Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire

Historical Marker #2237 in Southgate, Kentucky, marks the site of the former Beverly Hills Supper Club, where 165 people died and the building was destroyed by a fire on May 28, 1977.

During Prohibition, the towns along the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky and Southwestern Ohio were known for their speakeasies, gambling sites, and other sin-related activities. Beginning in 1927, the Beverly Hills Club was a popular nightclub, and included a backroom/illegal gambling parlor. In the 1940s and 1950s, the club was one of the most popular in the region, attracting celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Steve Lawrence. In the early 1960s, the region attempted to clean up the mob-run clubs, including the Beverly Hills. The Club closed in the mid-1960s and was left to languish.

Richard Schilling purchased the property in 1970 and lavishly refurbished the building, spending more than $3 million in renovations. The Beverly Hills Supper Club reopened in 1971 as a dinner theatre. While it lacked a casino, the club became a popular place to host proms, weddings, and celebrate anniversaries. The renovated facility had a number of dining and event spaces, named for the décor or motif of the rooms, including the Zebra, Viennese, Garden, and Cabaret Rooms.

On May 28, 1977, the Supper Club’s Cabaret Room featured singer and actor John Davidson. The room was full of patrons—far more than the fire code allowed. In the Zebra Room, a wedding reception ended around 8:30 pm. The attendees complained the room was warm and smokey at the time of their departure. A Supper Club employee smelled smoke and opened the Zebra room just before 9:00 pm, feeding the oxygen to a smoldering fire in the ceiling. The fire spread throughout the sparling building, as employees urged patrons to flee the building. The rapid spread, over-capacity crowd, lack of power, and blocked exits in the Cabaret Room led to a panicked and ultimately deadly evacuation. The roof of the building collapsed around midnight and the fire was brough under control around 2:00 am the next morning. The fire continued to smolder until May 30.

One hundred and sixty-five people died in the blaze. Most of the people who died were clustered in the Cabaret Room. After an investigative team reviewed the evidence, a Campbell County Grand Jury ruled out the possibility that the fire was set intentionally. Faulty aluminum wiring was eventually cited as the culprit, causing a nationwide movement to improve fire codes. The families of the victims collectively received $30 million in the first class-action, mass tort lawsuit in U.S. history. The site of the Supper Club remained undeveloped until August 2021, when Ashley Builders Group began construction on an assisted living center, apartments, and homes. The area where the Cabaret Room once stood will become a memorial fountain honoring the lives of the 165 people who died as a result of the fire.

The marker reads:


Site of Beverly Hills Supper Club, popular night spot from 1930s-70s. Burnt May 28, 1977 killing 165. Third worst nightclub fire in US; changed building-code enforcement. First disaster case tried as class action suit, merging 300 claims. Landmark litigation lasted years. Settlements of some $30 million. First mass tort action in USA.


(Reverse) Emergency squads came from miles around. Temporary morgue set up in nearby Ft. Thomas Armory. Families arrived for days searching for loved ones, as site smoldered. Story dominated the news. Probable cause was faulty aluminum wiring. Most people in area knew someone who lost family here. See reverse.

This marker was dedicated on October 28, 2007.