Start your Los Angeles area historic theatre explorations by heading to one of these major sections: Downtown | North of Downtown + East L.A. | San Fernando Valley | Glendale | Pasadena | San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and Whittier | South, South Central and Southeast | Hollywood | Westside | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | Long Beach | [more] L.A. Movie Palaces |
To see what's recently been added to the mix visit the Theatres in Movies site and the Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page.

Masque / Vagabond / Hayworth Theatre

2511 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90057 | map |

Opened: 1926 as the Masque Theatre, a legitimate playhouse. It's on the north side of the street, just a block west of MacArthur Park. It's now a comedy/vaudeville spot called Dynasty Typewriter. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Website: | about the building   Phone: 310-556-1805

Architect: Stiles O. Clements, whose firm Morgan, Walls and Clements also designed about 100 other buildings along Wilshire Blvd. and many theatres around Los Angeles including the Mayan, Belasco and Music Box. In addition to the main floor theatre there was a 1,500 s.f. ballroom upstairs, formerly used as a dance studio. The story is that Rita Hayworth's father taught there. There were also two 400 s.f. rehearsal rooms.

Dwight Gibbs was the architect for the conversion into the Vagabond Theatre, a movie house, in 1950. Gibbs is best known as the designer of the Carthay Circle Theatre. The side walls in the theatre at some point were decorated with murals depicting various silent film scenes. The restaurant space in the building at the time was called Vagabond's House, perhaps L.A.'s first Tiki bar.

Seating: As a movie theatre it was 190 seats. The main floor theatre currently seats 199. 

The theatre was running film as early as 1949. In this January program it was Gorky's "The Lower Depths" on the Masque stage and then Jean Renoir's 1937 film "Grand Illusion." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating the ad.

In the 50s as the Vagabond it found a niche running British films and other artie releases. It was one of five local foreign and specialty film houses operated by Herb Rosener. Sid Kurstin was operating the theatre in the early 1970s according to Malcolm Hardy, who worked there as a projectionist in 1972. 

A March 1972 "New Vagabond" ad for a Luis Buñuel festival that was located by Ken McIntyre. 
Sid Kurstin had the master lease and in 1975 sub-leased the house to Tommy Cooper. It became a celebrated venue for revivals under Tommy's management. The theatre had a great reputation for unearthing quality prints and offering a top-notch presentation.

A 1976 calendar for the Vagabond from the collection of Dave Hunter. He shared it in a Facebook post. It's part of his Theatres album. He notes that the artwork at the top was by Kurt Wahlner. Lately Kurt has been busy with a site about Grauman's Chinese:

The building was designated as a Cultural-Historic Monument by the City of Los Angeles in 1983.

In 1985 Cooper, who had operated the Vagabond for 10 years, pulled the plug on the operation, a casualty of home video. The L.A. Times had the story on November 28: "Vagabond Theatre Fades Out."

On December 12 the Times followed up with "Vagabond Theatre to Reopen in 1986," a story by Steven Smith. Thanks to Malcolm Hardy for locating it. The copy:

"The Vagabond Theatre, a Los Angeles revival house at 2509 Wilshire Blvd., which closed Nov. 29, will reopen early next year under new management, according to owner Sid Kurstin. 'It’s going to be fixed up, remodeled, with new carpeting added,' Kurstin said. 'Everything is going to be first class.' Kurstin, owner of the theater’s master lease, says a sublease should be completed by next week. With its new management still undetermined, the Vagabond’s new movie format remains unknown."

After Cooper's tenure the Vagabond limped along with other operators running classics and 3-D festivals.


 An ad for the 1990 "American Premiere" of Arch Oboler's "Domo Arigato." Thanks to Fob Furmanek for sharing the ad on his 3-D Film Archive Facebook page. He notes that back in 1973 there had been a "World Premiere" of the film at the Broadway Theatre in Seattle. 

The Vagabond limped along until 1993. Later the theatre went through a spell as an evangelical church.

The Hayworth Theatre Company, a legit operation, used the building from 2006 until 2014 and gave it the Hayworth Theatre name. In addition to the productions of this resident company headed by Gary Blumsack, other producers frequently rented time on the building's three stages. Upstairs during its legit period there were two smaller theatres seating 63 and 45.

The Hayworth building got sold in late 2013 for $4 million to TV writer Jenji Kohan, with the intention of using the second floor spaces for her production work. The L.A. Times had the story in March 2014. Upstairs has now been revamped as office and studio space for Kohan's production company. The La Fonda restaurant on the corner closed in early 2014 but in 2021 was back in business with new operators. 

