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: www.globetheatre-la.com | 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Take a virtual tour via LA360VR.
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.
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
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
"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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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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