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Bard's Egyptian / Colorado Theatre / Academy 6

1003 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91106 | map |

Opened: June 23, 1925 as Bard's Egyptian with Marie Prevost in "Bobbed Hair" as the initial film. It's on the northwest corner of Colorado Blvd. and Catalina St. Bob Bennett of the Pasadena Museum of History notes that the 1925 Pasadena city directory listed it as Bard's Pasadena

The 1926 Rose Parade photo by the Aerograph Co. from the Pasadena Museum of History collection had appeared on the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration website but seems to have been lost during a site makeover.

Phone: 626-229-9400    Website:

Lou Bard operated a number of other theatres including three downtown: the Town Theatre, the College Theatre and the Olympic. Bard's was the circuit that also built the Vista Theatre on Sunset Dr. in the Los Feliz area. He also had the Glen Theatre in Glendale, the West Adams Theatre on Adams Blvd., and the Garfield in Alhambra.

Architect: Lewis A. Smith, who also did other projects for Bard as well as many for West Coast Theatres. See a list on the Theatres By Architect page. The construction announcement in the Pasadena Evening Post said it was going to be called Bard's Alexandria and built at a cost of "not less than $500,000."

Seating: 1,709 originally. The construction announcements promised 2,000. As a 6-plex it's 756.   Theatre 1 - balcony 145, Theatre 2 - balcony 152, Theatre 3 124, Theatre 4 101, Theatre 5 102 and Theatre 6 132. Thanks to Scott Weinfeld for noting the data on the ticketing section of the Regency website.

An article appearing in a June 1925 issue of the Pasadena Post. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating it for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. 

A pre-opening ad in the L.A. Times advising that "good people" will be going to Bard's. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for posting it on Photos of Los Angeles.

Later Bard later changed the name to Bard's Colorado. By 1931 Fox West Coast was operating the house on a lease from Bard it and became the Fox Colorado.

Joe Vogel notes that the Boxoffice issue of January 24, 1942 reported Bard had sold the property to Fox. It closed and got a streamline moderne redo that removed all traces of the original Egyptian look. Much of the statuary was hidden behind new plaster walls sporting murals of mermaids, planets and underwater scenes. When it reopened on July 3, it was called the Academy Theatre. Boxoffice reported the reopening in their July 11, 1942 issue.

It was later operated by National General Corp. and Mann Theatres, the successor companies to Fox West Coast. For years it was a favorite theatre for studio previews. The theatre evidently got new carpet in 1950 -- it was celebrated in an ad for Gulistan carpet in the April 1, 1950 issue of Boxoffice

The facade and tower got a major remodel in 1957. This drawing from an unknown architectural firm for that project is from the Herald Examiner collection at the Los Angeles Public Library. Carl Moeller, the in-house Fox West Coast designer, had a hand in the redesign. Ken McIntyre located a December 15, 1957 L.A. Times mention of the project:

"Newly renovated Fox West Coast Theaters' Academy theater and building in Pasadena will be reopened next Thursday. Modernization project, which cost $192,000, includes relocation of building entrance from Catalina Street to Colorado Blvd., installation of elevator to second floor offices, renovation of facade and installation of aluminum store fronts. The theater tower was remodeled and the marquee was repainted and relighted."

The tower was removed following the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. 

Bruce Kimmel talks about a sneak of "The First Nudie Musical" in 1975: 

"What a theater this was, even back in the 1970s. It was a major preview house for the studios, since they could run work prints with interlock sound. One of the greatest nights of my life was on August 8th, 1975 when we all trudged out there for the sneak preview of 'The First Nudie Musical,' work print in hand with interlock mag sound. They were showing 'Tommy' and 'Once Is Not Enough.' 

"We screened at eight-thirty, the usual preview time. The theater was full, all 1,700 seats and the reaction to our little movie was unbelievable in terms of the laughs it got, even with the shitty work print, no opticals, and raw, unmixed sound. I'll never forget it. And the next night, we were in San Diego previewing at some huge downtown theater that was showing, of all things, 'Dolemite.'"

