Los Angeles Theatre

615 S. Broadway     | map |

Los Angeles, CA 90014 

(213) 629-2939 

Website: For lots of history and great photos of the Los Angeles Theatre by Gary Leonard and Berger Conser Photography visit the theatre's website: www.losangelestheatre.com.

Click on "3D Gallery" for wonderful interactive panoramas of lobby and auditorium. Plus there are lots of other terrific photos.

Architect: S. Charles Lee (with S. Tilden Norton) designed this French renaissance palace for H.L Gumbiner at a reported cost of $1 million. Construction time was about six months.

This was the last of the large opulent Los Angeles theaters to be built on Broadway. The only major theatre opening later was the Roxie, rather spartan in comparison. The murals in the Los Angeles are by Heinsbergen studios.  Associate architect was Samuel Tilden Norton, who was related to the Gumbiner family.

Opened: January 30, 1931 with the premiere of Chaplin's "City Lights." Chaplin wasn't too happy when the film stopped in the middle so management could extoll the virtues of the new theatre.



An ad announcing the opening. Thanks to Woody Wise,
who posted it on our Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page.

Check out Woody's Facebook page:
 Brotherhood of the Popcorn.

Click on any of these items for larger views.




The ad in the L.A. Times for "City Lights,"
the opening attraction.




Another opening week ad -- welcoming patrons and
advertising some of the suppliers for the new theatre.

The lower two items were included by Floyd B. Bariscale in his wonderful
Big Orange Landmarks article on the Los Angeles Theatre.

By 1932, the Los Angeles was a major showcase house for Fox product (including, evidently, a lot of B movies) with their Fox West Coast circuit managing the venue. Gumbiner had rapidly run into financial difficulties and the opulence of his theatre wasn't enough of a lure for studios to give him major product.  Within 18 months of the opening it had closed and then Fox took over the operation.

Fox actually owned the land the theatre was built on. The William Fox building, directly behind the theatre on Hill St., was constructed at the same time. Hillsman Wright, of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre foundation, notes that when the theatre was sold to the Delijani family in 1987 the Fox estate still owned the property.

Pipe Organ: It was a 2/10 Wurlitzer that had originally been installed down the street at the Tower Theatre.

Interesting design features: S. Charles Lee's innovative work here included cry rooms at the rear of the first balcony, exotic use of marble and colored restroom fixtures, a periscope so patrons in the basement lounge could see the movie upstairs, an electronic preset dimming system, and neon tubing under glass for main floor aisle lights. The neon aisle lights evidently were working into the 60's.  

The basement had a restaurant (closing date unknown) that was later used as a screening room. There was also a nursery and a barber shop.

The unique act curtain depicts a scene involving French royalty complete with clothing sewn to the curtain and human hair wigs attached.

Seating: 2,190 with two balconies. Main floor seating was initially in small sections no more than five seats across.  Several of the aisles were later abandoned and more seats added. Also note curious elevated loge sections along the sides of the main floor.

This was the last and the gaudiest of the big palaces to open on Broadway and it's still a sight to behold.

Status: The Los Angeles stopped running movies on a regular basis in 1994. The theatre is currently closed except for film shoots, tours and special events.  The Los Angeles Theatre has been owned since 1987 by the Deljani family. They also own the Palace, State and Tower theatres.

Shahram Delijani is currently the member of the family most active in the Broadway Theatre Group, the operating entity for the theatres. Ed Baney is general manager.  The Delijanis have plans to revitalize all four theatres and have applied for liquor licenses and use permits that would, for operational purposes, designate the four buildings as a single complex.  See the May 2013 LATheatres.blogspot post for a summary of what they'd like to do with the theatres.

Richard Guzman had a 2012 story in L.A. Downtown News on the plans brewing for getting the Los Angeles, Tower and Palace Theatres back into action. Curbed L.A. also had a recap.  

A September 2012 editorial, "Cautiously Optimistic" in the L.A. Downtown News had expressed concern about the booking difficulties for the venues and commented on past plans that had not come to fruition.

