The Carthay Circle opened in 1925, a project of West Coast Theatres and a real estate developer promoting his new subdivision south of Wilshire near Beverly Hills. The theatre, seen here in a Mott Studio photo from the California State Library, was designed by Dwight Gibbs. The Carthay, always a classy venue for premieres, got its proscenium gutted for a big TODD-AO screen in 1956. National General Corporation, the successor to Fox West Coast, tore it down in 1969 for an office building on the site. Many more views of the building are on our Carthay Circle page.
Also by Dwight Gibbs:
Mesa Theatre, Costa Mesa (1948)
The Fox in Redondo Beach was a design by John Paxton Perrine. The auditorium view is a photo in the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library. The theatre, at Diamond and Pacific, was right on the beach. Opened in 1929, it closed in 1972 and was demolished the next year for a hotel project that fizzled. See our page on the Fox Redondo for more information.
Also by John Paxton Perrine:
Lincoln Theatre, 2300 S. Central (1927)
The Cinema Treasures page on John Paxton Perrine lists
these other southern California theatres in California as his work:
California, San Diego
California, San Bernardino
Fox, El Centro
Ritz, San Bernardino
The Ambassador Theatre, as well as the rest of the Ambassador Hotel at 3400 Wilshire Blvd., was a design of prominent architect Myron Hunt. The theatre opened in 1921 and was still running films occasionally into the 50s. The photo is from the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library. See our page on the Ambassador for more about the theatre.
Also by Myron Hunt:
Ricardo Montalban Theatre (Wilkes Vine St.), Hollywood (1927) - with H.C. Chambers
The Dome at the head of the Ocean Park pier opened in 1925. Actually this design by Clifford A. Balch was the second Dome -- a replacement for one that had burned in the 1924 pier fire. The photo comes from the December 28, 1929 issue of Motion Picture News, part of a spread on various Fox West Coast Theatres. The Dome's building got repurposed as a ride at Pacific Ocean Park and later was demolished. See our page on the two Dome Theatres for many more photos.
The Fox, which opened in 1931, was a design of Clifford A. Balch. The theatre has now been restored and operates as a concert venue and banquet facility with several different areas including a ballroom in what was the top half of the stagehouse. The photo here, in the collection of the Huntington Digital Library, is by Doug White for the Southern California Edison Co. See our Fox Pomona page for lots more in the theatre.
The luscious Golden Gate Theatre opened in 1927, a design by the prolific Clifford A. Balch. The 1,345 seat house in East Los Angeles had a full stage and was running films well into the 80s. Originally entered via a courtyard behind buildings fronting on Atlantic Blvd. and Whittier Blvd., the theatre itself stood alone after the other buildings were demolished following the 1987 earthquake. The photo is from the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library. See our page on the Golden Gate for many photos. Sadly, it's now a CVS drug store.
A few more by Clifford Balch:
Boulevard Theatre, 4549 Whittier Blvd. (1923, 1937 remodel)
Dome Theatre, Ocean Park (1925)
Fox Theatre, Pomona (1931)
Four Star, 5112 Wilshire (c.1931) - with Walker & Eisen
United Artists, Long Beach (c.1931) - with Walker & Eisen
United Artists, Inglewood (1931) - with Walker & Eisen
United Artists, East L.A. (c.1931) - with Walker & Eisen
United Artists, Pasadena (1931) - with Walker & Eisen
[ Balch also worked with Walker & Eisen on United Artists Theatres in El Centro and Berkeley. ]
Los Feliz Theatre, 1822 N. Vermont Ave. (1934)
Esquire Theatre, 419 N. Fairfax Ave. (1937)
El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd. (1937)
La Mar, Manhattan Beach (1938)
Gordon/Showcase Theatre, 614 N. La Brea Ave. (1938)
5th Avenue Theatre, Inglewood (1939)
Magnolia Theatre, Burbank (1940)
See the listing for Clifford Balch on the Pacific Coast Architecture Database.
The Music Box, at 6126 Hollywood Blvd. opened in 1926 as a showcase for revues staged by Carter DeHaven. It's a design by the prolific firm of Morgan, Walls and Clements. This proscenium view is a Mott Studios photo in the California State Library collection. See our Music Box/Fonda Theatre page for more information -- the theatre is alive and well as a concert venue.
Long Beach's Imperial Theatre was dwarfed by its next door neighbor on Ocean Blvd. the West Coast. Both were operated by Fox West Coast and are now demolished. The Imperial, opened in 1926, was a design by Lewis A. Smith who did lots of other projects for the circuit. The photo comes from a 1929 Motion Picture News story about theatres that were decorated by Robert Powers Studios. See our Imperial Theatre page for more information about this lost theatre. There's now a hotel on the site.
The Uptown, at 1008 S. Western Ave., was a 1926 design by Lewis A. Smith for West Coast Theatres. The location, 5 blocks south of Wilshire, later put it into competition with the Warner Bros. Wiltern Theatre at Wilshire and Western. The photo, from the Los Angeles Public Library collection, dates from the early 40s after the house had been given a Fox West Coast re-do. See our page on the Fox Uptown for more views. The 1700 seat theatre was demolished in the 60s.
