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Orpheum Theatre: vintage exterior views

842 S. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90014 | map |

The Orpheum Theatre pages:  history | vintage exterior views | recent exterior views | lobbies and lounges | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | booth | backstage | lofts |


1925 - Looking north with the Orpheum under construction. The Majestic Theatre is on the left with a snatch of the Tally's Broadway sign visible beyond. The photo is in the USC Digital Library collection.



1926 - A pre-opening view with "The New Orpheum" on the marquee end panel and nothing yet on the front. On the right the Majestic Theatre is down beyond Hamburger's Department Store. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for finding the photo on eBay and including it on his Noirish post #21355.



1926 - A look north at "America's Finest Theatre" before its opening. Thanks again to Mr. Ethereal Reality for the find, part of his Noirish Los Angeles post #21355.



February 15, 1926 - A rainy night with the searchlights out for the opening. Thanks to Bill Gabel for the photo, a post on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



1926 - The newly completed Orpheum. Note the position of the theatre's original vertical sign. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



1926 - A photo of the new theatre with somewhat strange perspective and a bit of retouching. Note that they've removed the rear of the double-sided Orpheum roof sign. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



1926 - Looking north toward the Orpheum. There's no sign yet of the United Artists Theatre. It would open in December 1927. The building this side of the UA site is the Western Costume Co.  It's a California Historical Society photo from the USC Digital Loibrary. The street angling off to the right is Broadway Place, which has been abandoned.



1926 - The Los Angeles Orpheum got a full page (as did the other Keith-Albee-Orpheum circuit houses) in the opening night program for the new Memphis Orpheum in 1928. But it's an earlier photo. Historic Memphis has the full program on their website. The program notes that the L.A. Orpheum was running two performances daily with reserved seats.



c. 1927 - A look at the Orpheum's facade from the north. Note the arrival of the Platt Music Co. Building (1927, Walker & Eisen) just north of the theatre. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



c.1927 - The Orpheum with Sophie Tucker as the headliner. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



c.1928 - A view north from Bill Gabel's collection. It was a post on Photos of Los Angeles.



c.1928 - Looking north from the Chamber of Commerce Building. We get the backstage walls over on the left of the Belasco Theattre (1926) and the Mayan Theatre (1927). The tile roof in the foreground is on the Herald Examiner Building. On the right it's the Case Hotel and the Los Angeles Railway Building. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



1928 - A parade view from the Chamber of Commerce Building. It's a California Historical Society photo in the USC Digital Library collection. USC also has another similar view of the same parade.



c.1929 - Looking north from the Western Pacific Building. It's a California Historical Society photo in the USC Digital Library collection.




c.1929 - Note the Texaco signage added on the UA tower. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



1929 or 1930 - A view north from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Steel is going up for the Eastern Columbia Building (which opened in September 1930) and work has begun on the 9th & Broadway Building that will soon hide the south wall we see of the Orpheum Building. It would open in 1931. 



1930 - North on Broadway. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



c.1930 - Looking in toward the ticket lobby with the theatre running an Olson & Johnson revue onstage called "Merry Monkey Business." The marquee hasn't yet had its flashy RKO deco re-do. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



1930 - A Christmas season view from the California Historical Society in the USC Digital Library collection. The Orpheum, on the right, is running "Ex-Flame," a  "Towering Emotional Drama" that was a November release. The Majestic marquee and vertical can be seen across the street. The legit house is running films - Will Rogers in "So This is London," a June release.



1930 - A detail from the photo above giving us a first look at the RKO redo of the marquee. 



1931 - The February premiere of "Cimarron" with Richard Dix and Irene Dunne. It's a Dick Whittington Studio photo in the USC Digital Library collection.



1931 - A closer look at the marquee from the photo above. Check out all the floodlights they added on top of the marquee.  



1931 - The roof sign as seen from the roof of the May Co. It's still double sided but the "vaudeville" lettering has been removed. This is a detail from a much larger photo from the Dick Whittington Studio, one of a set of  six taken at a rooftop Easter party. It's in the USC Digital Library collection. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for spotting the photo.



1932 - The Orpheum for the run of "Frankenstein." It's a photo from the Dick Whittington Studio in the USC Digital Library collection.



1932 - A closer look at the marquee from the photo above.



1932 - An entrance detail during the "3rd Horrifying Week" of "Frankenstein." It's a Dick Whittington Studio photo from the USC Digital Library. Note that the use of changeable neon letters on the marquee.

Also in the USC "Frankenstein" set is a "Shake Hands With The Monster" ticket lobby display and also a closer view of that. Thanks to theatre researcher Michelle Gerdes for finding the "Frankenstein" photos in the USC collection. See an article and several ads from the "Frankenstein" run on the fun LA Spook Show set of DLZ127 on Flickr.



1932 - A detail from the photo above showing the curved soffit of the marquee. Note that, unlike with the current marquee, we can see all the way into the arched ceiling of the ticket lobby beyond.



mid-1930s - A photo by Harry Quillen from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. RKO closed the Orpheum at the end of 1932. Metropolitan Theatres reopened it in September 1933. Note the blank area above the "Orpheum" lettering on the end panel of the marquee where it used to say "RKO." Major Bowes was appearing but hard to tell much else about the program the week of the photo.



1935 - Looking  north from 8th St. during a busy shopping day at the May Co. The Orpheum is down there in the gloom on the left. It's a photo in the USC Digital Library collection.



1937 - A look out a window of the United Artists Building. It's a photo in the USC Digital Library collection.