Ezat and Michael Delijani of Delson Investment Co. bought the building to save it from demolition at the request of then mayor Tom Bradley.  See the 2007 Kathryn Maese article "Behind the Delijani Empire" for more about the family.

The Delijanis also own the William Fox Building directly behind the theatre on Hill St. (and constructed at the same time).  Ezat, the patriarch of the family, died in 2011.  See Ryan Villancourt's 2011 article on the death of Ezat Deljani in Downtown Los Angeles News.

 The Los Angeles has seen quite a bit of renovation by the Delijanis over the years but there had been no action toward reopening with regular programming. They had repeatedly tied their plans for a real renovation and reopening of this building and the Palace Theatre to having the city solve a perceived parking problem by building a nearby garage.

In 2010, the city announced that due to the recession-induced budget crunch, they were suspending efforts to purchase property and build the garage.  Yet, the family went ahead with a $1 million upgrade of the Palace in 2011.

The Fox Building  was  proposed for a condo development in 2007. The blog Curbed L.A. reported:  "On the heels of that $40 million "Bringing Back Broadway" campaign, applications have been filed to create condominiums in two Broadway theater buildings...the office tower of the Palace Theatre and the Fox office tower of the Los Angeles Theater."  Also see the Curbed "Bringing Back Broadway" article.  

There are occasional film screenings at the Los Angeles Theatre sponsored by the L.A. Conservancy as part of their Last Remaining Seats series.  The walking tours offered by the Conservancy also visit the Los Angeles.  The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation offers occasional "all-about" tours of historic theatres as well.

The Los Angeles Theatre in the Movies:  The opulent lobby is a favorite with filmmakers who have used it as hotel lobbies and palaces many, many times.  The Los Angeles was used as a location for Abbot & Costello's comedy "Hold That Ghost (1940),  "Alex in Wonderland" (1970) and "W.C. Fields and Me" (1976).




The Los Angeles Theatre is featured in a scene from
Martin Scorsese's "New York, New York" (United Artists, 1977).
Robert De Niro is checking into a New York hotel, whose lobby
 is actually the basement ballroom of the Los Angeles Theatre. 
| larger view | another view -- looking toward the stairs |





Robert Stack knows all the lines for the cartoon he's watching
at the Los Angeles in Steven Spielberg's "1941" (Universal, 1979).
 He's gone to see a showing of "Dumbo." The exterior of the theatre
(the "Hollywood State") was done on the Universal backlot.
larger view





Robert Stack and his men in the booth in "1941."
At right are the projectors. On the left we get a view
of the pilot board that electronically controls the
saturable reactor dimmers for the house lights.
 larger view





Robert Stack looking out a booth port in "1941."
 larger view

The theatre shows up in "Chaplin" (1992), "Batman
Forever" (1995) and "Escape from L.A." (1996).





We're in the 5th floor loft space at the Palace as the
apartment of Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore) in Joel
and Ethan Coen's "The Big Lebowski" (Polygram, 1998). 
The view out the windows is of  the Los Angeles Theatre.
The dude (Jeff Bridges) has come to visit.
larger view

The Los Angeles appears in "Man on the Moon" (1999).
We get a brief glimpse of the back of the auditorium from
onstage in "Being John Malkovich" (1999).




 Brad Pitt is at a rewind bench placed near the south
wall of the booth in David Fincher's "Fight Club"
 (20th Century Fox, 1999).



In "Fight Club" Edward Norton is telling us that Brad
Pitt (doing a changeover behind) doesn't like his "shit job"
 as a projectionist so he amuses himself by splicing
frames of porno into the family films he's showing.

Thanks to Los Angeles Theatre projectionist Mark Wojan for
pointing out where this scene in "Fight Club" was filmed. The film
 also gives us exterior views of the Tower and Olympic.



