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Pantages Theatre: an overview

6233 Hollywood Blvd.  Los Angeles 90028  | map |

More pages about the Pantages: street views 1929 to 1954 | street views 1955 to present | ticket lobby | entrance vestibule | main lobby | main lounges | main floor inner lobby | balcony lobby and lounge areas | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | backstage | booth | support areas |

Opened: The Pantages, the grandest of L.A.'s art deco theatres, opened June 4, 1930 with "The Florodora Girl" starring Marion Davies. On the great stage was the Fanchon and Marco "Rose Garden Idea." A pre-opening L.A. Times article noted that there would also be "an orchestra as an additional attraction." 
The "Hamilton" banners were coming down and "Moulin Rouge" was going up in this March 2022 photo. Thanks to April Brooks Clemmer for catching the action and sharing the photo on her Old Hollywood Facebook page.

Phone: 323-468-1770    Website: | Facts and Trivia | on Facebook |

Alexander Pantages had previously opened two downtown Los Angeles theatres for his vaudeville / film house circuit, the buildings that later became known as the Arcade Theatre (1910) and the Warner Bros. Downtown (1920). He had been thinking about building a theatre in Hollywood at least since 1922: 

This item appeared in the December 2, 1922 issue of Exhibitors Herald. 

Although he had built a number of new theatres for his circuit in the mid-1920s including new houses in Fresno and San Francisco, the Hollywood project wasn't pursued until the late 1920s. Thanks to David Saffer for locating this drawing of a preliminary design that appeared in the L.A. Times in 1928. Rodney and Lloyd were his two sons. 

An announcement that appeared in the January 1929 issue of Architect and Engineer. Thanks to Mike Hume for locating it via Internet Archive. His Historic Theatre Photography site has a page on the Pantages that features many of his fine photos along with historical data. 

It's unknown who Bartlett was and how much stock Pantages had in the company putting up the building. Kurt Wahlner notes that all the original plans had "Theatre for the Bartlett Syndicate" on them. Although they were in default on a deed of trust for the theatre, Bartlett was still around and collecting rent from the theatre operator, Fox West Coast, as late as 1937. In a discussion about Kinnison vs. Guaranty Liquidating (1941, on Caselaw Access) it's noted that Pac Mutual was the lead creditor, having loaned Bartlett $825,000 in December 1928 to erect the theatre. That original note was renegotiated in 1932 and in 1933 Bartlett agreed to collect rent as an agent for Pac Mutual. Earlier in the saga Guaranty had been a stockholder in Bartlett and was awarded a $26,000 judgement in Schroeter vs. Bartlett (1936, on Casetext) after Bartlett had made unwarranted "assessments" on its stock. At some point the Pantages family ended up as the owners and kept it in the family until 1949. 

Well, it didn't get the tower seen in this rendering. This appeared after the opening in "A House Built For Wide Films," an article in the June 7, 1930 issue of Motion Picture News. Thanks to Mike Hume for finding the article on Internet Archive. It's also reproduced at the bottom of this page. 

The building's cost ended up being $1.25 million. The foundations were built for the 12 story office building originally envisioned but plans were changed due to the deepening depression. Pantages sold most of his circuit (under duress) to RKO and Warner Bros. later in 1929 but the Hollywood project wasn't part of the sale.

When the new Hollywood theatre opened it was as a Fox West Coast operation with Pantages' son Rodney as the manager. Another son, Lloyd, was also involved and later managed as well. Rodney died in 1986 with the L.A. Times covering his death. At the time of the opening, Alexander Pantages was in the county jail.

The L.A. Times had referred to the house as the Fox Pantages in "Showhouse Construction Takes Advantage of Low Costs," a May 4, 1930 article discussing other theatres for the Fox and Warner circuits. See a PDF of the article courtesy of Mike Hume. 

The June 1, 1930 issue of the L.A. Times called it the "Roxy of the West." Thanks to Mike Hume for locating the article. Evidently the writer didn't go upstairs or we wouldn't have the comment that there is "practically no balcony." 

