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

Navigating Your L.A. Theatre Tour

Welcome to the tour!  In addition to this Los Angeles Theatres site, I have three other websites devoted to historic theatres in the L.A. area. All the material on those sites is (slowly) moving over here. The version of the program they're hosted on is being discontinued. But the pages should be up and functional at least into the middle of 2018.

I'm currently working on the Westside theatres -- the 100+ theatres that were once downtown will be up next. The Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page will let you know what new items have been added either here or to the doomed web pages. My Theatres In Movies site might also warrant a look -- it's an ongoing project tracking which Los Angeles area theatres have showed up in films.

If you can't find what you're looking for, leave me a comment on this post or do an e-mail to counterb@gmail.com. See you at the movies!    -- Bill Counter

This site on a Mobile Device: If you find what you're looking for here on this post, terrific. But also note that you can go to the bottom of any page or post and click on "View Web Version" to get the navigation links at the top of the page and the long list down the right side.


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 a 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 section 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, Westwood, and other neighborhoods became prime venues for everything from small foreign films to major roadshows. The Westside Theatres overview page gives both a list by neighborhood as well as a survey arranged alphabetically.

There are also separate sections broken out for Westwood / Brentwood and theatres in Santa Monica. Also see the list of Westside Theatres: by street address and the Westside Theatres: alphabetical list page which includes alternate names.


Historic Los Angeles Theatres -- Downtown

The home page gives a rundown on the 20 major surviving theatre buildings with links to their pages. You might also want to consult alphabetical rundowns on theatres west of Broadway, the Broadway theatres, Spring St. theatres and Main St. and farther east.

In addition, the site has a downtown theatre directory with both a list by address and an alternate name list.


[more] L.A. Movie Palaces

This site tries to fill in all the other areas of Los Angeles County. You'll find separate sections on theatres north of Downtown, San Fernando Valley Theatres, Long Beach, Pasadena, Glendale, theatres along the coast, and lots more. The home page has links to all these theatres organized by area.

And if you are still having trouble finding what you're looking for, these pages might help:
- the main alphabetical theatre list -- a list that also includes alternate names for each venue
- the main Los Angeles County theatres by address list
- San Fernando Valley theatres by address list
- San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and Whittier theatres by address list
- film and theatre technology resources
- theatre history resources
- theatre tours and events

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

Bundy Theatre

3414 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405
| map |


Opened: 1941. The theatre was at Pico and Centinela.  The theatre's name came from the location west of Bundy Blvd. Not quite at Bundy, but close.

This 1943 look at the Bundy is from the Library of Congress collection. It's a photo by Ann Rosener taken for the Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information. Apparently it's the only surviving photo of the theatre. The versions on the Library of Congess site are pathetic. Thanks to Ken McIntyre on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles for this much nicer one.

Architect: S. Charles Lee designed the house for George Bourke and M.E. Baylis.

In the 40s the theatre was open until 5 am to cater to late workers at the nearby aircraft plants. The Bundy was operated by Fox West Coast and its successor, National General Corporation.

Seating: 900

Status: The theatre closed in January 1963. It was demolished in 1964 or 65 -- the site is now under the I-10.

More Information:
See the Cinema Treasures page on the Bundy for lots of comments by Bill Gabel and other contributors.

| back to top Westside theatres | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Santa Monica and Venice | Westside theatres: alphabetical list | Westside theatres: by street address | Los Angeles theatres - the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resourceswelcome and site navigation guide |

Cinematour

W. Pico Blvd. & Georgia Los Angeles, CA 90015
| map |

Dates: All that is known is that it was running in 1923. The location was a couple blocks west of Figueroa St. Ken McIntyre found a Los Angeles Times ad:


Status: Demolished. This area is now all part of the Convention Center.

More information:
  There isn't any. This one gets mentioned on the Cinema Treasures page for the Pico Theatre but that venue was a different building.

Westside theatres | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Santa Monica and Venice | Westside theatres: alphabetical list | Westside theatres: by street address | Los Angeles theatres - the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resourceswelcome and site navigation guide |

Del Mar Theatre

5036 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90019
 | map |


Opened: April, 1939. The location is two blocks west of La Brea. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for her 2009 photo.

Architect: Not known. The building was converted into a theatre from a furniture store.

Seating: 600

Marleen Rubin Capell, the daughter of the owner, Herman Rubin, notes that she was the "Mar" in the theatre's name. Marlene was born in 1932 and was named for Marlene Deitrich, who was famous at the time for "Blue Angel" (1930).

