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Opened: May 18, 1935. The initial attraction was a model home show. This photo is one taken in 1942 by Julius Shulman. It's one of five in the Getty Research Institute collection indexed as his job #5500. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Hoss C for posting this one on his Noirish post #33828.
Architects: Walter C. Wurdeman and Welton David Becket of the firm firm of Plummer, Wurdeman & Becket designed the streamline moderne structure. Construction time was reported to be 56 days. The west-facing facade was 228 feet long. It was a wood frame building initially intended to be a temporary structure. The auditorium was about 400' x 250'.
The name derives from a proposed Pan Pacific exposition that was talked about in the 30s. The exposition never came off, but the name stuck. The Auditorium was built by Phillip and Clifford Henderson for their private corporation, Pan-Pacific Corp.
A program for the 1943 Ice Follies at the Pan Pacific. It comes from the collection of Marlaine Hysell, whose grandfather was noted Los Angeles theatreman John Quinn.
In 1947 Pan-Pacific Corp. sold the auditorium, theatre and bowling alley to E.L. Cord, the former auto manufacturer. It eventually ended up under the control of the City of Los Angeles. Everyone with a big show from Elvis to the Ice Capades played the Auditorium.
The Pan Pacific In the Movies:
The Pan Pacific is pretending to be the NBC radio studios in Herbert Ross's "Funny Lady" (Columbia, 1975) about 10 minutes before the end of the film. Fanny Brice has just finished an episode of her long-running show and comes out to get in her car. She's in a hurry to see Nicky Arnstein for what turns out to be the last time. See the Theatres in Movies post for views of the Orpheum and Los Angeles theatres from the film.
The best known role for the building is in "Xanadu" (Universal, 1980) in which the decaying ruin is transformed into a nightclub operated by Gene Kelly with roller skating patrons. Somehow roller skating in night clubs just didn't catch on. The film used only the building's exterior.
A daytime look from "Xanadu." See the Theatres In Movies post about the film for shots from a scene shot at the Beverly Theatre in Beverly Hills.
We spend lots of time in some back storage rooms of the complex in "Tuff Turf" with James Spader and Robert Downey, Jr. (New World, 1985). But there's nothing exciting to look at except a few signs left over from various events. It just looks like any old warehouse.
Status: It was closed in 1972 and was allowed to decay. Many events that formerly played here were siphoned off to the new L.A. Convention center.
The auditorium was demolished after a May 24, 1989 fire. The fire was of suspicious origin and occurred on the eve of a planned restoration. There's currently a new Pan Pacific Recreation Complex building on the site that has echoes of the original structure.
A Los Angeles Public Library view of the interior during an Ice Capades show. Other interior photos in the collection include: auto show - 1935 | basement exhibit - 1938 | interior - Ice Follies- 1939 | another ice show -- undated | basketball game | concert setup | bike racing track - 1937 | trailer & sports show - 1937 | tennis - 40s | fundraiser for Ike - 1952 |
A c.1936 view of the Pan Pacific Auditorium from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
An undated exterior view looking north. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. Other exterior photos in the collection include: | car park staff | home show - 1935 | facade view with crowd - 40s | facade view -- with a woody - 40s | another facade view - 40s | crowd outside at night - 1948 | "Queen For A Day" - 40s | undated night view - lines at entrance | from across the parking lot - undated |
A rare 40s color view of the Pan Pacific Auditorium from Noirish Los Angeles contributor GS Jansen. He had it on Noirish post #4223. He had done a bit of enhancement magic on a photo that was on eBay. It's also been on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles as a post by Richard Wojcik.
Another version of the shot above appearing on Noirish Los Angeles post #4237 -- again worked over by Mr. Jansen. This one also appears on Vintage Los Angeles.
A daytime view from GS Jansen. It's on his Noirish Los Angeles post #4233. It's also on Vintage Los Angeles.
A lovely 40s view. Thanks to Christian Lukather for the photo, appearing on Vintage Los Angeles.
A 1955 Dick Whittington Studio view of the entrance from the USC Digital Library collection. Also in their collection: from across the parking lot - 1956 | 1954 aerial view -- the building is on the far right, 1/3 of the way down | interior - horse show |
An entrance detail from the USC collection. Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality had it on his Noirish post #2407.
A 1956 view of the Pan Pacific Auditorium entrance. It's an L.A. Times photo in the UCLA Library collection that appears on Wikipedia.
This photo was taken by Marvin Rand sometime between 1972 and 1977 for a Historic American Buildings Survey. It can be seen in the Library of Congress collection. Thanks to Thanks to Nicole Padburg for finding these in the Library's collection and posting on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles. Also in the LOC set: entrance from southwest | north end of facade | entrance doors | another entrance view |
A look at the facade in the 80s. Gia Costello once had the shot on the Facebook page for the non-public group Mid Century Modern Los Angeles.
A 1986 photo from the UCLA Library collection. It's one of many fine views of the building from a variety of sources appearing on the Noirish Los Angeles post #2419 by GS Jansen.
A 1987 side view of the Pan Pacific Auditorium in its final days. It was once a post on Vintage Los Angeles but seems to have vanished from that page. There's also some 1986 exterior video footage on Vintage Los Angeles.
The end in 1989. Thanks to Peter Chacona Chaconas for the photo on Vintage Los Angeles. The fire can also be seen on a 3 1/2 minute clip on YouTube.
More information: Floyd Bariscale has a photo on Flickr of the new building on the site. Larry Gassen has a number of 1980 facade views in his Flickr set. See Larry Harnisch's L.A. Times story "Saying Goodbye..." for some nice photos from the Times archives.
GS Jansen's Pan Pacific Flickr set has some programs for Ice Capades and other events at the complex. A great history of the building is on LAist. The Scotty Moore website has an an interesting page devoted to the history of the Pan Pacific Auditorium -- with a focus on Elvis.
Gaylord Wilshire also has a nice 80s view on his Noirish Los Angeles post #2412. The Bruce Torrance Hollywood Photographs collection has 30 views of the complex dating from the 30s through the 70s.
See the Wikipedia article on the Pan Pacific Auditorium for lots of information on the building and various landmark events occurring there.
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