Note the comment about the atmospheric ceiling: "There are two ceilings, one depicting a sky, over which clouds shift continuously, the other carrying out the metallic treatment." That "other" being the deco lattice ceiling seen below the sky. While they advise that the theatre had 70mm Fox Grandeur projectors, that seems unlikely. Very few were made. The writer perhaps exaggerated after being told that the house was "ready" for such things in the future. 

The cover of the opening night program. Thanks to theatre researcher Kurt Wahlner for sharing this image from the copy that's in his collection. Visit his exhaustively researched site about Sid Grauman's little showplace down the street that had opened three years earlier:

An ad for the the sign contractor, Metlox Corporation, that appeared in the opening night program. Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for the image. The marquee letters were changeable neon with the tubing inside a black channel letter. Their copy notes: "Current attractions are featured in handsome interchangeable Metlox ceramic letters, finished in glazed black and mounted upon snugly fitting sections overlayed with pure gold leaf." Later there's also a mention of them as "individual tubing letters."

An ad for Metlox in the trade magazine Signs of the Times. Thanks to J.H. Long for locating it for a post on the Save Pantages Neon... Facebook page. They guaranteed their sign letters "against fading or disintegration without time limit because they are truly the letters eternal, made by the same process used by Egyptian clay workers in ancient times." 
Hugo Ruiz notes that the sign in the upper right is not the vertical for the Warner Hollywood as noted in the text. It's actually the Warner Huntington Park. See "Metlox's long history in Manhattan Beach," Sam Gnerre's 2017 South Bay Daily Breeze article about the company.
A June 6, 1930 L.A. Times article about the opening. Thanks to Mike Hume for locating it. 
The wonders of the new theatre were discussed in "Hollywood's newest temple of its own art -- the Pantages," an article in the August 30, 1930 issue of Exhibitors Herald-World. Four additional photos of the theatre appeared in an October 25, 1930 "Recent Creations in Theatre Design" article. Also in the October 25 issue is an article by F. H. Richardson: "Projection at the Pantages." These are all on Internet Archive.

Architect: Seattle architect B. Marcus Priteca conceived this opulently kaleidoscopic showplace as the most spectacular theatre the Pantages circuit had ever done. Priteca had earlier done the 1920 Pantages downtown (later called the Warner Downtown) along with nearly every Pantages house built in the U.S. after 1912.

S.E. Sonnichsen was associate architect, William Simpson Construction Co. was the contractor. The decorator was Anthony Heinsbergen. Of all the Los Angeles theatres in the art deco style, the Pantages is without question the grandest.

An auditorium drawing from Priteca. It appeared in the June 7, 1930 issue of Motion Picture News with the article "A House Built For Wide Films."  

B. Marcus Priteca's section of the building. Thanks to Mike Hume for his great work cleaning up the original drawing. You can click on this to enlarge or for even more detail head to a PDF via Mike's Historic Theatre Photography site. His Pantages Theatre page also has PDFs of other early articles and drawings.

At the same time the Pantages was going up Priteca was also at work on three smaller houses of about 1,500 seats each, also in the deco style, for Warner Bros. -- the Warner Beverly Hills, Warner San Pedro and Warner Huntington Park. He was back in L.A. in for the design of the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, opening in 1937. 

Seating: 2,812 originally -- now 2,703. 

The pipe organ: What pipe organ? The chambers are there. Theatre historian Kurt Wahlner says it's on the plans for a round revolving organ lift on the house right side of the pit. The instrument was to be a gigantic Robert Morton installation but the deal was cancelled during construction and no organ was installed. But it did get an organ, electronic that is, in 1992. The Nederlander organization's "non-profit arm" was planning on organ concerts and film screenings to fill their many dark days. 

This article appeared in the November 1992 issue of the Tom B'hend / Preston Kaufmann publication Greater L.A. Metro Newsreel. The issue with the article is in the Ronald W. Mahan collection. Thanks to Ron for scanning it.  

Stage Equipment: The Pantages was one of the few Los Angeles theatres to have the orchestra pit on a lift. (Others with lifts included the Metropolitan, the Warner Hollywood, the Carthay Circle, the United Artists and the Earl Carroll.) See the backstage section for more information.

