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Egyptian Theatre: earlier lobby views

6712 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028 | map |

The Egyptian Theatre pages: an overview | Hollywood Blvd. views 1922-1954 | Hollywood Blvd. 1955-present | forecourt | lobby - earlier views | lobby - recent views | auditorium - earlier views | auditorium - recent views | booth | backstage | Egyptian 2 & 3 | along Las Palmas Ave. | along McCadden Place

Vintage views: 

A perhaps late 1920s Mott Studios view taken when the standee wall still had drapes in the openings. It's a photo in the California State Library collection, included in their set #01558905 along with a proscenium view. Gary Parks comments: 
"Look at that wonderful antique ceiling finish work. Also--the little carpeted border along the base of the wall. The pattern is a common one used in Egyptian palaces, noble houses, and tombs. It depicts spirals with flower petal garlands, alternating with frontal views of the head of the cow sacred to the goddess Hathor, with a sun on her head, nested between a pair of auxiliary horns." 

A detail of the ceiling beam from the Mott photo. 

The carpet border.

A closer look at the painting that's in the Mott Studios shot. "Quiet Please! Talking Picture Now On." April Clemmer notes that it's a painting of Constance Bennett by Howard Chandler Christy that was in Sid's collection.

A 1935 photo from the superb Bruce Torrence Hollywood Historic Photographs collection, now owned by the McAvoy family. The caption reads: "Theatre manager and usher greet theatregoers at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre." The extensive collection offers 33 more views of the Egyptian Theatre if you'd care to go browsing.

Grauman, of course, was long gone from the premises by the time of the photo -- as was the deluxe two-a-day schedule with elaborate prologues before the features. Starting in 1927 it was run by Fox West Coast on a continuous performance policy. Note they had already walled in the formerly open standee area to make this a separate lobby.

The little balsawood airplanes on the string and the larger airplane hanging from the chandelier are advertising "West Point of the Air" (MGM) starring Wallace Beery and Robert Young. It was released March 23, 1935. The lobby display in the foreground is for Claudette Colbert in Gregory La Cava's "Private Worlds" (Paramount) which had a premiere March 9 and a general release April 19, 1935.

A lobby shot perhaps from the 40s looking across to house right. Note the snackbar at the lower left. The photographer is unknown.   
A 90s post-closing view showing the increased lobby size achieved by enclosing the area out to the forecourt columns. On the right check out the snack bar with an Egyptian mural overhead. Earlier mural treatment is seen in several photos below. This photo is one from the Cinematheque's collection that was once part of a lobby display. 
United Artists Theatre Circuit had given the Egyptian a major renovation in 1949. The lobby was expanded out to the line of the columns in the forecourt and the former entrance doors were removed. They had been located at the archway on the right in the photo below. The 50s doors we see in this photo were moved to the original entrance door location (and the columns restored) with the 1997-1998 renovation. Other work in 1950 (since removed) included a new facade, a revamped boxoffice, and a covered walkway the length of the forecourt.

The expanded lobby as seen in 1950. The photo was part of a Mohawk Carpet ad in the Boxoffice issue of September 2, 1950. "Carpet craftsmanship...from the looms of  Mohawk -- Starring in Better Theatres Everywhere." The forecourt is out the doors at the far left, the new snackbar niche straight ahead.

A closer look at the 1950 snackbar at the Egyptian. It's a photo from Western Photo Co. in the collection of the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art.

The caption reads: "On the left hand side of the first lobby is where the candy bar - a step-daughter of every modern motion picture theatre - is located. Guided by the concept of human interpersonal activity outside of the auditorium proper, John Vassos enriched the appearance of the candy bar with a decorative scheme of endless wonderment. Its theme is that of a gay circus panorama of the trained animals, clowns, trapeze artists and all kinds of other specialty acts. Again the technique of free form is applied here, introducing a surprising new application of reflective color in the figures."

A 1950 lobby mural by John Vassos. The photo was with a Boxoffice magazine article in the March 4, 1950 issue: "Few Touches Necessary in Brightening The Famous Egyptian Theatre - Reconciling The Pharoahs To '50." The caption read: "Inside the lobby of the remodeled Egyptian Theatre is the world's largest theatre mural, measuring 20 x 24. Done in primary colors, it depicts the glory of ancient Egypt."   

After the Cinematheque renovations of 1997-1998:

The original lobby area (to the right of the buff colored columns) from house left. The theatre exit to the forecourt is at the right, the snack bar was off to the left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
Out of the frame to the right is an office space and, from that, stairs going to a small area upstairs. From the upstairs room a short flight of stairs along its west wall leads to the roof. Originally that was the access route to the booth. Out the door upstairs, walk across the roof, and go in the back door of the booth. Forward of the office area is the boxoffice, since 1998 in same location it occupied in 1922. For about six decades the boxoffice was out at the street.  

