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Million Dollar Theatre: vintage exterior views

307 S. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90013 | map |

The Million Dollar Theatre pages:  history | vintage exterior views | recent exterior views | ticket lobbies | lobbies and lounges | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | booth | stage | orchestra pit | basement areas |


September 7, 1917 - A construction view by G. Haven Bishop for the Southern California Edison Co. The Edison Co. would be the office building's first tenant. The photo is in the collection of the Huntington Library. They also have another September 7 photo taken a bit closer.

The lore is that the name Million Dollar was applied to the venue later. But note here that even the construction signage says "Home of the new Million Dollar Theatre."



September 7, 1917 - A detail from the Huntington Digital Library photo.



1917 - "Music of the Night," a figure modeled by William Woollett for Gladding McBean & Co., contractors for the terracotta on the Million Dollar. The figure, with the left hand and the ram's horn now missing, resides on the bottom of the north side of the outer arch above the marquee. It's a photo that appeared with an article by Jo Neely in The Graphic titled "A Dream Come True." It's on Internet Archive, reprinted in the May 1918 issue of Architect and Engineer.



January 18, 1918 - A detail from a construction shot by G. Haven Bishop in the Huntington Library collection. Also see another similar photo he took the same day.



January 18, 1918 - A construction view of the 3rd St. side of the building by G. Haven Bishop from the Huntington Library collection. Note that there's work going overhead -- not a lot of protection for the pedestrians.


 
January 1918 - The entrance days before the opening. Note the nice "Grauman's" signage above the arch. And don't you love the little trees in pots? It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. 
 
 

January 1918 - An interesting image that appeared in the March 2, 1918 issue of Motion Picture News. Although David Grauman (Sid's father) was the one whose name was on the lease it's not often that he was presented to the public as part of the team. Thanks to Brooklyn-based theatre historian Cesar Del Valle for posting this as part of his Theatre Talks collection on Flickr. Also see his Theatre Talks blog. And thanks to Michelle Gerdes for spotting the post and including the image in the LAHTF Group Pool, also on Flickr. 



February 1, 1918 - This opening night photo is in the Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann Collection, part of the AMPAS Margaret Herrick Digital Library. It was acquired from the collection of Ron Downer. Note that we can see a bit of the unfinished area to the left of the entrance -- soon to become the open-air ticket lobby. This is one of a number of theatre photos on display outside the Ted Mann Theatre at the Academy Museum.



1918 - Construction continues on the office building after the theatre's opening. Perhaps the flag on the building was for the 4th of July. It's a photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Note the "For Rent" signs in the two bays at the left that were later part of the open-air ticket lobby. And check out the Grauman's "Aladdin's lamp" signage back on the stagehouse.



1918 - A detail from a G. Haven Bishop photo giving us a view up 3rd St. to Angels' Flight. At Grauman's: Pauline Frederick in "Fedora," a Mack Sennett comedy released in August 1918. The photo is in the collection of the Huntington Library.



1918 - A view from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. On the far right note the "Aladdin's lamp" signage looks like it has a plume of steam coming from it.



February or March 1919 - The theatre running "The Girl Dodger" with Charles Ray. It's a Huntington Library photo by G. Haven Bishop. Note that those two southern bays are in use as an open-air ticket lobby -- something that wasn't ready for the theatre's opening. See the ticket lobbies page for more about that area.

The Huntington dates the photo as May 1919 but the film's actual run was from February 24 through March 2. Other similar views taken during the run of "The Girl Dodger" in the Huntington's collection include: another take of the photo above - HDL dates it as June 15 | with a line in front - HDL dates this also as June 15 | another take with the line - HDL dates it as c.1920 |



February or March 1919 - A detail of the 3rd St. side of the building from the "Girl Dodger" photo. It looks like we're loading in a show.



June 1919 - "Looking toward 3rd and Broadway from 3rd and Hill streets. Showing an excellent reason why street cars should be removed from 3rd Street between Main and Hill Streets." The photo is from page 170 of the California Railroad Commission's "Report on Service, Operating, and Financial Conditions of the Los Angeles Railway Corporation." It's in an album from the Metro Library and Archive on Flickr. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for spotting it. She calls our attention to the Vegetarian Cafeteria on the left and the nice view of the Aladdin's lamp sign on the stagehouse of the Million Dollar. 


c.1919 - A fine postcard view south on Broadway that appears on a page about the Million Dollar on the USC Geography Department Downtown LA Walking Tour. The card also pops up in several other places including Elizabeth Fuller's Old L.A. Postcards on Flickr, the Bringing Back Broadway Facebook page and in the collection of Michelle Gerdes on Flickr.



c.1919 - Another card looking south, this time with a different assortment of streetcars. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for sharing the card from her collection. Also see an earlier card from the Cezar Del Valle collection based on a photo taken before the two south bays of the building were used as a ticket lobby.



