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Warner Downtown: history

401 W. 7th St. Los Angeles, CA 90014  | map |

More Warner Downtown pages: vintage exterior views | recent exterior views | interior views

Opened: August 16, 1920 as the Pantages Theatre. The Pantages circuit initially just featured vaudeville but by the time this theatre opened had moved to a format of vaudeville along with feature films. Photo: Bill Counter

Architect: B. Marcus Priteca. Priteca, a prolific theatre architect based in Seattle, did all the Pantages circuit houses from 1911 onward including the last one, the Hollywood Pantages, in 1930. His other theatres in the Los Angeles area were the Fine Arts in Beverly Hills and three suburban deco palaces, the Warner Beverly Hills, Warner San Pedro and Warner Huntington Park. Gary Parks notes that in the mid 20s and into the 1930s Priteca maintained an office in suite 913 of this building. 

An August 8, 1918 article in the L.A. Times about the new project. They seemed to be having trouble spelling "architeure" and getting Mr. Priteca's name right. Thanks to David Saffer of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation for locating the article.

A view of the new Pantages upon its 1920 opening. The illustration originally appeared in the August 14 issue of the Seattle Argus. Thanks to Danni Bayles-Yeager for posting it on a page about the theatre in her Performing Arts Archive. It's now also on Wikipedia. The caption:

"The newest and most beautiful unit of the long chain of fine theaters operated by the Pantages Theater Company will be opened in Los Angeles next Monday. Inserts, left, Alexander Pantages, President and General Manager of the company; right, Edward G. Milne, Northwest General Manager. This million dollar building was designed by B. Marcus Priteca of Seattle, who was architect for the Pantages Theater in this city [Seattle]. Carl Walker will be local manager of the new theater, and James Townsend will be stage manager. The Pantages Theater Company will open new houses in Toronto, Salt Lake, Memphis and Kansas City this Fall."

This 1920 creation was quite typical of the favored Pantages classical style of the 20s. The home of the circuit prior to this in Los Angeles was the 1910 building at 534 S. Broadway. Pantages continued to operate that theatre after the move until he found someone to take over the lease. It was soon renamed Dalton's and later became the Arcade Theatre.

An ad appearing opening day - August 16, 1920. Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating it. Visit his site:

Seating: 1,757. Originally listed as 2,200.

Stage: The theatre had a fairly standard vaudeville stage, about 26' deep. There's one vintage backstage photo plus a dozen recent ones down at the bottom of the interior views page along with what data is available.  

Greek-born Alexander Pantages (1867-1936) got his start in show business selling seats for readings of newspapers to miners in Alaska who were starved for information and entertainment. He opened his first theatre in 1900 in Dawson City, Yukon Territory.

Alexander and his son Rodney in a photo by Estep and Kirkpatrick, from the Herald Examiner archives in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Rodney would go on to manage the second San Francisco Pantages upon its opening in 1926 and, in 1930, the Hollywood Pantages.

In 1925 the Pantages celebrated the circuit's 25th anniversary and this theatre's 5th anniversary. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating the August 15 Evening Express article, and several photos that accompanied it, for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. 

A tall 1925 ad for the "Show Place Beautiful" where "Like the Pantages skyscraper overtops a cottage, this show tops everything else in town." The feature is "The Best Bad Man," a November release with Tom Mix and Clara Bow. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Tourmaline, who found the ad for his Noirish post #14530 about Tom Mix. He found it on the site Western Clippings.

"A show inaugurating the world's largest vertical electric sign." It's an ad that appeared on February 14, 1927. Thanks to Comfortably Cool for locating the ad for a post on Cinema Treasures.

Scandals, Joseph Kennedy and a sale of theatres to RKO: As early as February 1929 the speculation began concerning the future of the Pantages chain. After Joseph P. Kennedy put RKO together in 1928 by merging Radio Corporation of America and the Keith Albee and Orpheum circuits, he started looking around for additional theatre holdings to expand his reach, either as part of RKO or as an additional circuit. And with the other recent consolidations in the theatre business there were other former theatre magnates looking for action. 

An article appearing in the February 24, 1929 issue of the L.A. Times. 

