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Music Box/Fox/Pix/Fonda Theatre: history

6126 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028  | map |

More Music Box/Fonda pages: street views | rooftop patio | lobby areas | auditorium | backstage |

Opened: October 20, 1926 as the Carter DeHaven Music Box with the revue "Fancies." The original concept was to offer revues (in the Ziegfeld style) in the auditorium with dancing (and illicit drinking) in the open-air cabaret space above the lobby. The November 1926 Dick Whittington Studio photo is in the USC Digital Library collection. Note one of the KNX transmission towers on the Hoffman Studebaker building next door.

Phone: 323-464-6269   Online: | | on Facebook

Seating: It was advertised as 1,000 originally. On the plans it's 980. 660 were on the main floor, 320 in the balcony. In 1999 it was listed as 863 with 572 on the main floor and 291 in the balcony. The seats have been removed on the main floor and the floor leveled. Total space in the building is about 31,000 SF.

Architects: Morgan, Walls & Clements. The structural engineer was Oliver G. Bowen. According to the plans, the "theatre and store building" was erected for Carl B. Brunson. He was manager of the Beverage estate that owned the property. Many items shown on the plans were omitted during construction including a fountain on the rooftop patio, large basement lounges and restrooms, dressing rooms on two levels offstage left, a paintshop and paint bridge and a rooftop penthouse apartment. 
A set of plans for the project was located by Mike Hume in the Morgan, Walls & Clements archives at the Huntington Library. The first set of 23 begins with drawing #996 and goes to drawing #1018. A set of 8 structural drawings begins with drawing #1776 and goes through drawing #1783. Visit the Index to the MW&C Drawings that Mike has been compiling for his Historic Theatre Photography site. There's also an index by Mike Callahan on Internet Archive

The second floor of the facade featured a rooftop loggia along Hollywood Blvd. Originally roofed but otherwise open, the Hollywood Blvd. side of the loggia was soon enclosed. This detail of the east half of the facade is from drawing #1009 on the Huntington's site.  Morgan, Walls & Clements archives at the Huntington Library. Also see a full width elevation. That one is taken from drawing #1005.

Marquee details. On the left it's the west end panel. The center is a half elevation of the front. On the right it's the view you'd get from of the inside of the end panel if you were looking east. These are from drawing #1011, where there are several more views. MW&C labeled this as sheet 11A. Some earlier versions are on drawing #1010 where there's a note saying head to 11A for revisions. You can click on this for a larger view or head to the Huntington's site for jumbo versions.  

A section looking west through the building's centerline, one of a number of interesting views on drawing #1007, a sheet showing revisions as late as July 28, 1926. This plan shows the crossed-out penthouse on the roof just downstage of the proscenium wall. The deleted lounge and restroom areas in the basement also got an X. The patio fountain got the note "omit fountain." See several nice section drawings on the auditorium page looking toward the proscenium and toward Hollywood Blvd.

The west elevation with revisions as late as June 1, 1926. The plan shows the windows and fire escape for the stage left dressing rooms, later omitted. Also see the full sheet that also includes the east elevation. Faint outlines show the omitted penthouse on top of the auditorium near the proscenium. On the Huntington site this is drawing #1006.

An elevation of the stage end of the building from drawing #1005. The sheet this appears on was revised as late as April 12, 1926. The back wall ended up with no openings other than the loading door. Here it's shown on the centerline but it ended up farther to the left. 

A basement plan from the Huntington Library collection, from their drawing #996. Also see a detail of the stage area basement. Note the boiler room and battery room under the east storefronts. There's no basement under the entrance and inner lobby areas. Under the auditorium there are air handling tunnels, indicated with dotted lines. On earlier drawings it's seen that there were plans for basement lounges and restrooms.

A 1st floor plan. Also see details of the stage and the lobby areas. This is from drawing #998 on the Huntington's site. Also see a mezzanine plan. On the Huntington site that one is drawing #1000.

A balcony plan. Also see details of the stage and the patio areas. The dressing rooms we see offstage left were never built. They are all in the basement. On the Huntington site this is drawing #1002. Also see a roof plan that includes the patio and a fan room at that level. On the Huntington site that's drawing #1004
Stage Specifications: The proscenium is 36' 6" wide and approximately 30' high. Stage depth is 27' 9" from the smoke pocket to the back wall. The grid is 58' 5" high. It's a hemp house. Head to the backstage page for more details.

The project had been announced in the September 13, 1925 issue of the L.A. Times. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the article. Initial investors in the theatre included John Barrymore, John Gilbert, Reginald Denny, King Vidor and Mae Murray.

 The September 13, 1925 Times article.