Upstairs in the room above the boxoffice. These hieroglyphics on the south wall are survivors of the space's time as the men's smoking room. Thanks to Mike Hume for his 2019 photo. Visit his Historic Theatre Photography website for thousands of great photos of theatres he's explored. And don't miss his page on the Egyptian.
The original version of the plans show a men's lounge and toilet room downstairs on the house left end of the lobby with the upstairs space an ushers' lounge and locker room, a small lavatory area, and a store room. At some point before the theatre's opening the ushers quarters got moved elsewhere and upstairs was designated on revised plans as a smoking room and men's toilet room. Downstairs became a lounge area with a large opening to the lobby. That all changed with the 1949 United Artists lobby remodel with the men's room getting moved downstairs where it was originally envisioned. With the 1998 Cinematheque remodel the downstairs became an office space and the men's room migrated across the lobby to a space house right adjacent to the ladies room. 

In the original lobby area looking from house right -- the forecourt is to the left. The restrooms are here at this end of the lobby, off to our left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010 

The curved line of columns on the right marks the original rear of the seating area. This lobby area at the rear of the main floor was originally a standee area with a solid wall part way up and glass above. Later the glass areas were filled in and doors added at the aisles to have separation between the lobby and auditorium. With the Cinematheque renovations of 1998 it was opened up and made into an enlarged lobby. The revamped seating area was pushed forward. 

The house right end of the original lobby. That's the entrance to the ladies room at the left, the men's is the second archway. The original layout on this side of the lobby (moving toward the entrance) was ladies toilet room, ladies cosmetics room, nursery, coat check room. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

The ladies room off the house right end of the lobby. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

Some of the original ceiling treatment preserved in the ladies room. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

Original metalwork in a ladies room window. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The men's room, also off the house right end of the lobby. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

Looking in toward the snack bar in a 2008 photo from Wayne Nabeta on Flickr. Thanks, Wayne.

A detail of the stencil work at the rear of the seating area-- a space now part of the lobby. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

More ceiling work. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

Thanks to Loren Javier on Flickr for his 2009 photo showing some ceiling plaster detail and stencil work in the lobby. It's from his Premiere at the Egyptian set.

Another ceiling detail with one of the soffit fixtures at the rear of what had been the seating area. See the auditorium page for some vintage views of this area. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

Yet another ceiling detail from the rear of the original seating area. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Looking in toward the snack bar area. Here originally we would have been standing in the lobby and looking down the house left aisle. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Looking house right. The steps and ramps went down to the 78 seat Spielberg Theatre, built in space excavated from the rear of the original seating area. The last row of seats was originally just this side of the buff columns.  Photo - Wayne Nabeta on Flickr - 2008

A closer look at those lobby artifacts. Thanks to Stephen Russo for his 2011 photo, originally appearing on the LAHTF Facebook page. The two animals were donated to Hollywood Heritage in 2019

The view down toward the entrance of the Spielberg. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020

The front of the Spielberg. This auditorium was eliminated during the 2021-2022 Netflix renovations. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020

The rear of the 78 seat house. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020

On the ramp looking up from the Spielberg Theatre entrance. Up above is the expanded lobby with the original lobby space back behind the columns. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The main auditorium entrance straight ahead, the ramps and steps to the now-vanished Spielberg are seen on the right. Photo: Wayne Nabeta on Flickr - 2008 

The vista back out to the forecourt from the inner lobby. That's the elevator to the balcony and booth at the right. Photo: Wayne Nabeta on Flickr - 2008. Thanks, Wayne! Check out the rest of his Egyptian Theatre photo set for many shots of other areas of the building. 

The inner lobby. The auditorium is on the right. It's a photo from Pleasure Palate on Flickr, part of the '06 Egyptian Theatre Tour set which has 46 interesting photos of the Egyptian.

The inner lobby from house left. Here the original area under the booth can be seen as the ceiling. The auditorium is to the left, the expanded lobby area off to the right. The steps in the foreground lead down to the original side aisle elevation behind us. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The house left stairs to the balcony and booth. There's also an elevator that was added in the 1997-1998 renovations. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

A bit of lobby ceiling restoration work being done by Silverlake Conservation. It was one of many projects was made possible by the 2016 grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The photo was part of a post on the Egyptian Theatre Facebook page

The new carpet inside the front doors. The 2017 project was made possible by a $500,000 grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that also went toward other improvements such as seat recovering, roof repairs and forecourt mural restoration. Thanks to Tony Hoover of Red Line Tours for the photo. It's one of four he posted on Facebook.

Looking in from the doors. The design for the carpet project was by Daelen Cory and Paul L'Esperance of L'Esperance Design and Sandra Costa of Sandra Costa Design Group. It's a 2017 Tony Hoover photo.

A view of the lobby pattern out beyond the rays of the sunburst.  Photo: Tony Hoover - 2017

The new carpet heading down the house left aisle. Photo: Tony Hoover - 2017. Also see a video of the new carpet on the Egyptian Theatre Facebook page.

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