Remarkably Rare Photos From The Infamous Studio 54
Opening Night at Studio 54
From its grand opening, Studio 54 was the place to be. The club opened on April 26th, 1977, and was an instant hit. It became an immediate staple in New York City nightlife and was frequented by a long list of celebrities that included Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Muhammad Ali, and many many more.
The club was housed in a former opera house on West 54th Street in Midtown Manhattan. The founders of Studio 54, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, set out to capture New York City nightlife in a way no one else had. Here is a behind the scenes look at some of Studio 54’s hidden secrets in these rarely seen photos.
Brooke Shields and Andy Warhol Hang Out at Studio 54
Studio 54 was a known hotspot for a variety of A-list celebrities, from actors to musicians to famous artists. This rare photo shows a star-studded group that includes actress Brooke Shields alongside the infamous pop artist Andy Warhol, designer Calvin Klein, and Steve Rubell, one of the co-owners of the club.
Brooke Shields was one of Warhol’s many muses and started hanging out at the nightclub when she was only 16. But according to the actress, she managed to stay drug-free and always make it to bed by 10 PM, even after mingling with the world’s most famous people.
Liza Minnelli and Bianca Jagger Release the Doves
Studio 54 was known for its energy and extravagance. This photo shows the club during one of its most iconic moments, as Liza Minelli and Bianca Jagger release live white doves into the air above the crowd.
The photo was taken at Bianca’s 30th birthday party. The all-white event was hosted by the famous fashion designer, Halston, who was instrumental in creating many of the trends of the Studio 54-era. Steve Rubell even brought out a horse for Jagger to mount, after seeing a photo of her riding one in her native country of Nicaragua.
Michael Jackson and Steven Tyler After Beatlemania
From the very beginning, Studio 54 was always a destination for A-list celebrities. Nothing exemplifies that more than this photo of Michael Jackson, Steven Tyler, and Cherie Currie hanging out with Steve Rubell a few months after the club opened.
The photo was taken on June 9, 1977, at a Beatlemania Party, held in honor of the play of the same name that focused on the Beatles and their impact on the culture of the ‘60s. Also in attendance were Studio 54 regulars like Warhol and Mitch Weissman, who also starred in the play.
Elton John in Socks and Shorts
Another popular fixture of Studio 54 was the legendary singer-songwriter, Elton John. This photo shows that he was clearly comfortable in his surroundings, as he shows up at one of the hippest nightclubs in New York wearing shorts and ankle socks.
At the time that the photo was taken, the singer was still in the midst of a long streak of chart-topping albums, which began with Honky Chateau in 1972. So, he clearly had the confidence that he could wear anything and still be let in.
Rollerena Rolls In
Studio 54 wasn’t just a popular spot for New York’s cultural elite, it was also a club that welcomed all the characters that make the city great. No character on the scene was quite as memorable as Rollerena, a drag queen known for wearing roller skates all around New York.
Originally known as Roller Arena, the Fairy Godmother, Rollerena was well known for skating into gay bars and other popular clubs in Manhattan, including Studio 54, sporting an eclectic collection of hats, rhinestone glasses, and costume jewelry.
Trump Never Danced
Studio 54 was not just a place for actors and celebrities, but also business moguls and New York socialites. Former President Donald Trump was also a frequent guest in the heyday of the club, as shown here.
But unlike most guests, Trump wasn’t interested in showing off his dance moves. According to the club owner, Ian Schrager, Trump visited the club often but was only interested in socializing, not hitting the dance floor. Not everyone who frequented Studio 54 was there for the love of disco.
Grace Jones Hits the Bar
Singer and model Grace Jones was another frequent guest and performer at Studio 54. She famously performed at the club on New Year’s Eve in 1978. But even when she wasn’t hitting the stage, she could often be found frequenting the bar, as shown here.
Jones’s androgynous appearance and cutting-edge fashion sense helped define the look of the Studio 54-era. She was an accomplished singer, actor, and model who was an important figure in the underground art world of New York in the 70s and 80s. Here she is shown in her element, revealing what made the club so hip and iconic.
Tina Turner is River Deep, Mountain High
At the time this photo was taken, there was a lot going on in Tina Turner’s world. Not least of which was the situation with her infamous husband, Ike. So, what better way to rid yourself of a night lost to sadness? Through dancing of course, especially when you’re the queen of shaking it.
If there was anyone who knew how to get on the floor and make the right moves, it was Tina Turner. Not only could she bust a move, she also came to Studio 54 dressed to impress in functional fashion.
