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Music Box/Fonda Theatre

6126 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028
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The Music Box marquee says "You Can't Stop The Music" -- but the landlord obviously could stop it when he was unhappy about being uninformed of ownership changes in the company running the venue.  Here in February 2012 the theatre was closed following eviction of the tenants -- the building was then leased to concert promoter Goldenvoice.  Photo: Bill Counter

Yes, there's a nice Spanish style facade still under that 1950s vintage cladding on the second story of the theatre. There once was talk (by a previous operator) about restoring the facade.



A November 1926 Dick Whittington Studio look at the Music Box. It's in the USC Digital Library collection.  Don't you love that roof sign?  Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Godzilla for finding the photo in the USC collection and including it in his Noirish post #17466.



An entrance detail from the Dick Whittington photo.  The poster at the left says: "Hollywood Music Box announces 'Hollywood Music Box Revue.' Gala premiere opening Thanksgiving night - with Lupino Lane, featuring 'Pick Of the World Girls' chorus. Staged by Larry Caballos."

Phone: 323-464-6269   Websites: www.goldenvoice.com | www.fondatheatre.com | on Facebook

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. Initial investors in the theatre included John Barrymore, John Gilbert, Reginald Denny, King Vidor and Mae Murray.

The revues didn't last long and soon the Music Box was doing legitimate theatre with performers including Clark Gable and Bela Lugosi, among others. Gable's appearance was in 1927 with Nancy Carroll in the west coast premiere of the play "Chicago."

Architects: Morgan, Walls & Clements

Seating: Advertised as 1,000 originally, perhaps closer to 980. The seats have been removed on the main floor. Total space in the building is about 31,000 SF.

The Music Box Theatre went through a number of managers 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. In 1942 it was called Abbott's Music Box.


A 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.

Becoming a film house: Fox West Coast acquired the house in 1945 and after a remodel opened it February 1, 1945 for movies as the Guild Theatre. CBS leased it again for several years beginning in 1948 for radio productions including the Tide Show with Dinah Shore and others.

It was later renamed the Fox and became a film house again. In 1958 after a spruce-up, it was advertised as the New Fox.

Cinemiracle at the Fox: In December, 1958 it got the moveover of the first (and only) Cinemiracle presentation of "Windjammer," previously at the Chinese for a 40 week reserved seat run. Cinemiracle was a 3 projector + separate sound dubber system 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.

A December 7 L.A. Times article "Windjammer in Move December 25" noted that "...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."

As the Pix: The theatre's name was changed to the Pix by June 1960 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.]

It was still a major house into the 70's. 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.

 

The theatre following the Hollywood Flood of 1962. Thanks to Sean Ault for the photo from his collection. The vertical and marquee signage we see had earlier said "Fox."



 A detail from the view above showing off the Pix signage.

Going legit (again): When the Music Box / Pix was converted back to a legit operation in 1985 by the Nederlander Organization it was re-named the Henry Fonda. A few shows played the house but there was not a lot of luck with the building as a venue for live theatre.

As a music club: Later 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 terrace above the lobby was put back into use as an indoor / outdoor lounge area used in conjunction with the Blue Palms restaurant. The restaurant's entrance is just east of the theatre entrance.

The Stage: The proscenium is 32' wide, stage depth is 28'. It's a hemp house currently with 20 36' long battens on 18" centers. Batten high trim is 60'.

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.



The terrific Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection includes this photo 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. Also in the collection, from the same shoot: another view to the rear | proscenium from back of the house | another proscenium view |  Thanks, Bruce!
 

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 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.

Exterior views of the Music Box (in its Pix days) as well as the Hollywood Theatre appear in "The First Nudie Musical," (Paramount, 1976). The interior theatre shots were done at the Fox Venice. Thanks to Bruce Kimmel for the information -- he was the writer for 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 Theatres in Movies post on the film for shots of the Egyptian Theatre, the Fox Westwood Village, the Bruin Theatre and the corner of the Fox Wilshire building.



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 "Hail, Caesar!" 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 Theatres In Movies post for several more shots.

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.

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.

It had closed early January 2012 after a long run as a music club directed by Thaddeus Smith. Several partial ownership shares in the business had changed hands with the landlord being uninformed of the turnover. An eviction notice resulted. L.A. Weekly had the story.

In the storefront east of the entrance at 6124 Hollywood Blvd. is the Blue Palms Brewhouse. There's a connecting door into the theatre lobby so the spaces can be combined for special events.



