Also see: Hollywood Playhouse / Avalon: interior views
Status: The theatre is now a concert facility and music club called Avalon Hollywood. Also in the building is Bardot at 1737 Vine St., a somewhat separate restaurant and club occupying the second floor areas fronting on Vine St. as well as the rooftop patio behind those spaces. Use of all the areas is fluid depending on the requirements of a particular event. There are patio photos at the bottom of this page. Scroll down to the bottom of the interior views page for several photos of the Bardot space.
Phone: 323-462-8900 Website: AvalonHollywood.com | History | Bardot | Facebook |
Never a film house, it's always been a live venue of some sort. After its early legit career it became a TV studio. The building got a major makeover in 2003.
Architects: Gogerty and Weyl. Henry L. Gogerty (1894-1990) and Carl Jules Weyl (1890-1948) also designed many other Hollywood buildings. See some of their other projects listed on the Theatres by Architect page. Steffan Horbaczek was responsible for the building's decoration. Earlier he worked as a painter for William Lee Woollett on the Metropolitan Theatre and also painted sets for the Los Angeles Grand Opera Association.
One sheet of the Gogerty and Weyl plans for the building from the collection of Joël Huxtable. He's a lighting designer who also took on the task of being the theatre's archivist until 2009. He's continued collecting material about the building.
Seating: Originally 1,178. The main floor has been terraced and seats removed. In 1949 the capacity was listed as 1,142 with 656 of that on the main floor, 178 in the balcony loges, 296 in the balcony upper section and 12 in the boxes.
Stage specs: The proscenium is 37 '8" wide and 45' high. It's 34' 4" from the curtain to the backwall. The stage is 71' wall to wall. Grid height is 71'. It was originally a hemp house but a number of counterweight sets have been added. You'll find more details about the stage down near the bottom of the interior views page.
The Playhouse in the Movies:
A look up the main lobby stairs in Taylor Hackford's "Against All Odds" (Columbia, 1984). That entrance into the auditorium from the landing is a recent modification. The Avalon gets a starring role as Jake's Palace, a nightclub owned by James Woods. The film also stars Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more shots of the theatre from the film.
We're at the Hollywood Playhouse for interior views of a club they're calling the Ritz for the title number near the end of "What's Love Got To Do With It" (Touchstone Pictures, 1993). The film about Tina Turner (Angela Bassett) and her abusive husband Ike (Laurence Fishburne) was directed by Brian Gibson. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several more Playhouse shots as well as views of the State Theatre, the Warner Grand in San Pedro, the Academy in Inglewood, and the Chinese.
The Playhouse in the 20s:
A 1927 Mott Studios photo in the collection of the California State Library. In the display cases are posters for the theatre's opening attraction "Alias The Deacon" staring Berton Churchill, then the biggest star on Broadway. There's also a version of this photo in the Bruce Torrence Historic Hollywood Photographs collection, #T-025-4. Also see an "Alias" photo in the California State Library collection, with a cutout of Churchill.
The Mott Studios photos of the Playhouse in the California State Library collection include many not shown here on this page. They're in four sets: 5 photos - set # 01384357 | 15 photos - set # 01384349 | patio - 3 photos - set # 01384348 | lobby stairs - 3 photos - set # 01384347 |
Eight of the Mott Studios photos appear beginning on page 35 of the April 1928 issue of Pacific Coast Architect. Thanks to Mike Hume for finding the issue on Internet Archive. The publication mistakenly credits Morgan, Walls & Clements as designers of the building.
The theatre's initial operator, Ed Rowland, generally brought in traveling shows, largely dramas. By 1928 Henry Duffy was booking his productions into the theate. Duffy also produced at the El Capitan and at the President Theatre (the former Morosco, later renamed the Globe) downtown on Broadway. Noted performers in the early years of the Playhouse included the Duncan Sisters, Charlotte Greenwood, and Billie Burke.
A nice 1934 exterior view from the California Historical Society. Leon Gordon is appearing in "White Cargo." It's in the USC Digital Library collection. The production of the play at the Playhouse was mentioned in a news item in the Reading Eagle. Mr. Gordon was also the author of the play. A later production of it ran over a year at the Beaux Arts Theatre in 1939 and 1940. A version of the photo is also in the Bruce Torrence Historic Hollywood Photographs collection as their item #T-025-11.
A flyer for a December 1937 Federal Theatre Project Children's Festival. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating it for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
Also see the Federal Theatre Project Materials Collection items at George Mason University. You can search their site by city, show title or theatre name. They have nine Hollywood Playhouse items.
Wikipedia has a poster for the Federal Theatre event "Concert of Modern Dance Now" with Myra Kinch & Group.
