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Beverly Theatre

206 N. Beverly Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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Opened: May 18, 1925 with "I Want My Man" with Milton Sills and Doris Kenyon. The photo is a 1927 view from the Los Angeles Public Library. On the marquee is "The Road To Romance" with Ramon Navarro.

Architect: Lewis A. Smith designed an elaborate Chinese style temple with a unique almost-circular proscenium. It got several remodels including a moderne makeover in the 40s. There were four storefronts on the ground floor and two studios on the 2nd floor. The south storefront was occupied by Daniel Quinlan's real estate office. The Quinlan family owned the building until 1936 when it got traded for property behind the Beverly Hills hotel.

The theatre was initially operated by West Coast Theatres as the West Coast Beverly. When the chain became Fox West Coast in 1929 the theatre was called the Fox Beverly. It stayed in the circuit until the late 50s and had a whole series of other operators: Amusement Corp. of America, Statewide, Loew's (as Loew's Beverly) and General Cinema. It was equipped for 70mm and was running roadshows in the 60's.

The opening was covered in an article titled "Fred Niblo and Screen Stars At Beverly Theatre Opening" in the August 22, 1925 issue of Moving Picture World, available on Internet Archive. They noted: "Rising majestically at the intersection of two of Southern California's most traveled boulevards, and in the center of the Movie Colony, the Beverly, owned and operated by the Hollywood Theatres, Inc., associated with the West Coast Theatres, Inc., opened in gala display on the evening of May 18.

"A tremendous throng attended the big opening, and among those present were scores of Filmdom's most notable stars and screen celebrities. Director Fred Niblo was Master of Ceremonies, and was introduced by Executive Director J. L. Swope of the Hollywood Theatres, Inc. Mr. Niblo called upon all the stars who were present to appear before the spotlight, and applause greeted each one. In fact, it was acclaimed one of the premier theatrical events of Southern California during the current year.

The proscenium as seen in the MPW article.

A view from onstage appearing with the MPW article.

"The officials of the West Coast Theatres, Inc. including Messrs. M. Gore, President; A.L. Gore, Vice-President; Sol Lesser, Secretary, and Adolph Ramish, Treasurer, were also introduced amid applause. The big theatre is of strict East-Indian design, with the same motif followed out in the auditorium. Architecturally speaking, it is without question one of the most magnificent show palaces in the entire country, and in decorative scheme is wonderful.

"Part of the equipment consists of a huge Wurlitzer Orchestral pipe organ. An eight-piece orchestra will be part of the house staff. The house is under the resident managership of E. S. Kukyendall, under the supervision of J. Leslie Swope, Executive Director of the Hollywood Theatres, Inc. The policy of the theatre programs will be high class motion picture entertainment, coupled with magnificent stage presentations and high calibre vaudeville.

"Situated, as it is, in the heart of Beverly Hills, which is motion picture folks' own community, this theatre takes an added significance because of the fact that anywhere from a dozen to two score celebrities can always be found among the audience. It is anticipated that the Beverly Theatre will be one of the most popular of the entire chain." Thanks to Beverly Hills historian Kimberly Reiss for posting the Moving Picture World article on the LAHTF Facebook page.

Seating: 1,270

Status: Closed in 1977 by General Cinema. Much of the decor was still visible when it was converted to retail. A later banking tenant gutted it. The Beverly, along with the Beverly Canon Theatre a block away, was demolished in 2005 for the Montage Hotel project.

The Beverly in the Movies: The Beverly makes an appearance in the 1980 Universal Studios classic "Xanadu" with Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John. Mr. Kelly gets taken shopping to buy some "jazzy" new clothes. A clip of the number is on YouTube.

Take a look behind Mr. Kelly and you can see the original proscenium arch with the curved sides (painted white). Sometime prior to 1940, curtains had been installed within the outer arch (painted cream & gold) to make the stage look wider. See the Theatres In Movies post for two more shots from the sequence at the Beverly plus a couple of exterior views of the Pan Pacific Auditorium, also visited in the film.

A rare view of the lobby showing the mural on the stairs to the balcony. The photo appeared in a July 1928 issue of the Beverly Hills Citizen. The occasion was the birthday of the manager, Marvin Park. Some of his smaller patrons were presenting him with a present of fishing gear. The photo, and its accompanying article, were a post of Kimberly Reiss on the Beverly Hills Heritage Facebook page.

A balcony photo appearing on page 36 of section two in the December 28, 1929 issue of Motion Picture News. It's on Internet Archive. The Beverly is on a page featuring photos of Fox West Coast theatres that had been decorated by Robert E. Power Studios. The section is the "Theatre Building and Equipment Buyers Guide." Note the unusual inward curve of the bottom of the inner proscenium arch in the theatre's early days.

This Beverly photo also shows up in a February 18, 1928 Motion Picture News story about the Power Studios. As well, it's in the collection of Charmaine Zoe on Flickr where she has over 700 photos culled from various issues of Motion Picture News.