1920 - The theatre running the February release "On With The Dance" starring Mae Murray and David Powell. The photo from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives appears on page 24 in the 2008 Arcadia publishing book "Theatres in Los Angeles" by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Mr. Wanamaker.  There's a preview of the book to browse on Google Books.



1920 - Grauman's during the 1920 run of the Harold Lloyd film "High and Dizzy." Lloyd got the 10' x 15' poster up but his film was just a 26 minute short. The feature was "The Fighting Chance." This photo from someone's scrapbook was on eBay but had no takers. Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for spotting it. Visit GraumansChinese.org, his website about another Grauman theatre, the Chinese.

Also see another "High and Dizzy" photo that Charmaine Zoe found in a trade magazine. It's a night view that also shows one of the south bays in use as part of the open-air ticket lobby.



1921 - The theatre is all dressed up to welcome Elks in town for a convention. It's a G. Haven Bishop photo in the Huntington Library collection.



1921 - An entrance detail from the previous photo. The feature film is "One a Minute" with Douglas MacLean. Sid notes on the marquee that his revue has "75 artists 75." Note the signage over the bays of the ticket lobby at the left: "Grauman's Cinema Temple."



1921 - A G. Haven Bishop image looking east on 3rd toward a lost world. The Fay Building on the right is now the site of the Grand Central Market parking garage. The photo is in the Huntington Library collection.

G. Haven Bishop's photos were taken for Southern California Edison. More early theatre views in the Huntington collection: another night view east on 3rd - 1921 | Broadway facade at night - 1921 | 3rd St. side - c. 1922 | east on 3rd - day view - 1923 | night view west - c.1926 |

The Edison collection at the Huntington also has many views of the interior of the office building showing use of the space as offices, dispatch areas, lunch rooms, etc. Searching the collection for
"Edison Building" gets many of these items.

Some of the more interesting ones include: Laughlin Building  - later the Grand Central Market - 1915 - before MD construction | on the roof | office building lobby | library | directors' room | ladies' lunch room - basement | ladies lunch room kitchen | ladies lounge | mail room | assembly room | men's lunch room - 2nd floor |  
 

1922 - Will Hays was coming to visit and this is the display he got from Sid. "Borderland" was a July release. Thanks to Dallas Movie Theaters for finding the trade magazine photo and posting it on the Cinema Treasures page about the Million Dollar.


 
1922 - A view of the building that appeared along with several interior shots in the Architectural Digest 1922 survey issue of noteworthy southern California buildings. It's from the Stanford Library and on Google Books.
 

1922 - A view of the display for the 5th annual Paramount Week that appeared in the October 7 issue of Exhibitors Herald. It's on Internet Archive. Note the terracotta figures below the portraits of Adolph Zukor and Jesse Lasky. They're still on the building but not visible from the street with the present marquee configuration. The Herald's caption: 

"Sid Grauman scored with another brilliant front for Paramount Week, the photograph describing same perfectly. 'Her Gilded Cage' was the picture run. Eleven Paramount stars appeared during the week. First in his 'Welcome Hays' lobby and now in his display for Paramount Week Mr. Grauman has sounded a new and dominant note in frontal treatment. 'The Theatre' [the Herald's column] recommends his example to the consideration of good showmen everywhere." 
 


1923 - A terrific chance to look into the ticket lobby to see the boxoffice configuration and the passages on either side of it leading to ticket lobby #2 next door. Many thanks to Eric Lynxwiler for sharing this photo from his collection. And also a shout-out to Michelle Gerdes for passing it along.
 
"The Ninety and Nine," a December 1922 release starring Warner Baxter and Colleen Moore, opened at the Million Dollar on February 19. The poster case in the center promised a "Monster Atmospheric Prologue." A train figured in the feature and in ads Grauman promised "A 200,000 pound railroad locomotive in motion - actually on the stage." Perhaps that accounts for the "20 Minutes At The Railway Station" title we see on the marquee and in the display case on the right. Also on the program were the Christie comedy "Ocean Swells" and the Harmony Singers.  
 
