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Globe Theatre: history

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

More Globe Theatre pages:  vintage exterior views | recent exterior views | lobby areas | recent auditorium views | earlier auditorium views | attic | backstage | basement | garland building |

Opened: January 6, 1913 as the Morosco Theatre, a legitimate playhouse built for producer Oliver Morosco. It closed as a film house in 1986 and later went through several club incarnations before sitting vacant for several years. The theatre reopened in July 2015 after a multi-million dollar renovation by Eric Chol. This photo taken by an unknown photographer the night of the first concert in 2015 was a post by Ken McIntyre on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.

Website: | on Facebook

Phone: 310-704-8079. For filming and other special use inquiries contact Rebecca Reynoso at Cap Equity Locations, 323-375-4192. The firm's Globe Theatre page has sixty photos to browse through.

The News: The building that includes the Globe Theatre, the Garland Building, is getting get a rehab. Finally. It's been a big problem for Globe operator Erik Chol trying run his theatre operation surrounded by a largely abandoned building that was a constant target for break-ins. It'll be retail below and creative office space above in a project designed by Omgivning.

Architects: Morgan, Walls & Morgan did the Garland Building, Alfred F. Rosenheim designed the theatre. Rosenheim had designed the Cameo in 1910. The developer for the project was William Garland, who earlier had built the Pantages up the street, now known as the Arcade Theatre.

Seating: 1,300 originally. Only 782 were used in later years as a film theatre with the second balcony closed. There are currently no main floor seats. The 1st balcony has been terraced with the front terrace frequently set up with tables and chairs.

Second Balcony: As was typical for two balcony houses of the era, the 2nd balcony was isolated from the rest of the theatre. In the Morosco's case, entry was via the alley up an interior staircase at the west end of the exit passageway on either the north or south side of the building. Later the south stairwell was used as a fire exit from the wax museum on the 3rd floor of the Garland Building. The 2nd balcony still has most of its seats but is not used.

Stage: Almost 34' deep. The proscenium is 38' wide and 34' high. It's a hemp house. There are fly floors both stage left and stage right and a paint bridge along the back wall. Dressing rooms are in the basement as well as stacked on several floors stage left.

About Oliver Morosco: Inventive and flamboyant producer Oliver Morosco was involved in operating a number of Los Angeles theaters as well as the Morosco Theatre in New York. Among his first inventions was picking a name for himself. He was born in 1976 in Logan, Utah as Oliver Mitchell. He took the name Morosco from an acrobatic act called "The Three Moroscos" that he appeared in as a kid. The act was run by Walter Morosco, who later operated theatres in San Francisco. By age 12 Oliver was on his own and by age 16 was assistant manager of one of Walter Morosco's theatres.

In 1899 (at age 23) he signed a lease on the money-losing Burbank Theatre on Main St. and made it a winner. His big musical success "The Bird of Paradise" (1912) made his reputation but later resulted in charges of plagiarism. He was involved in a number of other Los Angeles theaters including the  Casino Theatre on Spring St., later called the Capitol. Like several other promoters there, his time at the Casino in a partnership with H.C. Wyatt did not go well and their occupancy in 1905 lasted only a few months. Court fights, padlocks and armed guards were involved.

In November 1908 he opened the Majestic Theatre at 845 S. Broadway, a venue leased from department store owner M.A. Hamburger. By that time he was successfully producing in New York and also operating a Majestic Theatre in San Francisco. Later he had the lease on the Lyceum Theatre on Spring St. New York's Morosco Theatre opened February 5, 1917. It was owned by Lee and J.J. Shubert and given to Morosco to manage as a reward for helping the Shuberts break the Charles Frohman-led Theatrical Trust. Morosco managed the house until 1924.

In addition to his theater ventures, Morosco was also active as a film producer and film writer from 1915 through the late 1920s. He was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1926 after lawsuits and other difficulties. Not to mention several messy divorces. He lost control of the L.A. Morosco in 1928. He died August 25, 1945 after being hit by a Red Line street car in Hollywood. He had 8 cents in his pocket.