The Rialto, at 1023 Fair Oaks Ave. in South Pasadena, was designed by Lewis A. Smith for C.L. Langley, whose theatres soon became part of the growing West Coast Theatres chain. The Rialto opened in 1925 and in its later exhibition years was a revival house for Landmark Theatres. They still have a lease but closed the operation in 2007. There's a preservation effort afoot but progress has been slow. The 30s photo comes from the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page that's curated by Escott O. Norton. See our page on the Rialto Theatre for more information and photos.
The Fox Belmont was one of a number of similarly sized houses designed for West Coast Theatres by Lewis A Smith. The theatre, at 126 S. Vermont, had a full stage and 1680 seats. The photo of the theatre in its opening year, 1926, is from the Los Angeles Public Library. It closed after a fire in 1973 and was demolished shortly after that. Our page on the Fox Belmont has more photos.
The Ritz, on Wilshire Blvd. near La Brea, was a 1926 theatre with 1,660 seats designed by Lewis A. Smith. After its regular exhibition days were over it was a private screening room for Michael Todd and later even had a fling with legit theatre. The photo is an early view from the Los Angeles Public Library. The building was demolished in 1966. See our page on the Fox Ritz for more photos.
The Olympic Theatre opened in 1927 downtown at 313 W. 8th St. as Bard's 8th St. Theatre. Architect Lewis A. Smith, who designed a conversion from a building that had been a restaurant, died in 1926 so he didn't get to see it open. The auditorium, seen here in a photo from Hillsman Wright of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, has quite a few features intact although the floor has been leveled and the place largely used for retail in recent years. See our three pages on the Olympic Theatre for more photos.
The Beverly, just north of Wilshire on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, was an exotic Chinese themed design by Lewis A. Smith that opened in 1925. The photo is from a 1928 issue of Motion Picture News about theatres decorated by Robert Powers Studio. See our page on the Beverly Theatre for more about the theatre. Sadly, after years as a clothing boutique and bank, the building was demolished in 2005.
The Mesa, at 5807 Crenshaw Blvd., was a 1926 design by Lewis A. Smith for West Coast Theatres. The 1400 seat theatre got its name from the street it was on, formerly called Angeles Mesa Drive. The photo is an early view from the Los Angeles Public Library. The Mesa closed in 1963, had a fire in 1964 and was demolished in 1965. See our page on the Mesa Theatre for more photos.
Also by Lewis A. Smith:
Wilshire/Embassy Theatre, 331 S. Western (1921)
Vista Theatre, 4473 Sunset Dr. (1923)
Academy Theatre, Pasadena (1925)
Beverly Theatre, Beverly Hills (1925)
Carmel/Paris Theatre, 8163 Santa Monica Blvd. (1925)
Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena (1925)
Highland Theatre, 5604 N. Figueroa (1925)
Fox Uptown, 1008 S. Western (1925)
El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd. (1926)
Fox Belmont, 126 S. Vermont (1926)
Fox Ritz, 5214 Wilshire (1926)
Imperial Theatre, Long Beach (1926)
Lido/Brooklyn Theatre, 2524 E. Cesar Chavez Blvd. (1926)
Olympic Theatre, 313 W. 8th St. (1927)
The Picwood, at 10872 W. Pico, was a 1948 S. Charles Lee design. It survived until 1985 when it was demolished to make way for the Westside Pavilions mall. In its later years, however, much of the original decor had been draped over. The view here from the upper seating level is from UCLA's S. Charles Lee Archive. See our page on the Picwood Theatre for more photos.
This 1700 seat suburban theatre by S. Charles Lee has him back in full Spanish revival mode in 1932. We get a patio to walk through, an ornate lobby and an arched entrance to the free parking out in back. This auditorium photo, evidently the only one to survive, was located by Ken McIntyre. See our Fox Florence page for more photos of other areas of the building. The theatre, at 1536 Florence Ave., closed in 1965 and was demolished in 1968. For more explorations with Mr. McIntyre, visit his Photos of Los Angeles page on Facebook.
The Academy, at 3141 W. Manchester Blvd. in Inglewood, is a 1939 S. Charles Lee design. Here we get an auditorium view by Julius Schulman from the UCLA S. Charles Lee Archives. The building is still mostly intact but is now used as a church. See our page on the Academy Theatre for more photos.
Not the biggest in town (only 2,190 seats) but certainly in the running for most opulent. This 1931 confection was S. Charles Lee in over-the-top French Baroque mode. It was a commission from H.L. Gumbiner, who had hired Lee in 1927 for his first theatre job, the Tower Theatre. See our many pages on the Los Angeles Theatre for hundreds of photos and lots more data about this wondrous building. It's still at 615 S. Broadway, although currently used only for filming and special events. The photo here is a 1931 view from the Los Angeles Public Library.
The Fox Wilshire in Beverly Hills, now called the Saban Theatre, opened in 1930. S. Charles Lee was in full art deco mode and his most interesting design decision was lots of metallic leaf. Not in gold as it would have been in the 20s but all in silver. See our page on the Fox Wilshire for many more views. The theatre survives as a venue for concerts, Broadway shows and special events. It continues to gradually reclaim its past glory through the ongoing restoration efforts of loving new owners. The 1930 photo is from the Mott-Merge collection at the California State Library.