The Pantages in the 1930s: The theatre closed in mid-1932. 

It's the Fox Pantages. This August 24, 1932 L.A. Times article noted that the Pantages clan was out and Fox West Coast would assume sole management of the theatre. Pantages, however, still retained an ownership interest in the building. They goofed a bit on that 1929 opening date and also that the theatre would "remain open" when it was actually closed at the time. Thanks to David Saffer for locating the article. 

An October 11, 1932 L.A. Times story mentioned that the re-opening film on October 20 would be MGM's "Red Dust" with Jean Harlow and Clark Gable plus a Fanchon & Marco produced tab version of the Ziegfeld hit "Whoopee." The United Artists downtown had also been closed and would reopen with the same feature along with the Fanchon & Marco "Mystery" Idea.

An October 15 story revealed that both houses would be "under the personal direction of Sid Grauman," then also working for Fox at the Chinese. More details dribbled out in an October 17 story. The reopening ads, a combined spread for both the United Artists and the Pantages, said "Direction Sid Grauman" in large lettering at the top -- and made no mention of Fox West Coast being the actual operator. 

RKO grabs it: At some point, Fox bowed out of their participation in the management and Rodney Pantages hooked up on a booking deal with RKO Theatres and the theatre then frequently ran day-and-date with the RKO Hillstreet. As a result, the Pantages ran lots of RKO product. 
In 1940 the L.A. Philharmonic moved out of the Philharmonic Auditorium and, with Leopold Stokowski conducting, did a season at the Pantages. In "Symphonies Expected To Fill Seats," a February 18 L.A. Times article, several of the ladies noted that they liked eating at the Brown Derby before the concerts.  

"A Perfect Combination" says the marquee. It's a drawing from an Italian Kitchen menu cover. They had the corner space for a few years beginning around 1943. Initially it was leased for a cafe but that deal fizzled. It was an appliance store in the early 30s and by 1936 had become a cafeteria. Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for locating the menu when it was for sale online. Visit his wonderful site about a little theatre up the street from the Pantages:

The Pantages actually became an RKO theatre when Howard Hughes acquired it for his RKO empire in 1949, at a time when most studios were actually shedding their theatre circuits as a result of the Consent Decree actions by the Feds.

A July 6, 1949 Variety article about the change of ownership. Thanks to Mike Hume for finding it on Internet Archive. The fancy neon filigree atop the vertical sign was replaced by an "RKO."

The disastrous tenure of Hughes at RKO had begun when he bought enough stock to control the company in May 1948. A July 13, 1949 Variety article noted that the staff at the studio was breathing easier when Hughes became head of production, thinking that would put the near-dormant lot back into full swing. A July 27 Variety article noted that Malcolm Kingsberg, head of RKO Theatres, had finalized the theatre sale with Roger [sic] Pantages. It was noted that Pantages was bowing out of the theatre business but would continue to maintain an office in the building.

The only other RKO theatre in Los Angeles at the time was the RKO Hillstreet. Although the RKO board approved a plan to spin their theatres off as a separate company in March 1949, this didn't happen until 1953 when they were sold to Albert A. List. Hughes lasted until 1955 at RKO when he sold his stock to General Teleradio, a subsidiary of General Tire and Rubber. Early in Hughes' tenure the theatre division was the only part of the company making money. By the time he got out, that division had been gone for two years. After a 1967 merger of RKO Theatres, Inc. with the Stanley-Warner Corp. (the by-then-separate company operating the former Warner Bros. theatres) it became RKO Stanley-Warner Theatres.

Academy Awards at the Pantages: The theatre was the site of the Academy Awards from 1950 through 1960. The 1953 show was the first live telecast, a production originating in both Hollywood and New York City. See "Oscars History @ Pantages," a post about the 1953 show on the Broadway in Hollywood blog. The Los Angeles Almanac has a page with a year-by-year list of the Academy Award ceremony locations.