Marleen notes: "They charged about 7 cents for kids. They showed a cartoon, full length movie, a western (because I told my Dad I wanted a western) and a serial and probably a newsreel. There was a drawing at intermission for large cans of popcorn and 6 packs of soda. My cousins also went every Saturday. I remember going up on the stage to draw the winning tickets. When we left everyone received a free Abazaba Bar."

Status: It had been closed as a film theatre since the 80s. After a spell as a church, the building sat vacant for years. The floor has been leveled and it now is used by Delta H Design / Puget Sound, Inc. as a studio specializing in post production audio work. 

Joe Milner, the owner of Puget Sound, has restored the marquee and vertical sign's neon which are on view nightly. With help from the city's Pico Revitalization Project from 2003 to 2005 the firm also repainted the facade and did refurbishment on the showcases. Bravo!



The former auditorium space. Photo: Joe Milner, Puget Sound, Inc.



Looking back toward the booth. Photo: Joe Milner, Puget Sound, Inc.



Looking west on Pico toward the Del Mar as seen in 2007 by the omnipresent photographer, Waltarrrrr. Thanks! See lots of his fine work on Flickr.



Thanks to Mark Peacock for this 2009 photo on Flickr. Visit his Vintage Theatres photo set for lots more great work. Also see his blog: On the Road With Mark Peacock.



Thanks to Corey Miller for this nice view of the Del Mar vertical in 2009. The photo appears in his Theatre Signs set on Flickr.



A marquee detail. Photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2009



The terrazzo at the Del Mar. Photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2009. Her photos seen here are part of the "Theatres - California" set on Flickr. Also see her "Theatre" page on Flickr for a listing of other sets detailing her explorations. Thanks, Michelle!



A view of the Del Mar Theatre in 2010.  Photo: Bill Counter



The Del Mar neon at dusk. Photo: Joe Milner, Puget Sound, Inc. - 2015



Another look at the vertical. Photo: Joe Milner, Puget Sound, Inc. - 2015



A marquee detail. Photo: Joe Milner, Puget Sound, Inc - 2015. Thanks for the photos, Joe!

More information: See the Cinema Treasures page for a few stories about the Del Mar. Cinema Tour has a 2002 Bob Meza photo of the facade prior to restoration work.

| back to top Westside theatres | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Santa Monica and Venice | Westside theatres: alphabetical list | Westside theatres: by street address | Los Angeles theatres - the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resourceswelcome and site navigation guide |

Empire Theatre

2131 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90006
| map |


The Empire is seen in this detail from a 1928 Dick Whittington Studio photo looking east on Pico from Hoover. The photo is in the USC Digital Library collection. The full height facade we see here was later sheared off a bit.

Opened: 1914 or 1915. In the 1915 city directory it's listed under theatres as Cate & Swann at 2127 W. Pico. The building is located on the north side of the street between Alvarado and Hoover.

In the 1917, 1918 and 1921 directories the address is 2131 W. Pico. The listing as the Empire Theatre in the 1922, 1923 and 1929 directories is with the address as 2129 W. Pico. In 1926 and 1927 it's back to 2131.

In the mid 60s the theatre became the Fiesta Theatre and was running films and occasional live performances under that name into the mid 80s.

Architect: Unknown

Seating: 650

Status: The building survives and is currently in use as a church with retail in the spaces on either side of the lobby.



The full 1928 Dick Whittington Studio photo.



A late 50s view looking east from the Sean Ault collection. The Empire is over on the left. Thanks, Sean!



Another 50s shot from Sean Ault. The poor theatre is hiding behind the back of the trolley.



A 1962 look at the Empire's facade from the Bill Gabel collection. The feature is "The World's Greatest Sinner" written, directed, and starring Timothy Carey. The photo appears on Cinema Treasures.



A perhaps 70s photo looking west from Alvarado. The Empire's marquee is just below the "walk" sign. Thanks to Sean Ault for the photo.

 

A 1992 view. The theatre, as the Fiesta, is on the right. Thanks to Sean Ault for finding the photo.



A 2003 photo from the Sean Ault collection.
 


Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this 2007 look at the premises.



