Start your Los Angeles area historic theatre explorations by heading to one of these major sections: Downtown | North of Downtown + East L.A. | San Fernando Valley | Glendale | Pasadena | San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and Whittier | South, South Central and Southeast | Hollywood | Westside | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | Long Beach | [more] L.A. Movie Palaces |
To see what's recently been added to the mix visit the Theatres in Movies site and the Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page.

Navigating Your Tour of Historic Los Angeles Theatres

On a Mobile Device: If you're missing the right column navigation bar or links at the top you can go to the bottom of any page and click on "View Web Version." Still can't find what you're looking for? Send me an email at counterb@gmail.com. See you at the movies! -- Bill Counter

Downtown L.A. Historic Theatres

The survey page gives a rundown on the 20 major surviving theatre buildings in the Downtown Theatre District. There are links to pages about each of them for more detail. You might also want to consult alphabetical rundowns on pages for Hill St. and farther west, the Broadway Theatres, Spring St. Theatres and Main St. and farther east. Those pages give you more detail, including discussions about all the theatres that have vanished. In addition, there's a downtown alphabetical theatre list with alternate names and a theatre list by address.

Historic Hollywood Theatres

Hollywood wasn't just about the movies. Starting in the mid 20s it was also a center for legitimate theatre and musical revues at four newly built playhouses. You'll find an alphabetical list of the theatres in the district on the Hollywood Theatres overview page that includes a bit of data on each and links to pages for more details. Down below this list there's also an alternate name directory. Also of possible interest is a separate page with a list of theatres by street address.

 Westside Theatres

The Westside started booming with retail and housing in the mid 20s and the theatres followed. Many theatres along Wilshire Blvd., in Beverly Hills, and in other neighborhoods became prime venues for everything from small foreign films to major roadshows. It's a huge territory. The Westside Theatres overview page gives you both a list by neighborhood as well as a survey arranged alphabetically. Also see the list of Westside Theatres: by street address and the Westside Theatres: alphabetical list page which includes alternate names.

Westwood and Brentwood

Westwood Village was the third significant theatre district to evolve in Los Angeles, after Downtown and Hollywood. With the construction of the UCLA campus beginning in the late 20s there was a chance to develop a unique shopping and entertainment district for faculty and students. By the 1970's the area had evolved so that Westwood had the largest concentration of first run screens of any neighborhood in Los Angeles. The Westwood and Brentwood Theatres overview page will give you a tour of the area.

Theatres Along the Coast

Santa Monica had a vibrant theatrical life even in the days when it was a small town isolated from the rest of Los Angeles. And that's just the beginning. The Along the Coast section will give you links to discussion of theatres in Ocean Park, Venice, Hermosa Beach, San Pedro, Long Beach and other communities.

[more] L.A. Movie Palaces

This section fills in all the other areas of Los Angeles County. Hundreds of terrific theatres were being built by the studios and independents all over the L.A. area in the 20s and into the 30s.  You'll find coverage of theatres north and east of Downtown as well as in Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, the San Gabriel Valley, Pomona, Whittier, Long Beach and many other far flung locations.   Some of those listings have been upgraded and appear on this site, many other links will take you to pages on an older site hosted on Google. The index page has links to all these theatres organized by area.

Searching by theatre name

If you don't find it in the right hand column, head for the Main Alphabetical List, which also includes the various alternate names each venue has used. This list includes those pages recently updated for this site (in bold face) as well as the write ups on an older website. For a narrower focus you'll also find separate lists for Westside and Downtown. As well, there are lists by name on the 10 survey pages for more limited areas like Pasadena, North of Downtown, Long Beach, etc. that are listed on the [more] Los Angeles Movie Palaces page.

Searching by address

If you know an address or street head to either the Main Theatre List by Address, the San Fernando Valley List by Address, the San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and Whittier List by Address or the Long Beach List. If what you're looking for isn't there, you should find a link to take you to a more localized list by address for Downtown, WestsideHollywood, etc. Also see the survey pages for more limited areas that are listed on the [more] Los Angeles Movie Palaces page.

Happy touring! Please contact me if you spot errors, links that don't work, etc.  

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City Hall Theatre

9770 Culver Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232 | map

The Culver City pages: Culver City Theatre 1915-1923 | Meralta Theatre 1924-1943, 1945-1983 | City Hall Theatre 1943-1947 | Culver / Kirk Douglas Theatre 1947 - present | 
 

Opened: Culver City's first purpose-built City Hall opened in 1928 at the corner of Culver Blvd. and Duquesne Ave. This construction view is from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.  

