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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 went to films in 1930 and closed as a film house in 1986. Later it went through several club incarnations before sitting vacant for several years. The theatre reopened in July 2015 after a multi-million dollar renovation by Erik Chol. Thanks to Brooklyn-based theatre historian Cezar Del Valle for sharing this early postcard of the theatre from his the collection.

Website: | on Facebook

Phone: 310-704-8079. For filming and other special use inquiries contact Roger Hampton at the theatre at 949-690-4695 or at his email: Take a virtual tour via LA360VR.

Architects: Morgan, Walls & Morgan did the Garland Building that the theatre is part of, Alfred F. Rosenheim designed the theatre itself. Rosenheim had designed the Hamburger Department Store and its Arrow Theatre, opening on the southeast corner of 8th and Broadway in 1908. He did what's now called the Cameo Theatre for Billy Clune in 1910. The painting on the asbestos curtain, still in place, is by John Collette, who also worked at the theatre as a scenic artist. The developer for the project was William Garland, who three years earlier had built the Pantages up the street, now known as the Arcade Theatre.

Sheet 8 of the original plans. Thanks to Omgivning, the architectural firm for the theatre's 2013-2015 renovations, for sharing this on their website's page about the work they did on the Garland Building. The site also has a Globe Theatre page.

A detail from the facade drawing. Note the name that was originally intended for the theatre, the Belasco. On the far right there was an entrance for the 2nd balcony, here called the "Gallery." 

A detail from sheet 14 showing the Gallery entrance. 

Another detail from sheet 14 with a closer look at the entrance and part of a section view of the marquee. Thanks, Omgivning!

Seating: 1,300 originally. The main floor had seventeen rows. The 1st and 2nd balconies were each twelve rows deep. Only 782 seats were used in later years as a film theatre with the 2nd 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, there was a "Gallery" entrance at the south end of the facade, later filled in with retail space. This led to an interior staircase which also allowed exiting toward the alley. Later the south stairwell was used as a fire exit from the wax museum on the 3rd floor of the Garland Building. There is a second matching staircase on the north side of the building that also exits to the alley but never had a connection to Broadway. 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. Head to the backstage page for more details.

Originally to have been the Belasco: When the project was first announced in 1911 Oliver Morosco wasn't involved. It was going to be called the Belasco Theatre, a replacement for the Belasco Theatre that had opened in 1904 on Main St. John Blackwood, proprietor of the theatre on Main, hatched plans for a new theatre on Broadway, working with developer William M. Garland. It was to be in a ten-story building with the Pacific Light and Power Company occupying the office portion of the structure. The project was outlined in "PLANNING FOR MOVING DAY," an article in the January 18, 1911 issue of the Times:

"Theatre and Corporations to Change Bases - New Broadway Belasco to Head Playhouse Chain... As the result of a deal stated to have been definitely concluded yesterday, the Belasco theater will presently cease to occupy its present site and will relocate to splendid new quarters on the first floor of the new ten-story building to be erected at Eighth and Broadway by William M. Garland. According to the statements made by the principals last night, the lease has been secured dating for a period of twenty-one years.... A significant feature in connection with the move of the Belasco-Blackwood company is their intention to make the new theater the headquarters of a chain of playhouses through the West, all of which will be known as Belasco theaters. One of these, in San Francisco, is now nearing completion at Ellis and Market streets. A second, at Exchange Place in Salt Lake City, is well on the way, and the third, on Champa street, Denver, will be begun shortly. Each will be supplied with its own stock company under the direction of a local manager, the general control to be vested in the director of the playhouse in this city.

"According to the present plans of the management, the new theater will be one of the most commodious and elaborate in the West. The present house will not be abandoned, but will probably be sublet for the use of musical comedy companies. Touching upon his reasons for the change of site, President John. H. Blackwood said yesterday: 'Aside from the necessity of adequately housing the headquarters of such a chain of theaters as we expect to have in operation, the move is one in the general direction of matters theatrical in general. That is to say, while we are not precisely dissatisfied with our present location, we are alive to the fact that we will have to get on Broadway sooner or later.'