Joe Kennedy had earlier tried to purchase the Pantages circuit to improve the RKO position on the west coast but Pantages was then unwilling to sell. C.W. Porter's website about Joe and his ruthless business methods has a page on "How Joe Framed an Innocent Man." Using "Sins of the Father" by Ronald Kessler and "The Kennedy Men: Three Generations of Sex, Scandal, and Secrets" by Nellie Bly as sources, he says:

"In February 1929, Joe Kennedy made an offer to buy the Pantages theater chain, the second biggest in California, from its owner Alexander Pantages, a Greek immigrant who had built the chain from scratch into a multi-million dollar business. Joe's innate arrogance was now rampant, and when Pantages rebuffed his offers, Kennedy threatened him by boasting of his influence in the banking and movie businesses. Soon, Pantages found his theaters were being denied first-run blockbuster features from major studios, but that was only the beginning.

The disposition of the Pantages circuit was deemed key in the future of the vaudeville business with RKO interested in securing their monopoly position. This article appeared in the April 14, 1929 issue of the L.A. Times. 
At the time of this April 17, 1929 L.A. Times article RKO was going to buy 15 theatres from Pantages. That $14 million deal was to have included the theatre at 7th & Hill.  

"Pantages Deal Tied Up," a May 2, 1929 L.A. Times article noted that there was still no deal with RKO and the option they had on the circuit had expired. Although Pantages was quoted as saying that it would not be renewed the word was that the two parties were "attempting to iron out their differences." One of those differences was evidently agreeing on a valuation of certain of the properties. In "Pantages - R.K.O. Deal Near," a Times story on June 7, it was noted that they had "reached a point where only four or five problems need to be worked out." Rumors that the deal was done and RKO was moving into the San Francisco Pantages on June 27 were denied by Mr. Pantages.

By July the deal was down to six theatres and no longer included the Los Angeles theatre. In "Theater Deal Ordered - R.K.O. Instructs Agent To Buy Six Pantages Houses In Western Cities," a July 25 L.A. Times article, it was revealed that Frank W. Vincent, the RKO man in L.A., had received his orders from New York to consummate the purchase of the Pantages theatres in San Diego, San Francisco, Tacoma, Portland, Seattle and Salt Lake City. They noted that this was the culmination of the circuit's efforts to "acquire a larger scope in the West." The sale price was not revealed. 

Finally a deal. In this July 26, 1929 Times article they note that the purchase was valued at $12 million but earlier articles had noted that some of the payout might end up being in real estate swaps. The six theatres listed here were different than the ones listed in the July 25 article. Now Spokane was included and Seattle was out. 

Of the four theatres still under consideration at this time two would end up with Warner Bros. and not RKO: Los Angeles and Fresno. One account of he long negotiating road to selling those theatres to RKO is detailed starting on page 117 of "American Zeus," the biography of Pantages by Taso G. Lagos. It's on Google Books.

The Eunice Pringle affair: The August 10, 1929 issue of the L.A. Times ran a story with the headline "Alexander Pantages Placed in Jail...". He was held overnight on a charge of "suspicion of a statutory offense" and claimed it was a frame-up. A sixteen year old dancer named Eunice Pringle alleged that she had been assaulted by the theatre magnate the previous afternoon. The Times noted that the incident occurred in "his private office" at the theatre, but it was actually a janitor's closet on the stairs.

A triptych of Alexander Pantages, the theatre at 7th & Hill and Eunice Pringle. Ken McIntyre found the item for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. In many re-tellings, Joe Kennedy was involved in the plot to frame Pantages. C.W. Porter's webpage "How Joe Framed an Innocent Man" says:

"On August 9, 1929 in Pantages's flagship downtown Los Angeles, an hysterical lady in red emerged from the janitor's broom closet on the mezzanine screaming: 'There he is, the Beast! Don't let him get at me!' She pointed to the silver-haired Alexander Pantages in the office next to the broom closet. Poor Pantages was convicted and sentenced to fifty years, but the verdict was overturned on appeal, on the basis that it was prejudicial to Pantages to exclude testimony about the morals of the plaintiff. The court found her testimony 'so improbable as to challenge credulity.' The girl, Eunice Pringle of Garden Grove, California, told police that she had come to Pantages looking for work as a dancer. Instead of offering her a job, he had pushed her into the broom closet, wrenched her underwear loose and raped her.

"Pantages insisted that he was being framed, and that the young woman had torn and ripped her own clothing. At the new trial, Pantages' lawyers reenacted the alleged rape and showed that it could not have occurred in the small broom closet the way Pringle had described it. The jury was also shown how athletic Pringle was, casting doubt on her claim that she could not fight off advances by the slightly built Pantages. The second jury acquitted Pantages, but because of the notoriety, his business had plummeted..."