Sir Elton John, Diana Ross, and Cher
You might be hard pressed to find bigger stars standing side by side in the 70s than these three. After an incredible night at the Rock Music Awards in 1975, the legends descended upon Studio 54.
Not only were they there to celebrate the night, but clearly, each musician was there to show off an incredible fashion sense. Gold itself couldn’t have shone brighter or have made more of a statement.
"Once I Had A Love" and it was Debbie Harry
Lead singer for new wave band, Blondie, descended upon the popular club on only a handful of occasions. The time she spent there was not much but, Debbie still recollected one moment in particular where she was starstruck.
It was at Studio 54 that Debbie Harry met Truman Capote for the first time. Surely, one of those wild evenings in Manhattan could have been an inspiration for a song from one of her band’s almost dozen albums. Or perhaps we’re just dreaming.
Debbie Harry Hangs Out with Brooke Shields
Debbie Harry took the then teenage Brooke Shields under her wing at Studio 54. She made sure the young actress was having a fun time that was befitting of her age.
Brooke Shields remembers her time at Studio 54 fondly, despite her age not necessarily being appropriate for the setting. She apparently had the wherewithal to get home at a decent hour and get a full night of rest. Impressive at any age.
Paint It Mick
At the height of Studio 54’s popularity, the lead singer of the Rolling Stones made the spot his home away from home. He and his wife spent a majority of their free time hanging out amongst the other popular faces enjoying the scene.
The Jaggers loved the place so much, they celebrated many milestones here in the most extravagant way. The kind of parties they would put on had club goers talking for years to come. What a way to be remembered!
Bianca Jagger Invites Wildlife to Parties
The wife of rocker Mick Jagger certainly made Studio 54 more interesting when she was there. Not only was there a widespread rumor of her riding into the club on her birthday on a white horse, she was also seen dancing with doves. These are separate occasions.
Bianca has refuted coming into the club on top of the horse but admitted to riding one that was already inside. How a horse just casually walked into a busy nightclub, we may never know. However, Bianca was clearly amused by her time with the birds.
Jerry Hall Shines Bright
While Bianca Jagger was making friends with all types of animals, the future mother of Mick Jagger’s children was making a name for herself as a model. The best way to get noticed by someone who could help your career at that time was probably from being spotted at Studio 54.
With as often as Mick Jagger frequented the club, it’s not surprising that her beauty caught his eye eventually. They went on to form a long-term relationship that brought four of their offspring into the world.
Sir Elton John and Longtime Friend Rod Stewart
If you need to get people pumped out on the dance floor, the person you would want to call is Rod Stewart. Once the beat starts, he is in a world of his own and having fun throughout every second.
With that type of energy, it’s easy to see why he would show up with another famous rocker, Elton John. The two have carried on a friendship for decades after hanging out at Studio 54, but those times are surely still part of their bond.
Forever Young Rod Stewart
The active rocker was not only at the Studio to hang out with his famous friends but also there to just take in the sights and sounds. Due to the incredible number of stars that showed up nightly, it was a place to have an unusual sense of anonymity amongst them.
That also gave larger than life figures like Stewart the chance to have a wild night with their significant others. Rod Stewart took his then wife, Alana Stewart, to the club throughout their five-year marriage.
Ground Control to David Bowie
What a time it must have been before celebrities were being chased down at every turn. In the late 70s and early 80s, international stars such as David Bowie would frequent Studio 54 just to hang out in the crowd or chill in private rooms.
A regular person knew they could stand outside the club and see some of the most famous people in the world walk right in front of them. Or, if they were lucky enough to get inside, they might just be able to talk with them too.
David Bowie Brings Wife Iman
David Bowie may have been from England, but he sure loved New York. What better place to visit in his favorite city than the most happening night spot in town, Studio 54?
From the previous picture to this one, you can tell that as the years passed, he did not seem to tire of the place. In fact, once he met his future wife, the stunning model Iman, he made sure to have her by his side when he went out to dance.
The Village People with Michael Jackson, Jane Fonda, and more
Talk about a super, all-star cast. What a night to make it out to Studio 54 when you have the creators of the massive hit YMCA ready to help you get down on the floor. Who wouldn’t have been thrilled to witness all those choreographed moves in person?
Along with the Village People are acclaimed actresses Jane Fonda and Valerie Perrine, as well as Olympian Bruce Jenner. But who could forget Michael Jackson? That’s a 70s party you’d want an invite to.