"Construction upon the building will be commenced by Mr. Garland upon the expiration of the present leases on the one-story store buildings which occupy the site, which will be about the middle of next December. Occupying a 100 foot frontage, it will adjoin on the north the new fourteen-story building to be erected for the Los Angeles Investment Company, and will be a worthy companion for that towering skyscraper. Rising ten stories to the 150-foot line, it is probable that a mansard roof will be added which will contribute an additional thirty feet of height. The structure is to be of steel frame, with a frontage of brick and terra cotta. It will contain 250 offices, in addition to the theater and two large store rooms on the first floor. The total cost is given by Mr. Garland as $500,000. 

"The plans are being prepared by Morgan, Walls & Morgan, architects and designers of the W.P. Story building, the Kerckhoff building, the I.W. Hellman buildings and the I.N. Van Nuys building. Octavius Morgan, Jr. has just returned from the East, where he has made an extensive study of the latest types of modern, fireproof, steel construction of the sort to be incorporated in the present structure. 'It may be mentioned,' said Mr. Garland, 'that no drawing or perspective of the building has been issued or authorized. That which appeared recently in one of the morning papers and which purported to represent the appearance of the finished structure was made entirely without authorization and without even the basis of a description for accuracy'..."

Blackwood was a competitor of Oliver Morosco. Morosco controlled the Burbank, the Majestic and would soon have what would be called the Lyceum, when the Orpheum moved into their new house on Broadway, the one now called the Palace. Blackwood had the Belasco and the lease on this not-yet-built theatre on Broadway. It ended up being called the Morosco after the two firms merged. "Unprecedented" was the word the Times used at the top of a May 22, 1911 story headlined "HUGE COMBINE OF THEATERS" that discussed the merger of local theatre interests:

"Five Big Local Playhouses Under One Management - Oliver Morosco at Head of Veritable Syndicate. Million Dollar Corporation Will Be Born Today. The Morosco-Blackwood Company, a new corporation to take over the management of the theaters heretofor under the control of Oliver Morosco and the Belasco-Blackwood Company in Los Angeles, will file articles of incorporation in Sacramento today. The new company will have a capitalization of $1,000,000, half of which wil be represented by common stock and half by preferred stock, bearing an 8 per cent interest guarantee. The officers of the corporation are Oliver Morosco, president; John H. Blackwood, vice-president, and A.C. Jones, secretary-treadurer. 

"This combination is the biggest theatrical deal ever entered into west of the Mississippi River, one of the biggest in the history of the country, and in this age of combinations most significant. The theatres under the control of this powerful organization are the Burbank, Belasco, Hamburger Majestic, the old Orpheum - which is to be renamed the Lyceum - and the new Belasco, about to be built on South Broadway. The heads of the concern say that the first thing to be considered will be the wasting of money in meaningless competition - thus plays which could be obtained from their authors for eastern use at $250 per week, for instance, cost $1000 a week in Los Angeles on account of the Morosco-Belasco rivalry. On these and other savings due to combination, a leakage of $50,000 per annum is expected to be effectively plugged. Consolidation will be the rule up and down the line, and, apparently, Los Angeles will have a most unique theatrical corporation."

"Oliver Morosco (left) and John H. Blackwood - Heads of the big new theatre combination which will be incorporated today at a capitalization of $1,000,000. Five large playhouses will be the essential parts of the consolidation."

The rest of the lengthy article discussed how various departments were being reorganized to supervise multiple venues and detailed upcoming productions. They noted that the Lyceum would continue to be controlled by Orpheum in association with Clarence Drown. It would become the home of what were known as "dollar travelling shows," many of which had been skipping Los Angeles due to lack of a suitable theatre.  

It was still to be called the Belasco at the time of this July 22, 1911 article about the new "Sky-Scraper" that appeared in the Times: 

Thanks to David Saffer for locating the article. The Morosco-Blackwood Company's plans were constantly evolving. At this point those "dollar travelling shows" that were going to stay at the Lyceum were now going to be moved to the old Belasco on Main St. But the the firm changed course and gave up the Belasco in mid-December 1912.  

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

Morosco talks about his new theatre: In the January 1913 issue of The 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 (it ended up with 17) and that this would promote a natural style of acting in his stock company. 
"In the new Morosco I propose try out many new ideas. For instance I shall try the experiment... of doing away with the theater orchestra. In the continental cities the dramatic houses know nothing about an orchestra, and 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. He filled it with plants. 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 opening: The theatre was initially a stock house with an acting company that included veterans of the operation at the Belasco. This item about the company for the new Morosco appeared in the Times on December 13, 1912:  

The Belasco closed December 15, 1912 and a week later reopened as a vaudeville and film house called the Republic. In 1919 it would be renamed the Follies.

