Start your Los Angeles area historic theatre explorations by heading to one of these major sections:
| Downtown | Hollywood | Westside | Westwood/Brentwood | Along the Coast | [more] L.A. Movie Palaces |
To see what's recently been added to the mix visit the Theatres in Movies site and the Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page.

Navigating Your Tour of Historic Los Angeles Theatres

On a Mobile Device: If you're missing the right column navigation bar or links at the top you can go to the bottom of any page and click on "View Web Version." Still can't find what you're looking for? Send me an email at counterb@gmail.com. See you at the movies! -- Bill Counter

Downtown L.A. Historic Theatres

The survey page gives a rundown on the 20 major surviving theatre buildings in the Downtown Theatre District. There are links to pages about each of them for more detail. You might also want to consult alphabetical rundowns on pages for Hill St. and farther west, the Broadway Theatres, Spring St. Theatres and Main St. and farther east. Those pages give you more detail, including discussions about all the theatres that have vanished. In addition, there's a downtown alphabetical theatre list with alternate names and a theatre list by address.

Historic Hollywood Theatres

Hollywood wasn't just about the movies. Starting in the mid 20s it was also a center for legitimate theatre and musical revues at four newly built playhouses. You'll find an alphabetical list of the theatres in the district on the Hollywood Theatres overview page that includes a bit of data on each and links to pages for more details. Down below this list there's also an alternate name directory. Also of possible interest is a separate page with a list of theatres by street address.

 Westside Theatres

The Westside started booming with retail and housing in the mid 20s and the theatres followed. Many theatres along Wilshire Blvd., in Beverly Hills, and in other neighborhoods became prime venues for everything from small foreign films to major roadshows. It's a huge territory. The Westside Theatres overview page gives you both a list by neighborhood as well as a survey arranged alphabetically. Also see the list of Westside Theatres: by street address and the Westside Theatres: alphabetical list page which includes alternate names.

Westwood and Brentwood

Westwood Village was the third significant theatre district to evolve in Los Angeles, after Downtown and Hollywood. With the construction of the UCLA campus beginning in the late 20s there was a chance to develop a unique shopping and entertainment district for faculty and students. By the 1970's the area had evolved so that Westwood had the largest concentration of first run screens of any neighborhood in Los Angeles. The Westwood and Brentwood Theatres overview page will give you a tour of the area.

Theatres Along the Coast

Santa Monica had a vibrant theatrical life even in the days when it was a small town isolated from the rest of Los Angeles. And that's just the beginning. The Along the Coast section will give you links to discussion of theatres in Ocean Park, Venice, Hermosa Beach, San Pedro, Long Beach and other communities.

[more] L.A. Movie Palaces

This section fills in all the other areas of Los Angeles County. Hundreds of terrific theatres were being built by the studios and independents all over the L.A. area in the 20s and into the 30s.  You'll find coverage of theatres north and east of Downtown as well as in Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, the San Gabriel Valley, Pomona, Whittier, Long Beach and many other far flung locations.   Some of those listings have been upgraded and appear on this site, many other links will take you to pages on an older site hosted on Google. The index page has links to all these theatres organized by area.

Searching by theatre name

If you don't find it in the right hand column, head for the Main Alphabetical List, which also includes the various alternate names each venue has used. This list includes those pages recently updated for this site (in bold face) as well as the write ups on an older website. For a narrower focus you'll also find separate lists for Westside and Downtown. As well, there are lists by name on the 10 survey pages for more limited areas like Pasadena, North of Downtown, Long Beach, etc. that are listed on the [more] Los Angeles Movie Palaces page.

Searching by address

If you know an address or street head to either the Main Theatre List by Address, the San Fernando Valley List by Address, the San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and Whittier List by Address or the Long Beach List. If what you're looking for isn't there, you should find a link to take you to a more localized list by address for Downtown, WestsideHollywood, etc. Also see the survey pages for more limited areas that are listed on the [more] Los Angeles Movie Palaces page.

Happy touring! Please contact me if you spot errors, links that don't work, etc.  

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Capri Theatre

6258 Van Nuys Blvd. Van Nuys (Los Angeles), CA 91401 | map |


Opened: August 18, 1921 as the Rivoli Theatre. According to Bill Gabel's research the initial film was "Crazy to Marry" with Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle. In an article located by Cinema Treasures researcher Joe Vogel in the June 23, 1921 issue of the Van Nuys News it was announced that Bessie Harrison Prothero had won a contest to determine the name for the new theatre. 