The Los Angeles makes an appearance as the Vatican Palace
when we go to see the Pope in the Peter Hyams film "End Of Days"
(Universal, 1999) with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gabriel Byrne.
Here we have the Swiss guards in the main lobby.
larger view




The basement lounge of the Los Angeles Theatre is used
as the Pope's inner sanctum, in "End Of Days." We also
spend a lot of time in the Tower Theatre in the film.
 larger view





A cardinal giving the Pope bad news on the stairs in the
main lobby of the Los Angeles Theatre in "End Of Days."
  larger view





We're supposed to be in New York City in David McNally's
"Coyote Ugly" (Touchstone Pictures, 2000) with Piper Perabo
and Adam Garcia but  here we are in the alley off 6th just north of
the theatre. The signage has been tweaked to say "East Broadway
Theatre" on top but if you look closely in the middle it says "Su
Teatro Los Angeles."  To further confuse matters, the side exit
is being used as the entrance for the Fiji Mermaid Club.
larger view

The Los Angeles makes an appearance in "Charley's Angels:
Full Throttle" (2003) and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005).




In Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige" (Touchstone/Warner
Bros, 2006) with Hugh Jackman and Michael Caine we get lots
 of views of the interior of the Los Angeles Theatre including
 this shot of the grand lobby's staircase. The film also features
the Palace and Belasco Theatre interiors.
larger view 

More in "The Prestige":
 |  proscenium view  |  proscenium and organ grille areas  |
 |  fire curtain detail  |   Hugh Jackman on the front of the balcony  |
See Movie-Locations.com for a page on "The Prestige."

Near the top of Episode 9 in Season 1 of "Mad Men" (2007)
we have a lengthy scene lovingly showing off the the crystal
fountain on the mezzanine. The Los Angeles Theatre is
doubling for a NY Broadway theatre during the
intermission of the musical "Fiorello."



In "Nancy Drew" (Warner Bros., 2007), Nancy (Emma Roberts)
wakes up in the booth on a pile of marquee letters after a kidnapping.
She then crawls out a porthole onto scaffolding in the balcony.
larger view

More from "Nancy Drew":

in the booth  |  looking out the ports  |  crawling out  |
 |  on scaffolding - stage view  | on scaffolding -- ceiling view  |





In "Rush Hour 3" (New Line Cinema, 2007) we find Jackie Chan
and Chris Tucker going into a Parisian doorway to a gambling club.
The club turns out to be the downstairs lounge of the Los Angeles.
larger view

The Jackie Chan website has an interesting collection of
photos and comments about the Los Angeles Theatre.





In David Fincher's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
(Warner Bros., 2008) the auditorium doubles as that of the Paris
Opera House both onstage and in a view of a lobby staircase.
larger view  | another shot - looking up into the house  |




Kermit gives a moving speech from the lobby stairs in
"The Muppets" (Disney, 2011). The El Capitan was used for exteriors
and a studio set was utilized for all the auditorium scenes.
larger view




Andrew Nicoll's "In Time" (Fox, 2011) uses the grand lobby
as a futuristic gambling casino visited by Justin Timberlake.
larger view




Along with many other L.A. locations (including the
Bradbury
Building and the Orpheum) the Los Angeles Theatre
makes a stunning  black and white appearance in Michel
Hazanavicius' "The Artist" (The Weinstein Co., 2011)
starring
Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.
larger view

  Jerry Garrett has a blog post about locations for "The Artist."




Our lead character Deb Dorfman (Sara Rue) is both appalled
and charmed by what she finds in the gentrifying downtown
 after a life in the Valley in "Dorfman in Love" (Brainstorm Media,
 2011). On one of her first visits we get a look at the Los Angeles
Theatre marquee and, as seen here, the sidewalk terrazzo.




The Los Angeles never actually appeared in Christopher
Nolan's "The Dark Night Rises" (Warner Bros., 2012) but
here we get a shot by Pasha Hanover of filming taking
 place in front of the theatre.
larger view





In Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" (Weinstein Co.,
2012) we get a scene in a theatre (supposedly in Lynn,
Massachusetts) with Joaquin Phoenix and his girlfriend
 Doris in front of the lobby's crystal fountain.