A c.1938 look down on the Playhouse from Life. The banner is touting stage shows at popular prices. The title of the show on the marquee seems to be something called "Black Empire." Check out the new "Vodvil Playhouse" sign on the roof above the entrance.
Another c.1938 aerial photo from Life. The Hollywood Playhouse is down in the lower left corner. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Tourmaline for finding the two Life aerial shots. They appear, along with several recent views of the building, on Noirish Los Angeles post #35795.
A program for Ken Murray's "Blackouts of 1942" from the collection of Marlaine Hysell. The rear of the program, and other items, appear on the Ken Murray's "Blackouts" page.
Thanks to Eric Lynxwiler on Flickr for this ad for the 1944 edition of "Blackouts" from Playgoer magazine. It's in his terrific Paper Ephemera collection.
A 1947 look north on Vine St. as the theatre celebrates the 5th year of Ken Murray's "Blackouts." Ken McIntyre found the shot for Photos of Los Angeles. Another photo taken that same week appears in the Bruce Torrence Historic Hollywood Photographs collection, #BLO-008.
A 1948 look at the theatre during the run of "Blackouts of 1948." It's a Bob Plunkett photo on the postcard from Cezar Del Valle's collection. Cezar is a Brooklyn-based theatre historian with
a fondness for Los Angeles Theatres. Check out his adventures on the Theatre Talks blog. Thanks, Cezar!
The Plunkett card also appears in the Angel City Press book "Spectacular Illumination: Neon Los Angeles 1925-1965" by Tom Zimmerman with J. Eric Lynxwiler. Chris Nichols discussed the book and included this card and other Hollywood views with his August 2016 Los Angeles magazine article "These Photos Will Transport You to a Neon-Soaked 1930s Hollywood." A non-postcard version of the photo is in the Huntington Library collection.
A lovely shot for Life looking north on Vine. Note the roof sign for "Ken Murray's Blackouts" as well as the El Capitan lettering on the stagehouse. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for posting the shot, along with other Life Hollywood views, on his Noirish post #44282.
A 1952 look at the theatre as an NBC studio. Note that we've lost the 30s marquee but still have the "El Capitan" signage on the side. The photo appears in Gregory Paul Williams' great book "The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for spotting the photo for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
A lovely look south on Vine in 1953 from the collection of Electrospark on Flickr. That's the theatre's stagehouse on the far right of the photo. It's also been seen as a post by Alison Martino on Vintage Los Angeles and on Photos of Los Angeles.
Looking east toward the rising Capitol Records building in 1955. That's the Hollywood Playhouse over there on the right. Thanks to Michael Lee price for his post of the photo on Vintage Los Angeles.
A view south on Vine St. in 1956 from Richard Wojcik on Vintage Los Angeles taken shortly after the opening of the Capitol Records building. The Playhouse is tucked in to the left of the Knickerbocker. Thanks, Richard!
Another 1956 view, this time from from the north. It's a Howard Kelley photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Another version, zoomed in a bit, is on Vintage Los Angeles.
A c.1960 night view looking south on Vine St. added by Ken McIntyre to the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. The outline of the Playhouse can be discerned at the right.
A colorful 1971 look down Vine St. toward Hollywood Blvd. Thanks to GS Jansen for posting it on the Facebook group Mid Century Modern. The theatre (as the Hollywood Palace) is on the right. It's also been on Vintage Los Angeles where Gary Schneider gave it the 1971 date.
The Hollywood Palace in its Merv Griffin Show days. Thanks to Johns Burwell for posting the photo on the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page.
The Playhouse as a music club: After the Merv Griffin show moved elsewhere, the theatre went dark. In 1987 ABC sold the building to Dennis Lidke who did a remodel and opened it as a club called The Palace. A different management team took over sometime in the 1990s. In 2002 the building was purchased by John Lyon and Steve Adelman of Hollywood Entertainment Partners. They rebranded it as the Avalon, replicating the success they had with clubs of that name in other cities.
The rooftop patio:
The Mott Studios photos of the Playhouse in the California State Library collection are in four sets: 5 photos - set # 01384357 | 15 photos - set # 01384349 | patio - 3 photos - set # 01384348 | lobby stairs - 3 photos - set # 01384347 |
A c.2015 Vero Image photo from the Avalon's Bardot page. We're looking north with the auditorium off to the left.
The other El Capitan: This venue on Vine St. just borrowed the name temporarily. The Hollywood Blvd. El Capitan opened with that name in 1926 and got it back in 1991 after five decades as the Paramount.
The Hollywood Playhouse / Avalon pages: back to top - history + exterior views | interior views |