The 1959 renovation: The theatre closed in November for a renovation supervised by the Heinsbergen Co. Work included installation of 70mm equipment, lots of draping in the auditorium and a "modernization" of the ticket lobby. "Indoor Luxury From Sidewalk To Screen," a May 9, 1960 Boxoffice article, discussed the first phases of the renovation program. article page 1 | article page 2 | It's also reproduced at the bottom of the page.

The later aspects of the project were detailed in a January 30, 1961 Boxoffice article titled "RKO Pantages in Los Angeles Faces New Era After $100,00 Remodeling." The theatre reopened Christmas Day with "Operation Petticoat."  article section 1 | section 2 | section 3 | It's also reproduced at the bottom of the page.

70MM roadshows at the Pantages: The theatre hosted many reserved seat engagements including "Spartacus" in 1960, "Cleopatra" in 1963, "Finian's Rainbow" in 1968 and "Sweet Charity" in 1969. For "Spartacus" the capacity was reduced to about 1,500 by draping off the upper balcony section and rear side areas of the main floor.

In this ad for Norelco AAII 35/70mm projectors we see the proscenium draping for "Spartacus." It appeared adjacent to a March 14, 1962 Motion Picture Herald article about the modern makeover of the Warner up the street, where the proscenium looked very similar to the view above after its own drape treatment. Cinerama historian Roland Lataille found the article for the Warner page of his In Cinerama website. | article page 1 | article page 2 |

RKO-SW bows out: The Pantages was leased to Pacific Theatres in 1965, with a purchase consummated in 1967. In 1968 Pacific also acquired other RKO-SW operations including the Topanga Theatre, the Wiltern, the Warner Hollywood, Warner Beverly Hills, Warner Huntington Park and Warner San Pedro. The Warner Downtown that Stanley Warner had been operating ended up with Metropolitan Theatres and was rebranded as the Warrens.

The Pantages goes legit: The theatre closed in January 1977 with "The Enforcer" with Clint Eastwood as the last film. After a purchase by the Nederlander Organization, there was a renovation in preparation for operation as a legitimate theatre. The first attraction was "Bubbling Brown Sugar."

Status: The Pantages Theatre was refurbished again in 2000 (to the tune of $10.8 million) by the Nederlander Organization and is wonderfully dazzling. The theatre consultant for the restoration was Roger Morgan with much of the restoration of the decorative surfaces done by Evergreene Architectural Arts, both based in New York. Quinn Evans Architects supervised the project. The reopening attraction was "The Lion King." Ongoing work since that time has included recarpeting, rebuilding the grid, and other projects.

The theatre typically plays long-running Broadway musicals with occasional concerts on dark nights. In 2013 a pitch was going around town about the possibility of selling naming rights to the theatre but nothing transpired. Kevin Roderick on LA Observed had the story.

The Pantages in the Movies:  

Chester Conklin is out on a beam atop the newly completed Guaranty Bldg. at Hollywood Blvd. and Ivar in "Sky Scrappers" (Christie / Paramount, December 1930). We see the vertical of the Pantages on the left and the Music Box Theatre farther down the street. 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. 

Margaret Sullavan gets a job as an usherette in a large movie palace in Budapest in "The Good Fairy (Universal, 1935). The lobby of the Pantages is what we see as the theatre's lobby. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for two more shots at the Pantages and several not done at the theatre when we go in the auditorium.

We get a look at the boxoffice in Henry Hathaway's "Go West Young Man" (Paramount, 1936) with Mae West and Randolph Scott. This island boxoffice was later removed in favor of ticket windows off to the side. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several more shots at the Pantages as well as some generic theatre shots done elsewhere.

Descending to the house left mezzanine lounge area in Gregory Ratoff's "Footlight Serenade" (20th Century Fox, 1942) with John Payne, Betty Grable and Victor Mature.  That's the main lobby in view off to the left. Thanks to Christopher McPherson for the screenshot. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for another shot on the balcony promenade.