The 1960 photo shows the theatre, renamed the Capri, running "Black Orpheus," a December 1959 release. Thanks to Phil De Pauk for posting the image on the Valley Relics Museum Facebook page where it got many comments. Deanna Bayless notes that one can still see "Rivoli Theatre" painted on the side of the building. Douglas Rudd also has a version of the photo on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page where he credits it to the Kids of the San Fernando Valley page.

The theatre was just north of Erwin St. on the east side of the street. In the 1921 city directory there's a listing calling it the Van Nuys Theatre at Sherman Way near Erwin. In the 1922, 1923 and 1924 city directories it's listed as the Rivoli Theatre at 260 Sherman Way, Van Nuys. That chunk of Sherman later got renamed Van Nuys Blvd. The address is listed as 6262 Van Nuys Blvd. in the 1926 city directory, 6260 in 1928, 6258 in the 1939/40 directory with it being called the Fox Rivoli. Fox West Coast Theatres operated the house for much of its life.

Architect: Architectural & Engineering Co. was the designer. Joe Vogel notes that the firm had its offices in the Story Building in downtown Los Angeles. Greenberg & Siebert were the developers. Joe found an announcement about the project in the March 18, 1921, issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor.

Seating: 700

Clifford Balch did a remodel in 1941 that included facade and restroom work. In 1960 the building got another remodel and emerged as the Capri Theatre with a reopening on June 29.

In December 1969 the Capri was running "I Am Curious (Yellow)." Ken McIntyre found this item in an issue of  the Valley News: "Law enforcement officers began confiscating the Swedish sex film 'I Am Curious (Yellow)' from Southland theaters yesterday on the authority of warrants alleging the movie is obscene. Lt. L.M. Dwyer of the Police Dept.’s administrative vice squad said the film had been seized from at least one Valley theater, the Fox West Coast Capri, 6258 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, yesterday. Another Valley theater, the Guild, 5161 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, was also showing the picture and was expected to be affected..."

Closing: The Capri closed in the early 1970s.

Status: It was demolished for a Federal Building parking lot. The theatre's former location is now part of the site of the Van Nuys / City of L.A. Braude "Constituent Service Center." What had been Erwin St. east of Van Nuys Blvd. is now a pedestrian walkway between the City of L.A. building and the Federal Building to the south.


A lobby view: 


The Fox Rivoli snackbar dressed up in the 1950s to promote a western. The photo by Nate Singer / Western Photo is in the Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann Collection of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Margaret Herrick Library.


More exterior views: 


1926 - George Mann of the dance team of Barto and Mann took this photo. His son Brad Smith has it on Flickr as part of a terrific "Theatre Marquees" album. For many more wonderfully evocative views of a vanished theatrical culture, see the George Mann Archive. Thanks, Brad!



1945 - Thanks to Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives for this view. It appears on page 104 of the terrific 2008 Arcadia Publishing book "Theatres in Los Angeles" by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Mr. Wanamaker. There's a preview of the book on Google Books.



c.1946 - Looking north on Van Nuys Blvd. The photo is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



c.1951 - Thanks to Bill Gabel for spotting this shot looking south on Van Nuys Blvd. toward the Rivoli. He posted it on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles. David Zornig, posting it on Cinema Treasures, notes that it appears somewhere on one of the many Water and Power Associates Museum pages.



1952 - A look north on Van Nuys Blvd. from Sean Ault's wonderful collection. The Rivoli is on the right.



1952 - Not a good day to go to the movies. It's one of 22 storm photos taken in November by the Los Angeles Examiner that appear on the USC Digital Library website. Thanks to Barney Desimone for finding the photo for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. Note the big new sign for Pep Boys.



1950s - The Rivoli is over on the right in this Christmas view. Thanks to Amy Cortland Alspaugh for including it in a Bethlehem Star Parade album on Facebook. She credits it to the Van Nuys High School Alumni from the 60s Facebook page. Senorsock also has posted this one on Cinema Treasures.



1963 - A Christmas season view in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. It's a Valley Times photo by Bob Martin.



c.1972 - Cruise night at the the Capri. Thanks to Jon Haimowitz for sharing the photo from his collection. It appeared as a post on the Mid Century Modern Facebook page.


 
c.1976 - A view of the closed theatre taken by Gary Maker, a contributor to Cinema Treasures under the name Gary Rabbit.



c.1976 - Another shot by Gary Maker appearing on Cinema Treasures. Thanks, Gary!