The drawing also appeared in the September 13 issue of the L.A. Illustrated Daily News but with this version we got a shot of stage/vaud actor Carter DeHaven on the right and company officer William Holman on the left. Thanks to J.H. Graham for including the clipping in her extensively researched article "6126 Hollywood Boulevard: Music Box Theatre." J.H. is the author of the Avery Shepard Detective Mystery series. She comments on the land:
"The land the theater was built on, like Hoffman Studebaker's, was leased from the estate of Daeida (Ida) Beveridge. Often called the 'Mother of Hollywood,' she had owned the large ranch property with her husband, Harvey Henderson Wilcox. The couple came to the area from Topeka, Kansas and subdivided Hollywood in 1887. 
"Wilcox passed away in 1891; in 1892, Ida married Philo Beveridge. Ida Beveridge controlled the Wilcox land holdings and, when Hollywood incorporated in 1903, donated land for many of its civic buildings. She passed away in 1914 and her estate manager, C.B. Brunson (who was married to the Beveridge’s daughter Phyllis), developed the property as Hollywood turned increasingly commercial."

The same rendering of the early design concept also appeared in the October 1925 issue of Los Angeles Realtor as part of a collage titled "Five New Playhouses for Hollywood." The others were the Warner, Chinese, Hollywood Playhouse and El Capitan.

John Barrymore was to be involved in the groundbreaking. Thanks to Kenneth McIntyre for locating this April 1926 L.A. Daily News item for a post for the Photos of Los Angeles private Facebook group. Somehow they thought it was to be called the Band Box.  

Mae Murray had the "champagne" duties for the event on May 1, 1926. Thanks to April Clemmer for locating this article. Visit the April's Old Hollywood site for information on walking tours and special events she hosts. She's also on Facebook

Thirty-eight chorus girls rehearsing for the opening. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for spotting this photo that went out on October 8, 1926 from International Newsreel Photo ("Watch Your Credit") when it was on eBay. He shared it on Noirish post #61226. The caption: 

"CHORUS GIRLS - Los Angeles - You have to be good to get in the chorus of a modern revue -- here are some of the girls demonstrating the fact, and rehearsing for the Music Box Revue, which is to bring the Ziegfeld, White and Carroll idea into the heart of Hollywood."

A drawing by Charles Owens that appeared in the October 17, 1926 L.A. Times. They commented: "Melody and pulchritude will predominate in Carter De Haven's Music Box according to the producer."

Another drawing appearing in the October 17, 1926 issue of the Times.

This article appeared (with the two drawings above) in the October 17, 1926 Times under the headline "Hollywood's Second Playhouse to Open Tomorrow Night." The article notes that the first legit house in Hollywood had been the El Capitan. The two additional legit theatres mentioned as opening soon were the Vine St. (now the Montalban) and the Hollywood Playhouse (now the Avalon).

This opening night ad appeared in the October 20, 1926 Times. Thanks to Mike Hume for locating these 1926 Times items. See the Fonda Theatre page on his Historic Theatre Photography site for many of his fine photos of the building. 
They had planned to open on the 18th but had a two day delay when the orchestra leader got sick. An article on the 20th noted that "De Haven announces that the two-day postponement caused by the illness of Arthur Kay has enabled him to round-out his show so that the first-night audience can be assured of a smooth performance." J.H. Graham comments on the grand opening, with seats going for $11:
"Though local theater critics raved about the show, 'the most brilliant premiere in the history of California' was not without its hiccups. Journalist Dan Thomas in his syndicated column, 'These Movie Folk,' wrote that 'first-nighters were given more than they expected. In the second act, the stage was adorned with settings from two different scenes, which didn’t match at all. I am told that all of the stagehands were, well, intoxicated.'"

A 1926 program cover. Thanks to April Clemmer for locating it. 

Carter DeHaven's initial revue didn't last long, nor did he as the theatre's operator. "Fancies" soon closed and was replaced Thanksgiving Day by "The Hollywood Music Box Revue" featuring ex-Ziegfeld Follies star Lupino Lane. That closed January 30, 1927. The theatre's new operator, Louis O. Macloon, signed a lease in January.

"40 Bewildering Broadway Beauties." Macloon revamped the "Music Box Revue" around Fanny Brice  and opened the new edition February 2. Thanks to J.H. Graham for locating the February 1 Hollywood Daily Citizen ad for her Music Box article. The Times critic Edwin Schallert reviewed "the 1927 Spring edition of the Hollywood Music Box Revue" on February 3. Ms. Graham notes that the show got retitled in March and moved to the Biltmore as the "Fanny Brice Revue."
Programming then became a mix of musical revues and legit drama with performers including Clark Gable and Bela Lugosi. Gable's appearance was in 1927 with Nancy Carroll in the west coast premiere of the play "Chicago." 