The streamline interior decor was still evident into the early 80s while it was still a single screen house. The facade was stripped down in the mid-1980s for some work with the evident intent of restoration. Alas, such was not to be as damage from earthquake retrofit work and earlier remodels had taken their toll. So we got a flat stucco version. And six little theatres inside.

The balcony got split into two theatres. The main floor has four -- two forward all the way onto the stage, 2 in the rear. The two forward theatres are accessed down corridors located where the original theatre's side aisles were. Only a few bits of interesting decor from the original look or the 1942 redo remain.

Status: Now operated by Regency Theatres, who took it over as the Mann circuit was being dissolved. The Academy offers first and sub-run product on 6 screens at bargain prices. $2.50 matinees!

The main lobby:

A photo from the Gary Parks collection that originally appeared in the trade magazine Exhibitors Herald. The Herald noted: "The walls throughout are done in brilliant pigmentation." Years later the snack bar would be positioned where the bench is in this photo. On the left are the entrances to the house left side of the main floor with the house left stairs to the balcony on the far left of the image. 

A view of the lobby in 1930 with the theatre is promoting the run of "Tom Sawyer." Thanks to Bob Bennett for the photo, one in the Pasadena Museum of History collection. He found the photo in the scrapbook of Lester Clark, once manager of the Fox Colorado. All the Egyptian theme decor was
obliterated during the Fox West Coast moderne remodeling of 1942.

A snackbar view from 1947. Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Dallas Movie Theaters for finding the trade magazine photo. 

The main lobby in 2010. Photo: Bill Counter

The snackbar. Photo: Claudia Mullins - 2018

A retrofitted Skouras-style drinking fountain. Photo: Claudia Mullins - 2018 

A look of to house left. Photo: Claudia Mullins - 2021

Under the stairs at the house left end of the lobby. Before the multiplexing there was a door out to the west exit passage at this location. Photo: Claudia Mullins - 2021  

Looking back toward the entrance from house left. Photo: Claudia Mullins - 2021

The balcony level lobby: 

Looking toward the house left stairs. Note the Egyptian head on the wall above the stair landing. Thanks to Gary Parks for this Exhibitors Herald photo. The Herald commented: "Sumptuous elegance is the keynote of the theatre throughout." 

Theatre explorer Gary Parks with one of the Egyptian queen heads that used to be on the stairs. He comments: "This was taken in the late 90s in the garage at Mark Santa Maria’s old apartment on Potrero Hill in San Francisco. The mate to this head is in the collection of one of those guys who has a whole barn full of neon signs and roadside relics on display. This head now hangs over the Santa Marias' fireplace."

 A closer view of the head now in the Mark Santa Maria collection. 

A side view. Thanks to Gary Parks for the photos.

Looking toward house right in 1950. "See how the Academy Theatre in Pasadena has used Gulistan Carpet to create the kind of foyer that crowds want to come back to!" This photo of the balcony level lounge appeared in an ad in the April 1, 1950 issue of Boxoffice. Thanks to Joe Vogel for finding the ad.

Looking toward house left in the downsized balcony lobby. It's a 2007 photo from Mark Campbell appearing on the Cinema Tour page about the theatre. One of the Egyptian heads used to be on the wall straight ahead about where we see the exit sign.

A 2010 view toward house right. Photo: Bill Counter

The stairs up to the house left end of the lobby. Photo: Claudia Mullins - 2021 

Peeking behind the red wall for a view to house right. Photo: Claudia Mullins - 2021 

The auditorium: 

"Overflow Crowd Gives Enthusiastic Welcome To Bard Brothers At Opening of New Egyptian Theatre." This view to the rear of the auditorium appeared in the Pasadena Star-News on June 24, 1925. Their caption:

"Remarkable Flashlight of Magnificent House Is But a suggestion as to the Classic Beauty and Riot of Colors W [?] Caught in Decorative Scheme. Pantages Vaudeville to be Featured With Masterpieces of Many Notable Film Producers. Many Celebrities in Screenland May Be Seen in The Photograph." Thanks to Alex Cheatham for locating the photo in the Pasadena Museum of History collection.

