Opened: 1921 as the Granada. This 1923 photo of the theatre appeared on page 161 the first volume of "American Theatres of Today" by R.W. Sexton and B. F. Betts. The film "The Ghost Patrol" was a January 1923 release.
Architects: Meyer & Holler designed the theatre in a fanciful Spanish style befitting its original name, the Granada. Meyer and Holler were better known for their work on Hollywood Blvd. for Sid Grauman at the Egyptian and the Chinese. They also did the amazingly gaudy West Coast Theatre in Long Beach.
In the late 20s it was an operation of the West Coast Theatres circuit. Joe Vogel on Cinema Treasures notes it was listed as the West Coast Hollywood Theatre in the 1929 city directory. By 1932 it had become the Oriental.
Closing: The theatre closed in January 1985.
Status: It's been remodeled into retail space as part of the Guitar Center complex.
The Oriental in the Movies:
Toward the end of Harold Lloyd's "Girl Shy" (Harold Lloyd Co. / Pathé, 1924) we get this shot of the side of the Granada as we head west on Sunset. Harold is using all available means of transportation on a wild ride into the city from his small town to prevent a marriage between the woman he loves and a cad who happens to be already secretly married. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots from the film of the 1st Culver City Theatre and the five theatres on the 800 block of Broadway.
In the great 1958 Allied Artists epic "Unwed Mother" we get Robert Vaughn crossing the street to the Oriental for a holdup.
Looking east after the deed. We see the cashier hitting the button on the floor of the boxoffice to summon the police. It doesn't go well. The car won't start and he gets caught.
The Oriental on TV:
Thanks to Walter Santucci for this screenshot from a 1970 episode of Dragnet.
A c.1923 view from page 161 in the first volume of "American Theatres of Today" by R.W. Sexton and B. F. Betts. The two volumes of the book were published in 1927 and 1930 by the Architectural Book Publishing Co, New York. It was reprinted in one volume in 1977 by the Vestal Press, New York.
A look down the aisle in a photo from an article on floor coverings in the April 1, 1939 issue of the trade magazine Boxoffice. The caption read: "Tasteful modernism in aisle carpet provides excellent background for ushers' flashlights in the Oriental Theatre in Los Angeles. Aisle floors are one spot in a theatre's interior which the patron always sees, whether or not house lights ever go up between performances."
More exterior views:
1932 - A photo appearing in "Theatres In Los Angeles" by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Marc Wanamaker. Arcadia Publishing, 2008. There's a preview to browse on Google Books. It's also been seen on Photos of Los Angeles and Ethereal Reality's Noirish Los Angeles post #8390.
1954 - A Red Car view looking east on Sunset toward the Oriental, on the far right. It's an Alan Weeks photo. Thanks to eminent L.A. transit historian Sean Ault for finding it.
1960 - Looking west on Sunset with a bit of the Oriental on the far right. Thanks to Sean Ault for sharing the photo from his collection.
1972 - A photo from the wonderful Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.
c.1978 - Rodney Bingenheimer in front of the Oriental Theatre. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the shot for a post on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.
1982 - The facade as seen in a photo from American Classic Images.
1983 - Thanks to American Classic Images for this lovely look at the neon.
1985 - The Oriental after its closing. Thanks to Maurice Ideses for the photo, a post of his on the non-public Facebook group Mid Century Modern. The structure of the theatre still exists but has been remodeled as part of the Guitar Center and is now unrecognizable.
c.1986 - The Oriental's marquee coming down. Photo: Gary Graver
c.1986 - Another marquee demolition shot by Gary Graver. He was a filmmaker and cinematographer who took many photos of theatres in Los Angeles. See the Wikipedia profile on Mr. Graver, who died in 2006. More of his photos photos can be seen on You Tube: "Second Run - part 1" and "Second Run - part 2." Thanks to Sean Graver for use of the photos.
2008 - A Google aerial view with the Oriental portion of the Guitar center complex directly behind the red awning where the "A" marker is. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for the image. It and other Oriental Theatre items appear on his Noirish post #8348.
2010 - The structure is still there but the theatre has been swallowed up and made into part of a larger complex. The rear room for vintage guitars still shows the proscenium area. The only other visible theatre remnants are some original plaster and moldings across the ceiling near the proscenium. The booth area can also be visited. Photo: Bill Counter
More information: See the Oriental page on Cinema Treasures for a nice history. Also check out Ethereal Reality's Noirish Los Angeles post #8348 on the Oriental.
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