A news item about the opening of "Chicago" in 1927. Also see a photo of a scene from the play and a cartoon of Clark Gable in his role as a police reporter. Thanks to April Clemmer for locating these items. 
An ad for "Chicago" that appeared in the April 29, 1927 issue of the L.A. Times. The Orange Grove Theatre that Macloon was also running at the time went through many names, ending up as the Grand Theatre. Macloon was also the initial tenant at the Playhouse on Figueroa St., a venue later known as the Variety Arts Theatre

"If you can't secure tickets for Grauman's Chinese - Don't go home disappointed - See 'Chicago' - It's a great laughing show." This was the theatre's ad in the May 18, 1927 issue of the Times. Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for locating it. He notes that it appeared right above the opening day ad for the Chinese. Kurt curates the amazing site  

This June 6, 1927 Times article noted that Macloon had engaged a dance orchestra at "considerable expense" for his new musical production "Peggy Ann," opening that week. The show ended up closing June 28, three weeks ahead of schedule. A June 30 Times article noted that director Lillian Albertson (Macloon's wife) decided she wanted a different type of lead actor and had given Barrett Greenwood a two-week notice. Instead of playing out the time, he said he was sick and refused to go on. 
Complaints to Actors Equity went nowhere as they said weren't able to find the performer. The show already had an understudy for the female lead and rather than having neither of their advertised stars appear, they decided to close. A July 1 Times article discussed Macloon's claim against Actors Equity for $5,000 in expenses due to the show having to close early. An Equity representative said they were investigating Greenwood's "illness" and called the claim for damages "absurd." 

The reopening program on July 16 included a feature film, vaudeville, a travelogue, and a newsreel plus rooftop dancing and a cabaret performance at no extra charge. This article from the July 10, 1927 issue of the Times noted that "...producers are eyeing this development with interest." Thanks to Mike Hume for locating these 1927 items. It's nice that there would be "no couvert charge" for the post-show cabaret. 

Macloon was gone by early 1928. Up next as a lessee was George Sherwood. His production of Daniel Rubin's play "Women Go On Forever" with Bessie Bariscale opened March 13 and ran until early May. Thanks to J.H. Graham for sharing this March 15 L.A. Evening Express ad in her article "6126 Hollywood Boulevard: Music Box Theatre." She notes that the show had a run on Broadway from September to December 1927.

"Cast of 250." Sherwood next booked the Pasadena Community Playhouse production of Eugene O'Neil's "Lazarus Laughed" for a moveover engagement. Thanks to J.H. Graham for locating the May 12, 1928 ad in the Times. The show played from May 15 to May 31. 
The theatre was dark until a June 18 one-week booking of the Imperial Theatre Artists of Tokio production of a sword play with music and dancing called "Ken-Geki," Among the producers were the Philharmonic Auditorium's L.E. Behymer, Sid Grauman, Samuel Goldwyn, Cecil B. DeMille and Joe Schenck.  

The theatre got a page in "Hollywood Today 1928," a 64 page rotogravure magazine published by the Hollywood Daily Citizen. Thanks to Eric Lynxwiler for scanning all the pages and sharing the publication as an album on Flickr. The Music Box page also appears in the "Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Group Pool" on Flickr that's curated by Michelle Gerdes. The exterior shot was taken during the May run of "Lazarus Laughed." The ticket lobby view in the lower right was shot during the run of "Women Go On Forever."

Max Dill, formerly of the vaudeville team of Kolb and Dill, rented the house for his production of the musical comedy "Pair O' Docs," opening August 22, 1928. Thanks to J.H. Graham for locating the August 19 ad in the Times for her Music Box article. She notes that the show moved downtown to the Mayan Theatre on September 16.    
Next up was a production of "Tarnish" starring Virginia Valli and Albert Gran. Ms. Graham has the story: 
"Dixie McCoy, former head of casting at the Christie movie studio, took over the theater’s lease on September 7, 1928. She intended it as a venue for her own production company, to offer a series of dramas starting with Gilbert Emery’s play 'Tarnish,' which had run on Broadway at the Belmont Theater from October 1923 to May 1924. McCoy’s production opened at the Music Box on September 25, 1928 and closed November 4. Although McCoy had indicated in October that she would be announcing further productions for the Music Box 'soon,' instead she announced that she was moving her production company to the Vine Street Theater at 1615 N. Vine."

After the run of "Tarnish," the theatre was dark until a November 16 to 31 booking of "Simba," an African travelogue film by Mr. and Mrs. Martin Johnson. "Not staged as a movie -- as natural as God made it." Thanks to J.H. Graham for the research and for locating this November 15, 1928 ad in the Hollywood Daily Citizen. She notes that the film had earlier had a run at the Biltmore. 

The house was dark between the run of "Simba" and the December 25, 1928 return of Lupino Lane starring in a new version of the "Hollywood Music Box Revue." Thanks to J.H. Graham for locating the opening day ad in the L.A. Evening Express for her Music Box article. She notes that the show ran until February 4 and that the theatre was dark until April 13 except for an Easter service rental to Rheba Crawford.