Architect: Orville L. Clark, who also designed the Washington Building, opposite the City Hall site on the north side of Culver Blvd.

The second-floor auditorium was used as a commercial movie theatre beginning in 1943 following an August fire that year which destroyed the town's only theatre, the Meralta. Mike Rosenberg's firm Principal Theatres, Inc. had been the lessee at the Meralta when it burned. He had been running it in conjunction with Fox West Coast.

The area needed entertainment for military personnel and defense plant workers during the war so a lease deal was struck with the City. After installing a projection booth, the venue opened as the Meralta Theatre, carrying over the name from the pre-fire location.

It wasn't the first time in Culver City history that the City Hall and a movie theatre shared a building. The Culver City Theatre, opened in 1915, was on the ground floor of a building on that had the City offices on the upper floor. The Culver Hotel is now on the site of that building. 

Mike Rosenberg decided to rename the new location the City Hall Theatre when it became evident that the Meralta was going to get a rebuild --and keep its name. It's unlikely anyone had it all figured out after reading this January 1945 article from the Culver City Evening Star-News:  
 

Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating the article. Read it carefully. Ken notes that there will be a quiz. Note that Rosenberg was promising a new theatre "as soon as priorities are available," whatever that meant. The new theatre, the Culver, would open in August 1947.


A February 15, 1945 ad for the City Hall Theatre from the Culver City Evening Star-News. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating it.

The Meralta Theatre got its rebuild and reopened later in 1945. But neither Principal Theatres nor Fox West Coast were then involved in the operation. It was run by Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta, the team that had built the first Meralta on that site in 1923. Earlier they had run the first theatre in town, located on Main St.  
 

They were calling it the Culver City Theatre at the time of this 1947 ad in the Evening Star-News for Roberto Rossellini's "Open City." The film was available in rthe U.S. Beginning in February 1946. 

 

A 1947 ad for the venue as the Fox Culver Theatre. It was a week of revivals. "Magnificent Obsession" was a 1935 release. "100 Men and a Girl" was from 1937. Thanks to Ken McIntyre locating this for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.  
 
 

A March 1947 ad located by Ken McIntyre in the Culver City Evening Star-News. 
 
Closing: Presumably they ran the City Hall location until August 1947 when the new Culver Theatre opened, a block away on Washington Blvd. 

Status: The 1928 building was demolished in 1995 and replaced with a new City Hall building. The booth that had been installed in the auditorium in 1943 remained until the demolition.  
 
 

A 1930s view from "Getting Ready to Mark History," a 2019 article by Julie Lugo Cerra on the Culver City Historical Society website. 
 
 

Parking a horse. Thanks to Sandi Hemmerlein for locating this photo, one she included as a comment to her Facebook post about the City Hall replica facade. 
 
 

Laurel and Hardy evidently did a shoot in front. Thanks to Mike Hume for the photo.
 
 
 
This 1950s photo appears on "Historic Site #1: 1928 City Hall," a page about the building from the Culver City Historical Society. 



All that's left of the 1928 City Hall at Culver & Duquesne. It's a 3/4 size reconstruction with the Heritage Park behind it occupying the demolished building's footprint. The new City Hall is beyond. If you were to turn around 180 degrees, you'd be looking at the back of the Culver Theatre. Photo: Bill Counter - 2011
 
The replica facade is stop #16 on walking tour #1 outlined in an Art in Public Places PDF from City's website CulverCity.org.

More information: See the other pages about Culver City theatres: Culver City Theatre | Meralta Theatre | Culver / Kirk Douglas Theatre. The page on the Culver City Theatre has a few Culver City history resources listed. 

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Hawthorne / Rex / Cal Theatre

115 E. Broadway Hawthorne, CA 90250  | map
 
 
Opened: c.1922. It was the first theatre in Hawthorne. Hawthorne Blvd. is off to the left in this early undated image of the theatre. Thanks to Jerry Miles for locating it. 
 
The site was just three lots east of Hawthorne Blvd. The block doesn't exist anymore and, just to keep things interesting, Broadway is now called W. Broadway on both sides of Hawthorne Blvd. If the location still had an address it would now be about 4340 W. Broadway. 
 
 

That's the theatre in red at 115 E. Broadway. Hawthorne Blvd. is running up the left edge. Thanks to Jerry Miles for locating this real estate survey map. 

