The Fox at night in 2013. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the photo on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles. The facade is the one installed in a 1968 National General remodeling.
Phone: 323-656-4600 Website: www.playhousenightclub.com
Opened: 1918 as the Iris Theatre with 1915's "Birth of a Nation" as the initial attraction.
This new building was a replacement for an earlier Iris located on the other side of the street and a block east, near the present Warner Theatre. The Iris management had started their career with Hollywood's first theatre, initially called the Idle Hour, at 6524 Hollywood Blvd.
Architect: Frank Meline designed the original classical facade with diamond brick patterns and sets of paired columns topped with Grecian urns. The theatre was built for P. Tabor, who had operated the business at the earlier locations as well.
A L.A. Times article about the building getting sold in 1919.
An illustration that appeared with the 1919 Times article. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding these for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
With a 1934 remodel by Clifford Balch it got a deco look. A June 29, 1934 L.A. Times item noted that the decoration was by Robert Power Studios. Gore Brothers were mentioned as operators -- and they hoped their friend the Sid Grauman might officiate at the reopening. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Noir City Dame for finding the article -- it's in her Noirish post #31116 about the theatre.
The L.A. Times article about the 1934 reopening.
S. Charles Lee gave it another renovation and a new marquee in 1955. There was another remodel in 1968 and a re-branding as the Fox Theatre. It reopened December 20 with "The Killing of Sister George." That's the 1968 facade that's still on the building. But the marquee was removed and replaced in 2017.
It was running first run product (occasionally in 70mm) well into the 80's. The Iris/Fox was operated by West Coast Theatres and its successors Fox West Coast, NGC and (lastly) Mann Theatres. It closed as a film theatre in 1994 after a bit of earthquake damage and was used as a warehouse by the chain for several years afterward.
Seating: Originally 1,000 advertised, the later (perhaps more accurate) tally was 814 and down to 647 in the final years.
Status: The venue re-opened in June 2009 as the Playhouse at the Fox nightclub. The lobby area has been expanded and now hosts a fast food restaurant.
The Iris Theatre in the Movies:
We get a look at the outside of the Iris in "Ring Up the Curtain (Rolin Films/Pathé, April 1919). Alf Goulding directed the 14 minute film starring Harold Lloyd, Bebe Daniels and "Snub" Pollard. Here the manager is fuming because his cast hasn't yet appeared and he's frustrated with his somewhat drunk crew. It's unknown where the interiors were shot. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for three more shots. Thanks to silent film detective John Bengtson for spotting the theatre. Check out his latest explorations via the Silent Locations blog "Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)."
Douglas Fairbanks is at the Iris for a scene in "The Nut" (United Artists, 1921). Theodore Reed directed the 70 minute feature about an eccentric investor looking for funding for a plan devised by his girlfriend to help poor children. Others in the cast include Marguerite De La Motte, William Lowery and Gerald Pring. Thanks to John Bengtson for the screenshot. See two more views of the scene at the Iris in the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post.
Actor Lloyd Hughes in front of the Iris in "Hollywood Snapshots" (Hodkinson Films, 1922). Thanks to John Bengtson for the screenshot. It appears, with many other shots from the film, in his Silent Locations post "Hollywood Snapshots - a 1922 Time Machine." He notes that "Facing a public relations nightmare in 1922 over recent scandals, the film community produced 'Hollywood Snapshots,' a promotional film portraying screen folk as wholesome to middle America." See the Historic L.A. Theatres in the Movies post for more about the film.
In the Laurel and Hardy two-reeler "45 Minutes From Hollywood" (Hal Roach Studios, 1926) we get a look at the Iris Theatre on the right, running "What Fools Men," a 1925 release. Thanks to Chris Bungo for the screenshot. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for more on the film.
We get a look west toward the Iris vertical in Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing" (United Artists, 1956) as Sterling Hayden comes out of a store just east of the Warner. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for shots showing the Warner and Lux theatres.
More exterior views:
A glorious 1918 look at the Iris Theatre thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality. It's on his Noirish post #7603. See more photos of the theatre on his post #7611. The 1918 photo is also on Chuckaluck's Noirish post #7622 and Tourmaline's Noirish post #40163. A cropped version of the image is in the Google Books preview of the fine book "The Story of Hollywood" by Gregory Paul Williams."The Family Skeleton" was a March 1918 release.
The Iris in 1919 running "The Test of Honor," an April release with John Barrymore." Thanks to the extraordinary Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection for the photo. The building was designed by Frank Meline. A version of the photo also puts in an appearance on Tourmaline's Noirish Los Angeles post #40163.
Looking west from Wilcox toward the Iris (on the left) in the late 20s. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. Thanks to Chuckaluck, who was exploring the Hollywood and Wilcox intersection and included the photo on his Noirish Los Angeles post #17947.
A 1928 street view looking east -- with the Warner down the street. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
A detail from the 1928 photo above.