O.D. Woodward signed a five year lease on the house in March 1929, according to research by J.H. Graham. Woodward's production of the Frederick Lonsdale comedy "High Road" featuring a "lavish New York production and notable cast" opened April 13. Woodward's next production was "Dracula," opening May 19 and starring Bela Lugosi, who had played the part in New York as well as in Woodward's staging of the show that had played the Biltmore in the summer of 1928. See Ms. Graham's Music Box article for details about these productions as well as a fine collection of ads. 


By the fall of 1929 it had become Harry Carroll's Music Box Theatre. Thanks to J.H. Graham for locating this ad for "Harry Carroll's Revue" in the September 17 issue of the Los Angeles Record. She notes that the show closed October 22 and poor Harry had to sell his Santa Monica house to pay debts from this production. The theatre went dark again. 
Beginning December 23, 1929 there was a very short run of a farce titled "Maternally Yours," written by local attorney Clarence O'Dell Miller and Ole M. Ness. When it folded before New Year's Eve, the theatre cobbled together a vaudeville show. See Ms. Graham's Music Box article for details and ads. 

In 1930 it was sometimes referred to as the Civic Repertory Theatre as that group was the tenant for a busy season of shows. The group had earlier been calling themselves the Los Angeles Repertory Theatre. Thanks to J.H. Graham for locating this January 27 L.A. Evening Express ad for "And So to Bed," their first production in the house. It's included in her Music Box article. Other productions in 1930 by the Civic Rep included "A Romantic Comedy" in March and "The Hero" in April.

Agnes DeMille was one renter of the house in 1930 for a dance recital. Thanks to J.H. Graham for locating this July 9 ad in the L.A. Record.  

Fall 1930 Civic Rep productions included "The Apple Cart" by George Bernard Shaw and "The Infinite Shoe Black" in November and "Peter Pan" in December. Ms. Graham notes that the group hoped to build their own theatre on the grounds of the Hollywood Bowl. That plan had been percolating for some time. See a September 16, 1926 article in the L.A. Times, written at a time when the group was calling itself the Art Theatre of Hollywood.

"The Show of Shows!" In 1931 the theatre was the home to a Civic Rep production of Dorothy and DuBose Heyward's play "Porgy" that opened January 5. Thanks to J.H. Graham for locating the opening day ad in the Times for her Music Box article. She notes that Civic Rep cancelled part of their 1931 season due to financial woes. The play, directed by Alan Mowbray in this production, was later the source material for Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess."
Later 1931 shows by other producers included a Dickson Morgan presentation of Mrs. Leslie Carter, "America's Greatest Emotional Actress," in John Colton's "The Shanghai Gesture," opening April 20. Another Morgan show, "Precedent," opened September 21 and closed October 3. The theatre reopened Christmas Day with the Wilbur Players in "Easy For Zee Zee," a show that stayed afloat until February 7. 
Richard Wilbur, the director of the Wilbur Players, now managed the house and promised a new show every Friday. "It's a Wise Child" opened February 19, 1932 but the season fizzled after four shows. "Hit the Air," a musical radio spoof produced by Harry M. Sugerman, opened April 26, 1932. These shows are all detailed in J.H. Graham's Music Box article. She notes that the Music Box, like other legit houses at this time, sometimes had long dark periods. 

Anna May Wong arriving for the December 28, 1932 premiere of "Grand Guignol," a program of four horror plays. Thanks to Scott Collette for locating the Bettman Archives/Getty Images photo and a number of newspaper articles about the production for a post on his Forgotten Los Angeles Facebook page. One article by Eleanor Barnes had this comment:

"In a house that has frequently been termed a 'jinx' place, because there have been many theatrical flops staged there, a first night audience comprised of stars of first magnitude, welcomed the project and lent a supporting hand. This confidence was not misplaced." 


"Not responsible for any deaths." A nurse and an undertaker were on duty. It's a December 28, 1932 Times ad for the production that was located by Scott. The quartet included "Something More Important" by H.F. Maltby, an insane asylum piece by Andre de Lorde called "The Old Women" that featured Adda Gleason, "Eight o'Clock" by Reginald Berkeley and "E.A.O.E." by Eliot Crawshay-Williams. George K. Arthur was the producer. Scott comments: 

"One week later, they reported that 14 people had fainted during the show's run, 10 of whom passed out during 'The Old Women.' This, of course, got the attention of movie studios, who reportedly got in touch with the play's producer to discuss adapting the plays as films, though nothing ever came of it. A few weeks later, they ended the run with those four plays and swapped them out with four new ones, keeping the horror show going as a Saturday matinee for several months in 1933."

