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El Capitan Theatre: the lobbies and lounges


A look across the El Capitan's outer lobby near the entrance doors. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010

Cap Equity Locations brokers deals between property owners and companies looking for locations for filming or special events. See their page on the El Capitan Theatre for over two hundred fine photos of all areas of the building.



The view from the entrance toward the inner lobby -- and doors to the auditorium. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



A look to the west side of the bar. At right we have the main stairs to the balcony. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



The outer lobby in 1926. Thanks to the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection for the photo. The doors we see survived the 1942 remodel but were removed in 1964. The balcony stairs lost that exotic balustrade in 1942. The Torrence Collection also has an interesting 1942 comparison photo showing the doors and the stairs following the "moderne" Paramount remodel.

Take a look through the Hollywood Photographs site for several hundred more rare Hollywood theatre photos. Mr. Torrence is the author of "Hollywood: The First 100 Years," reissued by Zoetrope in 1982, and "The Hollywood Canteen," published in 2012.



A 1964 look in from the entrance toward the snackbar. It's a photo from the Boxoffice issue of February 18, 1965 that detailed the remodel done by Statewide Theatres in an article headlined "Dramatic Effects in Remodeled Theatre." The caption notes that the space has "ceramic and plastic wall decorations."



A Boxoffice photo of the half moon shaped snack bar installed in 1964.



The snackbar after the remodel of 1942. It's a photo from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.

The Bruce Torrence Collection has numerous photos of the El Capitan to browse including the best collection of photos available of the theatre after the Paramount remodel of 1942. For the whole array, start in the theatre photos section and scroll down to "El Capitan" for the 20s views. Note that you'll also see photos of the other El Capitan on Vine St., the former Hollywood Playhouse. And then scroll down more to see those photos indexed under "Paramount" for the 1940's photos of the theatre.



A look back toward the entrance doors. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The vista from the south end of the bar toward Hollywood Blvd. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



From behind the bar, looking toward house left along the lobby area behind the main floor. That's Robert Downey, Jr. making a rather stiff personal appearance. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



A 1926 view toward house left. The open standee area was walled off as an enclosed lobby in 1942. Check out those great column capitals, now gone. The photo is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection where they credit it the to the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection. 



We're just in beyond the snackbar looking at the west stairs to the downstairs lounge. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Looking into the auditorium from the lobby. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The wall separating the inner lobby from the auditorium -- it used to be an open standee area here. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



Thanks to Brad Miller for this 2005 photo looking in from the house left side of the inner lobby. It's one of many interior photos by Mr. Miller and other contributors on the Cinema Tour El Capitan Theatre page.



Looking along the lobby at the rear of the main floor back toward the snack bar. The auditorium is at the left and the balcony stairs at the right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The view back from the house left end of the inner lobby after the 1942 remodel by William L. and Hal Pereira. The wall at left was new at the time -- this area was originally open to the back of the auditorium. The doors over on house right, at the center of the photo, were removed in a 1964 remodeling.

The photo appears in "Theatres and Auditoriums," the 1949 book by Harold Burris-Meyer and Edward C. Cole. It's on Internet Archive. Bruce Torrence has a version with better resolution in his Hollywood Photograph Collection.  The Torrence Collection also has a 1942 view of the house right end of the inner lobby.



The house left (east) end of the main floor inner lobby and the stairs to the balcony. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The east balcony stair area in 1926. Thanks to the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection for the photo.



A house left inner lobby stair detail. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



The "East Indian" ornament at the house left end of the inner lobby. The doorways lead to the exit passage on the east side of the building. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



The stairs at the house left end of the inner lobby to the basement lounges. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



The stairs to the basement lounges from the house left end of the inner lobby. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



At the bottom of the house right stairs at basement level. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



Looking east toward the main basement lounge. Rest rooms are at the right. The house right stairs behind us end up near the snackbar in the main lobby. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



The view east into the lounge. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



The basement lounge set up for a party. It's a 2008 photo by Andreas Praefcke on Wikimedia Commons. The site has 42 additional photos of the El Capitan.



A look east through the lower lounge -- filled up with display cases. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



Another view looking east. The doorway at the end is to the house left stairs up to the main floor. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



A lounge ceiling detail. It's one on many photos on History of Disney's El Capitan Theatre, a 2012 post on the Disney Travel Babble blog. Also see the post about Backstage at the El Capitan.



A lounge view looking west. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



The fireplace on the south wall. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



The downstairs lounge in 1926. That's the south wall fireplace on the left side. The Mott Studios photo appeared in a ten page article by G. Albert Lansburgh in the February 1927 issue of Architect and Engineer, available on Internet Archive.



A lounge view from 1926 that's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.  The photo also appears in the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection

Also in the Bruce Torrence Collection from 1926 see another basement lounge view as well as a ladies lounge photo.



The east stairs -- back up to the house left end of the inner lobby. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



The balcony level lobby looking east toward house left. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



A look west down the length of the balcony lobby. The auditorium is off to the left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The west [house right] end of the balcony lobby. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010



Another house right stair view -- and a balcony entrance at the left. Photo: Cap Equity Locations - 2010. Thanks again to Rebecca Reynoso at Cap Equity for the use of the firm's photos. See the El Capitan Theatre page on their site for many more.



The balcony lobby in 1942. The remodeling of the El Capitan into the Paramount rated a full page article in the April 25, 1942 issue of Boxoffice magazine titled "Completed..." The caption to this photo read: "The mezzanine lounge caters to everyone's lazy tropical nature in both decor and furnishings." 



The "milk bar" at the end of the lobby in a 1942 Boxoffice magazine photo. The caption read: "The milk bar in the mezzanine lounge invites refreshment and further relaxation within the theatre."

From the article: "The Paramount's mezzanine lounge is inspirited with ingenuity and 'fool the eye' decoration. Palms seem to grow from the floor and overhang the rafters and there are massive fern beds which emanate ceiling-high metal trellises interlaced with tropical vines. The soft moss-like carpeting is inset with large splotches of deeper tone which give an illusion of deep shade cast by the tropical foliage. Rattan and bamboo furniture selected for comfort completes the scene.

"....The addition of a streamlined 'milk bar' in the mezzanine lounge gave the architects further opportunity to exercise their ingenuity. It too is tropical in inspiration and is built to surround one of the fanciful palm trees. Cocoanut milk as well as all other varieties of soft drinks and refreshments are served and the bar is most popular as a gathering place." 




The balcony lobby with its tropical furniture in 1942.  We're looking toward house right. Note the coconut milk bar down at the end of the lobby.  It's a photo from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection



A closer look at the bar.  Check out the carpet pattern. It's a Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection photo. This one and the photo above also appear in Martin Pal's fine Noirish Los Angeles post #22621 which features a number of other El Capitan photos as well.




The view toward house left in 1926. Thanks to the superb Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection for the photo.

Pages about the El Capitan: El Capitan overview | street views 1925 to 1954 | street views 1955 to present | ticket lobby | back to top - lobbies and lounges | auditorium | backstage |

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