A proscenium view from Exhibitors Herald. 

The Herald notes: "Stage view with curtain raised, exposing a second drop. Ray Murray, 'Herald' West Coast representative, describes the theatre as 'very beautiful and very comfortable.'" Many thanks to Gary Parks for sharing these Exhibitors Herald photos.

The house right main floor auditorium in front. There are four screens on the main floor, two in the balcony. Note the booth on stilts. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Some painted work in a back exit corridor. Thanks to Alex Cheatham for his 2010 photo. He had been looking in the dark corners at the Academy and located this 40s wall treatment. Note the exit door at the left of the photo. 

More painted detail of clouds and Saturn in a back exit corridor for one of the balcony theatres. Photo: Alex Cheatham - 2010

A bit of molded plaster ornament remaining in the balcony. Photo: Alex Cheatham - 2010 

A painted version of the same ornament in another balcony location. Photo: Alex Cheatham - 2010. Thanks, Alex!

A peek behind the drapes at an exit for auditorium #6 upstairs. Thanks to Nixols for his 2012 photo, posted on Cinema Treasures.

Another look behind the drapes of auditorium #6. Photo: Nixols - Cinema Treasures - 2012

The house left auditorium in the former balcony. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

More exterior views:

1926 - Note the swing-out "BARD'S" sign, something that would soon be replaced by fixed horizontal signs saying "Colorado" and "Theatre." Among their five acts of "Pantages Vodvil" was the "Cyclonic" Eva Tanguay. The feature film that week was "The Live Wire," a September 1925 release with Johnny Hines, Edmund Breese and Mildred Ryan.

This is a detail from the Pasadena Museum of History photo that's at the top of the page. It appeared on an earlier version of the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration website but seems to have gotten lost. A version of the photo appears on page 28 of the 2007 Arcadia Publishing book "Pasadena, A Business History" by Patrick Conyers, Cedar Phillips and the Pasadena Museum of History. The page with the photo is included in the book's preview on Google Books

1926 - "Oh! What a Nurse!" was a March release with Syd Chaplin and Patsy Ruth Miller. Note the added readerboards across the retail spaces. Thanks to Dave Swantek for sharing this photo taken by his grandfather, Vergil J. Morris. Dave added it as a comment to a post about the theatre for the You Know You Are From Old School Pasadena When... Facebook group. Thanks to Claudia Mullins for spotting the post.

1927 - A view looking north toward the theatre from the Pasadena Museum of History collection appearing on the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration website. We're at the De Luxe Gasoline Station at Colorado and Catalina. The photographer is unknown.

1927 - The Colorado running "Venus of Venice," a March release with Constance Talmage, Antonio Moreno and Hedda Hopper. The photo appeared with "Harold B. Franklin Analyzes Theatre Personality," an article in the Motion Picture News issue of December 28, 1929. It's on Internet Archive. Section Two of that issue is a particularly interesting "Theatre Building & Buyers Guide."

1927 - "Pasadena Preventorium - 100% for Health." Thanks to Chris Nichols for finding this photo by Harold A. Parker in the Huntington Library collection. We're looking east toward the theatre. Note "Bard's Theatre" on the stagehouse. In case you're curious here's what the Huntington's site adds: 

"Cars filled with young people in parade on Colorado Street East of Lake Avenue. Each car has a sign advertising for the Pasadena Preventorium, an institution where children were sent to make them healthier, with particular emphasis on preventing tuberculosis. A Pasadena directory from 1926 gives the Preventorium's address as West Mariposa near Lincoln Avenue."

1928 - A lovely shot from the Tom B'hend - Preston Kauffman Collection of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library. They were running "Feel My Pulse" with Bebe Daniels, Richard Arlen and William Powell. Along with the feature is the Fanchon and Marco stage show "Dance Paintings Idea."