Porter goes on to suggest that two years later Eunice Pringle died suddenly (of cyanide poisoning) and, in a deathbed confession, implicated Kennedy in the conspiracy to set up Pantages. Wikipedia's article about Eunice Pringle notes that this story, while appearing in several books, is obviously untrue as Eunice died in San Diego in 1996 at the age of 84. Thanks to David Saffer for the link to Porter's website.

Michael Parrish, in a June 16, 2002 Los Angeles Times article, tried (unsuccessfully) to get to the bottom of the story. He noted that the "deathbed confession" of Ms. Pringle may have been a story spread by the Pantages camp as part of the attempt to exonerate the theatre owner. Parrish concludes that even if the confession part of the much-repeated tale is untrue it would be difficult to prove there wasn't a conspiracy against Pantages involving Joe Kennedy. Thanks to Jeff Kurti for locating the Times article.

Prior to the trial, the prosecutors went to the theatre building to inspect the room where Eunice Pringle alleged that the assault took place. It's a Herald Examiner photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection from August 13, 1929. The Library also has another similar shot. The paper's caption for this one: 

"Chief Deputy District Attorney, Robert P. Stewart, who led the investigation party, is pictured in doorway of the room, which opens from the mezzanine floor. The doorway to the room is so low, Mr. Stewart had to stoop." 
The room is on the office building stairs located half way along the 7th St. side of the building. It's on a landing between the mezzanine and the 2nd floor. Alexander Pantages' office was not "next to the broom closet" but up a few stairs and way down the hall to room 205, overlooking the theatre's marquee. 

The interior of the janitor's room in a Herald Examiner photo published August 13, 1929. It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Thanks to Eitan Alexander for locating several of these photos. The caption: 

"Photo shows interior of the 'little mystery room,' a private conference room in the Pantages Theatre building, where Eunice Pringle, dancer, charges she was attacked by Alexander Pantages. Prosecutors inspected the room today."

Pantages, center, in court with his attorneys in 1929. It's a Frank Bentley Herald Examiner photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

Pantages was in trouble again in 1931 in the "Hollywood Love Mart Case" where there was a party and it was alleged that money was given to several underage girls. This Herald Examiner photo from that case is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.  

A detail from another Herald Examiner photo from the 1931 "Love Mart Case." It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The caption: 

"Courtroom scene shows Alexander Pantages and his wife, pointed out by arrows, seated side by side. Standing at left is Jesse H. Shreve, wealthy San Diego business man, jointly accused with Pantages on charges of contributing to the delinquency of two minor girls in connection with the asserted party. A full week already has been taken up in selection of a jury to try the case. Photo dated: June 3, 1931." 

We can't blame the Eunice Pringle rape accusations and trial for forcing Pantages to sell his theatres. In fact, sales of at least eight theatres, including the theatre at 7th & Hill, happened before the alleged assault. Six had gone to RKO in July and on August 7 (two days before Eunice came to visit) the sale to Warner Brothers of the downtown Los Angeles theatre and the Pantages in Fresno was announced. Pantages kept his Hollywood Pantages project but when it opened in 1930 he had Fox West Coast as a managing partner.

Acquisition by Warner Bros: Although Pantages had sold part of his circuit to RKO, they didn't need this Pantages house at 7th & Hill as they had two other large theatres nearby, the Orpheum on Broadway and the Hillstreet a block away at 8th & Hill. Thus this one ended up with Warner Bros.

Jack Warner announced the acquisition on August 7, 1929 and the L.A. Times had this story on August 8. 

An August 9, 1929 mention about the sale in an out-of-town paper. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the article.

A September 1, 1929 Times article written as the Warner remodel began. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding it for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. As the article notes, there was a general refurbishing which included an interior paint job, new seating, and a flashy new marquee and vertical signs.

The theatre reopened September 26, 1929 as the Warner Bros. Downtown Theatre with the two-strip Technicolor Vitaphone feature "Gold Diggers of Broadway," directed by Lloyd Bacon. Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating the reopening day ad in the Times. The redecorated theatre and the film were reviewed by Edwin Schallert in the late edition of the September 27 Times and in the regular edition on September 28. He referred to the Warner as "the exclusive home of audible pictures." Al Jolson was the guest of honor and Frank Fay acted as MC.

Typical interior plasterwork redone in 1929 with a "WB" replacing the "P" over a main floor exit door. The proscenium box areas were also redone with much of the original box construction removed. Photo: Sandi Ando Lessert - 2016

The marquee Warner Bros. put on the theatre in 1929. Well, actually this was version two. That right panel was a later addition. It's a detail from a 1938 Dick Whittington Studio photo in the USC Digital Library collection.