Mary Mallory, in her history of the theatre for the Only in Hollywood site, notes that MGM used the house in 1934 to give some of their players a bit of legit experience, calling the group the MGM Stock Players. The Music Box later went through a number of other operators and formats. In 1936 it became a radio studio for CBS. In the 1937 city directory it's the Columbia Music Box, in 1940 it's listed as the CBS Lux Radio Theatre

The theatre returned to legit operation in 1940. "Meet the People" had a run at the Hollywood Playhouse and was moving to the Music Box. Thanks to J.H. Graham for locating this August 15, 1940 ad in the Hollywood Citizen-News. It's one of many ads included in her Music Box article. She notes that this was a production of the Hollywood Theatre Alliance, a group that signed a five year lease on the theatre. They didn't stick around that long.  
In April 1942 the theatre had a run of "Life With Father" starring Dorothy Gish and Louis Calhern. Later in 1942 it was called Abbott's Music Box. In November 1942 George Shafer presented the Duncan Sisters in "Topsy and Eva" at the Music Box. No mention of Abbott.

Bela Lugosi in "Arsenic and Old Lace." Thanks to Scott Pitzer for posting this 1943 ad, as well as a short article about the engagement, on the page for the Photos of Los Angeles private Facebook group.

A February 1944 ad for the revue "Yours For Fun" from collection of Eric Lynxwiler on Flickr. It appeared in an issue of Playgoer magazine. Don't miss the rest of Eric's wonderful Paper Ephemera album. At last look he had over 1,800 items in it.   

George Shafer was back as a producer in 1944 with Rose La Rose in "Too Many Sarongs," followed by the Jack Mosser production of the revue "Big Little Show." Thanks to J.H. Graham for locating the ad in the August 11 issue of the Hollywood Citizen-News.  

Becoming a film house: Fox West Coast assumed operation of the house in 1945 and after a remodel it opened February 1, 1945 for movies as the Guild Theatre

A January 31, 1945 story about the name change and reopening with "appropriate festivities" that was located by April Clemmer.   

"Grand Opening! A New Deluxe First Run Theatre in Hollywood." Thanks to J.H. Graham for all her research. This January 31, 1945 Citizen-News ad is one of many she included in her article "6126 Hollywood Boulevard: Music Box Theatre." J.H. is the author of the Avery Shepard Detective Mystery series. 
A February 2 L.A. Times article located by Mike Hume noted the transition: 
"Guild Joins First-Run Group With Double Bill - A brightened and refurbished Hollywood Music Box deserted the 'legit' and radio for the films yesterday when it joined the first-run United Artists and Fox Wilshire theaters as the re-christened Guild. The program, somewhat less of an event, comprised two from R.K.O. Radio - 'Bride by Mistake' and 'The Falcon in Hollywood.'..."


An April 1946 ad for the Guild. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating this ad and the one below. 

The Guild, and two other Fox houses, were looking for usherettes in 1946.
CBS leased it again for several years beginning in 1948 for radio productions including the Tide Show with Dinah Shore and others.

It was renamed the Fox and became a film house again on May 26, 1954, opening that night with "Night People" plus a sneak preview. Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating this May 25 ad. After a bit more renovation, it was advertised as the New Fox beginning July 28, 1954.

Cinemiracle at the Fox: In December, 1958 it got the moveover of "Windjammer," the first (and only) film in Cinemiracle. It had previously been at the Chinese for a 40 week reserved seat run. It was a 3 projector + separate sound dubber process much like Cinerama, except the gear was all in one center booth. At the Chinese that involved a new booth and proscenium remodel for a 90' screen. The best guess is that for the Music Box/Fox run they made a composite print of the three negatives and it was run in standard 35mm Cinemascope format. The reserved seat engagement opened Christmas day and ran 15 weeks. See more about the Cinemiracle question at the bottom of the page.

As the Pix: The theatre became the Pix on September 30, 1959 when Fox West Coast got out and Pacific Theatres started running it. [The Fox name resurfaced on Hollywood Blvd. in 1968 when the Iris Theatre up the street got a remodel and was re-branded as the Fox.]