A balcony view in 1940 from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The proscenium has been squared off a bit.

A 1957 panoramic shot of the interior after the "moderne" makeover from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives and Beverly Hills Heritage.

A proscenium detail from Marc Wanamaker's panoramic shot. Notice that after the moderne remodel there's new flatter ornament replacing the original statues on either side of the proscenium. Thanks to the Beverly Hills Historical Society and Beverly Hills Heritage for the photo.

A house left detail. Note the curve of the drapery covering the original inner proscenium.

A house right detail. Hard to miss the new mural work.

The auditorium repurposed as the Fiorucci store. Thanks to Alison Martino for the photo from her collection. It was a post on her Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.

Another Fiorucci view. It's a photo by David Naylor from his 1981 book "American Picture Palaces: The Architecture of Fantasy." This great book is a lush tour through the country's movie palaces with many stunning photos that don't appear elsewhere. A number of Los Angeles theatres are represented. It's on Amazon.

More exterior views:

A superb early view of the Beverly's facade as the theatre nears completion. It's from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives via Beverly Hills Historical Society and Beverly Hills Heritage.

A somewhat retouched pre-opening photo from Keystone Photo Service in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

An early view from the Quinlan Family collection via Beverly Hills Heritage.

A 1925 look at the theatre. Our feature is "The Coast of Folly" with Gloria Swanson, a September release. The photo appears on the Water and Power Associates Museum page "Early L.A. Buildings (1900-1925) page 3."

A detail of the parapet wall from the photo above -- note the "Quinlan Building" lettering. Thanks to Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives and Beverly Hills Heritage.

Another detail from the 1925 "The Coast of Folly" photo. Thanks to Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives and Beverly Hills Heritage.

An early view of the east side of the building from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives. That's the Beverly's stagehouse at the center of the photo.

A 1927 view of street sign installation in front of the Beverly. On the marquee: Buster Keaton in "College." The photo is from Beverly Hills Heritage.

A rare view of the Beverly's rooftop signage (over on the far left) saying "Fox Beverly." The c.1930 photo was a contribution to the LAHTF Facebook page by Beverly Hills historian Kimberly Reiss. In later photos the "Fox" seems to have gone missing.

A 1934 view of the theatre from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives. Stephen Russo has looked at the marquee and identified the double bill as "The White Parade" and "Limehouse Blues," both released in 1934.

Looking toward Wilshire on Beverly Dr. up a few blocks from the theatre. Thanks to Beverly Hills Heritage for the photo.

Eleanor Powell doing a bit of rooftop dancing with the Beverly Theatre in the background. It's a January 9, 1935 photo that has appeared numerous places, including on a Pinterest board devoted to the actress. The photo appears on a Getty Images page with the caption "We are assured that Miss Eleanor Powell, tap-dancing queen, is not unseasonably attired here for the balmy winter of this neighborhood. Anyhow, here she is, in her work-play costume. She's rehearsing for a part in the '1935 Scandals.'"

A 1936 rendering for a remodel of the Beverly Theatre facade by S. Charles Lee. It didn't happen. He wanted to chop off the dome! It's on Calisphere from the UCLA S. Charles Lee Papers Collection.

A wonderful 1937 aerial view of Beverly Hills from Marc Wanamaker and Beverly Hills Heritage. Note the onion-domed Beverly Theatre and the Warner Beverly Hills.

A detail from the 1937 aerial photo.

The Beverly in 1937 running "Exclusive" with Fred MacMurray along with "The Lady Escapes." It's a Herman Schultheis photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

A 1937 Alfred Eisenstadt photo taken for Life. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Tourmaline for including the photo on Noirish post #35806  along with other Life shots of Beverly Hills.

A c.1938 Dick Whittington view east on Wilshire. We get the Warner on the right. On the left, just beyond the Brown Derby sign, you can see the dome and stagehouse of the Beverly Theatre. It's in the USC Digital Library collection.

"Wilshire Boulevard, the 'Fifth Avenue of the West,' is one of the principal thoroughfares of Metropolitan Los Angeles. Along its route, via the Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, Westwood, and to the beaches west of the city are many smart shops, fine cafes and famous hotels. It is considered one of the most heavily traveled boulevards in the world." It's from the site Card Cow. The strangely luminescent bluish dome is the Beverly Theatre.

A great undated view showing both the Beverly Theatre and, farther east, the Warner Beverly Hills. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

A Life photo looking east with the Beverly Theatre behind the trees on the left and the Warner Beverly Hills in the distance. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for including the shot on Noirish post #40301.

A Life photo looking up Beverly Dr. toward the theatre. The marquee is peeking up above the awning at the right. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Tourmaline for including the photo on Noirish post #35806.

A 1945 photo from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives. Thanks to Beverly Hills Heritage for making the photo available. It also appears in Mr. Wanamaker's Arcadia Publishing book "Postcards of America - Beverly Hills 1930-2005."  This shot and others appear on a My Love of Old Hollywood blog post titled "A Quick Tour of Early Beverly Hills."