Pantages held onto a big project in the works at the time of the circuit's sale, the Hollywood Pantages, which was the largest theatre ever built for the circuit. Curiously, RKO did end up with the Hollywood theatre but not until 1949 and Joe Kennedy was long out of the picture. RKO at that time was being run by Howard Hughes.

Early Widescreen at the Warner: Warner Bros, like many studios, experimented with widescreen cinematography and projection in the late 20s and early 30s. Their process was called Vitascope and used 65mm film with the sound on Vitaphone records. The special projectors were developed by the Warner Bros. technical department.

The Warner Downtown got a 65mm installation but only ran one feature, "A Soldier's Plaything," which opened December 12, 1930. The Warner Hollywood also ran the 65mm Vitascope process. See the Film and Theatre Technology Resources page here on this site for more on early widescreen processes. Dates of early L.A. widescreen runs are on the From Script To DVD page "70mm & Wide Gauge: The Early Years" by Michael Coate and William Kallay.

The December 26, 1930 Times ad for "The Lash" at the Warner Downtown (in 35mm) or at the Warner Hollywood (in 65mm Vitascope -- "uncanny in its realism").  Thanks to the terrific site for the ad. It's from their article "Magnified Gandeur" by David Coles.

Running a big vaudeville show, plus "The Purchase Price," in 1932 to compete with the RKO Hillstreet a block away. Stage shows were also being offered during this period at the Paramount and, sometimes, at Loew's State. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating the July 30 ad.

Signage revisions in the 1940s rebranded the theatre as Warners.  

In the late 1940s and early 1950s the building had a Trans-Lux Flashcast news ticker wrapping around the corner above the third floor. Thanks to WBHist for spotting this in some 1950 footage that's on Internet Archive. See a shot of the Warner from 2:40 into the eleven minutes of footage.  

The Consent Decree: In early 1953 as a result of the Consent Decree the Warner Bros. theatre division, the Stanley-Warner Corp., was spun off as a separate company from the film production business. That company merged with RKO Theatres (controlled by the Glen Alden Corp.) in 1967 to form RKO-Stanley Warner. The process is discussed in the anthology The American Film Industry, edited by Tino Balio. In 1955 the theatre was being advertised as the Stanley Warner Downtown.

A detail from a 1958 photo showing the "WB" on the marquee replaced by Stanley Warner's "SW."

After Stanley-Warner: By 1960 RKO Stanley-Warner had left the downtown market and the theatre was then operated by Metropolitan Theatres. It became the Warrens Theatre on September 1, 1960. The rest of the RKO-SW properties in southern California including the Warner theatres in Hollywood, Huntington Park and Beverly Hills were purchased by Pacific Theatres in 1968.

Status: The theatre closed in 1975. It was then a church for a while. The main floor and lobby have been used for retail as the Jewelry Theater Center since the late 70s. A Burger King, now defunct, was added in the basement.

The main floor as a jewelry emporium. Most of the plasterwork is still intact and the balcony is untouched (but without seats). You can walk on the stage (where there are more jewelry stalls) and see the counterweight system T-wall stage right as well as look up to the grid. The switchboard stage right has been removed. It's worth a visit even if you don't want to buy any jewelry. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007 

William Simmonds discussed the conversion in comments on the Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page

"I turned that theater into a jewelry mart in about 1978. It was a fun project. I purchased it from the Metropolitan Theater Company. I saved as much as possible of the building. There are many vendors still in the booths I rented to them back in 1978. See all those facades on the back of the stage? I personally made that set with 'Z' bricks and various odd size windows and awnings and the purpose was to draw customers to the rear of the 'Store' much as grocery stores put the milk at the rear of their stores so people would have to walk all the way to the back while passing all the 'un-necessities.' I had previously made two other Jewelry Exchanges on Hill Street. And I made another one in the Athletic Club building. For every successful endeavor, I had one or two failures, but I always landed on my feet."

The Pantages / Warner / Warrens in the Movies:

Harold Lloyd has some dazzling scenes up on what looks like an unfinished building in the 1921 Pathe release "Never Weaken." Some shots were from 1st & Hill but here we're at 7th & Hill. We get this nice vista down on the new Pantages. The building beyond the theatre is the Los Angeles Athletic Club. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for shots of Loew's State and the Mason Theatre from the film.