 

1923 - "Tea With a Kick" was an August release starring Doris May, Creighton Hall and many others. The special display was no doubt animated with each element lit in sequence. Thanks to Dallas Movie Theaters for locating this trade magazine shot for a post on Cinema Treasures.



c.1924 - Rats and plague! A fine view looking north across the Grand Central Market and the Million Dollar beyond. The photo is on Calisphere from the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. It was part of a large "Rats" photo set taken when the city was on a hunt for rats in an attempt to eradicate an outbreak of pneumonic plague.

Can't tell what's playing except that it's a comedy. The three sets of white letters up high each say "HA HA." Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for spotting the photo and including it with others from the "Rats" set on his Noirish post #34867.



1923 or 1924 - A great view looking north from the California Historical Society that's in the USC Digital Library collection. On the marquee is "The Covered Wagon - 6 performances daily." The film had its initial roadshow engagement at the Egyptian beginning in April 1923.



1923 or 1924 - A detail from the USC "Covered Wagon" photo. Check out that wagon atop the marquee.



1923 or 1924 - A parade passing by during the "Covered Wagon" engagement. Check out all the people atop the marquee. Many thanks to theatre explorer Michelle Gerdes for spotting the photo at a memorabilia show. 



1924 - The premiere of Mary Pickford's "Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall," a May release. Thanks to Dallas Movie Theaters for posting the photo on the Cinema Treasures page about the Million Dollar.



1925 - A photo from the  California State Library collection, their item #001377963. The theatre was running Erich von Stroheim's "The Merry Widow" with John Gilbert. It was an August release. Note the letters strung across the street advertising the show. Also see a detail of the theatre's entrance from this photo.



1925 - The theatre running Harold Lloyd's "The Freshman," a September release. The Pennsylvanians appeared with the film as part of the "Atmospheric Prologue: On The Campus" stage show for six weeks. The Pennsylvanians came back for six weeks in 1923 for the opening show of Grauman's Metropolitan Theatre. The photo is one that appeared on a now-vanished page about Fred Waring from the Penn State Alumni Library.



1925 - A view of the theatre when presenting Chaplin's "Gold Rush." This would have been the "popular price" engagement. The film had opened in June at the Egyptian on a twice-a-day schedule at roadshow prices. Note the ductwork on the stagehouse going up to the fan room on the roof. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



1927 - A look at the Million Dollar discovered on eBay by theatre detective Michelle Gerdes. Playing is "The Magic Flame" with Ronald Colman and Vilma Banky. Note a new vertical sign saying "Million Dollar" has replaced the "Grauman's" sign. The ticket lobby in the south bays is no more -- that space is now retail. Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality has the photo plus the program for the engagement on his Noirish post #17525.



late 1920s - Looking north on Broadway toward 3rd and the Million Dollar Theatre. The photo is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection where they date it as 1929. It also appears in the USC Digital Library collection from the California Historical Society. They date it as c.1926. Note the "Edison Building" signage on the north side of the Million Dollar's tower. They were there from 1918 until their new building (now known as One Bunker Hill) was completed in 1931.


 
1928 - The signage for Harold Lloyd's "Speedy." Thanks to Dallas Movie Theaters finding the trade magazine photo and posting it on the Cinema Treasures page about the Million Dollar. Charmaine Zoe also spotted the photo and has a version of it on the Cinema Treasures page.
 
 

1929 - A look north toward 3rd with the Million Dollar on the left and, on the right beyond the cafeteria, the Cozy and Central theatres this side of the Bradbury Building. It's a detail from a C.C. Pierce photo in the UCLA Library collection. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for posting it on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. 
 


1929 - A detail from the UCLA photo revealing that the theatre is running "Sweetie" with Jack Oakie and Nancy Carroll, a November 2 release. This is the best look we have of an early version of the theatre's first protruding marquee. This iteration didn't last long as within several years it was to get all sorts of deco embellishment.
 

1930 - "Paramount on Parade" was an April release. Plus you got "The Best Vodvl in the City." This shot is 17:36 into Rick Prelinger's "Lost Landscapes of Los Angeles - 2019." 

It's from two minutes of amateur footage showing other areas of town before the ride down upper Broadway. Rick's hour and thirty minute program of wonderful clips from a variety sources was presented at the Los Angeles Public Library by the organization Photo Friends as part of the series L.A. in Focus. Also see an earlier compilation: "Lost Landscapes of Los Angeles - 2016." Both programs are on Vimeo.


1931 - This view of the front gives us our first look at the great new marquee and the island boxoffice. It's a Dick Whittington studio photo in the USC Digital Library collection. It's part of a set documenting "Buildings cooled by piped refrigeration." Also see another take the same day from higher up.