We get this shot of the Pantages disguised as the Casino Theatre in Robert Siodmak's "Phantom Lady" (Universal, 1944). Alan Curtis is going to a show in New York with a lady he just met in a bar. It's a studio set when we go inside. Curtis' wife is murdered that evening and he doesn't know the identity of the lady that might provide his alibi. Elisha Cook, Jr., the drummer at the show, knows something. After Curtis is convicted Ella Raines, his former secretary, tries to clear him.
A look west toward Hollywood and Vine from "Hollywood Canteen" (Warner Bros., 1944). The Pantages was running "Secret Command," a July 1944 release with Pat O'Brien and Carole Landis. On the lower left there's a banner out for the Hitching Post Theatre across the street. The film, written and directed by Delmer Daves, features Joan Leslie, Bette Davis, John Garfield, the Andrews Sisters and dozens of other stars. The cinematography was by Bert Glennon. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a shot of the Canteen as well as a view of the film's opening at the Warner Hollywood. 

George Raft goes to the Pantages to check out an alibi for murder suspect Lynn Bari in Edwin L. Marin's "Nocturne" (RKO, 1946). They have times up for RKO's "Woman on the Beach" but we see different titles on the marquee in the shot just before this. Thanks to Jack Tillmany for spotting the theatre in the film. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for two more Pantages shots as well as views of the vertical signs of the Egyptian and Hollywood theatres behind the opening credits. 

We get some nice footage looking west toward the theatre throughout the opening credit sequence of "Exposed" (Republic, 1947). George Blair directed this crime drama starring Adele Mara as a beautiful female detective. The film also features Mark Roberts, Lorna Gray, Robert Armstrong, William Haade and Bob Steele. It was written by Royal K. Cole and Charles Moran. The cinematography was by William Bradford. Thanks to Paul Ayers for spotting the theatre in the film and getting the screenshot for a Facebook post. He notes that the full film can be viewed on YouTube.


This is the first shot in Jacques Tourneur's "Nightfall" (Columbia, 1957) -- appearing even before the credits. The Pantages was running "Serenade," a March 1956 release with Mario Lanza and Joan Fontaine. Aldo Ray has just taken a bus to Hollywood because he's trying to elude Brian Keith and Rudy Bond, two bank robbers who have killed a friend of his during a Wyoming camping trip. In L.A. Ray hooks up with Anne Bancroft. James Gregory plays an insurance investigator who helps unravel the mess. The screenplay was by Sterling Silliphant based on a novel by David Goodis, the cinematography was by Burnett Guffey.

We get some nice aerial shots in the Jerry Lewis film "The Errand Boy" (Paramount, 1961). Looking west along Hollywood Blvd. it's the Pantages in the center. To the left of the Capitol Records building we see the Hollywood Playhouse/Avalon. In the lower left of the image is part of the Music Box. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for a Sunset Blvd. aerial view and visits to the Fox Westwood Village and the Chinese.
The theatre is seen several minutes into Dennis Ray Steckler's "Wild Guitar" (Fairway International, 1962). We also get views of the Chinese and the Egyptian. The full film is available on YouTube. Arch Hall, Jr. and Nancy Czar star.

Burt Reynolds is heading to the men's room for a little fight in Peter Bogdanovich's "At Long Last Love" (20th Century Fox, 1975). Note the decor at the rear of the reduced-capacity main floor at the time: drapes, statuary, plants. Cybil Shepard and Madeline Kahn play the leading ladies. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for four more Pantages shots as well as several at the Orpheum from a scene earlier in the film. Thanks to Jonathan Raines for the screenshot.

The signage gets a quick cameo during a musical number in "The First Nudie Musical" (Paramount, 1976). We later come back for two exterior shots at the premiere of the film-within-the film. But that's as far as we get. Interiors were done at the Fox Venice. 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 more views of Hollywood marquees. 

The back of the Pantages is seen to the left of Capitol Records in this shot appearing during the opening credits of "The China Syndrome" (Columbia Pictures, 1979). We're looking south along Vine St. If you look closely, the Hollywood Playhouse/Avalon is across the street from Capitol Records at 1735 Vine. And that's the Cinerama Dome in the distance. James Bridges directed the story about safety cover-ups at a nuclear power plant. Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas star. The cinematography was by James Crabe. Thanks to Eric Schaefer for the screenshot.