In a December 17 Times article headlined "MOROSCO NAMES STAFF FOR NEW PLAYHOUSE," it was noted that they were planning a December 30 opening. Thanks to Mike Hume for locating the article. Despite the headline, the only staff the article named were boxoffice men George Clayton and James Hoblitt, both who had moved over from the Belasco. The boxoffice was to open December 23:

"The regular patrons of the Belasco Theater who had weekly reservations will have the same seats at the Morosco that they occupied at the Main-street house. After these reservations have been taken care of the general public willhave an opportunity to secure seats for the opening performances. Contrary to the general custom, there will be no auction sale of seats for the opening, but the person who stands first in line at the ticket window will have the choicce of the seats after the faithful Belasco attendants have been looked after..."

This December 20, 1912 L.A. Times article explained that the theatre was almost ready but the carpets as well as the drops and other elements for the first show "The Fortune Hunter" had been delayed:

The "Up and Down Broadway" column in the December 31, 1912 issue of the Times reported a strong interest in tickets for the theatre's first show: 

The Times column that day also noted that A.C. Jones had been supervising and had "ruined two sets of clothes with paint and concrete carefully watching every detail in the construction of the new Morosco Theater." Jones had previously managed the Belasco and was named as secretary-treasurer when the Morosco-Blackwood Company was formed in 1911. The carpets and the new house curtain got a special mention:  
"Twenty-five good husky workmen will this morning enjoy the splendid exercise of hanging the mammoth plush curtain in the new Morosco Theater. This curtain weighs exactly 1700 pounds. Being of the finest material and heavily and richly embroidered, this 1700 pounds has to be handled with care, and for this purpose alone, five experts from one of the biggest firms in America have come all the way from New York to Los Angeles. The laying of the carpets in the new house is now practically complete, and nothing remains to be done but the hanging of the draperies."

"First Peek Into New Morosco Theater. At the upper left is a view of one of the tiers of boxes, with a glimpse of the first and second balconies. The fluted column on the right of this picture marks the beginning of the stage and the picture indicates the close relation between the occupants of the balconies and the players. At the upper right is a portion of the frieze over the proscenium arch and directly below it is massive inverted light cluster in its bas relief housing. The lower left picture shows the marble stairway from foyer to balcony, while the large picture shows Oliver Morosco himself, buying the first ticket sold in his new and model playhouse." 

The collage appeared in the January 5 edition of the Times as part of nearly a full page about the Morosco. Hector Alliot discussed the building in an article headed "NEW THEATRE IS FINE TYPE" that appeared on the same page. And he was happy there were no cows: 

"Morosco's New Playhouse Well Decorated - Broadway Theater to Become Center of First Production of New Plays - Convenience and Elegance Displayed in New Arrangement of the Auditorium. Two things most people remember with a tenacious memory are the ship in which they sailed the seas and the playhouses where their deeper and better emotions were aroused....Like a great hull on the ways, the new Morosco Theater is about to be launched. Tomorrow it will be christened. A careful survey of this new building, architecturally, marks the Morosco Theater as the type of the 1913 playhouse. It seems to fulfill, and that abundantly, the most exacting modern requirements. It is practically monolithic, being constructed of cement throughout. In front, in the body of the house and in the actors' and mechanics' quarters. Eight exits on each side open into side alleys and permit the emptying of the house in a few instants, the dressing rooms are on concrete galleries leading to fire escapes in the rear. The scenery and chairs are practically all the wood in the building. The safety of audience and players is thoroughly taken care of and so is their comfort. 