Later in "The Master" we're passing out flyers in
 front of the boxoffice for an event set in Phoenix.


And there's a great scene later in "The Master" up in the
second balcony where
Phoenix, presumably the theatre's
manager, is alone watching a Casper cartoon. He gets a
phone call and an usher brings a telephone to his seat.

 IMDb has a page listing more titles that have
used the Los Angeles Theatre as a location.


The Los Angeles on Video: See the brief "Downstairs at the Los Angeles" on YouTube for a fun 32 second walk through of the downstairs lounge areas.

More Information on the Los Angeles: The Cinema Treasures Los Angeles Theatre page has many interesting tidbits of history about the theatre. The Cinema Tour page on the Los Angeles Theatre has a bit of history and some photos, mostly exteriors.  

Don't miss Floyd Bariscale's terrific Big Orange Landmarks article on the Los Angeles and his 93 item Los Angeles Theatre set on Flickr.

More photos: Check out the extensive interior photo set of Roobik Boodaghians on Facebook from 2013. Other photo sets of interest include those of Michelle Gerdes and Eric Lynxwiler, both on Flickr.  Start at Eric's first lobby photo to page through his Los Angeles Theatre views.  

See Sandi Hemmerlein's Avoiding Regret photo essay on the Los Angeles from her visit to the 2013 LAHTF/Cinespia screening of "Romeo + Juliet." The Cinespia website also has a number of photos taken at the 2013 screenings of "Romeo + Juliet" and "La Dolce Vita."

Curbed LA ran a nice February 2013 story by Adrian Glick Kudler "Touring Broadway's last Great Movie Palace.." that included many fine photos of the theatre by Elizabeth Daniels. Leo Quijano has some fine views in his 2013 photo set.

Dusti Cunningham has a 28 item set on Facebook with some interesting views from 2011.  Magnetic Lobster has an interesting take on the lobby and auditorium in his 2011 photos. And don't miss the 68 item 2007 Los Angeles Theatre set on Flickr by Will Campbell as well as his blog post about the Los Angeles

Pete Wilson's 17 item Los Angeles Theatre set also has some great shots from 2007.  The '06 Last Remaining Seats at the Los Angeles set by Pleasure Palate has 24 views. Museum of Neon Art has 3 views on their Facebook page of the 2000 restoration work on the vertical sign.

One of the best photo surveys is on the Los Angeles Theatre's website. Head to the photo gallery to begin the tour for over 100 great views of the building.

More Information on S. Charles Lee: "The Show Starts on the Sidewalk" (Yale Press, 1996) by Maggie Valentine, an assistant professor of architecture and interior design at the University of Texas at San Antonio. It offers a nice history of the movie palace with lots of references to S. Charles Lee and various historic Los Angeles theatres. In addition to the preview on the Yale Press site, there's a preview on Google Books.


Another source of information on Mr. Lee is the S. Charles Lee Archive at UCLA. Photos on the website are indexed by job as well as building type. There are, however, no photos of the Los Angeles Theatre in the collection.


    street views  1981 - 1998    

See our recent exterior views page
for views of the building since 2000.



1981
A view appearing on Vintage Los Angeles
 that's from the Richard Wojcik collection.
 full size view


1983
A look at the facade by William Reagh
in
the California State Library collection.
full size view





1987
A fine look at the theatre's marquee
 treatment in the 80s. It was added to
the Photos of Los Angeles
collection by Ken McIntyre.
 full size view





1987
A look at the marquee by
cinematographer
Gary Graver.
full size view

Gary Graver (1938-2006) took many photos of theatres.
More can be seen on YouTube in "Second Run - part 1" and
"Second Run - part 2."
Thanks to Sean Graver for the photo.




1988
A facade detail by Betty Sword from Cezar Del Valle's
 Theatre Talks collection on Flickr.  The theatre
was playing triple features at the time. 
full size view


Cezar is a Brooklyn-based theatre historian. For
other interesting material see his Theatre Talks
website and visit him on Facebook.




