I’ve always liked old movie theaters and I look for stories and articles about old movie theaters in architectural journals.
[Note: if you download any of these images and use them elsewhere please acknowledge my website:
It took a lot of research to find all these images. Thanks!]
I found some theater images in this publication. It’s Architectural Digest.
Here’s the Tower Theater in 2015.
From another angle.
The tower has lost its cap.
With my shake-y arm this is the best photo I could get of this decorative urn.
The woman (an actress?) is looking into a mirror and the man (the director?) has a megaphone. They’re both naked. Hmmm.
Here’s the Tower Theater in an advertisement.
The Mayan Theater is still standing.
How did that original marquee survive all these years? I’m glad it did.
This vertical sign wasn’t original to the building but I like it. It looks like its from the 1940s.
Under the marquee it’s not painted. It’s a dance club now. The seats were removed and the floor was leveled. I remember going into this theater years ago when it was a XXX movie theater. The interior was completely intact. The movie was, uh, okay.
I found the Hollywood Egyptian in Architect and Engineer.
I saw Singing in the Rain here, on Christmas day, back in the 90s. I went with my friend Mark.
I found this photograph online but where I found it — didn’t specify who took the photo. It had to be a major Hollywood photographer. Since Doug is my favorite silent film star I’m including it.
He’s the guy that’s sculpted, in stone, near the front entrance of the Million Dollar Theater.
The American Cinematheque programs the Egyptian Theater now. They show all kinds of films: classic films, art films, documentaries.
This photo is from Charles Beardsley’s book on Grauman. I’m only including it because of the train tracks in front of the theater and all bric-a-brac in the courtyard.
I found some more images of the Egyptian in American Architect. Some of the images are the same as those in Architect and Engineer while others are completely different. I’m including them.
I found this “photo” article on Recent California Theaters in an issue of Pacific Coast Architect. It’s from July 1927. The photographs are great.
That’s a beautiful theater. I don’t know if it still exists or not.
My friend Keith sent me this web address with information about the Alhambra.
That’s an interior shot of the Castro in San Francisco.
Here’s an exterior shot.
The only photos of the Castro I have I took when I went up to San Francisco for a book reading.
I’m not the best picture taker. I should have gotten the whole poster case but I didn’t.
My best friend Bob got more of the facade.
The El Capitan. Notice the marquee.
This is a fantastic marquee and I hate to say it but it has to be an improvement over the original.
From the westside of the building. Jimmy Kimmel tapes his show in the old Masonic Temple next door.
This isn’t on the building in the Pacific Coast Architect photos but it’s a nice addition to the theater.
The El Capitan is owned by Disney now. It has a stage show along with the feature film and it’s well worth the price of admission. I remember seeing The Rocketeer here years ago.
The ornate ceiling above the ticket booth.
The El Capitan is in the heart of Hollywood.
I found some interior photos of the El Capitan in an issue of Architect and Engineer.
Look at those cars! …I want my living room to look like the woman’s lounge.
This is the old asbestos curtain. The new curtain has an image of a man and a woman dancing on it. I think the image is supposed to invoke Astaire and Rodgers. It’s okay but it’s really show-y. I suspect they had to remove this curtain for obvious reasons.
The Belasco is located in downtown Los Angeles on Hill Street right next to the Mayan Theater.
The Belasco Theater 2015. It looks so much more glorious in the Pacific Coast Architect photo. Maybe, because in the Pacific Coast Architect photo the theater is actually visible? What’s missing? The vertical sign and the large marquee for starters.
I can’t add much to the PCA photos except color. These ladies are at the top of the building.
For a long time the Belasco Theater was used as a church. This sign remains from those days.
I really like that neon sign that says, “Prayer Changes Things.” I want it for my bedroom.
Another image of the Belasco but even closer. I find this theater very attractive in its original exterior configuration.
The following article about the Chinese Theater is in a 1927 issue of American Architect. The text in the article is a bit too flowery, and not really informative, but the photographs are great.
See that hanging chandelier in the middle of the auditorium? It’s no longer there.
Chinese sink knobs!
See that stage box and the pagoda on the stage? Neither are there anymore. According to Charles Beardsley’s book, Hollywood’s Master Showman, the stage pagoda was gotten rid of when sound arrived. The sound vibrated the pagoda pieces and patrons found the noise distracting.
The Chinese Theater offers tours for $10. I took one.
The Chinese Theater in 2015.
In the American Architect article it states that there were fountains in the courtyard when the theater opened. This is one of the fountains. I’ve never seen it working but you can see the spout under the triangle that sits beneath the figure.
A display case in the forecourt.
A view of the lobby right inside the front door.
In the lobby they have a number of dresses from famous movies. This one is from Gone With the Wind.
This is from The Wizard of Oz but you knew that.