Seating: About 350

Architect: Unknown
 
 

A 1923 photo of the theatre from the Centinela Valley Historical Society that appeared in a "Memories" feature in the August 11, 1988 issue of the Hawthorne Press-Tribune/Lawndale News. Thanks to Jerry Miles for locating it. Their caption: 
 
"FIRST THEATRE - The Hawthorne Theatre, the first in the city, was located on Broadway, east of Hawthorne Boulevard. It began operating in the mid-1920's and when first opened offered a limited schedule of showings. As it grew in popularity, it was necessary to increase the number of days it was open and the number of showings. The movie playing the day of this photo was taken was 'Mad Love,' starring Poli Negri. The billboard on the right says that Friday and Saturday's film will be 'Sure Fire Flint.'"
 
"Mad Love," originally titled "Sappho," was a March 1923 release. "Sure Fire Flint" starred Johnny Hines and Effie Shannon. It was out in August 1922. 

 

A 1923 ad for the Hawthorne. Thanks to Jerry Miles for locating it.
 

A "Watch For Our Program" teaser ad running in the Times in 1926. 

The theatre is in the 1927 and 1929 Hawthorne city directories as the Hawthorne. It was renamed the Rex Theatre in 1937. Jerry Miles notes that the name change occurred after then-operator George Halligan sold his interest to E.S."Ned" Calvi, who already was running the Plaza Theatre. Halligan went on to manage the Brentwood Theatre on Wilshire Blvd. just east of Santa Monica.

 

A 1937 ad located by Jerry Miles. "Romance and Riches," also known as "The Amazing Adventure," was a February 1937 release. "Speed Limited" was out in December 1935. 

It's listed as the Rex in the 1938, 1940 and 1942 city directories. It continued to operate as the Rex into early 1947. 
 

But it had closed and was "Remodeling - Open Soon" by the end of 1947. This was the December 31 listing in the Times. 
 

They still hadn't decided on a new name in January. This was the January 12 listing. 
 

By the next month it had been renamed the Cal Theatre: "Open Soon." This was the February 8, 1948 ad. They got the theatre reopened later that month. 

In June 1949 Boxoffice noted that Sherrill Corwin and Lester Blumberg had taken over active operations of the Plaza and Cal Theaters in Hawthorne, having acquired controlling interest in the two houses from Ned Calvi. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the research. Calvi also had the Lomita Theatre.


A 1949 L.A. Times listing for the area showing the Plaza and the Cal still running in Hawthorne. 
 
Closing: It appears that 1950 was the end of the line. 
 

Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating this April 28, 1950 listing in the Times. 

Status: It's been demolished. The site later became part of the now-defunct Hawthorne Plaza shopping mall. 
 

A photo by Steven Georges of Coast Media that appeared in the August 11, 1988 issue of the Hawthorne Press-Tribune/Lawndale News. Their caption: 

"MODERN DAY CENTER - The multi-level J.C. Penney store today covers the site where the Hawthorne Theatre was first located six decades ago. The Penney store, along with Broadway and Montgomery Ward, anchor the Hawthorne Plaza Shopping Center, which also contains 133 other businesses. Opened in 1976, the Plaza is one of the few major shopping centers in the Southland that does not have 'Mall' as part of its name. Hawthorne Plaza consists of 34 acres."

More information: Many thanks to Jerry Miles for his research. He notes that he arrived in Hawthorne in 1954 and the Hawthorne Theatre was gone by then. 

Visit our page about the Plaza Theatre. The Roosevelt Theatre was also nearby. Or it was supposed to be. West Coast Theatres supposedly had it under construction in 1926 but it was never completed.

See the Cinema Treasures page on the Rex for some data mingled with information about the never-built Roosevelt.  

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Roosevelt Theatre

12250 Hawthorne Blvd. Hawthorne, CA 90250 | map |

Opening: Although it was reported as being "under construction" in 1925 it never opened. It was to have been operated by West Coast Theatres, a project of their subsidiary Venice Investment Co. The new theatre was to be on the east side of Hawthorne Blvd. 400' north of Broadway. 

It could be that West Coast was trying to get the lease on the newly announced  Plaza Theatre and when that failed they decided to build their own house nearby.

Architect: John Paxton Perrine

Seats: It was announced as going to be 1,200.  
 
 

A January 10, 1926 announcement. Thanks to Jerry Miles for locating it. Although the Plaza Theatre was supposedly in the works it wouldn't open until November 1927.


 
"Roosevelt Theater at Hawthorne." This item appeared in the January 17, 1926 issue of the L.A. Times. 
 

