with memorabilia, signs and historical ephemera, most of it about the Valley. Gelinas says he'll move some stuff around to make room for the Tail o' the Pup piece.
The Tail o' the Pup hot dog stand opened in 1946 at 311 North La Cienega, on the northwest corner of Beverly Boulevard. Tail o' the Pup lived in the shadow of Beverly Center for a few years but was forced to move for construction of the hotel that became Sofitel. The original Tail o' the Pup location — where actress Sigourney Weaver, below, was photographed 1983 scarfing down a dog — appears in the Brian de Palma thriller "Body Double." The Go-Gos were spotted at the old place too.
Tail o' the Pup moved to North San Vicente in 1985 and, after rumbles that it was in trouble, closed late in 2005. The Blake family that owned the Pup made noises ever since about reopening in one location or another, but clearly it didn't happen. The only real progress I ever heard was the creation of a Tail o' the Pup truck last year.
Gelinas will take in the hot dog even though it has no direct connection to the Valley. He has done so before — the old sign from the Tiffany theater on Sunset Strip hangs in the Valley Relics Museum. He also has a working Van de Kamp's blue windmill sign, but that chain did have outlets in the Valley. The Valley Relics Museum also has the sign from the original Henry's Tacos on Tujunga Avenue.
Gelinas also recently agreed to help find a home for the Van Nuys Airport hangar facade that was visible in a scene in "Casablanca," shot partially at the airport during World War II. He said he's hoping that a permanent spot for the facade will be found on the airport property.
* Update: The hot dog was donated by owners Jay and Nicole Miller (Jay is the grandson of long-time owner Eddie Blake), Kevin Michaels and Brett Doherty of Killer Shrimp. "After years of preservation and storage of the iconic Los Angeles landmark, we have found the perfect home for Tail O' the Pup," the Millers said in a statement. "Building codes have made it unrealistic to use the iconic building in future locations which led us to seek out Tommy Gelinas at Valley Relics Museum. Tommy has generously agreed to restore the landmark and put it on display for the fans to enjoy."
Photo courtesy of Tommy Gelinas.