James Cagney works in a New York theatre run by Warner Bros. called the Strand in "Lady Killer" (Warner Bros., 1933). When it's time for a marquee shot we get this doctored footage of the Warner. Earlier we got a nice ushers roll call scene filmed on a roof several blocks away. Later Cagney goes to Los Angeles and, of course, becomes a movie star. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a view of the Montalban Theatre on Vine St. seen during a chase with some east coast mobsters.

The Warner is seen in the 11 minute 1946 short film "Your Traffic Officer" from the L.A. City Clerk's office. The Warner has "Cloak and Dagger" a September 1946 release by Fritz Lang starring Gary Cooper. The film can be seen on YouTube. Thanks to Eitan Alexander for the screenshot. And to Michelle Gerdes, Torr Leonard and Hunter Kerhart for also spotting the theatres in the film. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for a shot of the Orpheum from the film.

Also from 1946 is a Downtown Los Angeles Traffic Study. It's less than 4 minutes long. At 2:12 a shot looking south on Hill gives a look at the Warner. Thanks to Eitan Alexander for spotting this one on YouTube.

The Warner is on the right as the camera moves east on 7th St. in this shot from March 1950 footage intended for use as process shot backgrounds in film or TV shows. The vertical is seen spelling out the name. Note the news headline ticker that was above the building's 3rd floor. This is 2:40 into in eleven minutes of great downtown footage that's on Internet Archive as Pet 1067 r 4.

Thanks to WBHist for locating the footage and spotting the Trans-Lux Flashcast news ticker on the building. There's also a colorized version of the footage on YouTube from Nass as "1950s - Views of Los Angeles in color.." In that compilation the Warner footage begins just a few seconds in. Both versions also give us a look at Loew's State plus wonderful tour of Main St. 

Ronald Foster and Patricia Blair drive east on 7th and we see the Warner in "Cage of Evil" (United Artists, 1960). Ron is a detective trying to solve a jewel robbery and falls for both the thief's girlfriend and the stolen diamonds. The film, directed by Edward L. Cahn, also features Harp McGuire, John Maxwell, Robert Shayne and Helen Kleeb. The cinematography was by Maury Gertsman. Thanks to Eitan Alexander for spotting the theatre in the film and getting the screenshot. He notes that the process footage they used dated from 1953. The theatre was running Hitchcock's "I Confess." See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for two more shots from the scene. 

We get this shot looking out from behind the cashier at the Warner in Owen Crump's film "The Couch" (Warner Bros., 1962). The guy we see is stabbing people on the streets of dangerous downtown. Next he'll go after his psychiatrist. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the Los Angeles and Paramount theatres from the beginning of the film. 

The Warner was used extensively for the interiors of Ziegfeld's New Amsterdam Theatre in William Wyler's "Funny Girl" (Rastar/Columbia, 1968). The exteriors, some backstage shots and bigger production numbers were studio creations. Here we have a look at the stage from the back of the house. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for a dozen more views of the Warner from the film.

Chuck Connors is driving east on 7th in a red van filled with dynamite in "The Police Connection," a film directed by Bert I. Gordon also known as "The Mad Bomber" (Cinemation Industries, 1973). The theatre, by this time renamed the Warrens, is on the right. Vince Edwards is the cop on the case. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for some nice marquee shots of the Carmel/Paris Theatre from earlier in the film. 

We're driving south on Hill St. with a look at the Warner as Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn try to get away from Arnold Schwarzenegger in James Cameron's "The Terminator" (Orion Pictures, 1984). Thanks to Jonathan Raines for spotting the shot in the film. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for two shots from 7th and Broadway as well as a shot from a scene in the alley behind the State plus a sliver of a view of the facade.
A stunt double for Gregory Hines is rappelling down from the roof to get in a window for a jewelry heist in Nick Castle's "Tap" (TriStar, 1989). The film, set in New York, features Gregory as a tap dancer and "second-story" man just out of prison who needs to make some career decisions. Also featured are Suzzanne Douglas, Sammy Davis, Jr., Savion Glover, Joe Morton, Dick Anthony Williams, Howard 'Sandman' Sims, Etta James and Terrance E. McNally. The cinematography was by David Gribble. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for seven more views of the Warner plus thirteen in the Orpheum. 

Mel Gibson plays a New York cab driver with some problems in Richard Donner's "Conspiracy Theory" (Warner Bros., 1997). We get this view of the Warner in a scene with lots of erratic driving at the beginning of the film when he has a traumatic flashback. He's obsessed with multiple conspiracy theories and when one of them turns out to be true, he's a target. The film also features Julia Roberts and Patrick Stewart. The cinematography was by John Schwartzman. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for eight shots from a later scene over at the Orpheum.