An article appearing in the January 17, 1926 issue of the Times. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating it for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. No mention is made of the Hawthorne Theatre, which had been operating nearby for several years.
 
 

"This is the real opportunity for YOU in HAWTHORNE." There was a building boom on. This ad for property in the area from the January 17, 1926 issue of the Times only mentioned the new Roosevelt Theatre three times. 
 

Another 1926 news item located by Ken McIntyre. 
 

Status: It was all fake news. Well, if it was indeed under construction it was soon abandoned. It's not known what else was built on the site. That location today is in the middle of the defunct Hawthorne Plaza shopping mall. 

More information: See the page about the Plaza Theatre, opened in 1927. Hawthorne's earlier theatre, the Hawthorne, was later called the Rex and the Cal. It survived into the early 1950s.  

Many thanks to Jerry Miles for sharing his research. Cinema Treasures has a page on the Rex which has some data about that one on Broadway co-mingled with information about the Roosevelt. 

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Gilmore Drive-In

 6201 W. 3rd St. Los Angeles, CA 90036 | map |

Opened: July 18, 1948 with Erroll Flynn in "Silver River" along with "Climbing the Matterhorn." It was an operation of Sero Enterprises. The theatre was located just east of the Farmer's Market. The screen tower was on the northwest corner of 3rd St. and Stanley Ave., what is now called The Grove Dr. Thanks to Bill Gabel for locating the pre-opening trade magazine photo.

Capacity: 650 cars

Architects: William Glenn Balch and Louis L. Bryan 
 
 
 
A drawing that appeared in Boxoffice. Thanks to Michael Kilgore for locating it for a post on Cinema Treasures. He comments:  
 
"This image appeared in the Modern Theatre section of the Nov. 20, 1948 issue of Boxoffice. I find it interesting that it included 'Drive-In' and 'Theatre' running down its flanks, which weren’t part of the finished product."

 

A flyer for the opening. Thanks to Mark London for sharing an image of it for a post on the Carthay Circle History Facebook page. 

The theatre was later operated by Pacific Theatres. Thanks to Michael Kilgore for locating this item in the Boxoffice issue of February 13, 1954: 

"Pacific Drive-Ins is taking over operation of two local ozoners, the Victory and Gilmore, from Sero Amusement."
 

A 1962 discount ticket from an Entertainment Book. Thanks to Mark London for sharing it on a post on the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page. 

The Gilmore in the movies:  


We get this great triple feature on the marquee 41:20 into "Hollywood Boulevard." (New World Pictures, 1976). The film about "the street where starlets are made" features Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, Candice Rialson, Jonathan Kaplan and Godzina. Direction was by Joe Dante and Allan Arkush. Jamie Anderson did the cinematography. Thanks to Benny Ballejo for posting the shot on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. 



Another fine marquee shot from "Hollywood Boulevard." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for posting this one on Photos of Los Angeles. The entire epic is available for free viewing on the site Tubi. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a shot of an altercation in the booth as well as views of the Chinese and Monica/Pussycat theatres from earlier in the film.

The Gilmore is seen at the end of "Coming Attractions" (Cinema Finance Associates, 1978). Ira Miller directed the film, retitled "Loose Shoes" for a 1982 reissue. Thanks to Michael Kilgore for the screenshot, a post on Cinema Treasures. He comments: 

"The poorly-received 1978 comedy... 'Coming Attractions' ends with a lengthy shot of the Gilmore. It starts with the final frame of the final skit projected on the Gilmore’s screen, then a helicopter view sweeps around the darkened drive-in, ending on the front sign lettered with 'The End.' The good news, if you can call it that, is that the movie is now available on YouTube. The closing credit sequence begins around 1:10:35."

The film is a comedy structured as a series of skits and trailers. Featured are Bill Murray, Buddy Hackett, Howard Hesseman, Royce D. Applegate, Lewis Arquette, Tom Baker and Dorothy Van. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the marquees of the Rivoli in Long Beach, the Whittier, the Wiltern, the Palace, the Orpheum and the La Reina from the opening credits.  

Closing: The Gilmore closed in late 1977.

Status: It was demolished around 1983. The Grove shopping center is on the site. Part of that development includes a theatre, the AMC Grove 14.

 

1948 - A grand opening shot spotted in a trade magazine by Cinema Treasures contributor Dallas Movie Theaters.  
 