1928 - The Colorado playing "Someone To Love," a December release with Charles "Buddy" Rogers and Mary Brian. On stage it was the Fanchon & Marco "Specialty Idea" along with Celeste and the Mexican Orchestra. It's a photo in the Huntington Library collection taken by Harold A. Parker. The photo also appears on the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration website.

1928 - A detail taken from the Harold A. Parker photo. 

1931 - The theatre as the Fox Colorado. It's a photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

1933 - "Tarzan the Fearless" playing the theatre with lots of ballyhoo. In this case it was a crowd of amateur Tarzan imitators. Note the top of the marquee saying "Bard's Colorado." Evidently he was back running it again while Fox was in receivership. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the photo to post as a comment on a Tarzan thread for the Photos of Los Angeles private Facebook group.

1942 - "Opening July 3 - Southern California's Most Luxurious Theatre." It's a photo from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives that appears on page 107 in the great 2008 Arcadia Publishing book "Theatres in Los Angeles" by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Mr. Wanamaker. There's a preview of the book on Google Books. Thanks, Marc!

c.1950 - A fine view of a Pacific Electric Red Car #1229 heading down Colorado Blvd. That's the tower of the Academy in the distance. Thanks to Paul Ayers for sharing this version from his collection on a Facebook post. Also see a smaller cropped version from the Bill Volkmer collection from the site Dave's Rail Pix. Visit that site's great selection of additional Pacific Electric photos.

1952 - A fine view with the theatre running "The Blue Veil," an October 1951 release with Jane Wyman and Charles Laughton along with Tyrone Power and Ann Blyth in "I'll Never Forget You," out in December 1951. Thanks to the Classic Hollywood/Los Angeles/SFV Facebook page for sharing the photo.

1953 - One of a series of Rose Parade photos offered on eBay in 2019. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for spotting them. Augie Castagnola used one of them for a "then and now" for the Photos of Los Angeles private Facebook group.

1953 - Another from the Kodachrome slide set on eBay. 

1956 - Thanks to Dave Swantek for posting this parade photo on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook group along with 15 other 50s photos of Pasadena and other towns taken by his grandfather Vergil J. Morris.

1963 - We're looking west in this Rose Parade view with the big pink hulk of the Academy behind the float. Thanks to Richard Wojcik for sharing this photo from his collection.

1963 - Another Rose Parade photo from the Richard Wojcik collection. Thanks to Stephen Russo for spotting Richard's post on the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page.

1966 - A parade view from Eric Hill. Thanks to David Zornig for posting the photo on Cinema Treasures

1981 - The tower is gone. It had been removed following the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. Thanks to the now-vanished American Classic Images website for this photo.  

1982 - Another photo from the American Classic Images collection. The film was an August release.

1983 - "Airplane II" playing in January. Thanks to American Classic Images for this great view of the remodeled entrance at night.

2007 - The exciting facade now on the theatre. Photo: Bill Counter

2007 - A closer look at the entrance. Photo: Bill Counter

2010 - Terrazzo, presumably dating from the 1942 remodel. Photo: Bill Counter

2010 - A corner view. That's Catalina St. on the right. Photo: Bill Counter

2010 - The stage end of the building. The forward 2 screens on the main floor come within 8' of the backstage wall. Photo: Bill Counter

2019 - The Academy abides. Photo: Bill Counter 

The Academy Theatre in the Movies:

We get a quick look at the Academy as one of many Los Angeles area theatres featured in the nine minute short "Let's Go To The Movies," available on the Internet Archive. It was produced by RKO in 1948 for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of a half dozen other theatres seen in the film.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Academy Theatre for lots of stories and historic detail. The Cinema Tour page on the Academy has some photos by Scott Neff and Mark Campbell.

And if you're looking for information on Pasadena's other Egyptian themed theatre, see the page here on this site about the Uptown Theatre.

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  1. The total capacity is 756 seats. Theatre 1 balcony 145 Theatre 2 balcony 152 Theatre 3 124, Theatre 4 101 Theatre 5 102 and Theatre 6 132 Source: Regency Theatres reserve ticketing site.

    1. Thanks, Scott! These new reserved seating ticketing programs are turning into a good data source.