In the Neil Diamond version of "The Jazz Singer" (EMI, Associated Film Distribution, 1980) we get two concert sequences at the Pantages. The film, directed by Richard Fleischer, also stars Lawrence Olivier, Catlin Adams and Lucie Arnaz. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for four more shots at the Pantages.

We don't see much of the theatre, but Jonathan Demme's "Stop Making Sense" (Cinecom/Palm Pictures, 1984) with David Byrne and the Talking Heads was filmed over a period of three days at the Pantages. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a production still showing the proscenium as well as comments about the shoot from the very famous Kurt Wahlner, who was there.

We see a lot of Hollywood Blvd. in Robert Vincent O'Neill's "Angel" (New World, 1984) including several views like this looking east toward the Pantages. 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.  

A drive-by shot in "The Executioner: Part II" (21st Century Distribution, 1984). James Bryan directed and photographed this hunt for a masked serial killer. Featured are Christopher Mitchum, Aldo Ray, Antoine John Mottet and Renee Harmon. Thanks to Eric Schaefer for spotting the theatres in the film and getting many screenshots. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for exterior looks at the Hollywood Pacific, Fox and X Theatres plus interior views of the Variety Arts.

We get a couple views of the Pantages in "The Hidden" (New Line Cinema, 1987). A formerly mild-mannered person has gone on a rampage and is evading the police. His body has, of course, been taken over by an alien creature who will soon migrate to yet another body. Jack Sholder directed the film starring Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of other theatres seen in the film including the Westlake, Las Palmas, Palace and United Artists.

L.A. cop Kurt Russell got framed, sentenced, and is on the lam when he heads to the Cleopatra Club for help in "Tango & Cash" (Warner Bros., 1989). It turns out to be the lobby of the Pantages. The film was directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy and Albert Magnoli. Also starring are Sylvester Stallone, Teri Hatcher, Jack Palance, James Hong, Brion James, Philip Tan, Susan Krebs and Michael J. Pollard. Donald E. Thorin did the cinematography. The production designer was J. Michael Riva. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for four more shots at the Pantages. 

It's dusk and we get a fine look down at the theatre during the opening credits of Garry Marshall's "Pretty Woman" (Touchstone, 1990). The film features Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Jason Alexander, Laura San Giacomo, Hector Elizondo and Ralph Bellamy. The cinematography was by Charles Minsky.  See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for views of the Vogue, Egyptian and Chinese theatres from the film.

In Mick Jackson's "The Bodyguard" (Warner Bros., 1992) Kevin Costner is backstage looking for troublemakers at the Academy Awards. There's a clip on YouTube. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for a Pantages auditorium view as well as some views at the Mayan.
In Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" with Johnny Depp and Martin Landau (Touchstone, 1994) our stars are going to a premiere of "Plan 9 From Outer Space" at the Pantages. The Skouras-style boxoffice we see was a prop for the movie. This shot gives us quite a nice view of the entrance in its "modernized" period with the ceiling decor and original  display cases covered. The interior used for the film is the Orpheum. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for two more Pantages shots as well as views of the Orpheum, Warner Hollywood and the Stadium Theatre in Torrance.  

When we go into the lobby of New York's Monolith Hotel in "The Shadow" (Universal, 1994) we find ourselves at the Pantages looking at the Pacific Theatres circular snackbar. The film features Alec Baldwin, John Lone, Penelope Ann Miller, Tim Curry, Peter Boyle, Jonathan Winters, Ian McKellen and Andre Gregory. Russell Mulcahy directed. The cinematography was by Stephen H. Burum. Thanks to Dave Hunter for spotting the theatre in the film. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for ten additional views from the Pantages scenes. 

Joel Schumacher's "Batman Forever" (Warner Bros., 1995) used the theatre's lobby for that of the Ritz Gotham Hotel. Thanks to Mike Hume for the screenshot. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for three more shots from the lobby party scene as well as views of two scenes shot in the Los Angeles Theatre.