1930s - A panorama north on Broadway toward 3rd. Here at the left the there's some competition for Grand Central in the form of another "cut rate" market. Note the added vertical sign for the Grand Central Market. And check out the Million Dollar's vertical. It's now higher on the building than the first "Million Dollar" sign was in the late 20s. And the earlier one was higher that the initial "Grauman's" vertical. The photo is one in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



1935 - Disney animator Tyrus Wong and, presumably, his wife on Broadway. The Million Dollar is running "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer" with Gary Cooper and Franchot Tone. Thanks to Phillip Anthony Aguirre for the post of the photo on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



1939 - The view north from 4th St. It's a Dick Whittington Studio photo in the USC Digital Library collection. Also in the USC collection see a 1939 photo looking north from 5th St.



1939 - 3rd St. looking east from Hill in a view discovered by Ken McIntyre for a post on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



1940 - A photo by Bob Landry for Life. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the image in the Life collection and posting it on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles. The photo got a 2016 re-post on Photos of Los Angeles by Al Guerrero who noted the display case at the left was advertising "While Thousands Cheer." It was a 1940 release from Million Dollar Productions directed by Leo Popkin. Harry Popkin owned the theatre at the time, presumably they were brothers.

The second feature was "Spy Bureau." Michael Moran went on a hunt and determined that it's an alternate title for the 1936 British film "Second Bureau," the title being a reference to a spy agency that would be unknown to US audiences. The photo can also be found on AllPosters.com. Other photos for taken for Time or Life can be found on the Time Inc. website, as part of a huge Life collection on Google.



1940s - Looking south toward 3rd and the Million Dollar. The photo is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. They date this one as 1954 but it's obviously much earlier.



1946 - An Otto Rothschild photo from the Jack Tillmany collection. The "films that make you gasp" program had "Camps of the Dead," an 11 minute short about Nazi death camps, along with two 1945 features: "Woman Who Came Back" and "Girls of the Big House." The photo is now in the Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann Collection, part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collection.



 
late 1940s? - Lionel Hampton at the Million Dollar in an undated Los Angeles Public Library photo.
 

 
1947 - A look north with the theatre running "Tarzan and the Huntress" with Johnny Weissmuller along with "Dillinger" starring Lawrence Tierney. Note the juice bar in the storefront to the left of the theatre entrance. Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality spotted the shot on eBay for his Noirish post #5353. Thanks to Eric Lynxwiler for purchasing it to share in his terrific "Downtown Los Angeles" album on Flickr. It now also appears in the LAHTF Group Pool that Michelle Gerdes curates, also on Flickr.


1948 - A look at the marquee during an appearance of Dizzy Gillespie. In addition to the stage attractions, they were featuring the film "Angels' Alley." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating the photo for a post on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.


 
late 1940s? - Looking south on Broadway toward 3rd St. It's a photo by Arnold Hylen appearing through the courtesy of his grand-niece Greta Gustafsson. For more about Mr. Hylen visit the Arnold Hylen Photographer Facebook page.
 

1949 - T-Bone Walker plus Divena and her Aqua Tease on stage with "Lust For Gold" as the screen portion of the program. The film was a June release. Thanks to Eric Lynxwiler for sharing this photo from his collection in his "Hollywood Productions" album on Flickr. And thanks to Michelle Gerdes for spotting it and including the image in the LAHTF Group Pool, also on Flickr.


c.1950 - A look east down the Angels Flight tracks and 3rd St. toward the Million Dollar. It's a photo by Roy Hankey in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. This side of the Million Dollar on the SE corner of 3rd and Hill we see the F.P. Fay Building, now replaced by the parking garage for the Grand Central Market.



1954 - A look south on Broadway toward the Million Dollar. It's a Palmer Connor photo taken in June that's in the Huntington Library collection.  



 
1954 - A detail from the Palmer Connor photo.   
 

1956 - A lovely shot taken in August. Thanks to Sean Ault for spotting this one when it was for sale online.  
 


1956 - The P Line on Broadway. It's a photo from the Metro Library and Archive on Flickr. It's part of their Downtown Los Angeles set.



1956 - A William Reagh photo looking east from Bunker Hill. It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



1957 - Looking west on 3rd toward Broadway. It's a Los Angeles Examiner photo in the USC Digital Library collection. Also see another 1957 view west on 3rd from the collection. These were part of a City Then and Now series.


 
1959 - Looking west on 3rd toward the Million Dollar in 1959. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for posting the photo on Photos of Los Angeles.