An undated photo of Morosco from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

Morosco talks about his new theatre: In the January 1913 issue of West Coast Magazine, Morosco discussed his views about the "Small Theatre of Today." It's on Google Books. By small he meant a house suited for drama with only 1,300 or 1,400 seats, as opposed to the big barns erected for musicals or opera (or Greek amphitheatres). He noted that the Morosco was to be an intimate playhouse with only fourteen rows of seats on the main floor and that this would promote a natural style of acting in his stock company. He said that he would "try out many new ideas" such as getting rid of the orchestra since "my own experience is that many intelligent and regular theater patrons vastly prefer their own conversation between the acts of a play rather than having to listen to the not always musical music of an orchestra of eight or ten pieces."

However, the theatre was built with an orchestra pit, now covered. His article went on to complain about the uncomfortable nature of theatre seats of the day: "I have ordered chairs the like of which never before has been seen in any theatre in this part of the country; they are roomy, comfortable chairs, and not seats of torture; each has wide arm rests; there will be more than the usual space between the rows of seats so that one may not be put to discomfort by persons passing; and then, having made the physical part of my audience as comfortable and restful as possible, I am going further and provide a restful color scheme of decoration -- a scheme that shall not weary the eye, but rather aid in contributing as artistic atmosphere to the performance on the stage."

The Morosco initially changed bills every week. Performers at the theatre included Eddie Cantor, Edward Everett Horton and Leo Carillo. Legit theatres were in the minority on Broadway where the theatre offerings at the time tended toward movies or vaudeville.

 The cover of a 1917 program. Thanks to Sean Ault for spotting it on eBay. 

The cover for the Morosco's March 1925 program for "So This Is London."  It's from the collection of Danni Bayles-Yeager on the Bayles/Yeager Online Archive of the Performing Arts, the website she curates.

Henry Duffy takes over: In May 1928, the theatre was renamed the President, operating under the banner of Henry Duffy Players, who also had the El Capitan and the Hollywood Playhouse -- all three running as popularly priced legit playhouses. It's listed as the President in the 1929 city directory.

A September 1928 ad for a Henry Duffy stock company production when the theatre was operating under the President name. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the L.A. Times ad.

A 1930 Henry Duffy Players ad located in the Times by Ken McIntyre. The circuit wouldn't last much longer as the depression deepened.

The theatre goes to films: In mid-1930 the Morosco/President was taken over by Fox West Coast Theatres and after a refurbishment it reopened as the Newsreel Theatre, Los Angeles' first. The lease to Fox was reported in a July 20, 1930 story in the L.A. Times:

"Known in its heyday as a 'cradle for actors', the old Morosco Theater, more recently the President, will become a motion-picture playhouse in the next thirty days. The theater, built eighteen years ago for Oliver Morosco, has been leased to Fox West Coast Theaters to become Los Angeles' first newsreel theater. In the next few days, workmen will enter the old building for purposes of refurbishing the interior, perhaps to tear out the old fashioned boxes and to install sound-picture projection equipment. Under the Fox West Coast regime, it will show only newsreels. Programs will run around fifty minutes and will change as fast as new shots of important international, national and local events arrive. It will bear the title 'Newsreel Theater.'"  Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the article.

A projection booth was constructed at the rear of the first balcony. Evidently the newsreel business wasn't so hot as the theatre soon closed as a newsreel house. The September 20, 1930 issue of Exhibitors Herald-World had this story about the demise of the newsreel venture:

"Los Angeles Newsreel Closes; Business Drops After Three Days' Rush  (Special to the Herald World) - HOLLYWOOD, Sept. 18 -- The Los Angeles Newsreel Theatre has closed its doors after three weeks of poor business. The house reported favorably after the first three days with 11,600 admissions. The theatre reverts to its former name, The President, this week with the opening of D.W. Griffith's synchronized version of 'Birth of A Nation.'"

Back as the President but now running features, the theatre wasn't a major venue even with Fox West Coast as the operator. Frequently they ended up with moveovers or marginal product. It's listed as the President in both the 1932 and 1936 city directories.

A section of a c.1931 Sanborn insurance map from the Los Angeles Public Library showing the Globe as the President Theatre. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for the photo. 

A June 1938 L.A. Times ad for the President located by Ken McIntyre. Metropolitan Theatres was formed in the early 30s with Fox West Coast backing. In 1935 they took over the President operation in a deal with Fox West Coast and by 1938 the theatre was back in the news business again as the Newsreel Theatre.

