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Opened: 1926 as Chotiner's La Brea. The Chotiner Brothers also had the Roosevelt/Parisian and the Ravenna. The location is two blocks south of Wilshire Blvd.
The 1926 photo from the USC Digital Library collection was taken by the Dick Whittington Studio. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Godzilla for finding the set of photos in the USC collection and including this one on his Noirish post #17461.
Architect: Richard D. King designed the building for A.C. Blumenthal.
Fox West Coast was a later lessee, calling it the Fox La Brea. The theatre closed around 1955.
In 1959 Robert Kronerberg of Manhattan Films and Dan Sonney of Sonney Amusement Enterprises rescued the boarded up theatre and did a full remodel including redecorating, new screen and drapes, new seats and new booth gear. They called it the Art La Brea and reopened with Ingmar Bergman's "Brink of Life" on December 25.
On August 5, 1960 it became the Toho La Brea Theatre, running Japanese films. Bruce Kimmel reports that the week of March 21, 1962 the theatre was running the Japanese films "Challenge To Live" and "Playboy President." Thanks to Mike Rivest for the dates of the reopenings as the Art and the Toho.
Seating: 1,200 was the capacity initially advertised. It was 900 later and down to 640 after re-seating with rockers in 1959.
Status: The Toho management lasted at least until 1974. It's now a Korean church.
A 1960 lobby view. The renovated La Brea Theatre was featured in the Modern Theatre section of the June 6, 1960 issue of Boxoffice. At one time Boxoffice had many vintage issues on their website but they all vanished in a site makeover.
The inner lobby at the back of the auditorium. Boxoffice - June 6, 1960.
The rear of the auditorium. Boxoffice - June 6, 1960.
A stage view from the Boxoffice Modern Theatre section of May 9, 1960. Thanks to Joe Vogel and Ken McIntyre for locating the articles.
A few more exterior views:
A 1932 photo appearing on page 50 in the Arcadia Publishing book "Theatres in Los Angeles" by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Marc Wanamaker. Most of the rare photos in the book come from Mr. Wanamaker's Bison Archives. There's a preview to browse on Google Books.
Thanks to Bill Gabel for this photo he added to the Cinema Treasures page on the Toho LaBrea.
We get a bit of the roof sign and marquee in this photo of Senator Estes Kefauver driving north on La Brea while campaigning in 1956. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for the find in the Life collection. It's on his Noirish post #40300.
The theatre as a church. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Toho La Brea Theatre for all sorts of interesting data from various researchers. There are also links to many exterior photos of the La Brea.
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