We get this great view of the lobby in "Black Sheep" (Paramount, 1996). Chris Farley, the out-of-control brother, is with Tim Matheson, playing a candidate for Washington State governor. David Spade is also featured in the comedy directed by Penelope Spheeris. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for another lobby shot and two backstage views where Farley pretends to be a security guard.

The lobby is set up as a high-end auto auction house in Bret Rattner's "Money Talks" with Chris Tucker and Charlie Sheen (New Line Cinema, 1997). See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for three more shots from the scenes at the Pantages.

Kevin Spacey has just come out of the Frolic Room next to the theatre in "L.A. Confidential" (Warner Bros., 1997). Note the still "modernized" treatment of the theatre's ticket lobby area. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for another Pantages shot as well as a view of a mystery building on Hollywood Blvd. dressed to look like a theatre.

We get a view of the Pantages when evil music mogul Isaiah Washington pops up out of the Metro 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 look at the towers of the Warner and an aerial shot of the Music Box/Fonda. Josh Hartnett and Lena Olin costar. 

In Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" (Miramax/Warner Bros., 2004) we get shots at the Pantages with Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Katherine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) coming to the premiere of "Little Women" in 1933. There's lots of compulsive hand washing in the men's room. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several more Pantages shots as well as views of Grauman's Chinese for the gloriously re-created premiere of "Hell's Angels."

The Pantages is used for a premiere at the end of "Paparazzi" (20th Century Fox, 2004). A young star tries to get even over an incident with four overly zealous photographers. Paul Abascal directed the film featuring Cole Hauser, Robin Tunney and Dennis Farina. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several lobby shots as well as a view of the Million Dollar from earlier in the film.  

We get a fine view of the Pantages in Brian De Palma's "The Black Dahlia" (Universal, 2006). Josh Hartnett pays a visit to the Frolic Room next door. In the film it's a lesbian bar and he's looking for anyone who has seen Elizabeth Short. The film also stars Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank and Mia Kershner. On the Pantages marquee De Palma has "Black Angel," a 1946 film about the murder of a singer starring Dan Duryea, June Vincent and Peter Lorre.

The Pantages is one of seventeen theatres we see in Alex Holdridge's "In Search of a Midnight Kiss" (IFC First Take, 2008). Scoot McNairy and Sara Simmonds meet via a Craigslist ad and are wandering the city on New Year's Eve. Also featured are Brian McGuire, Kathleen Luong, Robert Murphy, Twink Caplan, Bret Roberts and Stephanie Feury. The cinematography was by Robert Murphy. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for thirty-two more shots of the theatres seen in the film.

Emma Stone runs back to catch the rest of a John Mayer concert after breaking up with Justin Timberlake at the beginning of Will Gluck's film "Friends With Benefits" (Sony/Screen Gems, 2011). Thanks to Lindsay Blake for noting the appearance of the theatre in the film. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for two more Pantages views as well as aerial shots showing the El Capitan, Chinese and Dolby theatres. 

We get a shot of the Easter Bunny and the Pantages in Tim Hill's "Hop" (Universal, 2011). He's come to Hollywood because he wants a career as a drummer. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the La Reina and the Orpheum from the film.

A re-creation of the 1954 look at the "A Star Is Born" premiere for Anton Corbijn's film "Life" (Cinedigm, 2015). It's about Life magazine photographer Dennis Stock, played by Robert Pattinson. Thanks to the website Films in Films for the screenshot. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post about "Life" for more views of the shoot at the Pantages.

The Pantages is one of a half dozen theatres to get a marquee shot included in the title sequence of "Entourage" (Warner Bros., 2015). The film, directed by Doug Ellin, stars Kevin Dillon, Jeremy Piven, Adrian Grenier and Kevin Connolly plus many others doing cameos. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more screenshots. 

In "Keanu" (Warner/Fine Line, 2016) we take a drive to the Hollywood Hills for a drug delivery after our two stars, Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, get involved with a gang to try to get back a stolen cat. On the far left is the dark marquee of the Vine Theatre with the Pantages in the distance. We also see the Palace Theatre, the Los Angeles Theatre, and the Cinerama Dome. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for more shots from the film.