Status: The Hayworth is now a comedy/vaudeville spot called Dynasty Typewriter. Yes, there's a long backstory about the name. It's a project of veteran comedy booker Jamie Flam who programs a schedule of standup, storytelling, readings, musicals, movie screenings and more. 

Julie Seabaugh had an October 24, 2017 story about the project for L.A. Weekly. Also see a story on the site Comedy Bureau. And don't miss the fun Join the Dynasty video about the project on Kickstarter. 

Interior views:

A performance of the 2013 show "Just Imagine," featuring words and music by John Lennon. Thanks to Sal Gomez for sharing his photo. See more of his work on Instagram and Flickr

An auditorium view from the post-film house era added to the Cinema Treasures page in 2017 by that site's contributor Jwells. 

A 2019 view toward the stage. Thanks to Cherí Adams for sharing this photo she took when the building was open for a CicLavia event. It was a post on the Theatre Architecture Facebook page.  

The rear of the house. It's a photo on Cinema Treasures from Jwells. Thanks! Sorry, but there seem to be no photos anywhere taken during its time as a film theatre.

More exterior views:

A 40s postcard featuring the building's South Seas-themed restaurant, called "Vagabond's House." Thanks to Eric Lynxwiler for sharing this item from his collection on Flickr. There's also a copy from the Nathan Marsak collection appearing on an L.A. Conservancy page about the building. 
Also see a better interior view on a second postcard. It's on the site Card Cow with a 1948 postmark. Eric Lynxwiler also has a great scan of it on Flickr. The restaurant had been called the Cafe Opera in the 30s and became Vagabond's House in the 1940s. It morphed into the La Fonda in 1969 and now uses an entrance closer to the corner. They closed in 2014 and reopened under different management in 2021. 

A detail from Eric's card. The entrance to the Masque Theatre was on the left. Eric is the author, with Tom Zimmerman, of the Angel City Press book "Spectacular Illumination: Neon Los Angeles 1925-1965." He's also the co-author of the celebrated book "Wilshire Boulevard: The Grand Concourse of Los Angeles."

An early 50s look east on Wilshire. Thanks to Sean Ault for sending this lovely shot our way. It was a find of his on eBay. 

A detail from the photo. "Under the Paris Sky," starring Brigette Auber and Jean Brochard, got a U.S. release in May 1952.  

A wonderful Hopperesque view of the ticket taker at the Vagabond. It was added to the Cinema Treasures collection by prolific contributor Bill Gabel. The photographer is unknown.

The Vagabond during a 3-D festival.  It's an undated photo by filmmaker and cinematographer Gary Graver (1938-2006). He took many photos of older theatres that can be seen in two compilations on YouTube: "Second Run - part 1" and "Second Run - part 2." Thanks to Sean Graver for use of the photo.

A 1969 view spotted by Sean Ault when it was offered for sale online.

A 1980 look east toward the Vagabond by Meredith Jacobson Marciano. It was a post on the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page.

Thanks to the now-vanished American Classic Images website for this 1982 view. They were running "Silk Stockings" and "High Society."

Also in the American Classic Images collection was this 1983 photo of the theatre running "Pin Up Girl."

A 2005 photo of the Vagabond from Cathy Cole on Flickr -- when it was being used as a church. It's part of her Westlake set.

An undated photo from an old album found under the stage. It was a post on the Dynasty Typewriter Facebook page. Thanks to Sandi Hemmerlein for spotting it.

A classy photo by Martin of the La Fonda Restaurant and the Hayworth Theatre. It was on the now-vanished site On stage at the time was August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson," a production that opened November 2, 2007.

"Lovelace: A Rock Musical." The show debuted at the Hayworth in 2008 and had a six month run. It's a photo that had once been on You-Are-Here.

The view from the east. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
The 2013 show "Just Imagine" featured words and music by John Lennon. Thanks to Sal Gomez for sharing his photo. See more of his work on Instagram and Flickr.

A 2017 photo from Jamie Flam, the operator of Typewriter Dynasty, the new comedy/vaudeville operation. The story appeared with Julie Seabaugh's October 24, 2017 story for L.A. Weekly.

Shut down due to the virus. It's a Kate Warren photo appearing with "Hollywood Beacons in the Night," an April 23, 2020 New York Times story by Brooks Barnes featuring a dozen shots of closed historic theatres in L.A. Barnes offers a nice capsule summary of what the decades have wrought for each of the theatres he surveys. Thanks to Donavan S. Moye for spotting the story.