"The chairs used are of a new type, barrel-back, of great convenience, and thirty-two-inch spaces separate each row. Even the comfort of extra heavy patrons has been thought of. If you happen to weigh over 200 pounds take your seats in row 6 and 7 and in the fourteen seats of series 101 and 102 of each side of the house: you will find arm chairs of ample size. No management was ever more thoughtful of us, who, with increasing years, are inclined to embonpoint. The auditorium forms a wide open fan arrangement of seats, both downstairs and in the galleries, that give an unobstructed view of the stage from every point, and brings the audience closer to the players than in any other theater. One can thus see well gestures and facial expressions and hear distinctly every word. The decoration is new and modern and departs from the ancient canons of surcharged ornamentation, clumsy and meaningless. 
"French gray is the dominant color, soberly touched with dull gold and green bronze. Throughout the body of the body of the house the decoration in light green and old rose in flat tones is of utmost simplicity. Instead of the figures of Apollo and the Muses or symbolical personages tiresome to the eye and artistically commonplace, one sees only dignified motifs of classical design, relieved by a strong frieze of Rubenesque cupids in relief encircling the stage, high up in the soft shadows of diffused light. Hot or cold air is brought under each seat. The house is illuminated throughout by indirect lighting, which blends the soft grays relieved by gold with the maroon tones of the plush curtain and of the upholstery. John Colette painted for the new house a very simple curtain representing an English woodland scene in spring time, and, marvelous to relate, there are no figures in it nor cows. It emphasizes well the quiet and restful scheme of other decorations. 
"Following the example of European playhouses given exclusively to the production of the drama, the orchestra pit will have no orchestra. A bank of autumn leaves will occupy the place where usually disturbing noise is dispensed by indifferent musicians. Genuine drama of merit needs no longer the circus siren between the acts to disturb the intelligent discussion of the play by superlative patrons. In arrangement the Morosco Theater seems to fulfill all desirable requirements for the sane, convenient and effective presentation of the better phases of the drama by a stock company. In this pleasing frame what is the picture that Oliver Morosco is going to offer us? 
"The gradual ascent of this manager from the early days of the Burbank to the opening of his new venture are too well known, not to prove that he possesses, to a degree seldom found, the intuition of his profession. Oliver Morosco senses the favor of his audiences; his judgement in plays that draw has seldom been at fault. Loyal to Los Angeles, where he was so successful, he proposes to make the Morosco Theater a playhouse of new productions. He intends to place our city on the dramatic map of the country as a producing center of new plays. No better publicity could be devised to call attention to the fact that Art, besides alfalfa and citrus trees, flowers and blossoms under our southern skies."

A second article in the January 5 issue of the Times was headed "NEW MOROSCO OPENS MONDAY." In addition to a discussion of the opening show there were these comments about the building:

"The most notable theatrical event of recent years will occur tomorrow night, when the new Morosco theater, on Broadway, between Seventh and Eighth streets, will throw open its doors to the theater-going public. The new Morosco Theater will be Los Angeles' most modern and beautiful playhouse, while it is the finest constructed and safest theater in America today. The new theater is built along the lines predicted by Oliver Morosco some time ago, as the theater of the future, having an auditorium of unusual width and containing but seventeen rows of seats on the lower floor and but twelve rows of seats in the first and second balcony, bringing every auditor closer to the stage and making all more intimate with the players on the stage. 

"The house is richly decorated in French gray, gold, bronze, and a very delicate green, while the mammoth plush curtain, draperies and carpeting throughout are of maroon. The carpeting of the entire house and under each and every seat is one of numerous exclusive features of the new playhouse, while the ventilation and conveniences for patrons are unequaled in any theater in America..."
The January 6, 1913 ad in the Times. Morosco was on a roll. His ad also included the three other theatres he was managing at the time: the Burbank, the Lyceum and the Majestic. Thanks to Mike Hume for locating this. He also has a pdf of the January 5 Times coverage on the fine page about the Globe on his Historic Theatre Photography site. 

"The Magic Touch - Oliver Morosco pressing the button and raising the curtain the first time in his new playhouse last night." It's an illustration that appeared in the January 7, 1913 issue of the L.A. Times. Thanks to Mike Hume for locating this and the article headed "First Night. BIG NEW IDEA SCINTILLATES" that appeared on the same page:

"Los Angeles in Front as a Producing Center. Finest Thespic Temple is Fairly Launched. Society Out Early for the Morosco Opening. The Morosco Theater, brilliant in its conception, satisfying in execution: palpitating life, light and color in realization, threw wide its hospitable doors last evening and looked destiny full in the face... The opening of the Morosco in its half-million-dollar environment on Broadway near Eighth street, marks an epoch in the theatrical history of the city. Other theaters have been dedicated; other first-night audiences have scintillated in jewels and fair array before other virginal footlights, but in giving the magnificent theater which bears his name to the amusement-seeking public of this big town, Oliver Morosco has builded a deeper foundation than managerial insight has ever built before.