The Pantages is dressed up as if it were running the film "3 in the Attic," in Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" (Sony, 2019). The film stars Leo DiCaprio and his friend Brad Pitt as an actor and stuntman trying to find work in the business in 1969. The Manson murder case also figures into the plot as the guys live next door to Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies pages for more shots of the shoot at the Pantages as well as lots of action at the Cinerama Dome, Earl Carroll, Vogue, Pussycat/Ritz, Fox Westwood, Bruin, and Vine theatres.

We get a shot of the theatre in Danny Boyle's "Yesterday" (Universal, 2019). A musician played by Himesh Patel leaves England and comes to the U.S. to become a big star re-doing Beatles hits in a world where everyone else has forgotten the Fab Four. The film also stars Lily James, Sophia Di Martino and Kate McKinnon.

The Pantages on Video: 

The Pantages, the Chinese, the World, the X Theatre and a drive-in appear in "Misunderstanding," the 1980 Genesis music video. It's on YouTube. Thanks to Marc Edward Hueck for spotting the theatres and getting screenshots for a post on the LAHTF Facebook page

Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" (1995) has him singing to an empty house on the bare stage of the Pantages. It's on YouTube.

See Don Solosan's wonderful 3 minute 2010 tour of the Pantages: "Insider's Peek #7: Pantages" on the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation's YouTube channel. There's also the 12 minute 2010 "Pantages Interview" video with Hillsman Wright and Pantages general manager Martin Wiviott. They discuss the adventures in managing and restoring the building.

And don't miss the 4 minute video the theatre has on YouTube from 2010: "A Look Behind the Mask: The Load in Process For "Phantom" at the Pantages Theatre." 

More information: See the Pantages Theatre page on Cinema Treasures. The Cinema Tour page devoted to the Pantages has a few exterior photos. 
Floyd Bariscale's Big Orange Landmarks is a blog investigating all the City of Los Angeles cultural landmarks. See the Pantages Theatre entry for a nicely done story of the theatre along with photos both old and new. Also see his Pantages Theatre set on Flickr for a number of exterior views.
Albert Domasin has a nice 53 item Pantages photo set on Flickr from 2010. See the From Script To DVD Pantages Theatre page for photos of the building. The site also has a nice Photo Gallery of Los Angeles Theatres that were equipped for 70mm. Sandi Hemmerlein's 2017 Avoiding regret photo essay "The Last of Pantages' Vaudeville Palaces" has many nice interior photos. 
Mike Hume's Historic Theatre Photography site has a fine page on the Pantages that features many of his photos. The April 2022 LAHTF "all-about" tour album on Facebook from Cat Lukaszewski includes 49 photos of various areas of the building. The 2022 Facebook album from Claudia Mullins has 40 lovely photos you won't want to miss. There's a wonderful 57 item Pantages 2010 photo set on Flickr by Steve Shriver. Wikipedia has an article on the Pantages as well as one on architect B. Marcus Priteca.

The building was originally supposed to be a 12 story office building and various plans have been hatched over the years to "complete" the structure. The L.A.Times ran a December 6, 2007 story by Roger Vincent titled "Decades later, 12-story plan for Pantages revived." Curbed L.A. also had a story about the proposal. 

The Pantages office building lobby. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007


 The Pantages office building lobby ceiling.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2007

The California State Library collection has several 1930 Mott Studios office building photos. See photos 2, 4 and 5 in their set #001387215 for shots of the office building entrance and two lobby views. Other takes of the lobby views also appear in their set #001453624.

From the June 7, 1930 issue of Motion Picture News: 

Thanks to Mike Hume for locating the article. It's also available on Internet Archive where you can expand it for easier reading.  
From the May 9, 1960 issue of Boxoffice: 

From the January 30, 1961 issue of Boxoffice: 

Pages about the Pantages: 
| back to top - Pantages overview | street views 1929 to 1954 | street views 1955 to present | ticket lobby | entrance vestibule | main lobby | main lounges | main floor inner lobby | balcony lobby and lounge areas | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | backstage | booth | support areas |

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