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on this one. Joe Vogel has, as usual, contributed some fine research.

| back to top | San Fernando Valley theatres | San Fernando Valley: list by address | Downtown | Westside | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | [more] Los Angeles movie palaces | the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resources | theatres in movies | LA Theatres on facebook | contact info | welcome and site navigation guide |

Pickwick Drive-In

1100 W. Alameda Ave. Burbank, CA 91506 | map |


Opened: May 12, 1949 with "Red Stallion in the Rockies" with Arthur Franz and "The Lucky Stiff" with Dorothy Lamour and Brian Donlevy. Ron Strong, on his Bijou Memories page about the Pickwick, notes that nine year old star Natalie Wood made an appearance at the opening to sign autographs. Thanks to Robert Juzefski for his 1988 photo.

It was on the southwest corner of Alameda and Main. Adjacent to the theatre was the Pickwick Recreation Center which included a pool, bowling alley, ice rink, stables, and other amenities. The Pickwick was initially operated by Cal-Pac Drive-In Theatres and later by Pacific Theatres. 

Capacity: 781 cars


An opening ad. Thanks to Wes Clark's Burbankia for including it in a Pickwick Recreation Center album. Of course the theatre had a playground and picnic area in front of the screen. Ron Strong notes that in the early 50s the Pickwick played a number of 3-D titles including "It Came From Outer Space" and "Fort Ti." 



An ad for the theatre's best known event, the February 6, 1974 horse preview of Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles." Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating the ad.

The Pickwick in the Movies and on TV:  The first appearance of the Pickwick in the movies is Peter Godfrey's "He's A Cockeyed Wonder" (Columbia, 1950) starring Mickey Rooney and Terry Moore. Jack Tillmany comments: "On the marquee is the Columbia feature 'Fuller Brush Girl' with Lucille Ball and Eddie Albert, and 'A Girl’s Best Friend,' a non-existent film, which is apparently the second feature, and the one in progress. A uniformed female usher greets the driver, takes his money, and gets his ticket from the nearby cashier, in a glass-enclosed booth; then a uniformed male usher, with flashlight, directs the car to an available parking spot, and places the speaker on the car window. We get to see a bit of 'A Girl’s Best Friend' with Richard Quine and Lola Albright as the uncredited couple, in the usual situation, in the front seat of a convertible, before trouble in the theatre breaks out."

The theatre makes an appearance in J. Lee Thompson's "St. Ives" (Warner Bros, 1976) starring Charles Bronson and Jacqueline Bisset.  It's also in Chris Munger's film "The Kiss of the Tarantula" (Cinema-Vu, 1976) starring Ernesto Macias and Suzanna Ling.



A look at the entrance from a 1976 "Rockford Files" episode titled "No-Cut Contract." The program on the marquee was "Once is Not Enough" with Kirk Douglas along with James Caan in "The Gambler." Thanks to Ron Strong for the screenshot. It appears on his Bijou Memories page about the Pickwick.

The drive-in scene in Randall Kleiser's "Grease" (Paramount, 1978) was shot at the Pickwick. John Travolta sings "Sandy" and the Filmack hot dog trailer is seen on the screen. Also starring in the film are Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, Eve Arden and Sid Caesar. 



The screen tower is seen in John Badham's "Blue Thunder" (Columbia, 1983). The film stars Roy Scheider, Warren Oates and Candy Clark in a tale of a new police helicopter being developed for sinister uses. Thanks to Ron Strong for the screenshot. He calls our attention to the wings added onto the original screen when it was expanded for CinemaScope.

The Pickwick is seen in John Carpenter's "Christine" (Columbia, 1983), Joe Dante's "Explorers" (Paramount, 1985). It's also seen in "The Arabian," a 1985 episode of the TV show "Street Hawk." It's also in "Street Bait," a 1985 episode of "T.J. Hooker." 

Closed: September 10, 1989

Status: It was demolished in October 1989. There's now a Pavilions market and a Staples store on the site.



1952 - A trade magazine photo. Thanks to Dallas Movie Theaters for locating it for a post on Cinema Treasures.



1961 - A photo by Howard D. Kelly from the Los Angeles Public Library collection that appears in the Burbankia Pickwick Recreation Center album on Google Photos. The caption: "...view is looking northwest. Riverside Dr. curves at extreme bottom left; Alameda Ave. is middle right to upper left; a Junior High School is at center; Oak St. is upper right to top left; Verdugo Ave, and Olive Ave. cross at middle top; Main St. is bottom middle to upper right; Mariposa St. is lower left to upper right. Photograph dated June 3, 1961."



c.1972 - Thanks to Ron Strong for this photo, one appearing on his Pickwick Drive-In page on the site Bijou Memories



1974 - The "Horsepitality Bar" at the preview for "Blazing Saddles." Thanks to Bill Gabel for posting the photo on Cinema Treasures. It also appears on the Bijou Memories page about the Pickwick.



