Opened: August 16, 1947 by Frieda Berkoff, a member of a famous Russian dancing family. The location is two blocks north of Beverly Blvd. The 1950s photo of the Coronet by Danny Rouzer is from the Tim Lanza Collection. It once appeared on the Largo at the Coronet website. In addition to the main theatre space, the building housed other rehearsal halls as well as acting and dance studios.
Phone: 310-855-0350 Website: www.largo-la.com
Film at the Coronet: One of the spaces in the building had a long history as a home for experimental film. Paul Ballard's Hollywood Film Society found a new home at the Coronet in the late 40s. Kenneth Anger showed some of his early works there. In 1950 Raymond Rohauer took over the operation with his "Society of Cinema Arts" and "Coronet Louvre" programming with daily screenings of classics, experimental and foreign films.
Programs at this "one man cinematheque" sometimes changed daily, some films ran longer. After a decade at the Coronet, Rohauer moved on to the Riviera/Capri, a twin venue that's now a single-screen operation called the New Beverly. In "Laboring in the Shadow of Hollywood," a November 6, 2011 New York Times, article Manohla Dargis, calls the Coronet Theatre's years under Rohauer "legendary."
The Coronet is discussed in "Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980" (John Libbey Publishing, 2015). It's an anthology edited by David E. James and
Adam Hyman with much of the content generated for the Getty Research
Institute's "Pacific Standard Time" initiative. It's available from Indiana University Press or Amazon. There's an article about it on the Los Angeles Review of Books website. See the Alternative Projections site for, among other items, a short biography of Rohauer.
Tim Lanza discusses the Rohauer era at the Coronet at length in "Raymond Rohauer and the Society of Cinema Arts (1948-1962): Giving the Devil His Due," chapter 17 of the book. Thanks to Ranjit Sandhu for locating it. Some excerpts from Lanza's discussion:
"...Rohauer's involvement in film exhibition and distribution in Los Angeles beginning in the late 1940s, in particular his involvement in the access to and exhibition of experimental film, is not well known. But it is undeniable that the activities of his Society of Cinema Arts, particularly through the exhibition of film at the Coronet Theatre (where [Stan] Brakhage would briefly work and later refer to as the best public theatre for the regular presentation of film in the country), had a profound impact on a generation of filmmakers and scholars living in the Los Angeles area during the 1950s....
"In 1950, the twenty-five year old Rohauer began presenting occasional programs at the Coronet Theatre at 366 North La Cienega, which became for the next twelve years the Society of Cinema Arts's primary venue. The earliest announcement found for one of these programs was for a six day series co-sponsored by Kenneth Anger and Curtis Harrington's Creative Film Associates, entitled 'Illuminations." The program was billed as the West Coast premiere of ten new avant-guarde films, though the veracity of that claim is in doubt. The films screened nightly from 20-26 January 1950, and included Anger's 'Escape Episode' (1944), 'Fireworks' (1947), and 'Puce Moment' (1949; Harrington's 'Fragment of Seeking (1946) and 'Picnic' (1948); James Broughton's 'Mother's Day' (1948); and Sidney Peterson's 'The Lead Shoes' (1949).
"On 8 August 1950, the Society premiered what it called the 1st Annual International Film Festival, which offered over the course of the month nightly screenings organized into seven separate programs. While featuring important silent and sound films, such as Paul Leni's silent horror film 'Waxworks' (1924) and Sergei Eisenstein's 'Ten Days That Shook The World' (1928) and 'Thunder Over Mexico' (1932/34), half of the festival's programming days were devoted to experimental film. It included a four-day program of selections from the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Art such as Frank Stauffacher's 'Zigzag' (1948) and 'Sausalito' (1948). It also included a five-day program of American and French works, such as Gregory Markopoulos's 'Xmas-USA' (1949) and three films by Man Ray.
"There was also a five-day program entitled 'The Abstract Film As Entertainment," which included eight films by Norman McLaren. A preview of upcoming Society screenings at the Coronet, printed on the back of the festival announcement, lists a variety of American and European silent and sound studio pictures, short films about artists, and dance films. When taken with the experimental films from the festival, these other films provide a clear view of the programming direction that the society would take...
"What is most impressive is the sheer volume of work presented during each calendar period, and Rohauer's ability to sustain consistent screenings every day of the year for more than a decade. He ran multiple films each evening, as well as matinees on the weekends... Sometime between 1950 and the beginning of 1951, daily programming began in earnest at the Coronet, which Rohauer specifically stated was not a theatre; he instead dubbed it 'The Coronet-Louvre Museum of Arts and Sciences,' bringing 'genuine art and experimental film to the discriminating film devotee.'... The Coronet became one of the most important film venues in L.A...."
Several Coronet film calendar covers included by Tim Lanza in his "Alternate Projections" chapter. On the left it's one from April 12 to May 13, 1951. At center it's the schedule for February 1 through March 7, 1952. On the right it's the cover for the program running from June 20 until August 7, 1959.
A view from a production of "Hamlet" in the 1960s. It's a photo from the collection of the late Petrie Robie.
Another 1973 ad located by Ken McIntyre.
Seating: 267 + 99 in a second black box space
Main house Stage Specs:
Proscenium width: 39'
Proscenium height: 13'
Curtain to footlights: 3' 6"
Curtain to backwall: 30'
Linesets: None -- what rigging there was used hemp
Grid height: 17' 9"
Theatre location: upstairs
The data appeared in the 1949 edition of the ATPAM Theatre, Arena and Auditorium Guide. Thanks to Bob Foreman for posting the publication on his Vintage Theatre Catalogs blog. They noted that the rent at the time was $500 per week.
The Coronet in music videos:
The exterior of the theatre is seen in several shots of "Our Lips Are Sealed" from the Go-Gos' 1981 album "Beauty and the Beat." It's on YouTube. Thanks to Jonathan Raines for spotting the theatre. It's unknown where the stage views were shot -- perhaps also at the Coronet.
More exterior views:
More information: Petrie Robie, the daughter of Frieda Berkoff, started a Friends of the Old Coronet Theatre Building page on Facebook. Petrie died in January 2021 but the page continues, now moderated by Pertri's daughter Honor Robie.
See "Inside LA Stage History: the Coronet Theatre," a 2016 article by Julio Martinez on the site @ This Stage Magazine from the L.A. Stage Alliance.
The Coronet is discussed as a home for experimental film beginning on page 218 in David James' 2005 book "Most Typical Avant Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles." The author is a professor in the school of Cinema-Television at USC. The book is available from the University of California Press or Amazon. A preview is available on Google Books.
The Coronet is one of eight theatres discussed in Jon Ponder's 2018 Wehoville article "Vanished Venues: The Forgotten History of West Hollywood's Old Theatre District." Also see the separate chapter about the Coronet.
See the Wikipedia page on the history of the Coronet. Yelp has a page on Largo at the Coronet that includes some photos.
| back to top | Westside theatres | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | Westside theatres: alphabetical list | Westside theatres: by street address | Downtown theatres | [more] Los Angeles movie palaces | Los Angeles theatres - the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resources | contact info | welcome and site navigation guide |