The lobby at the rear of the main floor. Here in 1926 it's an open standee area, as it is once again -- now with a bar added. For a number of decades this was walled off to make it a separate space. The Mott Studios photo is one of eight views in the California State Library photo set #001384374.



Another lobby view in the California State Library photo set #001384374.



A 1926 Mott Studios lounge area shot in the California State Library photo set #001384374.



A 1926 main floor photo from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection. Thanks to Martin Pal for finding this one in the Torrence collection and including it (with many more Music Box views) in his Noirish Los Angeles post #28606.



A Mott Studios photo of the proscenium niche house left from the Los Angeles Public Library. It's also in the California State Library photo set #001384374.



This Mott Studios rear auditorium shot is in the California State Library collection. They also have another take of it as their item #001384375. A cropped version appeared in the January 1928 issue of Architect and Engineer, available on Internet Archive. It's also in the October 1927 issue of Architect and Engineer as part of an ad for Calacoustic sound absorbing plaster.



A Mott Studios balcony photo in the Los Angeles Public Library Collection. It's also in the California State Library photo set #001384374.


 
A Mott Studios look at the proscenium from up in the balcony. It's a photo in the California State Library collection, their item #01384371. The photo also appears in the collection of the USC Digital Library.
 


A rare vintage photo of the rooftop pavilion from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection. Thanks to Martin Pal for finding this one in the Torrence collection and including it (with many more Music Box views) in his Noirish Los Angeles post #28606.

The openings at left looked out onto Hollywood Blvd. They've been filled in on the inside and are obscured on the outside by metal cladding on the facade. The colonnade down the center of the image separating this pavilion from the patio at right has also been filled in -- with a wall having doors that open to the patio. At the time of the photo it looks looks like the patio area was tented.  Head to the Bruce Torrence website to browse over 200 more Hollywood theatre photos.
 


The "Tribute to Henry Fonda" on the Movie Pal website includes this photo of the theatre's proscenium during its 80s legit period as the Henry Fonda.  Note that in this photo the niches either side of the proscenium have been filled in.



Also on the "Tribute to Henry Fonda" page is this nice 80s view looking toward the back of the house. It's perhaps the last photo available showing the theatre when it still had seats on the main floor. Note the walled in lobby area at the back of the main floor. It's now been opened up again to its 1926 configuration -- except with a bar added.



A view into the lobby from the website that was up for the theatre in 2009. We're seeing the doors to Hollywood Blvd. in the mirrors.  This wall, once open to the rear of the main floor, was opened up again after the photo was taken.



A look back out toward the main entrance doors from the Music Box website in 2011.



Looking up from the main lobby to the balcony lobby area above. The auditorium is off to our right. Thanks to Albert Domasin for the photo on Flickr. Take a look at all 32 views in his 2012 Music Box Theatre set taken at the LAHTF "all-about" tour that year.



The lobby bar. It's a photo by Albert Domasin on Flickr.



Another look at the lobby bar. At the left a peek into the auditorium, off to the right are the house right stairs to the balcony. It's a photo that once appeared on the Fonda Facebook page.



A 2011 lobby photo from the Music Box website that was up at the time. Take a left through the big arch and you're out toward Hollywood Blvd.



The main floor set up in couch format for a c.2009 event. The photo once appeared on the Music Box website.



A detail of one of the proscenium niches c.2006 by Fariah! on Flickr.
 


A c.2012 view across the main floor -- now flat. It's a photo that once appeared on the Fonda Facebook page.



A c.2010 detail of the lounge area near the house right proscenium niche. It's a photo that was once up on the Music Box website of an earlier management team.



A 2010 proscenium view by former Cinema Treasures contributor Hollywood 90038 that highlights the proscenium plasterwork quite well. The photo, once on the Fonda Theatre Cinema Treasures page, seems to have vanished from there.



The view across the house on a busy night in 2016. Thanks to Steve Raymond for his set of seven Music Box photos appearing on the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page.



The proscenium from the rear of the main floor.  Thanks to Goldenvoice for the 2015 photo, one appearing on the Fonda Facebook page.



The rear of the auditorium viewed from the stage. It's a Don Solosan photo that appeared on the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Facebook page, taken during a 2010 tour.  Thanks, Don!



A 2010 photo by Cinema Treasures contributor Hollywood 90038.



Thanks to Albert Domasin on Flickr for this 2012 view to the back of the house. The light beyond is from the entrance doors onto Hollywood Blvd.