1974 - "Blazing Saddles" hits the screen. The photo appears as a post from Bill Gabel on Cinema Treasures. The photo is also on the Bijou Memories page about the Pickwick.



1987 - A photo by Dan Soderberg, projectionist at the theatre. It appears on Ron Strong's page about the theatre on the Bijou Memories site as well in his separate Pickwick Drive-In album on Google Photos.



1987 - A Dan Soderberg photo. Thanks to Ron Strong for including it in his Pickwick Drive-In album on Google Photos.



1987 - A look at the snackbar building. It's a Dan Soderberg photo appearing in Ron Strong's Pickwick Drive-In album on Google Photos.



1989 - A newspaper image located by Rick Watts. Thanks to David Zornig for posting it on Cinema Treasures. The caption: "Frank Diaz, Pacific Theatres vice president, was an usher when Burbank's Pickwick Drive-In opened in 1949."



1989 - The final double feature: "Turner & Hooch" and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." Thanks to Ron Strong for the photo. It's on his Pickwick Drive-In page.



1989 - Thanks to Mister Comics for posting this view on Cinema Treasures.



1989 - The projection building post-closing. Thanks to Ron Strong for his photo. It's one appearing in his photo album about the theatre on Google Photos.

More information: Visit Ron Strong's fine Pickwick Drive-In page on the site Bijou Memories.

The site Cinema Treasures also has a page about the Pickwick. Also see the Pickwick Recreation Center album on Google Photos from Wes Clark's Burbankia.

| back to top | San Fernando Valley theatres | San Fernando Valley: list by address | Downtown | Westside | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | [more] Los Angeles movie palaces | the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resources | theatres in movies | LA Theatres on facebook | contact info | welcome and site navigation guide |

San Fernando Theatre

303 S. Brand Blvd. San Fernando, CA 91340  | map |


Opened: It evidently opened in 1916, initially called Cody's New Theatre. The location was on the west side of Brand about a dozen blocks north of the 5. The photo from the collection of the San Fernando Valley Historical Society appears on the website of Oviatt Library Digital Collections at Cal State Northridge. Cody's is running "Grumpy," a 1923 release starring Theodore Roberts.

The April 8, 1916 issue of Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer noted: "Plans are being prepared for brick theater building 50 x 125 ft., to be erected at the corner of Brand Blvd. and Celis St. for San Fernando Mission Land Co. There will be two store rooms at the front, and two offices above the stores. Pressed brick facing, tile entrance, furnace, seating capacity of about 600. G.F. Cody of Cody's Theater has taken the lease." The issue is on Google Books.

The Cinema Tour page about Cody's New Theatre notes finding 1919 movie listings: "The earliest listing for this theater is Friday March 14, 1919, a month after The Newhall Signal newspaper started. The movies listed were Norma Talmadge in 'Her Only Way' Sunday, Monday March 16-17, 1919, and Theda Bara in 'Du Barry' Wednesday March 19, 1919. Admission was listed as Children 10 cents, Adults 15 cents, Loges 20 cents. 'War Tax Extra.'"

It's listed as Cody's in the 1921 city directory and as the Cody Theatre in 1923. It got a serious remodel (or perhaps a whole new building) in 1924. Cinema Treasures researcher Joe Vogel found it mentioned in the April 2, 1924 issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor with the information that the architect, A. Godfrey Bailey, had prepared "preliminary plans." It's still listed as the Cody Theatre in city directories through 1930. The theatre is listed as the San Fernando in the 1939/40 city directory.

Architect: A. Godfrey Bailey, for the 1924 version.

Seating: 900 at the end.

Status: The theatre was demolished after sustaining damage in the March, 1971 Sylmar earthquake, leaving the town of San Fernando without a theatre.



A c.1937 trade magazine photo appearing with the caption: "Splayed-side marquee with a high degree of ornamentation in neon recently installed for the San Fernando Theatre in San Fernando, Calif., with a vertical sign as well as marquee attraction boards employing silhouette letters against opal glass panels illuminated with Mazda lamps. Attraction board letters are 10-inch Wagner Gothic." Thanks to contributor Elmorovivo for finding the photo for a post on Cinema Treasures.

An earlier Cody's: G.F. Cody had a theatre running somewhere in San Fernando around 1912. The book "San Fernando Valley" by Jackson Mayers & Nick Massaro reports on page 107 that "Cody's Theater was running 'The Orleans Coach' complete in three reels." The film is a 1912 short also known as "The Courier of Lyons." 