Liza Minnelli Put On a Show
Another famous voice saw the nightclub as too attractive to miss out on. Here, she can be seen cutting a rug on the dance floor in a comfortable yet stylish suit.
When Liza talked about her experiences there, she would share a story about how once her albums were played while she was out dancing. She didn’t know it was going to happen, but it didn’t impact her groove. Liza Minnelli loved the club enough to think it was the perfect place to propose to Elton John. It did not, however, work out.
A Divine Energy Has Descended
Today, there are TV shows dedicated to drag queens. But back during Studio 54’s heyday, these flashy showgirls were not nearly what we think of today. Divine was on a mission to change that.
Since Divine graced us with his presence, the world of drag has never looked the same. When all dressed up, the outfits, makeup, and voluminous hair would be a talking point all on their own. Never has a club looked so fabulous.
John Travolta and Sylvester Stallone Have A Bros Night
Now we are heading in a more dramatic direction. Two of the biggest studs in Hollywood at the time could think of no better place to be seen than the place where all the stars go.
When you’re on top of the world, you want that feeling to last forever. So, John Travolta put a focus on “staying alive” so he could keep on with his Saturday night fever. Sylvester was more than happy to accompany him.
John Travolta On a Date
Men love a good night with the boys, but there is no one better to dance with than a significant other. So, after John Travolta starred in a movie that showed off his incredible suits and one-of-a-kind disco moves, he had no choice but to show off for the crowds in person.
It’s clear to see that his sense of style did not end when the director yelled, “Cut!” From this angle, it almost looks like Travolta is about to break out in full-blown disco.
Sylvester Stallone Takes Out Joyce Ingalls
John Travolta isn’t the only one who looked forward to a good date night. Sylvester Stallone was experiencing breakout success and wanted a place to let loose with his lady friend.
The reality for the actor was that he was actually married to someone else. During the divorce proceedings, Joyce Ingalls was named as “the other woman”. At least they had their memories.
It's a Family Affair with Jamie Lee Curtis and Her Mom
While actors like John Travolta was just coming into his own as a star during this time period, Jamie Lee Curtis grew up as part of a legacy. Her mother, Janet Leigh, had been well known for a few decades by this point.
So, while most might think it’s strange to take your mom clubbing, they really are a dynamic duo. Sitting next to them and listening to their stories must have made for a very interesting night.
Dustin Hoffman Parties Too
Another actor being thrust into prominence during the 70s was The Graduate, himself. Having the freedom to come and be part of the masses as a recognizable face had an impact on Dustin.
When remembering his time at Studio 54, Dustin Hoffman spoke candidly about being intimate in a multitude of places. One of his most memorable recollections was being out in the open during a night of partying at the top New York night spot.
Bill Murray and Gilda Radner Were No Joke
From a show that leads in with, “Live from New York,” it should be expected that cast members from Saturday Night Live would make an appearance at the most talked about hot spot at some point.
Two of the most talked about participants in the show are pictured here. It’s all fun and games until you have to “put up or shut up” when it comes to abilities. It looks like these two are putting in the work to make it a worthwhile experience.
Robin Williams Did Not Go Alone
Another student of comedy, Robin Williams found taking on the night with friends to be therapeutic. Throughout all the years that Studio 54 was up and running, he was there to connect with the crowd.
Williams was known for having his wife with him and making the most of every minute the club was open. In order to remain the life of the party, as some may have expected, he turned to other means to keep his energy up.
Andy Warhol was the Original Perez Hilton
Long before internet gossip columns exists to discuss what some starlet was doing for dinner, there was Andy Warhol. Prominent figure in pop art, Andy used his sense of creativity to wrangle his way into the hearts of many celebrities that frequented the club.
What these famous figures didn’t realize was that he was taking detailed notes. Years later, he took all their secrets to the pages of his manuscript . Let’s just say it did not go over well.
Poster Girl Farrah Fawcett Sets the Scene
One of the most famous faces in America at the time was Farrah Fawcett. She inspired a generation of hair and was one of the most popular poster options of the decade.
So, naturally, when she stopped in at Studio 54, she was a sight for sore eyes. She blew the other guests away with her flowy dresses and high spirits. Truly, anyone who got to be in her presence was all the better for it.
Take A Breath
Getting into Studio 54 could be a difficult process. Generally speaking, they tried to avoid an overabundance of men, so they would only let in one man for every ten women.
So, it was probably easy to become exhausted, especially if you were trying to find a new partner. The odds were stuck against you. The only rational thing to do next is stop for a second and try to catch your breath before hitting up the room again.