"PLAYHOUSE WITH MISSION - Besides the stir and bustle, and excitement, and gaiety of a first night; beside the honk of outside auto horn, and the swish of silk through the marble-paved lobby; besides all the usual scenes of such an occasion, the premier of the Morosco Theater means above all else that Los Angeles is placed once and for all, definitely and actively upon the universal theatrical map... The Morosco is primarily America's first producing theater, the home of America's greatest stock company; the place of beginning for many a fame-touched genius in the years that are to come. It is a playhouse with a mission... 

"VALE ORCHESTRA - The rich French gray dress of the theater... the entire absence of the garish; the reflected lighting arrangement... the perfectly-equipped stage, and the series of asbestos, silken and velour curtains made deep impression upon the audience, but the feature which attracted the most attention was the lovely bank of eye-easing green covering the place where we have been accustomed to look for the orchestra. There is no orchestra in the Morosco, which points the way to the day of emancipation from this time-honored adjunct to places of amusement... At the appointed hour, a premonitory hush falls upon that congregation of 1400 souls - a telepathic something has told them that back of that curtained woodland the stage is set, the actors are ready - and then, without fuss or grinding gears of machinery, the first act of Winchell Smith's 'Fortune Hunter' is revealed, the players step into the picture; the dialogue begins; the story unravels, and the Morosco Theater is open..."

Conspicuous by its absence in any of the coverage about the opening is the name of John Blackwood. Evidently the million dollar Morosco-Blackwood Company had unraveled during the last six months of 1912. Blackwood was the one who had the lease for the new theatre and brought it to the combine as one of his contributions.

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

Oliver Morosco lost control of both this theatre and the Majestic in 1915. By 1917 he was back in charge. This article appeared in the January 31, 1915 issue of the L.A. Times:

The head of the new syndicate was S.H. Friedlander, talent manager and operator of theatres in many eastern cities as well as in San Francisco and Oakland. The article notes that he had declared Los Angeles to be not only the greatest theatrical city in the country but in the world. L.A.'s theatres ran year round and thus could make more money. His colleagues Thomas J. Quinn and S.E. Whitney were Detroit businessmen. Bert Shaw was associated with L.A. newspapers and we're advised that he had an orange grove and other business interests. H.D. Hertz was a local real estate man.

Scenic artist John Collette had problems on the paint bridge. Thanks to Mike Hume for finding the article in the November 18, 1916 issue of the L.A. Times.  

Morosco was soon back in charge here -- but not at the Majestic. That house went to films and then to other legit managers. He's listed as the lessee on this 1917 program cover. Thanks to Sean Ault for spotting this on eBay. 

Morosco was still running the theatre in May 1920. On the program cover for the production of "Polly With a Past" that's in the collection of Danni Bayles-Yeager he's again listed as lessee. Henry A.F. Schroeder was listed inside as his Western Manager. Visit the Bayles/Yeager Online Archive of the Performing Arts for other programs from many theatres around the country.

Morosco was out by 1925 and the creditors had control, running the theatre as Morosco Holding Co. Inc. This is the cover for the March 1925 "So This Is London" program that's in the collection of Danni Bayles-Yeager and appears on her website. In the program Henry A.F. Schroeder was listed as Western Manager for the company and John M. Riehle was listed as Receiver in Equity.

See more about Oliver Morosco's career at the bottom of the page.

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. A projection booth was constructed at the rear of the first balcony. The lease to Fox was reported in "Curtain Falls On Boards," a July 20, 1930 story that Ken McIntyre located 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, and the scene of many triumphal first nights 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 and repolishing its dusty interior, perhaps to tear out its 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.'"
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.  

In 1935 Metropolitan Theatres took over the President operation in a deal with Fox West Coast. Metropolitan had begun with Joseph Corwin (née Cohen) as a partner in the Broadway Theatre, a house that opened in 1925. In 1933 the company began operating the Orpheum.

A June 1938 L.A. Times ad for the President located by Ken McIntyre.

On August 10, 1938 the President became the Newsreel Theatre. Thanks to Mike Rivest for finding the opening day ad. He also located an August 11 L.A. Times story headed "Newsreel House Opens" that noted: 
"... The policy of the Newsreel Theater will be to insert clips as they arrive, thus keeping 'up' on the world's  doings in motion-picture form. A messenger will meet incoming planes which will bring reels from other parts of the country. Local events of importance will be flashed at the Newsreel Theater immediately after they are 'shot.' The new enterprise should prove popular here."

Another August 1938 ad. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this one. 

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 and "Swap Meet" appeared on the marquee. After that 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. The swap meet operation hadn't used the 1st balcony but for the club operation some of the original seating risers and the booth were removed and the area was re-terraced as two levels.