1988
A look at the marquee by Betty Sword from Cezar
Del Valle's Theatre Talks collection on Flickr. Our
main feature is "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark." 
full size view  | on FB/LATheatres

The photo above also appears (without
 attribution) on Photos of Los Angeles.




1998 ?
The Los Angeles Theatre hosting a Los Angeles
Conservancy screening of "Double Indemnity."
The photo appeared on Photos of Los Angeles.
 full size view  | on FB/LAtheatres






The facade of the Los Angeles Theatre.


S. Charles Lee designed the most ornate of
 all the Los Angeles movie palaces.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007


 [ click on these images to enlarge ]



Looking south on Broadway
toward the Los Angeles Theatre.

photo: Bill Counter - 2012



A wonderful 1959 postcard view of the bright lights
of Broadway. The Palace is halfway down on the left
with the Los Angeles Theatre across the street.

The card above is one of many views that appeared
on a now vanished website Yesterday LA.


 about photos from other
websites that appear on this page...

We've tried to give appropriate credit. Please
contact us if there are incorrect attributions, links that
no longer work or other issues. A link near each image will
direct you to a full size version on the website hosting it.
Assume that all the images are subject to copyright
restrictions.  Contact the webmaster of the site in
question concerning reproduction or other use.



    street views  1931 - 1981    




1931
A lovely view of the Los Angeles Theatre opening
 from the California State Library collection.
"City Lights" was the initial attraction. It's a
 Mott Studios photo.
full size view

The opening photo above also appears on 
Noirish Los Angeles
post #45 along with
other vintage views of the building.



1931
A daytime look at the facade
during the "City
Lights" run
from the California State Library
 collection.  It's a Mott Studio photo.
full size view


The State Library has an amazing collection of 1931
Mott Studio photographs of the
Los Angeles Theatre.
You'll find links to more of them on our other pages.



1931
This Mott Studios view of the opening
with "City Lights"
on the marquee is in the
Los Angeles Public Library collection.

full size view


Woody Wise located another slightly clearer view of the
photo above and added it to our Los Angeles Theatres
Facebook page. There's also a version in the
California State Library collection.



1931

Another Mott Studios "City Lights" photo in
the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
 We get to look a bit south this time. 
full size view

Note the fine terracotta on the 2nd floor
 of the Zukor's storefront -- soon to be gone.



1933
A dazzling view of the Los Angeles Theatre's
 marquee. It's from the Tyler St. Mark collection
on the Facebook page
Vintage Los Angeles.
full size view
| on Vintage Los Angeles



1933
A closeup of the boxoffice, also from
the Tyler St. Mark collection. 
full size view | on Vintage Los Angeles





c.1937
A view by Herman Schultheis in the
 Los Angeles Public Library collection.
We're looking south on Broadway toward the soon
 to be replaced Los Angeles Theatre marquee.
full size view





c.1937
A shot by Herman Schultheis looking north on
Broadway toward the Los Angeles. It looks like we
needed a flashier paint job on that vertical sign.
  It's
in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

full size view



1937

The Los Angeles
running "Lady Behave!" from
Republic and "Port of Missing Girls," a Monogram
release
.
It's on Photos of Los Angeles,
another find from Ken McIntyre.
Note the new angled marquee
 treatment in the view above.




1938
A view of the Los Angeles on Flickr as we look north on
Broadway.
We're running "Blondie." The photo is from
Metro Transportation Library and Archive.
 full size view

The photo above also appears
on Photos of Los Angeles.




1940s
A postcard view looking south on Broadway from
 6th on the site
Card Cow.   The site features
thousands of great vintage postcards.
full size view


The Los Angeles Theatre is on the right. You'll also see
slivers of the Palace verticals outlined in red on the left.