We have a lot of fun downtown in Dominic Sena's "Swordfish" (Warner Bros., 2001) including this brief view of the Warner during a chase heading up St. Vincent court. The counter-terrorist thriller stars John Travolta, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a shot of a restaurant built up against the south side of the Los Angeles Theatre as well as many views of a sequence shot in the Belasco.  

Mark Wahlberg owes lots of money and gangsters in limos are chasing him when we get this shot in "The Gambler" (Paramount, 2014). He's an English professor with problems. The film, directed by Rupert Wyatt, also stars Brie Larson, Jessica Lange, John Goodman, Anthony Kelley, George Kennedy, Alvin Ing and Michael Kenneth Williams. The cinematography was by Greig Fraser. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots in Mark's lecture hall at the L.A. Theatre Center, lots of stage and basement views at the Palace plus brief looks at the Los Angeles Theatre and the Tower.

It's not much, but we get a fuzzy look at the Warner in the distance in a shot west on 7th St. in Terrence Malick's "Knight of Cups" (Broad Green Pictures, 2015). The film spends a lot of time on top of and inside the Palace and also has brief views of the Los Angeles, State and Wiltern theatres. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for more shots from the film. 

We this murky view west from Broadway with the dark marquee of the former Warner in the center of the frame near the end of Dan Gilroy's "Roman J. Israel, Esq." (Columbia/Sony, 2017). The film features Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo in a story of a brilliant, idealistic lawyer who makes a serious misstep. The cinematography was by Robert Elswit. We also get views of the Orpheum, Rialto and Los Angeles Theatres. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for five more shots from this sequence.

More information: The Cinema Tour page on the Warner Bros. Downtown has some photos by Adam Martin and Bob Meza. The Cinema Treasures page on what they call the Warrens has a good history of the building and lots of photos.

See the Wikipedia articles on architect B. Marcus Priteca and owner Alexander Pantages. Stanford University also has a nice page on the career of Alexander Pantages.

There's an exhaustively researched 2018 biography of Pantages by Taso G. Lagos from McFarland Books called "American Zeus, The Life of Alexander Pantages, Theatre Mogul." A preview of the book is on Google Books.

The theatre is still labeled the Pantages on a very nice 1938 map of downtown appearing on the LA Magazine website. Thanks to James J. Chun for spotting the map. 

The Pantages in Salt Lake City, later known as the Utah Theatre, opened the same year and was also a design of B. Marcus Priteca. Much of the decor was similar to the L.A.Pantages. See a nice set of photos and blueprints as well as historical data on the circuit on the Pantages Theatre Archives site of the Marriott Library of the University of Utah.

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  1. Thank you for all this incredible information, people like you enable our history to live on and not be forgotten to time.

    So many beautiful buildings in Downtown have very little information on the web, so articles like these are true gems

  2. I seem to remember for at least the late 1940's/early '50's, the Warner Downtown had a Trans-Lux Flashcast mounted at the corner several floors up.

    1. You may be thinking of the Paramount at 6th & Hill, a block away. I don't know how long it was up but there's a 1931 photo of it on this page:

  3. I saw that pic, the Paramount's was 1931, with different controls from what I'm describing. Warners' was in the 1946-50 period as I've said in another post. It would have been the same time they had another Trans-Lux Flashcast on the Hollywood and Vine corner of the Taft Building - when the studio also owned Los Angeles radio station KFWB (which they sold to its then-general manager in 1950). There is film footage with the Flashcast atop the Warner Downtown within the first few seconds of:
    (shown at top right)

    1. VERY interesting. And thanks for the link to that video footage. It certainly is there on the Warner Downtown. Yet I had never seen it on any of the still photos we have from the 40s and 50s. And I just went through them again and saw no trace of it.

    2. This footage is terrific! We seem to see more of the Warner in the original black and white version, starting about 2:40 in.

    3. I added a shot from the footage up on this page in the "Warner in the Movies" section. It's now also on the Vintage Exterior Views page. The footage appears to be early 1950 -- Loew's State is running "Ambush," a January release. The ticker's lifetime evidently was somewhere between 1947 and 1953 as there seems to no trace of it in the rather nice photos we have on the page from those two years.

    4. The footage was taken in March, 1950. Bruce Kimmel advises that "Ambush," which we see playing at Loew's State, played for one week beginning March 7.