When All Else Fails, Sleep
The unusual thing about music is the varying impact it has on people. For some, it gets them pumped for the day. For others, it can put you to sleep. Then sometimes you’re just so tired that your body gives out.
Studio 54 is no exception. Perhaps there were people who had too many perspective-altering substances that evening. Perhaps they just dance to the point of return. No matter what, it’s clear that an experience was had.
Be A Star
In a place that was brimming to the top with musicians, actors, artists, comedians, and other celebrities, there were plenty of people just looking to stand out.
So, in a pool of famous people looking to blend in with the party, you had the chance to be noticed by proximity. Beautifully dressed people, unknown to the greater public, could be featured by an unassuming photographer on the dance floor.
All Good Things Must Come to an End
Despite its iconic run, the original Studio 54 nightclub was only open for about three years. It was eventually shut down in February 1980, after the owners were found guilty of tax evasion. This photo shows Steve Rubell standing in the backroom after it was raided by police in 1978.
The search came after Steve was quoted in a local newspaper saying they made over $7 million in their first year. That got the attention of the IRS, and a police raid came shortly after. Both Rubell and Schrager were eventually arrested for tax evasion in 1979 and were forced to sell the club not long after.
Bette Midler Meeting The Temptations
Singer Bette Midler is photographed meeting the musical group The Temptations during a party to announce the soul group’s new recording contract. The group’s new contract was with Atlantic Records in 1977.
You can see the obvious respect and admiration the gentlemen of The Temptations and Bette Middler all had for each other, and the joy they seemed to be feeling to meet each other. Icons to icons!
Bianca Jagger On A White Horse
Bianca Jagger was known for her animal loving tendencies at the famed Studio 54. While it was rumored that Bianca had arrived at the club on a white horse she refuted that claim.
She does admit to riding a horse that was apparently already in the club. We are super confused how a horse gets into a nightclub, but the proof is in the pudding, as we have Bianca Jagger riding the steed within the club.
Cher, The Regular
Just as Andy Warhol, Elton John, Sylvester Stallone, and Andy Warhol were regulars, so was the famous and iconic Cher. A huge star of the seventies, Cher often arrived looking stunning and dressed to the nines.
Cher has maintained her iconic fame and glamorous style to this day, which is no easy feat. But if anyone can do it, it’s Cher!
Fashion Designer Diane Von Furstenberg
Belgian fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg became a regular of Studio 54. DIane is most known for her iconic wrap dresses.
She is quoted as saying “ I had more fun at Studio 54 than in any other nightclub in the world,” in an interview with Vanity Fair.
Elton John Moving and Shaking
Studio 54 regular, Elton John is pictured pulling up the legs of his pants to get more dexterity for partying and dancing. The singer was attending a party at the famed nightclub that was thrown in his honor.
The party was in 1979 and had an array of stars and celebrities. Fun times.
Grace Jones In Bright Colors
Grace Jones arrives at Studio 54 in a brightly colored ensemble. The Jamaican singer, model, and actress was often seen at the star-studded nightclub in her dazzling style.
Grace Jones performed at Studio 54 on January 1st, 1978 in what we are sure was a transcendent and fun experience for all who got to witness.
Halloween celebrations were a big deal at Studio 54. Party goers would dress up in wild costumes to celebrate the holiday. Pictured below was a couple who went the extra mile with their costumes, though going the extra mile was not uncommon.
It is not surprising that the swinging nightclub enjoyed raging parties on any event that they could manage, especially one that involves crazy costumes and wild nights.
Chuck Berry And Keith Richards
Rock legends Chuck Berry and Keith Richards were also regulars at the nightclub, Studio 54. Below, the duo were photographed merrily chatting and laughing together.
The photograph was taken in February of 1980.
Co-Owner Steve Rubell
Co-owner Steve Rubell was the co-owner of Studio 54. He is pictured below in the center of the crowd in a satin jacket.
Steve was often the one to determine whether or not someone was cool enough to enter the venue, making the final verdict.
Timothy Leary, Advocate for Psychedelics
Timothy Leary was a former American psychologist and writer who was known for advocating psychedelics. Here he is pictured dancing and celebrating at Studio 54.
This photo was taken at the post-premiere party for the opening of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie in 1978.
Style and Grace
A woman is pictured wearing a zoot suit and dancing inside the Studio 54 nightclub. She tied her outfit together with a white hat.
The woman is seeing dancing and singing along to the music, taking in the nightlife and fun around her.