A 2016 view back toward the balcony. Thanks to Steve Raymond for his 2016 photo. This is one in his set of seven Music Box views he posted on the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page.



Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Hollywood 90038 for this back of the main floor photo, now vanished from the site.



A main floor bar detail by Albert Domasin on Flickr. Thanks, Albert!



A balcony view of the theatre's earlier paint job that was on a 2009 version of the theatre's website when the venue was under earlier management.



A view from the balcony. It's a c.2009 photo that once appeared on the Music Box Facebook page.
 


Thanks to Don Solosan for this 2010 balcony photo.



A balcony view that appeared on the Music Box website c.2011.



A panoramic vista from the booth. Thanks to Don Solosan for his 2010 photo.



A c.2009 look toward the Pantages Theatre that appeared on the Music Box website at the time.
  


The view west on the rooftop patio. Thanks to Albert Domasin for his 2012 photo. It's on Flickr.



A night patio view that once appeared on the Fonda Facebook page c.2013.



A patio view we don't usually get -- looking southwest toward the back of the auditorium. Thanks to Steve Raymond for his 2016 photo on the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page. 



A 2016 Steve Raymond photo looking west toward the W Hotel. That's the structure of the upper part of the auditorium on the left, the enclosed pavilion at the Hollywood Blvd. end of the building on the right. The photo is one of seven in Steve's set appearing on the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page.



The rooftop pavilion c.2009. It's a photo that was on the theatre's website at the time.



Thanks to Don Solosan of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation for this c.2010 view of the rooftop pavilion. The doors at the right go to the patio above the lobby. Hollywood Blvd. is to our left -- the spaces between the columns were originally open to the street. 



The rooftop pavilion looking west. Thanks to Albert Domasin for his 2012 photo. It's one of 32 views in his LAHTF's Tour of the Music Box album on Flickr.



An early sanitized exterior view from Mott Studios.  It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.  Note the fluffy airbrushed clouds as well as the absence of signage and wires.  This photo is also one of eight views of the theatre in the California State Library photo set #001384374.



The undoctored version that image above was based on appeared the January 1928 issue of Architect and Engineer. The issue is available on Internet Archive.  Note we can see into the rooftop patio area -- and it appears that the pavilion right behind the facade hasn't been constructed yet.



A November 1926 Mott Studios look at the Music Box entrance with signage up for the "Hollywood Music Box Revue." Note the view into the rooftop pavilion area below the second floor signboards. it's one of eight views of the theatre in the California State Library photo set #001384374.  The set also has another less interesting take without the car, the lyre, and the spectators.



A wonderful 1927 view of the theatre during the run of "Chicago." It was a find of Maurice E. Ideses for the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page. Mr. Carter DeHaven is gone from the roof sign. It's now the "Hollywood Music Box." advertising the "Revue of Revues - The Pick of the World in Girls." Take a look at the 2nd floor readerboards and note that Fanny Brice is in the show.



A 1928 photo of the Music Box when the Civic Repertory Theatre was mounting a show. We're looking east on Hollywood Blvd. in this view that appears in the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.   It's also been seen on Photos of Los Angeles and on Martin Pal's Noirish Los Angeles post #28606.



Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Tovangar2 for finding this early view looking east. It's featured on Noirish post #42011. The photo appears in the Arcadia Publishing book "Historic Hotels of Los Angeles and Hollywood" by Linda McCann, Dace Taube, Claude Zachary and Curtis C. Roseman. There's a preview on Google Books.



The Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection has many wonderful images of the Music Box including this 1931 view of the boxoffice area. Note that guy waiting to sell you a ticket over to the left of the display cases.

More exterior photos in the Bruce Torrence Collection:
| another entrance view - 1931 | facade view - 1928 | along the sidewalk from the east - 1928 | facade and west side - 1931 | another facade view - 1931 | 1972 exterior - as the Pix - "Africa Uncensored" | 1987 exterior - as the Henry Fonda - "Bolshoi Ballet" |



Parking west of the building. Note the interesting contour of the side of the theatre.  It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



A wonderful 1931 view of the facade. The show playing is "Women Go On Forever." The photo once appeared on a now-vanished UCLA web page "Remapping Hollywould" [sic]. It's also been seen on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles

On Facebook Michelle Gerdes commented: "The second story windows you see were not glassed in, only covered by curtains and that area is a bar reached by way of a roof top courtyard from only the balcony & booth. When they changed the facade of the theatre they covered it in metal sheeting, not sealing up the windows. Also they walled off the doors that went in to the bar area and people forgot completely about that great space, but not the pigeons! I was told that when they broke through the wall the bird shit was as high as the bar! Now it's a great place to hang out for drinks or rent for a party."  Deanna Bayless adds: "It was a speakeasy up there during Prohibition."