 The entrance to the former Empire/Fiesta Theatre. Photo: Google Maps - 2009



The rear of the Empire is at the center of this 2011 Google Maps shot.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Empire for research by Bill Gabel and other contributors. Joe Vogel notes that the building dates from 1914 with a possible expansion or major renovation in 1922.

| back to top Westside theatres | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Santa Monica and Venice | Westside theatres: alphabetical list | Westside theatres: by street address | Los Angeles theatres - the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resourceswelcome and site navigation guide |

Fedora Theatre

2698 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90006
| map |


Opened: 1913 or earlier. It's on the south side of the street at Pico and Fedora St. That's two blocks east of Normandie. It's in the 1913 city directory as the Pico Heights Theatre at 2698 W. Pico. In the 1914 city directory the address is listed as 2696 W. Pico.

In the 1915 city directory it's called the Family Theatre (at 2698). It's the New Family in the 1918, 1919 and 1922 directories. In the 1921 and 1923 directories it's the Fedora Theatre. In the 1926 city directory it's called the Star Theatre. It was called the New Star Theatre in the 1927 directory. It's not in the 1929 directory. Closing date is unknown.

Status: The building still exists and dates from 1905. It's been converted to retail use, a "Discount Center." The photo is a 2011 Google Maps view.



 A side view on Fedora St. Photo: Google Maps - 2011

| back to top Westside theatres | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Santa Monica and Venice | Westside theatres: alphabetical list | Westside theatres: by street address | Los Angeles theatres - the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resourceswelcome and site navigation guide |

Forum Theatre

4050 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90019
| map


Opened: May 14, 1924 as an independent operation with D. W. Griffith's "America" featuring Lionel Barrymore. It's on the south side of the street two blocks east of Crenshaw Blvd. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Architect: Edward J. Borgmeyer. The murals were by Christian von Schneidau.

Seating: 1,766 -- all on one level.



A great 1927 Forum postcard from Penny Postcards from California's City of Los Angeles page.

History: Dr. H.B. Breckwedel of the Symphony Theatre downtown was behind the project. The theatre originally featured reserved parking (for an additional 10 cents) in its adjacent 500 space car park. There was a Forum Ballroom, located on the second floor.

Soon it became part of the Warner Bros. empire and was advertised as the Warner Bros. Forum Theatre. The organ in the theatre was a 4/37 Kimball. In 1931 Warner Brothers pulled it out and installed it in their new Warner Bros. Western Theatre, now called the Wiltern.

The Warner circuit was soon in deep trouble and bailed out of the Wiltern in mid-1933 but kept the Forum. At the time they also had the Warner Downtown (the former Pantages) and the theatres they had built in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, San Pedro, and Huntington Park. They eventually went back into the Wiltern after it ran for a few years as an independent.

The Forum building was sold in 1949 to Sherill C. Corwin and Sol Lesser who then took over the operation from Warner Bros. Corwin was the founder of Metropolitan Theatres, Lesser had long been involved with Fox West Coast. Other Warner houses soon got spun off to the newly independent Stanley-Warner Corp. following the consent decree.

The Forum closed as a film house sometime prior to 1955. That year it was used for recording sessions for the Pacific Jazz label that included Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Bill Perkins, Hoagy Carmichael and other artists. And, as Bruce Kimmel has noted, it also had a fling as a legit house. In the late 40s it had hosted a musical revue "My L.A.." In the 50s "Pajama Tops" was one production to play there.



The program cover for "Pajama Tops" with Barbara Eden at the Forum in 1956. It was for sale on Amazon. Thanks to Arnold Darrow for spotting it.

Cinerama at the Forum: It was the offices and a test screening house for Cinerama from March 1961 until 1978. The louvered Cinerama screen installed at the Forum encompassed a 146 degree arc with a size of 34' x 88'.



Sound equipment being installed at the Forum for Cinerama. The photo is from the collection of Cinerama historian Roland Lataille on his InCinerama.com page devoted to the Forum Theatre.  Thanks, Roland!

The theatre was used for testing lenses, evaluating prints and as a shipping depot. It was initially equipped for 3 strip projection and (later) with 2 Norelco DP70 35/70mm projectors when Cinerama started working with a 70mm format.



The Forum booth with two Norelco DP70 35/70mm machines as well as Cinerama 3-strip equipment. Thanks to Thomas Hauerslev for the photo in his terrific site In70mm.com. It's on the page about DP70s in California.