A 2020 view. Thanks to Cherí Adams for sharing this photo she took on a post on the Theatre Architecture Facebook page.    

  The Vagabond/Hayworth in the Movies: 

We're in lots of exotic places like Berlin, Switzerland and on Wilshire Blvd. in John G. Avildson's surprisingly good thriller about the oil business "The Formula" (MGM, 1980). After a prologue in Germany, police detective George C. Scott is seen leaving the Vagabond.

The film also stars Marthe Keller, John Gielgud and, of all people, Marlon Brando. Near the end of "The Formula" we get a glimpse of the Fox Westwood Village out oil tycoon Brando's office window. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a shot from that scene. 

Leslie Nielson and Priscilla Presley see "Platoon" at the Vagabond in David Zucker's "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad" (Paramount, 1988). Thanks to the site It's Filmed There for the screenshot.

Mia (Emma Stone) is onstage at the Hayworth before the one night run of her one-woman show in Damien Chazelle's "La La Land" (Lionsgate, 2016). Thanks to Mike Hume for figuring out where the scenes were filmed. The exteriors were shot at the Variety Theatre on West Adams Blvd. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots from the film of the Rialto in South Pasadena, the Magnolia Theatre in Burbank, the El Rey on Wilshire and the Variety Theatre.

Steve Basilone, playing a struggling writer, is asleep when the lights come up after a movie at the Hayworth in "Long Weekend" (Sony/Stage 6 Films, 2021). Basilone also wrote and directed. The cinematography is by Felipe Vara de Rey. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for five more shots from the scene at the Hayworth.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page for more about the Hayworth Theatre including tales of great cinematic adventures spanning several decades. Joe Vogel again has done wonderful research regarding the conversion of the Masque into the Vagabond.

A May 2014 Curbed L.A.story "Mapping the Huge Wave of Gentrification About To Hit Westlake" discusses new housing, transit accessibility and two neighborhood theatres in the news: the Hayworth and the Playhouse.

The L.A. Conservancy has a page about the building.

| back to topWestside theatres | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Westside theatres: alphabetical list | Westside theatres: by street address | Downtown theatres | Along the Coast | [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 |


  1. Great memories from the late 1970's of driving from my $110 a month Hollywood studio apt to the VAGABOND to catch up on the classic films. I was a film student then, hoping to make a mark in the industry.

    Reality caught up with me and those days are Gone With the Wind... LA and Hollywood were very affordable back in the day. So much to do and see. Driving everywhere was no problem. So different from today.


  3. I was the General Manager for Tom Cooper’s theaters back in the 1970’s and I operated the Vagabond and the Tiffany on Sunset Blvd for several years. We had three big white boards behind the snack bar that we asked celebrities to sign for us. They were very popular but had to be checked all the time as they became popular with celebrities, too.

    1. I worked for Tom the last year of the Theatre ... as projectionist ticket taker and concession all at once you know TOM

  4. I was the General Manager for the Tiffany and Vagabond theatres circa 1977-1978. I loved working for Tommy whose knowledge about the movie business was truly impressive. He was an inspiration for me in so many ways.

    As for that $110 a month Hollywood studio apartment that Roger rented, I remember those days well. For a short while I rented a studio apartment for just $17 a week. Not too much longer after that I moved into a Santa Monica studio apartment right on the beach for $150 a month, which included utilities.

  5. Can someone put me right here, in 1972 I was the projectionist at what was the Vagabond which was in fact operated or leased to Sid Kirstin.

    1. Well, from your comment it sounds like Kirstin may have been the lessee before the house was taken over by Tommy Cooper c.1975. Obviously I had no data on the page about him. A gap between Herb Rosener and Cooper. Anything else you can share?

    2. You could be right, I was only there one year as I leased the Rivoli Theatre in Long beach and formed Century Theatres Inc. then taking over the Whittier and Whitwood and Wardman theatres in Whittier followed by the Reseda, and Cove Hermosa Beach, then Pismo Beach and Gilroy, also Cameo Theatre in El Sereno, I also took over two , what was Jerry Lewis twins. unfortunally the building of multi plex cinemas took a toll on my company after 18 years.

  6. The wall in the theatre were done at the time I was there, must of been 1973, the theatre was leased by Sid Kirstin, I can not remember the names of the two guys who ran the theatre, Sid Kirstin also had the Bay Theatre and the Corbin Tarzana, I went to work for Hugh Dallas who ran the Golden Gate, before starting my own company. After I closed down my company ( just could not get first run films anymore) I moved to San Fransisco and was manager of The Metro on Union Street.