1963 - Looking north past the Grand Central Market toward the Million Dollar. Thanks to Sean Ault for the photo from his collection.



1963 - A detail from the Sean Ault photo.



1964 - LBJ in front of the Million Dollar. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the photo for a post on Photos of Los Angeles.

 

1960s - A look east along 3rd St. discovered on eBay by Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality and included on his Noirish post #25194. Thanks!



1966 - A peek at the theatre building (and the Grand Central Market) from Clay St. during the Bunker Hill redevelopment project. It's a William Reagh photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. 



 
late 60s - Looking down Angel's Flight as Bunker Hill gets cleared. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. Also see another view down the tracks of similar vintage.   

 

1972 - Thanks to Sean Ault for sharing this front-of-the-bus view from his collection. It's unknown what the police were up to on the corner. 
 
 

1972 - A photo by Michael V. Sedano. Thanks to Em Sedano for sharing it on a Facebook post. Jacinto Guevara commented that the theatre was running "Los hijos de SatanĂ¡s."

1974 - A fine corner view. Thanks to Sean Ault for spotting it on eBay.  
 

1974 - A shot from across the street taken the same day as the previous photo. Thanks, Sean! 
 

1974 - The view north from 4th St. It's from the same photographer as the previous two images. Thanks to Sean Ault for spotting it on eBay.


1977 - Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding this Tony Edwards photo for a post on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.  



 
1977 - A photo by Tom Sitton that's in the LA County Natural History Museum collection. Thanks to Mike Hume/Historic Theatre Photography for finding it on the National Park Service website. It appears with a 42 page photo gallery that accompanied the 1978 application to get the Broadway Theatre and Commercial District listed on the National Register.  
 


c.1978 - A fine night view from the now-vanished American Classic Images website. "Traigo la sangre caliente" was released in Mexico in 1977. 
 
 

c.1978 - Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for sharing this marquee postcard from her collection.



1979 - Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this look upward. It appeared as a post of his on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



c.1980 - Thanks to the American Classic Images collection for this view north.



c.1980 - A closer look at the entrance from American Classic Images. "Puerto maldito" had a release in Mexico in October 1979.



 
c.1981 - Another find by Ken McIntyre. He added it as a comment on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles
 

1981 - A photo taken by Chris Shaw. Thanks to his son Robert for sharing this image along with six other downtown views from the same year in a post on the South Bay /L.A. Days of Old California Facebook page. 

 
1982 - A look east on 3rd. It's a Michael Haering photo from the Herald Examiner collection at the Los Angeles Public Library.
 

 
c.1983 - A William Reagh view of the marquee from the California State Library collection, their item #001377986. "El Biletero," the film advertised on the readerboard below the marquee, was a 1983 release. 

 

c.1984 - Thanks to John Rice for this photo, a post of his on the Cinema Treasures page about the theatre.



c.1984 - Thanks to Tom Zimmerman for this photo looking north toward the theatre in the days before the facade restoration at the Grand Central Market -- and when the Million Dollar still had a vertical sign. The photo, in the collection of the California State Library, has also been seen on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



1987 - An L.A. Times view of the building by Marsha Traeger. It's on Calisphere from UCLA's Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.



1987 - A marquee shot from Ken McIntyre on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



1988 - A street festival at 3rd & Broadway. Ken McIntyre found the photo for a post on Photos of Los Angeles.



1988 - A great look at the entrance by Betty Sword. Thanks to Brooklyn-based theatre researcher Cezar Del Valle for sharing the photo from his collection. Check out his latest investigations on the blog Theatre Talks.



1988 - Chick Hearn in front of the theatre in a photo from the Kevin Perttula collection. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding it for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.



1991 - A photo from the collection of Sean Ault. It was taken by his grandfather, William E. Ault. The theatre closed as a film house in 1993.



1990s - Thanks to John Rice for this photo of the theatre during its church era. The group moved down the street to the State Theatre in 1998. John's photo appears on Cinema Treasures.



1999 - Performers for a Mexican variety show at the theatre. It's a Gary Leonard photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Also in the collection by Mr. Leonard taken for the same event are a shot of showgirls out on Broadway and one of the show's jester.



c.2000 - A view down 3rd toward the Bradbury Bldg. that appeared on the now-vanished website L.A. Time Machines.

The Million Dollar Theatre pages:  history | back to top - vintage exterior views | recent exterior views | ticket lobbies | lobbies and lounges | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | booth | stage | orchestra pit | basement areas |

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