It’s from Thoroughly Modern Millie. Only the most fabulous knew that.
Also in the lobby is a small case with brochures from premieres that have taken place at the Chinese.
More brochures from the case.
The carpet in the lobby looks like this.
Adjacent to the main lobby is a small room with pretty hand-painted wallpaper (see above) where patrons can get straws for their beverages and butter topping for their popcorn.
The light fixture in the room with the pretty wallpaper is very bold.
An outer aisle runs down the entire length of the theater on both sides.
Charles Beardsley’s Grauman book claims the original curtain was blue.
This is the light fixture that adorns the center of the theater now.
I found these five photos in Architectural Record. I’m mainly including them because of the first three photos. In this image there’s a house sitting next to the auditorium. How cool. You could walk through the dirt to the movies.
As for this one, there are no people in the forecourt. No people. That doesn’t happen anymore.
Uh, no handprints or footprints.
Just a few….
The United Artists Theater opened in 1927 but I’ve found nothing about it in any of the architectural journals I regularly peruse. How is that possible? It was built by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith. The first movie shown was a Mary Pickford film.
Here’s a straightforward view.
These statues don’t possess the gaiety that the statues at the Million Dollar Theater have.
The building that surrounds the theater is the Ace Hotel. The hotel is very trendy and intended for hipsters who want an urban experience. I’m happy the theater has been saved along with the building even if it was by a bunch of hipster-types.
Since I want interior photos I bought a ticket to see one of my favorite sappy shows, in advance, so I can get some interior photos.
The United Artists Theater in an advertisement.
I did find this where I work.
I was very excited.
I couldn’t hide my glee when I ran across this and emailed and phoned everyone I knew at the off-site, library storage facility where this item was held.
I eagerly awaited receipt of the item. After I paged it — it came the next day. That’s Mary Pickford above.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I expected.
I thought it was going to be a souvenir program with interior photographs of the theater.
Instead, it was a souvenir program for the Mary Pickford film.
You can see what the interior of the theater looks like in the drawings on each page but in this case I think a picture is better than a drawing. On December 13th I went to the UA to see a preview of Downton Abbey and got some interior photos.
There was very little light. The lobby was cavernous, arched and gothic.
These mirrors, one on both sides of the entrance, are right inside the front doors.
How did it survive virtually unaltered?
There is a blue theme going on in the auditorium.
This is looking up at the ceiling in the auditorium. There is no hanging chandelier.
There are murals on both sides of the theater with depictions of silent film stars. This one has Mary Pickford. She’s in white. I’m not sure but those guys on the horses, might be, the four horseman of the apocalypse. I think I remember a docent telling me that years ago.
Here’s a close up of the previous mural with Mary P. and Douglas Fairbanks. This photo is by Don Solosan of the Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation. I belonged to that foundation a long time ago when Hillsman Wright, Rory Cunningham and John Miller were board members.
Here’s the Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation website: http://www.lahtf.org/
The other wall — the other mural. This one has Doug, Rudy and Chaplin.
Another Don Solosan photograph.
I’m including this because: a) I like it and b) it reminds me of an image in Aliens where Ripley goes in search of Newt and finds her cocooned up against a wall with other colonists.
There was a costume contest at the conclusion of the screening. A man who dressed up like a “dead” Matthew was one of the winners.
So, I was looking for information on the Richfield building in April of 2016 and I stumbled upon four photographs of the United Artists Theater.
All of these images are from January 1929.
Me, in a very grainy selfie. I always look like a hoodlum.
Intolerance Babylon elephant. My book, The Odd Fellows, was released on December 16, 2013.
Allen, H. (1929, July). Recent California theaters. Pacific Coast Architect, 32(1), 10-29.
Beardsley, C. (1983). Hollywood’s master showman. Cranbury, NJ: Cornwell Books.
Belasco theater. (1928, January). The Architect and Engineer, 92(1), 63.
Chinese theater, at Hollywood, California. (1927, July 20). American Architect. 132(2525), 251-268.
Grauman theater, Hollywood, Cal. (1923, January 21). American Architect-The Architectural Review, 123(2412), plates.
Jennings, F. (1923, March). A theater designed in the Egyptian style. The Architect & Engineer, 72(3), 77-84.
Lansburgh, G. A. (1927, February). The El Capitan theater and department store building, Hollywood. The Architect & Engineer, 88(2), 34-43.
Mayan theater. (1928). Architectural Digest, 4(4), 8-11.
Portfolio current architecture. (1927, July). The Architectural Record, 62(1), 113-122.
Tower theater. (1928). Architectural Digest, 4(4), 31-33.
United Artists theater. (1927). Los Angeles: Fred S. Lang Company.
United Artists theater. (1929, January). Pacific Coast Architect, 35(1), 23-26.