1937 - A fine view of the marquee from the Dick Whittington Studio taken during the run of "Secret Valley" and Fugitive in the Sky." Note that the RKO logo is gone above the Orpheum lettering. The photo is in the USC Digital Library collection.



c.1937 - A Herman Schultheis photo that's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



c.1939 - A nice view looking north from 9th by the Dick Whittington Studio. "Stage in person: The Gilmore Circus." It's a photo in the USC Digital Library collection. The USC collection also includes another view taken at the same time from a bit farther south.



early 40s - A fine view looking north with the Orpheum's new marquee on display down the block on the right. On the left, note the hole north of the Eastern Columbia Building where the Majestic Theatre was until 1933. Thanks to Sean Ault for finding the photo.



1945 - In front of the Orpheum with a mess in the streets on Victory Over Japan Day. We're looking north toward the Rialto and the Tower, at this time called the Music Hall. It's an L.A. Times photo from in the UCLA L.A. Times Photographic Archives.



1946 - Thanks to Billy Vera for this marquee view. It was a post on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.



1946 - A shot of a spook show at the Orpheum from DLZ127's fine LA Spook Show collection on Flickr. The feature film that week was "So Dark The Night." Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Beaudry for including the photo and a link to the set on his Noirish post #25113.



1949 - A great look up Broadway from the Metro Library and Archive in their Downtown Los Angeles album on Flickr. In addition to the Orpheum, note also the United Artists and the Tower Theatre (as the Newsreel).



1949 - The Orpheum at this late date still hadn't got the memo that vaudeville was dead. In 1949 it tried for a big comeback. It's a photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



1949 - A marquee detail with the signage celebrating the return of vaudeville "In the Orpheum Tradition." What were the acts? Unknown. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



1952 - The theatre all decked out for "The Greatest Show on Earth," a May release. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the photo.



1952 - "Atomic Blast," a free early morning show during the run of "Greatest Show on Earth." Up the street we get the top of the Rialto marquee and the Tower vertical in its Newsreel days. The photo appeared on the cover of the Theatre Historical Society's magazine Marquee for the 4th Quarter 2013. Thanks to Woody Wise for posting it on his All Movie Projectors Facebook page.



1952 -  A Life magazine shot with the theatre busily plugging Lees Carpets and running "Carmen" via a TV hookup from the met. The regular program? A bit more lowbrow: "The Savage" and "The Blazing Forest." Thanks to Greg Parulis for finding this one.



1950s - A look north on Broadway toward the Orpheum and the Rialto and Tower (with the Newsreel vertical) beyond. The photo appears here as a contribution of Sean Ault. Richard Wojcik also has posted it on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.



1956 - A photo from the Richard Wojcik collection with the Orpheum running "The Man Who Knew Too Much." It was a post on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles. Thanks, Richard!



late 1950s - A view that Benny Ballejo found for the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. The feature film was "The Last __________." The photo has also been seen on the Who Remembers in East L.A. Facebook page. Fred Beth also has it posted on a Jack Benny Fans page.



1961 - The theatre running "Young Savages" with Burt Lancaster. It's a photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. 



1963 - The Judy Garland film "A Child is Waiting," a January release. paired with "Dead to the World." Thanks to Bud Care for the photo on Flickr.



1966 - A shot taken by filmmaker and cinematographer Gary Graver. Over several decades, he photographed many vintage theatres in Los Angeles and his hometown of Portland. More of his theatre photos 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. "Cast a Giant Shadow" was a March release.



1966 - Running "Ambush Bay," a September release. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



1967 - A lovely look north on Broadway. In addition to the Indy 500 telecast what's playing at the Orpheum? The best guess (so far) is Dean Martin in "Murderer's Row," a December 1966 release, along with Lee Marvin in "Cat Ballou" from 1965. Both presumably with Spanish subtitles. Up the street we see a bit of the Rialto and the Tower, back to its original name in 1965 after a spell being known as the Newsreel. Thanks to Sean Ault for finding the photo.



c.1972 - Thanks to Willard Wong for this shot posted on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.



1980s? - Garment action upstairs. Note on the vertical that there were once light bulbs inside the neon outline of the letters. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.   



c. 1984 - A busy day on Broadway. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the photo.




1990s? - A crowd gathering for an L.A. Conservancy "Last Remaining Seats" screening. It's a Gary Leonard photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection



1995 - A fine marquee view appearing on on Grace Market Research's Broadway Theater Tour page.



1996 - Time to "Rumble in the Bronx." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the photo.



2000 - A view upward by Marissa Roth from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



2000 - A fine marquee view on the Orpheum page of a USC Downtown Los Angeles Walking Tour. It's part of the tour's chapter on the Historic Core where you can click on any of the buildings on their map for information. 2000 was the last year of operation for the Orpheum as a film house.


The ticket lobby:


1926 - A view looking south. Check out the original boxoffice location. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. That boxoffice was later revamped and brought forward as an island boxoffice.



c.1931 - A look south during the run of the Olsen & Johnsen revue "Merry Monkey Business." The photo is from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.  



c.1931 - A peek into the ticket lobby from the street during "Merry Monkey Business." It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



1950s? - A view of the snackbar in the location of the original boxoffice. It's a photo from the collection of the L.A. Conservancy that once appeared on a now-vanished Broadway photo gallery on their website. It can also be seen on the Orpheum Theatre website's Gallery page.


Around the back:


1926 - An interesting view of the back of the Orpheum building from the intersection of Main and Spring. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. There's also a higher resolution version in the collection of the USC Digital Library.

The California State Library has closer view of the Orpheum Auto Park building in the foreground. An earlier view of the building as the California Public Market is in a 1922 Architectural Digest survey volume on Google Books.



1939 - The Orpheum Auto Park has become a ballroom. It's a Dick Whittington Studio photo in the USC Digital Library collection. Note that "Vaudeville" has come down from the Orpheum roof sign.


The Orpheum Theatre pages:  history | back to top - vintage exterior views | recent exterior views | lobbies and lounges | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | booth | backstage | lofts

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