An August 1939 ad for the Newsreel that Ken McIntyre found in the L.A. Times.

 Another 1939 Times ad located by Ken McIntyre.

The marquee: The theatre got a new angled marquee featuring a spinning globe at the tip sometime between August 1940 and July 1942. That marquee still remains on the building. It's really had only two others: the original simple canopy with just "Morosco" on the side and the boxy thing of the 30s that at different times said either "President Theatre" or "Newsreel Theatre." 

Becoming the Globe: In 1949 Fox West Coast and Metropolitan Theatres parted ways and the house came back under Fox management with a new name, the Globe Theatre. Metropolitan Theatres moved the Newsreel name down the street to the Tower Theatre. Not just the name and policy but the actual "Newsreel" letters atop the readerboards as well. 

The other downtown Fox West Coast house at the time was the Los Angeles. In the early 50s, the Globe frequently played day-and-date with the Chinese (also run by Fox West Coast) for films like 1951's "David and Bathsheba." There was evidently talk at one point in the mid-50s of equipping the Globe for 70mm but that went nowhere.

By the late 1950s, the Globe was a Spanish language house. The theatre was back under Metropolitan management in the 60s after Fox West Coast left the downtown market and they later purchased the building. There was once a Mexican wax museum on the 3rd floor of the Garland Building, running as late as 1975.

Closing: The Globe closed as a movie theatre in Fall 1986 with Metropolitan's sale of the building. The main floor of the auditorium was leveled in 1987 for use as swap meet space. After the swap meet closed, the lobby was walled off from the auditorium and continued to be rented to a succession of retailers. The auditorium became a nightclub, Club Orion, with the alley used as the entrance. 

Under a later entrepreneur, Ralph Verdugo, the auditorium became Club 740, a more deluxe venue with bars, dancing, and VIP rooms. The first balcony was terraced for use as a VIP area. Club 740 closed in the Fall of 2011 after numerous issues with noise and violence. When the building was operating as a club under Verdugo's management the auditorium and backstage spaces were gradually being cleaned, restored and upgraded. The alley was still used as the club's entrance.

Status: It got a serious makeover by new proprietor Erik Chol who reinstituted the Globe Theatre name, re-lit the marquee, reopened the Broadway entrance (unused since 1986) and made the venue usable for not just music but theatrical events and films. The reopening was July 2015. Mr. Chol is a native of France and had operated clubs there.

The Globe in the Movies:

About an hour into "High School Hellcats" (American International, 1958) we get some process work for a drive north on Broadway with young couple Joyce (Yvonne Lime) and her boyfriend Mike (played by Brett Halsey). On the left, we get a glimpse of the Globe.

That Music Hall signage beyond is on the Tower Theatre. Way down there on the right is the United Artists -- we started our drive down there near Olympic. In "Hellcats" we're headed for the Carmel / Paris Theatre on Santa Monica Blvd. See the Historic L.A.Theatres in Movies post for more shots from the film.

We get a peek at the wildly flashing marquee of the Globe in this shot from "The Savage Eye" (Trans-Lux, 1960). The film, written and directed by Ben Maddow and Sidney Myers, follows a young divorcee played by Barbara Baxley on a noirish pseudo-documentary style tour of the underbelly of Los Angeles. Gary Merrill narrates as "the Poet." 

The Globe is dressed up as a burlesque theatre in the Peter Hyams film "Peeper" (20th Century Fox, 1976). Here Natalie Wood and her kidnapper are buying tickets. Soon private eye Michael Caine will come running into the theatre to try to find them.

Wood and Caine in the orchestra pit. The third person is the theatre manager. He's been chasing Caine all over the theatre telling him he needs to buy a ticket. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for ten more shots from scenes at the Globe.

We get several nice establishing shots of the traffic-free downtown in Boris Sagal's "The Omega Man" (Warner Bros., 1971) including this view looking west with the Globe stagehouse at the center. The "Newsreel" portion of the "Newsreel Theatre" sign had been painted out. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for views of the California, Tower and Olympic theatres.

The Globe on TV and Video:

We get a glimpse of the Globe's marquee in a 1953 episode of "Dragnet."