A detail from Mr. Wanamaker's 1945 photo.

A 1945 look toward the dome during a stroll south toward Wilshire along Beverly Dr. The photo once put in an appearance on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.

A 1947 view north on Beverly. The main feature is "Magic Town" with James Stewart. The bottom of the bill is "The Long Night" with Henry Fonda, Barbara Bel Geddes and Vincent Price. Thanks to Beverly Hills Heritage for the photo.

A 1948 photo from David Naylor's 1981 book "American Picture Palaces: The Architecture of Fantasy."  You can find the book on Amazon. He credits this photo to the Los Angeles Public Library but it doesn't seem to be in their online collection.

A classic view east on Wilshire at Beverly Drive from Beverly Hills Heritage.

A 1949 photo from Vintage Los Angeles. The dome almost gets lost -- white against the white building beyond. Note the roof sign.

A 1950 shot of newsboys at Beverly Dr. and Wilshire selling the Herald-Express, later to become the Herald Examiner. It's an Ida Wyman photo. Thanks to Maurice Ideses for the post on the Beverly Hills Heritage Facebook page.

A superb early 1954 look at the Beverly from Beverly Hills Heritage. The photo was added to the LAHTF Facebook page by Kimberly Reiss. The Beverly is running "His Majesty O'Keefe" with Burt Lancaster. The SHANE sign is advertising a return engagement coming February 24. Thanks, Kimberly.

A 1954 photo of the Beverly from the collection of Richard Wojcik on Vintage Los Angeles. Still playing: "His Majesty O'Keefe," a January 1954 release. with Burt Lancaster.

The Beverly in 1955 with "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" and "Night of the Hunter." Thanks to Alison Martino for the superb photo on her Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles. It was a find on eBay.

A 1956-57 look at the Beverly Theatre. They were running "Invitation to the Dance" with Gene Kelly. It's a photo from Beverly Hills Heritage.

 A detail from the "Invitation to the Dance" photo.

A late 50s view looking south on Beverly Blvd. toward Wilshire. It's a postcard that was in a collection that was displayed on the now-vanished website Yesterday LA.

A look at the theatre after the "modern" facade was installed. Here it's 1958 and they're running "From The Terrace" with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. The photo is from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives via Beverly Hills Heritage.

A great Beverly Hills postcard from Beverly Hills Heritage with the Beverly Theatre dome over on the right.

A 1960 photo of the Beverly. Check out the swirls on the dome. The photo is from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives and Beverly Hills Heritage.

A 1964 postcard the theatre playing "Dr. Strangelove."  It was once on the now-vanished site YesterdayLA.

"Mash" & "Harold & Maude." It's a 1974 Jeff Yablon photo added by Alison Martino to the collection on Vintage Los Angeles.

Thanks to Nick Faitos for this 1977 view down Beverly Dr. toward the dome of the Beverly Theatre.

A 1978 aerial view from the Los Angeles Public Library. "Temporarily Closed." The theatre would become retail space. It's a photo by Dean Musgrove.

A 1978 photo by Anne Laskey in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

Another 1978 Anne Laskey photo from the Los Angeles Public Library.

A 1978 Christmas view. It's an Anne Laskey photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. 

More from the LAPL Collection: 1929 view down Wilshire by F. M. Huddleston - Beverly's dome on the left | panorama toward the hills - minaret and roof sign far right |

A c.1985 view by Jeff Yablon on the Beverly Hills Heritage Facebook page.

A detail of the dome taken in 1987. It's on the Beverly Hills Heritage Facebook page. The photo also appears on the Water & Power Associates Museum page "Early L.A. Buildings (1900-1925) page 3."

A 2004 look at the building, after it had closed as a bank. It's a photo that appeared on the Beverly Hills Heritage Facebook page.

Thanks to Joe Zollner for this 2005 view of the doomed Beverly Theatre. He had it online but his website seems to have vanished.

The original facade getting revealed as later materials are stripped off during demolition. Thanks to Barry Weiss at Barry Photo for the image. It's in his eleven photo BH Montage / Theater Demolition set from 2005.

A sad side wall view. It's a photo by Barry Weiss of Barry Photo in his 2005 BH Montage / Theater Demolition set. Thanks, Barry!

Another sad demolition vista. It's a shot from the Beverly Hills Heritage collection on Facebook. Also see the page's Beverly Theatre album. Thanks to Kimberly Reiss for all the photos!

More information: Check out lots of information about the Beverly on the Cinema Treasures page. See Marc Wanamaker's 2005 interview with Elinor Quinlan, daughter of the developer of the Beverly Theatre. On YouTube: Part One | Part Two

Theatres that used to be nearby: The Warner Bros. Beverly Hills was just two blocks east on Wilshire. It was known as "The Beverly" in its final years as a concert venue. The Beverly Canon was behind the Beverly on Canon Dr. It was also demolished for the Montage hotel project. 

The other Beverly: See the page for the New Beverly Cinema on Beverly Blvd.

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