A view of the 1934 deco facade designed by Clifford Balch -- just prior to the grand re-opening. John Barrymore on the screen of the Iris again -- this time in "20th Century" with Carole Lombard. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The photo also appears on a fine Water & Power Associates museum page with many other vintage Hollywood photos. And, of course, it can also be seen in the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.
A look at the marquee in 1936 with the Iris running "Thanks a Million" with Dick Powell, a 1935 release. Thanks to contributor Granola for the post on the Cinema Treasures page about the Fox.
A version of the photo also appears on page 66 of the fine 2008 Arcadia Publishing book "Theatres In Los Angeles" by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Marc Wanamaker. Many of the photos in the book are from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives. There's a preview to browse on Google Books.
A detail from the 1936 photo above.
Don't miss the "Owl Show" on Saturdays! "Toast of New York" with Edward Arnold was a 1937 release. It's a Herman Schultheis photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
A 1942 look the Iris, running "The Wife Takes a Flyer" with Joan Bennett, an April 1942 release. In addition to a "News Scoop" we also get "Two Yanks in Trinidad," a March 1942 release. Thanks to transit historian Sean Ault for spotting the image on eBay. The portion above is just a slice.
Here's a wider view, showing the Warner running "Sergeant York" with Gary Cooper, a September 1941 release.
A view of the Iris in 1942 from p.225 of the great book "The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History" by Gregory Paul Williams. The page with the photo appears in the preview on Google Books. The book is available on Amazon.
A delicious 1946 look toward the Iris. It's an Arnold Hylen photo in the collection of the California State Library.
A 40s A look east toward the Warner and the Iris from the collection of Maurice Ideses. It appeared as a post on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.
A 1947 Frasher Foto Card from the Pomona Library appearing on Calisphere. There's also a zoomable version. Looking east we see the Iris Theatre on the right. On the left there's the Academy / Holly Theatre with the towers of the Warner beyond.
A December 1948 view looking east toward the Warner by Arnold Hylen on the Facebook page Arnold Hylen-Photographer-Los Angeles Images of an Era. The Iris Theatre is running a preview of "You Gotta Stay Happy" with Joan Fontaine and James Stewart. Thanks to Greta Gustafsson for making the photo available.
A 1951 Life Magazine photo by Ralph Crane looking east on Hollywood Blvd. The Iris is down the street. On the right is the Ritz Theatre in its newsreel theatre days. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the shot for a post on his Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. It's also on Google/Life Images and Tourmaline has it on Noirish Los Angeles post #35733.
A 1953 California Historical Society photo in the USC Digital Library collection. The Iris is half way down on the left. On the right the Warner is running "This is Cinerama" with the Academy Theatre, later renamed the Holly, down in the next block.
A detail from the 1953 USC photo above.
The Iris in 1954. A last look before the S. Charles Lee facade remodel. The photo is from American Classic Images. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding it -- he had it as a post on Photos of Los Angeles.
A rendering for the 1955 facade remodeling. It's an item from the Herald Examiner in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Their data with the image: "Artist's sketch of the Fox (Iris) Theatre at 6508 Hollywood Blvd. on February 11, 1955, to open soon with lavish movieland premiere fanfare. The 816-seat showcase has been remodeled at a cost of $100,000. Architects: S. Charles Lee and Frank Meline." Mr. Meline had designed the original building in 1918. Presumably he wasn't helping with this remodel as he had died in 1944.
A 1956 postcard view looking east. On the right it's the Iris with the new facade. Note "Cinerama Holiday" playing at the Warner Theatre down the street. The card is one that was part of the collection on the now-vanished website Yesterday LA.
We get a shot of the Warner and Iris in 1956 in a 1 minute clip "Hollywood Blvd. Part 3 - 1956," a video on YouTube from Alison Martino using Getty Images footage. The Iris is running "Friendly Persuasion." Head to "Vintage Videos: Hollywood Blvd in the 40s, 50s, 60," a nice post on LAist that offers a great selection of short video clips.
Yet another 1956 view with "Friendly Persuasion" on the marquee. This time we get a model posing outside in front of Karl's Shoes. The photo is from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.
The Iris in 1956 running "Bambi." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the photo on Photos of Los Angeles.
A look at the Iris in 1961 playing "Two Women" with Sophia Loren. Ken McIntyre had this one on Photos of Los Angeles. The photo can also be seen on the website for the amazing Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.
There's a nice 1963 ride down the street in "Hollywood Blvd 1960 [sic] 'Vintage Los Angeles' on Facebook - Getty Images," a 1 minute+ clip on YouTube from Alison Martino. The Iris has a reissue of the 1954 film "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." Back a bit from the screenshot seen here there's a view of the Academy running a double bill of "Bye Bye Birdie" and the Bob Hope/Anita Ekberg feature "Call Me Bwana." "How the West Was Won" is at the Warner. Thanks to Sean Ault for spotting the footage. The clip also appears on the Getty Images website where they note that it was shot by Warner Bros.