A Monday September 28, 1959 ad for the Pacific "walk-in" theatres located by Mike Hume. 
The Times ad for September 30, 1959, the first day as the Pix. Thanks to Mike Rivest for the ad.  
Mark Valen comments about bookings:
"In the 60s they were mostly running 2nd run or part of a multiple release. In June '68 Paramount opened 'The Odd Couple' both here and the Plaza in Westwood, as well as a couple of suburban theaters. This was an unusual move as prestige films usually would open exclusively in one theater, but this paid off for Paramount. 
"Then for Christmas 1968 WB decided to open 'Bullitt' exclusively at the Pix (probably because the three big Pacific Theaters in Hollywood were all booked with roadshow engagements (Hollywood Pacific was in the middle of their 2 year run on '2001: A Space Odyssey,' Pantages was doomed with 'Finian’s Rainbow' and the Dome had just opened 'Ice Station Zebra') and 'Bullitt' turned into a smash hit in its exclusive run at the Pix, establishing it as a prime first run house. Over the next few years they had smash first run engagements of 'The Wild Bunch,''Jaws,' 'Saturday Night Fever,' etc. before the theater eventually got seedy and closed."
A 1969 ad for the Pix, World and New View, all operated by Pacific Theatres. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating the ad.
It was still a major house into the 70s. In 1975 it hosted the Hollywood Blvd. run of "Jaws" and later "Rocky." The Pix later ran Spanish language films and eventually closed as a film house in the mid-80s.   
Going legit (again): When the Music Box / Pix was converted back to a legit operation in 1985 by Pacific Theatres in a partnership with the Nederlander Organization it was re-named the Henry Fonda Theatre. The initial season was produced by the Plumstead Theatre Society. The Fonda name came about as a tribute to him as a co-founder of the group, initially called the Plumstead Playhouse, started in New York in 1968 with partners Robert Ryan and Martha Scott.
A 1968 production by the group featured Fonda in "Our Town," playing a 36 performance Broadway run in 1969 at the ANTA Theatre. In 1978 they co-produced the 79 performance Broadway run of "First Monday in October" starring Fonda along with Jane Alexander. Fonda appeared in a March 1979 run of the play with Eva Marie Saint at the Huntington Hartford. See the Wikipedia and Broadway World articles about Fonda for more of his stage credits. He died in 1982.
A November 23, 1984 item in the Times announcing the project. Thanks to Mike Hume for locating the article. 

A November 29, 1984 Times article located by Mike Hume.

An article about the February 10, 1985 dedication appearing in the February 12 issue of the L.A. Times. Thanks to Mike Hume for locating it. The reopening was February 26 with a production of "Twelve Angry Men." After that run, a few other shows played the house including David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," Harold Pinter's "Old Times," "Tru" and "Driving Miss Daisy" but there was not a lot of luck using the building as a venue for live theatre at that time.

As a music club: Around 2002 the main floor seats were pulled out, the floor was leveled, and it had a new life as a music club. For years the moniker was Music Box@Fonda. After many decades of being closed, the original open-air cabaret space on a patio above the lobby was put back into use as an indoor / outdoor lounge area in conjunction with the now-closed Blue Palms Brewhouse. The Palms was in the storefront east of the theatre entrance. There are doors from the restaurant into the theatre lobby so the spaces can be combined for special events.

The club was an operation run by Thaddeus Smith and several partners. In 2011 it became apparent that some ownership shares had changed hands without notifying the building owner. As well, there was an issue with a sublease resulting in an undesirable night club operation in the building. An eviction notice resulted and the operation closed in early January 2012.

Current status: The theatre is now operated by concert promoter Goldenvoice, a division of AEG, and is currently known as the Fonda Theatre. Goldenvoice got their lease in March 2012 and reopened the house on March 17 with a performance by Feed Me with Teeth.

The building is owned by New York-based Leslie Blumberg. It's been in her family since 1945 when her grandfather, Mike Rosenberg, bought the building in partnership with Charles Skouras of Fox West Coast Theatres. Rosenberg passed his interest on to Mike Blumberg, Leslie's father. The Skouras family held on to their share of the property until about 2009.

Ms. Blumberg is now sole owner and, until a 2021 sale, she also had a theatre in Laguna Beach. These two are the last of a group of California theatres her father once owned. His firm, Principal Theatres of America, once had 60 theatres, some solely owned, some in partnerships. Originally allied with the Fox West Coast Circuit, in later years the company's houses were operated in conjunction with Pacific Theatres.

In an August 15, 1928 Variety article Rosenberg's firm (then called Principal Pictures Corp., a partnership with Sol Lesser) was mentioned as having a small stake in Pacific Amusement Co., a firm that had just taken over the Palace (the former Orpheum) downtown. The Rosenberg and Lesser interest in Principal had earlier been owned by Fox West Coast, a fact mentioned in a 1930 Federal Trade Commission decision

In 2019 there was concern that the Fonda's load-in access was going to be imperiled by a new apartment complex planned by MetLife / Trammel Crow for the parking lot to the east of the theatre. Through negotiations with the developers an easement was obtained in August 2019 that will allow trucks to pull straight through to Gower St. after unloading at the rear of the theatre. Curbed L.A.'s Bianca Barragan had the story in August about the new building's approval: "21-story tower next to Hollywood's Fonda Theatre gets go-ahead from city."

The Music Box in the Movies: "Street Of Illusion" (Columbia, 1928) was shooting scenes onstage at the Music Box according to a small item in the Variety May 18, 1928 issue. It's on Internet Archive.

New York City department store clerk Joan Crawford is feeling a bit depressed as she walks down the street until she looks up and sees this on the Music Box marquee in "Our Blushing Brides" (MGM, 1930). Anita Page and Dorothy Sebastian are two other unhappy workers in the store. Robert Montgomery is the owner's son who eventually ends up with Joan. Harry Beaumont directed. Merritt B. Gerstad was the cinematographer. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for data on the play and later film of "Let Us Be Gay" as well as two shots in the May Co. at 8th and Broadway where we can look out the doors and see the Rialto Theatre. 