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the San Fernando Theatre. Cinema Tour has pages for both the San Fernando Theatre and for Cody's New Theatre.

| back to top | San Fernando Valley theatres | San Fernando Valley: list by address | Downtown | Westside | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | [more] Los Angeles movie palaces | the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resources | theatres in movies | LA Theatres on facebook | contact info | welcome and site navigation guide |

San Val Drive-In

2720 Winona Ave. Burbank, CA 91504 | map |


Opened: June 16, 1938 for a preview with the public opening on the 17th with Donald Duck as the master of ceremonies. The initial film was "Who Killed Gale Preston." It was a project of Seth D. Perkins. The 1938 photo is from an Arcadia Publishing book. Thanks to Wes Clark's Burbankia for including it in a San Val Drive-In album.

Ron Strong, on his Bijou Memories page about the San Val, notes the opening festivities included Walt Disney and his brother Roy there for a presentation to Perkins of a "Best Theatre Owner" mock Oscar that resembled Mickey Mouse. This was the second drive-in to open in the Los Angeles area. The Pico Drive-In had opened in 1934 with Perkins soon taking that one over. Perkins got his start in the 1910s at various Downtown L.A. theatres including the Woodley/Mission, the Optic and the Garrick.   

Architect: Clifford A. Balch

Screen size: 38' x 58' initially. Later it was 45' x 65'.

Capacity: 618 cars initially. A 1952 remodel increased the capacity to 813.



A news story about the opening. Thanks to Wes Clark's Burbankia for including it in a San Val Drive-In album.



An opening week ad with the film title mangled. The ad appears in the Burbankia album about the San Val Drive-In

Jim Rowe comments: "I remember riding with my P.J.’s and pillow in the package tray of our ‘36 Ford with Mom and Dad … Dad worked at lockheed and we couldn’t wait until he came home on Friday’s or Saturdays for 'Movie Night.' The only problem was during 1943 – 1945 when the air-raid sirens would go off, the screen went dark and everybody was told to stay in their cars … kinda scary … and it usually happened during the Cartoon … DARN!"

Beginning in 1946 the San Val was operated by Pacific Theatres. 

Closed: June 1975.



1938 - Thanks to Wes Clark's Burbankia for including this shot in their San Val Drive-In album. They give a shout out to Barry Epstein for finding it. The door to the theatre office can be seen in the screen tower. The photo originally appeared in an issue of Motion Picture Herald.



1938 - Looking through the grape fields toward the screen. It's a photo from the UCLA Library collection. Thanks to Ron Strong for including it in his Google Photos album of the theatre.



c.1938 - The original boxoffice. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. 



c.1938 - The projection booth and restrooms. Later a larger restroom and snackbar building was added farther from the screen. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. Other early views in the collection include: another view down from the screen | field and murals on fencing |



1942 - Camouflage painting around the screen. The theatre was about a mile from Lockheed Aircraft and the Lockheed/Burbank Airport. It's a view in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Note the early speakers. There was no individual volume control. It wasn't until 1946 that RCA started producing speakers with individual volume controls that were designed to hook on a window.



1949 - The San Val gets in the movies. It's seen in Raoul Walsh's Warner Bros. film "White Heat" starring James Cagney, Virginia Mayo and Edmond O'Brien. On the marquee are "South of St. Louis" and "Siren of Atlantis." Cinema Treasures contributor Oobleckboy notes that what we actually see on the screen in the film is an action scene from 'Task Force." The shot is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



1962 - A Howard D. Kelly photo looking northeast from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Also see a 1962 view looking west



1972 - Looking west along Winona. It's a photo appearing in the Burbankia San Val Drive-In photo album on Google.



1972 - The boxoffices. It's a photo appearing in the Burbankia San Val Drive-In photo album on Google.



1972 - Looking northeast. It's a photo appearing in the Burbankia San Val Drive-In photo album on Google. The album also has additional 1972 views.



1975 - Demo begins. Some speaker posts have already been removed. It's a photo appearing in the Burbankia San Val Drive-In photo album on Google. Thanks!

More information: Visit Ron Strong's fine San Val Drive-In page on the site Bijou Memories. Also see his separate photo album about the theatre on Google Photos.

The site Cinema Treasures also has a page about the San Val. 

| back to top | San Fernando Valley theatres | San Fernando Valley: list by address | Downtown | Westside | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | [more] Los Angeles movie palaces | the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resources | theatres in movies | LA Theatres on facebook | contact info | welcome and site navigation guide |