Thanks to Richard Wojcik for this fine December 1963 photo. It was a post of his on Vintage Los Angeles.
A summer 1966 view from the Richard Wojcik Collection on the non-public Facebook group Mid Century Modern Los Angeles. We're looking east along Hollywood Blvd. toward the Warner. Note a bit of the Iris marquee at the right with the film "Maya" playing. It was a June release.
A 1966 photo of the "Batman: The Movie" premiere at the Iris from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives in the Hollywood Historic Photos collection. And, if you have time, there are more Hollywood theatre photos in the collection to browse through. Thanks, Marc!
Thanks to Warren Beckerman for this shot he took looking west with the Iris down the street on the left. The Warner was running "Kaleidoscope," a September 1966 release.
The theatre got a new facade in the 1968 remodel by National General Corp. It reopened December 20 with "The Killing of Sister George." It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
The Fox in 1969 running a reissue of "Dr. Zhivago." It's a happy family from Colombia enjoying an outing on Hollywood Blvd. The photo is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
Thanks to Bill Gabel for this 1972 photo from his collection. It was a post on Photos of Los Angeles. It can also be seen in the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.
Ed Ruscha, perhaps better known for "Twentysix Gasoline Stations" and "Every Building on the Sunset Strip," also had a fling with Hollywood Blvd. Here we get a look at the Fox, at left, in 1973 See the five minute video on YouTube as we go up one side of the street and then down the other.
It was part of the Getty initiative "Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A.." Many of Ruscha's works reside at The Getty. This one, from the "Streets of Los Angeles" archive at the Getty Research Institute, was part of their exhibition "Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future 1940-1990." Mr. Ruscha lives and works in Culver City.
Ed Ruscha's 2002 version of this stretch of Hollywood Blvd.
The Fox running "The First Nudie Musical" (Paramount) in April 1976. The photo appears in "From Dollars to Donuts," the featurette included on the film's DVD. The book, music, and lyrics for the movie are by Bruce Kimmel. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for seventeen shots from the film including views of Hollywood Blvd. at night and two lobby views of the Fox Venice.
A 1986 view west toward Wilcox and the Fox Theatre beyond on the left. It's from Bill Gabel's collection appearing on Photos of Los Angeles. The Warner, at the time called the Hollywood Pacific, is on the right.
A 1992 Los Angeles Public Library photo taken looking west on Hollywood Blvd. during the riots.
The theatre after closing as a film house. Thanks to Bill Ware for the photo on the Facebook group You Know You Grew Up in Hollywood because....
The vacant Fox Theatre's 1968 facade. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007
The view toward the Warner in 2009. That's the Fox on the right -- here with the marquee just rows of vertical fluorescent tubes. Photo: Google Maps | interactive version
The Fox open again as The Playhouse Hollywood. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
The readerboard faces taken off as the first step toward removal and replacement with a digital version. Thanks to John Alvarez for the March 2017 photo on the Facebook group You Know You Grew Up in Hollywood bacause....
Thanks to Michael Moran for this March 15 photo, appearing with his post on the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Facebook page.
A March 28, 2017 photo by Chris Willman taken following removal of the marquee. It appeared as a comment to a post by Michael Moran on the LAHTF Facebook page. Thanks, Chris!
A Michael Moran photo taken April 14. It's on his post on the LAHTF Facebook page that day. Thanks for these, Michael!
A look up at figures revealed from the long-hidden 1934 Clifford Balch deco remodel. The theatre had two facades applied on top of that one in later decades. It's a Michael Moran photo.
Thanks to Michael Moran for another peek at the figures on the facade. It's an April 14, 2017 photo appearing on the the LAHTF Facebook page.
The new digital readerboards at work. Photo: Bill Counter - June 2017
A 1946 shot of the snack bar at the Iris. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the post on Photos of Los Angeles. The photo also appears in the AMPAS Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann Collection and on Ethereal Reality's Noirish Los Angeles post #7604.
The restaurant in the former lobby. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
The bar in the former auditorium space. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
The club sidewall -- no historic elements remain. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
A club view looking toward the screen area. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
The lounge area on the expanded mezzanine level. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
More information: Visit the Cinema Treasures page on the Fox for lots of stories and photos. The Cinema Tour page on the Fox has 8 exterior views.
Ethereal Reality's Noirish Los Angeles post #7611 featured some exterior views from Cinema Treasures as well as other items. Noir City Dame's Noirish Los Angeles post #31116 about the theatre has clippings of articles related to various remodelings.
A February 2019 story on Eater L.A. by Mona Holmes, "City of L.A. Hits Hollywood Nightclub With 40 Criminal Charges," discussed some of the problems The Playhouse has been causing for the neighborhood.
The other Fox Theatre on Hollywood Blvd: The Music Box had been called the Fox in the 40s and 50s but after Fox West Coast exited that theatre, Pacific Theatres took over and changed the name to the Pix. Soon the Fox name appeared on the street again for the remodeled Iris.
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