The Music Box is down the street on the right in this shot from the 18 minute short "Sky Scrappers" (Christie / Paramount, 1930). That's Chester Conklin out on a beam atop the newly completed Guaranty Bldg. at Hollywood and Ivar. Note the Pantages vertical behind him. Thanks to Jeff Hamblin for identifying the film the shot came from. It was directed by Arvid E. Gillstrom and also features Eddie Baker, Doris Hill and Blanche Payson.

The image appears on page 35 of the Arcadia Publishing book "Location Filming in Los Angeles" by Karie Bible, Marc Wanamaker and Harry Medved. They have it identified as an earlier Conklin film, "Cleaning Up." The page with the photo is included in the book's preview on Google Books. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for two more stills Jeff located that were shot on the Guaranty Building as well as a view of the Melrose Theatre. 
The terrific Bruce Torrence Historic Hollywood Photographs collection, now owned by the McAvoy family, includes this photo, #T-023-10, of a 1931 film shoot in the theatre. The title of the film is unknown. We're looking toward the rear of the main floor. Note the standee area behind the columns, later to be an enclosed lobby. In the upper right is a set of stairs to the balcony. 
A Torrence Collection proscenium view from the mystery film shoot, their image #T-023-9. Also in the collection, from the same shoot: another proscenium view, #T-023-15, and another view to the rear of the auditorium, #T-023-17.  

Lana Turner plays aspiring actress Lora Meredith in Douglas Sirk's "Imitation of Life" (Universal-International, 1959). Thanks to Wendell Benedetti for figuring out that it's the Music Box that was used for an audition scene in a New York area theatre. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for six more shots at the Music Box as well as many views of the Earl Carroll Theatre from a sequence near the end of the film.

We get some nice aerial shots in the Jerry Lewis film "The Errand Boy" (Paramount, 1961). In the lower left of the image is a partial view of the Music Box. The Pantages is in the center. To the left of Capitol Records we see the Hollywood Playhouse. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post about the film for a Sunset Blvd. aerial view and visits to the Fox Westwood Village and the Chinese.

The marquee of the theatre (as the Pix, running "Bullitt") is seen at night in the softcore porno film "The Kiss Off" (Canyon Distributing, 1968). There's a clip on YouTube.

We get a fine tour of Los Angeles in Jacques Deray's "The Outside Man" (United Artists, 1973). Here the marquee of the Pix is scintillating in the distance as Jean-Louis Trintignant picks up a hitchhiker. The film also stars Roy Scheider as another hit man and Ann-Margret as the former owner of a bar who gets caught in the middle of the mess. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of a bit of the Vine Theatre and the Cinematheque 16 on Sunset. 

Leslie Ackerman sings her way down Hollywood Blvd. in a great number from "The First Nudie Musical" (Paramount, 1976). The book, music, and lyrics for the movie are by Bruce Kimmel. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for sixteen more shots from the film including views of Hollywood theatre signage and a look at the lobby of the Fox Venice.

Jodie Foster goes looking in Hollywood for one of her missing teenage friends and we get this shot west with the madly flashing vertical of the Pix in the distance and the red X Theatre signage on the right in Adrian Lyne's "Foxes" (United Artists, 1980). The film about drugs, sex and growing up in L.A. also features Cherie Currie, Marilyn Kagan, Kandice Stroh, Scott Baio, Sally Kellerman, Randy Quaid and Lois Smith. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a view of the Ivar Theatre from earlier in the film. 

The entrance of the Music Box is seen as Richard Gere cruises down Hollywood Blvd. in Paul Schrader's "American Gigolo" (Paramount, 1980).

A look at the marquee in "American Gigolo." See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the Egyptian Theatre, the Fox Westwood Village, the Bruin Theatre and the corner of the Fox Wilshire building.

We see a lot of Hollywood Blvd. in Robert Vincent O'Neill's "Angel" (New World, 1984) but this distance view of the marquee flashing wildly is all we see of the Pix. Fifteen year old Molly is a high school student by day, a hooker by night. The film stars Donna Wilkes, Cliff Gorman, Dick Shawn and Rory Calhoun. John Diehl is the killer preying on teenage hookers. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a dozen shots from the film.
We get a fine news-copter view of the west side of the theatre in Ron Shelton's "Hollywood Homicide" (Sony, 2003). See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several Chinese views as well as a shot of Harrison Ford on a bike in front of the Hollywood Theatre, a Pantages view when an evil music mogul pops up from the Metro and an aerial view of the towers of the Warner. Josh Hartnett and Lena Olin costar. 

