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Balboa Theatre

8713 S. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90044 | map |

Opened: April 6, 1926 as a West Coast Theatres house with their affiliate, Southside Theatres also involved. The initial film was "Behind the Front" with Wallace Beery. It's a block and a half south of Manchester on the west side of Vermont. In the 1929 city directory it's called the West Coast Balboa. After Fox took over the circuit it was called the Fox Balboa.

My how the neighborhood has changed. The image is a detail from a 1951 photo by Julius Shulman looking south on Vermont toward the theatre. He was photographing the Bank of America branch at Vermont and Manchester, indexed on the Getty Research Institute website as his Job #1091. Also on the site, if you have time to browse, are thousands more photos in their Julius Shulman Photography Archive.

Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Hoss C for finding the Shulman images in the Getty collection and extracting this detail for Noirish post #30797 which contains the three shots from the set as well as recent street views.

Rental information: 323-333-7249 or Elvis at

Architect: L.A. Smith

Seating: 1,250

The Jurdan Theatre was earlier on the site, demolished to make way for the Balboa. The opening date of this earlier theatre is unknown but it was listed in the 1922 city directory at 8717 S. Vermont and in the 1923 directory as at 8725. 

Thanks to Mike Rivest for finding this article in the April 4, 1926 issue of the Los Angeles Times. Another article in the April 4 edition of the paper was spotted by Ken McIntyre: 

"New Addition To Showhouse Chain - Another neighborhood theater, the West Coast Balboa, located at Eighty-Seventh and Vermont, has been completed and will open on the 6th, according to Mr. Gore, head of West Coast Theaters, Inc. This is the sixth theater that the organization has opened in the past ninety days. Twenty more are in the course of construction.

"The Balboa Theater represents an investment of more than $250,000 and is of Class A construction. The lot is 80x130 feet on the west side of Vermont, just south of Eighty Seventh Street. The building was designed by L.A. Smith, and is of the Spanish type. It will seat 1250, and is designed in an intimate, cozy style which makes it an ideal neighborhood house, and the policy of the management will be to present the finest feature pictures and as complete a program as can be seen at any of the downtown theaters."

Illustrations that appeared April 5, 1926 issue of the Los Angeles Evening Express. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating this for a Facebook thread about the theatre on Ken's Movie Page. The caption:

"Above is the front view of the Balboa Theater, new West Coast house which will be opened tomorrow with an elaborate program. Lower left is M. Gore, lower right A.L. Gore, executives of the West Coast Theaters, Inc., who see another crowning success in the Balboa Theater."

This article also appeared in the April 5, 1926 issue of the Express. 

A logo that Fox was using on their flyers in 1929. 

"5 Diversified Acts Vaudeville." The outside of a July 1929 flyer.  
The inside spread advertising "The Barker," "The Pagan" and other offerings. Thanks to Kelly Garner for this image and the two above. Kelly came across the July 1929 flyer and was offering it on eBay. And  don't forget: 
"Sure enough this weather is unusual. But just the same it's delightfully COOL and comfortable in our house. Water cooled air changing constantly. Come in and refresh yourself!"

A 1935 ad for the Balboa and the Manchester. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating this for a 2022 post for the Photos of Los Angeles private Facebook group. 

A safe cracking incident in 1936. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the item in the Times. He added it as a comment on a 2020 thread about the theatre for the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook group.

An April 1948 ad for the theatre as part of the Fanchon & Marco Southside Theatres circuit. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating the ad.  

A May 1951 ad located by Ken McIntyre. 

A May 1963 ad located by Ken McIntyre.  

Closing as a film house: The date is unknown. Obviously it was running as late as 1963.

After its film days were over the Balboa had a bit of a life as a concert venue.

"No Fights!" Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this flyer from 1984.  

A 1985 concert. Thanks to Paul Almanza for the flyer. He says he was there. The image was added as a comment to a 2018 post about the theatre on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook group.

Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this concert flyer from 1986. 

A June 1988 flyer for Uniform Choice and Final Conflict that was located by Ken McIntyre. 

Later it was a Nation of Islam mosque. They moved out in 2009 and the building was put on the market. Beginning in 2015 it was used as a film production facility, the Pan Andreas West, a project of actor George Pan-Andreas.

Status: It's still sitting there on a desolate stretch of Vermont and looking abandoned. It's occasionally used for film production work.

Interior views: 

A view from the May 15, 1926 issue of Exhibitors Herald. It's on Internet Archive. The caption: "Interior of the Balboa theatre, 87th and Vermont street, Los Angeles, which is one of the latest additions to the growing chain of theatres operated by West Coast Theatres, Inc. The Balboa was opened April 6. It has a seating capacity of 1,250."

A undated sidewall shot from the Herald Examiner Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library.

A look down from the balcony for a curious sight with the theatre in use as a production facility. Note "Nation of Islam" still painted on the bottom of the asbestos. It's a 2015 photo from the defunct website

The vista toward house left. Photo: Candid Casting - 2015

The rear of the auditorium. Photo: Candid Casting - 2015

The house left wall. Photo: Candid Casting - 2015

Toward the front house left. Well, the organ chamber area is a mess but there's still a bit of sidewall decor and the proscenium left to look at. Photo: Candid Casting - 2015

Backstage at the Balboa. Photo: Candid Casting - 2015

More exterior views:

1983 - It's the "Stairway to the Stars Talent Show." Thanks to the now-vanished website American Classic Images for the photo.

2004 - The building as a Nation of Islam mosque. Thanks to Ken Roe for his photo, appearing on Cinema Tour and Cinema Treasures.

2012 -  Not much action anymore on this once busy street. Photo: Google Maps

2015 - Thanks to Steve Milner for this photo, appearing as a post on the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page.

2019 - The forlorn building from across Vermont. Photo: Bill Counter

2019 - An entrance detail. Photo: Bill Counter

2019 - A look down the alley toward the north side of the building. Photo: Bill Counter

2021 - A photo by Don Nash II. Thanks to Don for sharing it on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Balboa. The site also has a page started for the Jurdan Theatre, the earlier theatre on the property.

The Cinema Tour page about the Balboa has several 2004 exterior shots by Ken Roe.

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