1940s
Another version of the classic postcard in Cezar
 Del Valle's Theatre Posts album on Flickr.
full size view

A wonderfully bright version of the card above is
in Brian McCray's Hollywood Postcards collection.



1940s
Another version of the cards above has the crowd staying
 on the sidewalks and we see two Red Cars in front of the theatre.
It's in Elizabeth Fuller's  Old Los Angeles Postcards
 collection where she notes it has a 1944 postmark.

The card above also appears in Eric Lynxwiler's
delightful Paper Ephemera collection on Flickr.




1940s
On the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page
we get this view looking north on Broadway toward the
Los Angeles Theatre. It was added by Kathy Riley.
full size view




1947
The postcard collection of Michelle Gerdes
on Flickr includes this fine view looking south.

full size view | on FB/LATheatres




1948
A USC Archives view of the facade
 by the Dick Whittington Studio. 
full size view





1951
A lovely look at some hydrant trouble at the
alley on 
6th just north of the theatre. It's a
 
USC Archives view that's part of a set of 8
from the Herald Examiner collection.
full size view


The set also includes views turning
 around 180 degrees where we're then looking
 at the Metropolitan Theatre on 6th St.



1950s
A fine postcard view from the amazing collection of
Eric Lynxwiler on Flickr. We're looking south from
 6th toward the Palace and Los Angeles theatres.
full size view



1950s
Another postcard view from a little farther north.
 
Eric Lynxwiler has it on Flickr in his delightful
 Paper Ephemera collection.
full size view



1955
The Los Angeles during the run
of "Viva
Zapata" with Marlon Brando.
The photo is in the
Los Angeles Public Library collection.
full size view




1956
A telephoto view looking north toward
 the Los Angeles.  It's a shot that appeared on
 Photos of Los Angeles. That's a bit of
the Globe marquee on the right.
full size view | on PoLA



1958
A look south on Broadway with the Los Angeles
 running "The Fly" with Vincent Price and Patricia Owens.
The second feature is "Space Master X-7." The photo
comes from the Sean Ault collection. Thanks, Sean!
  full size view
| on FB/LATheatres



1958
 The
USC Archives  has this Herald Examiner
photo of the welcome parade for the Dodgers.
It's part of a set of 24 images.
full size view




1961
A Los Angeles Public Library photo of the
 theatre
during the run
of "Madame" with Sophi
a Loren. And you get to play Ten-O-Win!
full size view





1963
The Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society
collection includes this Alan Weeks photo looking north
on Broadway toward the Los Angeles.
full size view


The photo above also appears
 on Photos of Los Angeles.




1972
An uncredited 
Los Angeles Public Library
photo
of the monumental facade of the Los
Angeles during the run of "Hit Man." 
full size view




1972
Another "Hit Man" shot. This discovery of
Michelle Gerdes is on Photos of Los Angeles.  
 The film srarred Bernie Casey and Pam Grier.
 full size view
  | on FB/LATheatres



1974
The Los Angeles Theatre playing that great epic
"Chinese Hercules."  The photo comes from the
Sean Ault Archives by Osiris Press.   

  full size view


Thanks, Sean!  Somewhat smudged versions of
the photo above also appear on Vintage Los Angeles
 and  Photos of Los Angeles.




1975
The Los Angeles Theatre running Spanish language
versions of "A Trip With The Teacher" and "The Babysitter."
 It's from the
Sean Ault Archives by Osiris Press.
full size view




1981
A look at the Los Angeles added by Ken
McIntyre to the Photos of Los Angeles
page on Facebook. 
full size view



1981
Again from Photos of Los Angeles, a
wider angle version of the "Ninja" shot.
full size view




More Mott Studio exterior views
in the State Library collection:


| facade at night - "City Lights" |
| facade view - "Torres in Aloha" |
| marquee and vertical - "Aloha" |


More exterior views in the
Los Angeles Public Library collection:


 |  exterior drawing  |   1932 exterior - looking north |
 |  column detail  another view - "Viva Zapata"  |
another marquee view - "Viva Zapata"  |