The first demonstration of 70mm single strip Cinerama at the Forum was June 6, 1963. The theatre still retained its 3 strip projection capability with the last screening in that format on October 17, 1978 -- a private showing of "How The West Was Won."

Status: It's been a Korean church since the late 70's. The original auditorium ceiling is obscured with a dropped ceiling and the murals have either been painted over or otherwise covered. A 2006 report from Jeff Bridges on Cinema Treasures:

"The exterior is pretty much intact, but the auditorium is destroyed. It looks as though a new building was built inside of the theater, so the original might be above the very strange A-frame ceiling of the auditorium. I cannot imagine why anyone would spend the money to construct an A-frame ceiling underneath the huge original ceiling. The building is massive on the outside and when you see the interior space now, it feels as though you are in a tiny church. Most of the detail in the lobby and stairs going up on the sides is still there, although it has been painted over with white and beige glossy paint. I imagine it would have been gold originally. There is no sign of any murals left unless they are behind walls or above the weird ceiling."



A 1924 lobby photo from Architectural Record. Thanks to Brooklyn-based theatre historian Cezar DelValle for including it in a post on his Theatre Talks Tumblr blog.

Cezar is a Brooklyn-based theatre historian. For other interesting material see his other Theatre Talks blog on Blogspot and visit him on Facebook. The photo is also in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



A 1924 inner foyer photo from Architectural Record. Thanks to Cezar DelValle for making it available.



Another view of the inner lobby. It's from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



 A luscious auditorium view from the 1924 Architectural Record article. It's on Cezar DelValle's Forum Theatre post.



A look across the house appearing in the Arcadia Publishing book "West Adams" by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, Don Lynch and John G. Kurtz. There's a preview on Google Books. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Gaylord Wilshire for including the photo in his Noirish post #4448.



The rear of the Forum's auditorium.  It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



A view of one of the murals in a 1978 photo by Tom Zimmerman that's in the California State Library collection.



A view from a 1924 Architectural Record article. Thanks to Cezar DelValle for including it in the post about the Forum on his Theatre Talks Tumblr blog.



An early look at the facade before any signage went up. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



A c.1924 aerial view of the Forum Theatre. Note the gas station to the left of the theatre -- and the theatre's "acres of free parking" behind it. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. They also have another similar shot in their collection.



The Forum's facade from the east with the beginnings of a marquee. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



An early look at the Forum discovered by Ken McIntyre. He has it stashed in one of his Photobucket albums. Note the row of trees on top.



A view of some sort of filming outside the theatre in 1925. Ken McIntyre located the photo for the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles. On the marquee is "The Home Maker" with Alice Joyce and Clive Brook.



A c.1926 look at the Forum. Thanks to Charmaine Zoe for including this photo in her Vintage Cinemas: California Flickr set of treasures found in various trade magazines. 



A lovely 1932 nighttime look at the Forum from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



A 1938 view of the Forum's new marquee. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



A 1955 shot by Brunk for the Herald Examiner from the USC Digital Library collection. The theatre was being used for a transportation workers union meeting.



Another 1955 Herald Examiner transportation strike photo from the USC Digital Library collection. Her husband's in the meeting where they're discussing bringing the strike to an and.



A 1958 marquee view from Jeff Bridges on Flickr. He notes: "This is a snapshot that I found in a term paper at an estate sale. The paper is titled 'A Geographic And Cultural Analysis Of A Metropolitan Area', by Adele H. Mason."  The photo also appears on Cinema Treasures and on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



A 1979 photo by William Reagh. It's in the California State Library collection. It's also in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



A 2002 view of the Forum facade from Cezar Del Valle's Theatre Talks collection. It's a Betty Sword photo. 



The view west along the facade. Photo: Ken McIntyre - 2008 



In the colonnade. Photo: Ken McIntyre - 2008



An upper facade detail. Photo: Ken McIntyre - 2008



The east corner. Photo: Ken McIntyre - 2008
 


The west corner of the facade. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this and his other photos. You can see more of his 2008 Forum set on Photobucket. If you start at his first Forum photo you can page through about 16 images of the exterior. Don't miss the Facebook page that Ken curates: Photos of Los Angeles.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page for lots of historical data and links to additional photos. Bill Gabel and Ken Roe have contributed an informative history of the theatre.

| back to top Westside theatres | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Santa Monica and Venice | Westside theatres: alphabetical list | Westside theatres: by street address | Los Angeles theatres - the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resourceswelcome and site navigation guide |