Club 740 had lots of play on YouTube. See "Club 740 Downtown Los Angeles" and "Club 740." The Globe, as Club 740, is also shown to good advantage in the Jennifer Lopez video for "On The Floor."

More about Oliver Morosco: The Oliver Morosco bio on Internet Movie Database discusses the Morosco Theatre in New York. Also see that site's Oliver Morosco filmography. Cecilia Rasmussen profiled Oliver Morosco in her March 15, 1998 L.A. Times article "A Three-Hankie Tale of Dashed Dreams." The September 3, 1945 piece "Top Slander" in Time magazine is an obituary for Morosco. The Cinema Treasures page for the Majestic Theatre has a number of interesting postings about Oliver Morosco.

More information about the Globe: See the Cinema Treasures page about the Globe for many photos and comments. The Cinema Tour page has a bit of history and more photos -- including a number of 2008 interior views by Bob Meza.

See Sandi Hemmerlein's 2014 Avoiding Regret photo essay "The Globe Theatre Under Construction" for many views of her adventures crawling the theatre during a LAHTF "all-about" tour. Mike Hume's Historic Theatre Photography page about the Globe has many stunning photos he's taken along with other data.

Nikola Hlady and Elizabeth Peterson of the Elizabeth Peterson Group dealt with the city regarding "entitlements" for the space during the 2013-2015 renovations. Morgan Sykes Jaybush of Omgivning was the architect for the project. Beth Holden's New Theme was the general contractor. The building the Globe is in, the Garland Building, is owned by Houman Sarshar and perhaps others. The current ownership group has had the building since the 80s.

Donna Evans had a September 2013 L.A. Downtown News story outlining the restoration project: "Broadway Nightclub Envisioned..." Neal Broverman did a September 2013 Curbed L.A. piece "Broadway's 100 Year Old Globe Theatre Coming Back..." that detailed the venue's problems under earlier management as a raucous club with the entrance in the alley.

Ms. Evans wrote a May 2014 story on Downtown News: "Restored Globe Marquee to be Illuminated."  The marquee re-lighting happened June 24, 2014. Curbed L.A. caught the event. The globe atop the sign was spinning for the first time in decades. But in the wrong direction. Curbed L.A. profiled the theatre in a May 2014 piece by Neal Broverman "On the Eve of Rebirth...."

Curbed L.A.'s Bianca Barragan had a January 2015 story about the progress of the project, "Touring the Secret Passages of Broadway's 101-Year-Old Globe...." The article was accompanied by a fine photo portfolio by Elizabeth Daniels. Eddie Kim had an August 2015 story in the Downtown LA News "The 102 Year Old Globe Theatre Returns..." that featured five photos by Gary Leonard.

More about the Garland Building: At the time of the theatre's reopening in 2015 there were no plans by the owners to do anything with the rest of the building. It just sat with the upper floors remaining empty and was a target for frequent break-ins. At the time, leasing was handled by Martin Amiri or Anne Singleton at Creative Asset Partners.

Previous down-market tenants stayed and there was no attempt to upgrade the street level presence. See an undated retail space specs - PDF from an earlier broker, Commercial Asset Group. Before the theatre project got started in 2014 you could have rented half the theatre's Broadway lobby for $3,200 monthly. For other slivers of space they were asking from $1,500 to $4,000.

A 2016 version of the office building rehab was to be designed by HLW Architects from Santa Monica. They were going to restore the lobby and facade, upgrade the retail spaces (to house several bars) and have 47 rental units above. Nicholas Slayton had an August story in Downtown LA News: "1913 Broadway Building to Become Housing." Kate Bartolo, handling issues with the city for the unidentified owners, noted that the same group had owned the building since the 80s. The owners also have the J.E. Carr Building at 640 S. Broadway, next to Clifton’s. That one was to be renamed the Brooks Building and was to be rentals as well.

Curbed LA also did an August 2016 story "Broadway's Globe Theatre will get a facelift and housing." LAist eventually got a story out about the project as well: "Downtown's Globe Theatre is getting 47 Apartments and Two Bars." But nothing happened at the time either with the Garland or the Carr building. The 2018 project designed by Omgivning will turn the building into creative office space.

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