Joel Murray plays a guy on a cross country killing spree in "God Bless America" (Darko Entertainment, 2012). He's targeting people who lack decency or those who make fun of untalented people, such as the hosts of a TV show having its season finale at the Music Box. When we go inside we're actually at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for another Music Box shot as well as views of the Showcase, the Chinese, and Alex Theatre from the film.  

In "Price Check" (IFC Films, 2012) Eric Mabius and a friend see a show at the Music Box. The film, about exciting adventures in the grocery business, also stars Parker Posey.

The exterior of the Music Box appears for a nightclub scene in the Coen Brothers film "Hail, Caesar!" (Universal, 2016). Interiors were done at the Palladium. We also get shots inside the Los Angeles Theatre and a side view of the Warner Hollywood. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for those.

The auditorium of the Music Box is used for a club in the south of France in "Nina" (RLJ Entertainment, 2016).

The theatre's rooftop pavilion is also seen in the final scene of "Nina" just before the credits roll. The Nina Simone biopic, directed by Cynthia Mort, stars Zoe Saldana as Nina and David Oyelolo as Clifton, the nurse who becomes her friend and manager. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for several more shots.

The Music Box gets a quick drive-by in "The Disaster Artist" (New Line Cinema, 2017) when we see a bit of the town after Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and aspiring actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) move to Hollywood to break into the film business. Later we see lots of the Crest Theatre in Westwood as the location for the big premiere of Wiseau's epic "The Room." See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more about the film.

The Music Box on Video:

This auditorium sidewall view is a shot from "Insider's Peek #8: Music Box" on the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation's YouTube channel. It's a 6 minute video by Don Solosan from 2010. It features then-operator Thaddeus Smith and LAHTF's Hillsman Wright.

More on the Cinemiracle run of "Windjammer" in 1958/59:  A December 7 L.A. Times article "Windjammer in Move December 25" noted:

"...recent improvements in both screen construction and projection techniques involving the Cinemiracle presentation, would become part of the New Fox installation... The house will be dark for several days prior to Christmas while the new system is made ready." 

 Perhaps those "recent improvements" involved showing the film on a smaller screen and junking the elaborate 3 projector installation. At the Fox, like at the Chinese, that would have required a new main floor booth. They were open with other films through December 23.

The best guess is that they made a composite print of the three negatives and it was run in standard 35mm Cinemascope format. The reserved seat engagement opened Christmas day for a 15 week run. It was advertised so one would think it was the same kind of presentation as at the Chinese. A December 24 L.A. Times article had noted that it was "produced and presented in Cinemiracle." Ads noted that it would be "On Giant Cinemiracle Screen" and that "The Giant Wall to Wall Screen Comes Alive" and promised "Never Anything Like It Before."

In defense of the idea that the theatre did run a full 3 projector/7 channel stereo presentation, David Coles offers this comment: 

"Consider this factor - as far as I can see the Chinese was the ONLY Cinemiracle installation where a new permanent projection booth was built. All the other venues (including the Roxy NYC) had 'mobile booths' (like today's containers), or they squeezed the 3 machines into existing booths. As the normal projection room at the Fox was quite high I suspect they put a temporary booth at the rear of the 'stalls' - which could have been done while previous film season was running. I have found multiple instances where 'Windjammer' ran in venues with only a couple of days 'in & out' between seasons. The portability of screen & projection equipment was a major selling point of the National Theatres roadshowing of this film."

More information: See the history of the Music Box Theatre by Bill Gabel and B. Erikson on Cinema Treasures. The Cinema Tour page has some pictures, including three 2003 interior shots contributed by Ken Roe. 

Don't miss J.H. Graham's Music Box Theatre article for discussion of the theatre's history as well a terrific collection of ads. Sandi Hemmerlein's Avoiding Regret site has a fine tour of the theatre via her 2019 photo essay "Standing in the Shadows of Towers in Hollywood (Or: What Will Happen to the Fonda Theatre?)." 

The Pix signage makes an appearance a bit after ten minutes into John Frizzell's "A History of Neon Signs," a 25 minute film from 1984. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for spotting it on YouTube. See the page about the Music Box/Fonda on Mike Hume's Historic Theatre Photography site for many terrific photos of the building. 

Mary Mallory contributed a history of the theatre to the site Only In Hollywood. Also see Mary's article "Fonda Theatre: Flashback" for the Hollywood Partnership. There are also some great pictures of the venue on the Music Box page of Yelp. Also see a 2011 facade view on the Photos of Los Angeles private Facebook group.

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  1. Great blog, thanks to the information shared by bloggers, I am honored to have the opportunity to see these memorable and precious photos.

  2. I spent a lot of time in this theatre as a kid but I never saw it like this. Along with the Hawaii a few blocks west, it was the place to go for the newest "I Was A Teenage Whatever" and Poe flicks. The loss of the Pix marquee was tragic.