A 1951 look at the Music box, then called the Guild Theatre, as the home of the Tide Show. Fox West Coast had taken the theatre over in 1945 and for several years ran it as a film house before leasing it out. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the shot on Photos of Los Angeles. Note that they've added windows to enclose the upstairs pavilion. The Dinah Shore Tide Show ran between 1945 and 1952 -- after 1948 its home was the Music Box/Guild Theatre.



Thanks to Martin Pal for his Noirish Los Angeles post #28606, chock full of Music Box photos. Included is this entrance view of the theatre featured on the c.1958 Capitol album "Swingin' At the Cinema."



A 1962 newspaper photo of the Pix after floods washed mud down from the Hollywood Hills. It was added to the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page by David Thwing.



The wonderful Pix vertical in the daytime. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the photo, appearing in one of his Photobucket albums.
 


A great view of the Pix sign at night. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the photo, in one of his Photobucket albums.  So far no shots have surfaced showing this same sign when Fox West Coast still had the house and it was saying "Fox."




A fine 1965 signage view as the Pix during the run of "Cat Ballou." It's a Sid Avery photo on the MPTV website.



A 1965 shot. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for posting it on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



A great 1965 photo from the Ricard Wojcik collection. We're looking northeast with the back of the Music Box's stagehouse in the center of the photo. Richard posted it on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles where it provoked many comments.



A 1975 view of the theatre during the run of "Jaws." Thanks to Bobby Cole for posting it on the LAHTF Facebook page.



The boxoffice of the Pix in 1974. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the photo, one he stashed away in a Photobucket album.  They're running "Lenny" and "Save The Tiger."



Looking east on Hollywood Blvd. in 1976 with a bit of the Pantages below us and the Pix down the street.  Thanks to Ken McIntyre on Photos of Los Angeles for the photo.



Thanks to Terry Guy for this January 1983 photo of the Pix in its Spanish language days. He has it on Flickr.  The photo has put in appearances on Photos of Los Angeles and is included among many other Music Box photos in Martin Pal's Noirish Los Angeles post #28606.



A January 1983 shot from American Classic Images.  The Cantinflas picture they're running dated from 1974. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for posting it on Photos of Los Angeles. Also check out more Pix photos from the American Classic Images site.



Another nice shot of the facade when the theatre was named the Pix. It's from Ken McIntyre on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



End of the line for the theatre as the Pix following its early 80s closure by Pacific Theatres. At the end it was Spanish language film house. The marquee is advising their customers to go up the street to the Vine Theatre instead. When the house reopened it was a legit venue under Nederlander management.  Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the photo. He's got it in a Photobucket album.



A 1986 telephoto view west on Hollywood Blvd. It's a Tony Barnard photo for the L.A. Times appearing on Calisphere. It's also on the UCLA Library site. There's also a second take of the same vista.  The UCLA site has a zoom feature so you can go in and pan around.

The vertical for the Music Box (at this time called the Henry Fonda) is on the left. The Egyptian is down there somewhere. Way down is the El Capitan (with its vertical saying Paramount). On the right beyond the X Theatre are the World Theatre hiding behind it (with a blank marquee), the Pantages, and the Warner (by this time with Pacific on its vertical).



A Betty Sword photo from 2002, in the collection of theatre historian Cezar Del Valle. Pay him a visit on the Theatre Talks blog. Thanks, Cezar!



At the time of this shot from the east the stagehouse was doing extra revenue duty as a billboard for "American Gangster."  Photo: Bill Counter - 2007



A facade detail from the view above. 



The entry still shows off the Fox West Coast circuit Skouras-style remodel the lobby areas got in the 40s. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007



The signage in 2007.  The Henry Fonda name on the vertical dated from the Nederlander operation of the venue as a legit house in the 1980s. Photo: Bill Counter



The Music Box Theatre obviously began life as a legitimate theatre -- just look at the size of the stagehouse in relation to the rest of the building. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012.



The theatre as the Fonda in 2013. Thanks to Martin Pal, who included the photo in his Noirish Los Angeles post #28606

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. There are also some great pictures of the venue on the Music Box page of Yelp. Also see a 2011 Facade view on Photos of Los Angeles.

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