Under a later entrepreneur, Ralph Verdugo, the auditorium became Club 740, a more deluxe venue with bars, dancing, and VIP rooms. 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 between 2013 and 2015 by new proprietor Erik Chol who reinstituted the Globe Theatre name, re-lit the marquee, reopened the Broadway entrance (unused for the theatre 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 project architect was Morgan Sykes Jaybush of Omgivning, a firm specializing in restoration and adaptive reuse of historic buildings. Nikola Hlady and Elizabeth Peterson of the Elizabeth Peterson Group dealt with the city regarding "entitlements" for the space. Beth Holden's New Theme was the general contractor. The building the Globe is in, the Garland Building, is owned by Houman Sarshar and his partners. Evidently they've had it since the 1980s.
Events ceased in March 2020 due to Covid restrictions. The theatre reopened in July 2021. 

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."  

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. 

A fine balcony shot of the Globe standing in for the fictitious Casino Theatre in Atlantic City in the Herbert Ross film "Funny Lady" (Columbia, 1975). Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice is in a show produced by Billy Rose, her boyfriend at the time, played by James Caan. Thanks to Michael Garay for figuring out where we were for this shot. The film also uses the Orpheum, the Los Angeles and the Pan Pacific Auditorium. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for some shots from those scenes.

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 in "Peeper." 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.

Ryan O'Neal and Shelley Long write a hit film called "An American Romance" that shows up as playing the theatre in "Irreconcilable Differences" (Warner Bros., 1984). Drew Barrymore plays their kid, who's in court asking to be emancipated from them and their endless fighting. Charles Shyer directed with cinematography by William A. Fraker. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the Palace, Rialto, Orpheum and La Reina theatres from the film.  

It's a New York rainy night and Arnold is chasing the bad guys in John McTiernan's "Last Action Hero" (Columbia, 1993). On the far left it's the Globe marquee, fired up just for the shoot. Across 8th St. are the Tower Theatre and the Rialto, both dark and out of business. In the distance is the marquee of the Orpheum. The cinematography was by Dean Semler. Eugenio Zanetti was the production designer. Lots of scenes were shot in the Orpheum. We get several more Broadway views, 8th St. action including looks at the Olympic and the side of the Tower. And there's also Long Beach's Terrace Theatre. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for forty views of the theatres seen in the film.

The Globe is one of seventeen theatres we see in Alex Holdridge's "In Search of a Midnight Kiss" (IFC First Take, 2008). Scoot McNairy and Sara Simmonds meet via a Craigslist ad and are wandering the city on New Year's Eve. Also featured are Brian McGuire, Kathleen Luong, Robert Murphy, Twink Caplan, Bret Roberts and Stephanie Feury. The cinematography was by Robert Murphy. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for thirty-two more shots of the theatres appearing in the film. 

The Globe on TV and Video:

We're looking down at the Globe in "The Human Bomb," episode 21 of the first season of "Superman." It originally aired on February 6, 1953. Thanks to Tom Troccoli for spotting this stock footage they used and getting the screenshot.  

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

A look into the ticket lobby from the 1986 Janet Jackson music video "Nasty." Thanks to Sean Ault for spotting it. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several more images from the video. The auditorium shots were done elsewhere. The theatre closed in fall 1986.

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 2011 Jennifer Lopez video for "On The Floor." The theatre is used in Madonna's 2019 video "God Control." These are all on YouTube.

More 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. After the merger in 1911 with John Blackwood to form the Morosco-Blackwood Company he had control over the productions at the Belasco Theatre on Main St., a house he relinquished in December 1912. 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 theatre ventures, Morosco was also active as a film producer and film writer from 1915 through the late 1920s. See a 1920 L.A. Times article about big Morosco Theatre that was planned for 7th St. with a film + vaudeville policy but never built. 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 for good 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.
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. 
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 but that's now vanished. 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 2018-2021 version of the project was designed by Omgivning. The upper floors were gutted for conversion into 50,000 s.f. of  creative office space. There's 3,200 s.f of retail on the ground floor. An April 2020 Urbanize story noted the work was a project of San Francisco-based Presidio Bay and the building's owners, 740 South Broadway Associates. Omgivning lists their client for the project as City Constructors, Inc. One article noted that Houman Sarshar and his partners have had the building since the 1980s.

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