 
1949 - This view from the top of the screen tower was taken by Loomis Dean for Life magazine. The two venues in the background are a Hollywood Stars baseball game at Gilmore Field in the upper right and a football game at Gilmore Stadium in the upper left. Michael Kilgore notes that the photo illustrates the issue that the Drive-In had with light pollution during games. Life photo collection | Life on Google Images | Life photos on Shutterstock | LoomisDeanPhotography.com |
 
 

1949 - It's unconfirmed at this point but this lovely shot may be another taken at the Gilmore by Loomis Dean for Life. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for including it as a comment to a post about the theatre on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. 
  
 

1950 - A view with the Drive-In on 3rd St. in the upper right. Below it is the Farmer's Market. The baseball venue Gilmore Field (1938, demolished 1958) is in the upper center (to the left of the Drive-In) and Gilmore Stadium (1934, demolished 1952) is in the lower center. CBS Television City is now on that site. 
 
Beverly Blvd. on the left. A bit of the Fairfax Theatre at Beverly and Fairfax can be seen in the lower left. The two light-colored buildings on Beverly in the upper left are the Pan Pacific Theatre/Skating Rink and the Pan Pacific Auditorium. Thanks to Martin Turnbull for locating the image for a post on his Hollywood's Garden of Allah Novels website. Another version of the photo, from Marc Wanamaker's collection, appears on the Hollywood Historic Photos website. 
 
 

1952 - A look toward the Drive-In with CBS Television City going up in the foreground on the site of the Gilmore Stadium. In the lower center we see a bit of Herbert's drive-in restaurant on the southeast corner of 3rd and Fairfax. Thanks to Bill Gabel for posting the image on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
 
 

c.1959 - A view to the northeast with the two Pan Pacific buildings at the top of the image. The Baseball Field building is no more but the field's outlines can still be seen. Part of the CBS complex can be seen on the far left. Thanks to Bill Gabel for locating the shot for a Photos of Los Angeles post.  
 
 

c.1960 - The Drive-In abides. That's the Park La Brea housing development beyond. Thanks to Bill Gabel for locating the photo for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. 
 

1967 - A photo by Ed Ruscha. It appears on the websites of LACMA, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Tate Museum in London and the National Galleries Scotland. The Tate commented in a 2019 gallery label:

"This aerial shot turns an urban landscape into an abstract geometric design. Ruscha captured empty Los Angeles car parks from a helicopter early one Sunday morning in 1967, before any cars had arrived. From above the city appears silent and lifeless. Ruscha brought the images together into an artist’s book, 'Thirtyfour Parking Lots' 1967. In 1999 he returned to the series, presenting the images as a photographic portfolio. He said, 'over the years I began to appreciate print quality and see my photographs as not necessarily reproductions for a book, but as having their own life as silver gelatin prints.'"
 


c.1976 - A fine view toward downtown. Thanks to Bill Gabel for posting it on Photos of Los Angeles. David Pepper commented: "Beyond the drive-in is the dirt parking lot of the Pan Pacific Auditorium. A traveling circus would set up its big tent in that field. One can also see the old Market Basket grocery store (building with yellowish roof)." A version of the photo was posted on the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page where Randy Hansen noted that it's a photo by Robert Cameron that appears in his 1976 book "Above Los Angeles."
 

 
1976 - A photo by Elisa Leonelli on Calisphere from the Claremont Colleges Library Special Collections. Also by Ms. Leonelli: post-closing - 1978 | Santa in front - 1979 | another Santa shot - 1979 |
 


1978 - A Polaroid shot with "Closed" on the marquee. Thanks to Rick Nyberg for sharing his photo on the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page. 

1979 - A view from the Bruce Torrence collection, #T-16-5. We're looking west on 3rd. See the Hollywood Historic Photographs website for six more shots from the same time. 
 
 

c.1984 - Readying the Drive-In site for redevelopment. Thanks again to Bill Gabel for another find. It was a post on Photos of Los Angeles.
 

2021 - Looking northwest at 3rd St. and The Grove Drive. Photo: Google Maps

Nearby: AMC Grove 14 | Esquire Theatre | Fairfax Theatre | Geffen and Mann Theatres/Academy Museum | Laurel Theatre | New Beverly Cinema | Pan Pacific Auditorium | Pan Pacific Theatre | Silent Movie / Brain Dead

More information: See the Cinema Treasures page about the Gilmore. A drive-in was back in the neighborhood in 2019 with a screen put up on the upper level of the Grove's parking garage. See the Los Angeles Magazine's story "A Drive-In Movie Theater Is Coming to the Grove."

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