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Hollywood Playhouse / Hollywood Center Theatre

1445 N. Las Palmas Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90028 | map


A 2008 look at the Hollywood Playhouse by Andreas Praefcke on Wikipedia.  

This small legit operation (and occasional film house) just south of Sunset Blvd. on the west side of Las Palmas has had a number of names including the Actors Center, the Comedy Playhouse, Hollywood Center Theatre, Writers' Club Theatre, Theatre VII and the Hollywood Playhouse. The address sometimes appears as 1451 N. Las Palmas.

Opening: Unknown. It's certainly had a few remodels but the city gives a 1905 construction date for the building.

Seating: 220

Architect: Unknown

Status: As of mid-2019 the building was vacant and available for lease. The broker listed on the sign is Kris Peterson at Denley Investment and Management, 213-463-4100. The firm, which has had all sorts of issues about code violations at some of its buildings, is headed by Mehdi Bolour.

One of Roger Delfont's articles archived on the site Ad Sausage analyzing the film ads that appeared in the Los Angeles Free Press discusses the theatre:

"The Hollywood Center Theatre moved between film and legit theatre, depending on who rented its facilities. For a brief period, the spot was known as the Writers' Club Theatre - perhaps due to the original Writer's Club being located nearby, on the corner of Sunset and Las Palmas. Primarily, community theater was its bread and butter. Everything from 'The Caine Mutiny' to the musical-satire 'Unisex '72'. In 1963, the Los Angeles Youth Theater producer, Gerald Gordon's presented 'The Fantasticks', which celebrated its 1000th performance in 1968 (the same year it was given a new production featuring an 'All-Negro cast') ....

"The next chapter for the Hollywood Center Theatre started in 1969, when the venue became Theatre VII ('Where friendliness is Contagious') and acts such as Charles Pierce (The Master of Camp) hit the boards. A year later, and now advertising itself as 'The only gay theatre like it anywhere!' -- the Mark VII offered Live Male Stage Shows. The name didn't hold; the new moniker was gone a few years later, but male oriented material continued from the likes of Casey Donovan 'The Back Row' (Doug Richards), Gary Yuma 'Fun Farm' and Calvin Culver 'Tubstrip.'

"In the mid-70's, all sorts of esoteric theater groups staged shows. The Media Center for Community Action staged 'Soul Alley', featuring Felton Perry... Adding to yet another chapter in the building's history, the venue was home to the Sherwood Oaks Experimental College (once located at Crossroads of the World on Sunset) in the early-80's; offering workshops and record engineering classes. Various name changes occurred throughout the next decade; the Actors Center, the Comedy Playhouse and back to the Hollywood Playhouse."

In 1964 it was being called the Hollywood Center Theatre and running a production of "Cyrano de Bergerac." In 1967 the theatre's annual Christmas production for children was a Gerald Gordon musical version of "Rumpelstiltskin."



A 1968 ad for the venue running films for unshockable adults. 



 A 1971 ad for the Hollywood Center showing Mitchell Brothers porno. If you didn't want that, you could show up for their next festival of early Chaplin films. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding these ads for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.

In recent years the building had been used as the Howard Fine acting school and as an events space. 



1961 - A view of the building as the Hollywood Center Theatre from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



1961 - Another photo from the Los Angeles Public Library. We're looking north toward Sunset Blvd.



1976 - Thanks to the Bruce Torrance Hollywood Photograph Collection for this view.
 


c.1985? - An undated Los Angeles Herald Examiner photo of the building as the Hollywood Playhouse from  the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The caption reads:

"Exterior view of the Writers' Club Theater in Hollywood. This historic theater dated back to the days of Charles Chaplin and Mary Pickford reopened as the Hollywood Playhouse & Cafe following a million dollar remodeling. Located at Sunset and Las Palmas Boulevards, the complex centers on a new 220-seat theatre and restaurant that are to serve as the cornerstone for a shopping center and office complex planned by the Atlantic Gulf & Pacific Development Corporation. Heading up the theatre-restaurant complex are Budd Friedman, Michael Nouri (for Atlantic Gulf & Pacific Development), Stan Handman and Norman Maibaum, under the banner of the F.H.M. Corporation."



2019 - The view south along the vacant building. Photo: Bill Counter



2019 - The facade from the post office across the street. Sunset Blvd. is less than half a block off to the right. Photo: Bill Counter

The other Hollywood Playhouse: See page on the other Hollywood Playhouse if you're looking for information on the theatre on Vine Street that started as a legit venue, later was known as the Hollywood Palace, and is currently a music venue called Avalon.

2 comments:

  1. The Los Angeles Youth Theater's production of the Fantasticks moved to the Hollywood Center Theater in 1965. It was previously at the Le Grande Theater on Cahuenga blvd, which was the Hollywood Canteen during WWII. I was a member of that group from 1964 thru 1967. The world premier of the children's musical, "Wind in the Willows," with music by Academy Award winning composer, David Raksin, opened there in the Spring of 1966. Gerald Gordon was the Producer and Director for all productions presented by the Youth Theater.

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