Majestic Theatre

845 S. Broadway    | map |

Los Angeles, CA 90014

Opened: November 23, 1908 with Oliver Morosco as lessee.  Morosco was earlier the tenant of the Burbank Theatre and would later move up the street to the theatre now known as the Globe.  The opening attraction at the Majestic was a Shubert production of "The Land of Nod."

The Majestic's logo
 from a 1924 program.

Architects: Abraham M. Edelman and  Leo W. Barnett  (Edelman & Barnett) designed the building for M.A. Hamburger, who owned the department store on the north end of the block (at 8th) that would later became the May Co.  The Eastern Columbia Building would later rise just south of the Majestic.   

Larry Harnisch's Daily Mirror article on the Majestic
includes this
drawing of the proposed theatre that
appeared in the L.A. Times on June 2, 1907.
The caption for the drawing reads:
"Finally accepted design, by Edelman and Barnett, of the much
 talked of Hamburger theater building, for south Broadway, work
on which was begun Monday."

The June 2, 1907 article (reproduced in the Daily Mirror post) continues:

"The Hamburger Department Store announces plans for a theater just south of its new building on South Broadway at 8th Street, designed by the architecture firm of Edelman and Barnett.

According to plans, the horseshoe-shaped theater is to seat 1,600 people, with a balcony and a gallery. The stage is to be 40 feet by 80 feet, with a proscenium 36 feet wide and 32 feet high.

The interior of the arch will be finished in ‘Art Nouveau’ as a suggestion of the beautiful effect given by the arch of the New Amsterdam Theater in New York City.

The facade of the eight-story building is to be pressed brick and terra cotta with inlaid colored glazed tile. The marquee of hammered copper is to measure 14 feet by 23 feet, extending from the building to the curb."

The Times ran additional stories about the project on June 12 and August 25, 1907.

Edelman also designed the Belasco/Follies on Main St. and the Empress, right behind it, on Spring.

Dutch artist Antoon Molkenboer (1872-1960) was responsible for the Majestic's proscenium mural as well as decorations elsewhere in the theatre and its basement cafe.  Molkenboer's mural above the proscenium was titled "Cast of Characters" and portrayed sixteen figures in a scale larger than life.

A Dutch website devoted to his work has a lovely page on the Majestic and also reproduces the Los Angeles Times article of  June 14, 1908 describing the theatre's decorations.   Additional stories in the Times in 1908 were on July 5 and November 24.

Alfred Rosenheim is sometimes mentioned as the architect but that seems to be for an earlier version of a Majestic Theatre project for Morosco on the east side of Broadway between sixth and seventh, discussed as early as 1904. Rosenheim would later design the Cameo Theatre and a theatre between seventh and eighth, the Morosco of 1913, now known as the Globe. Morosco liked the Majestic name as he had a half interest in a successful theatre called the Majestic in San Francisco.

History: The Majestic was home to many of the touring musical and dramatic productions to hit Los Angeles. The theatre occasionally did movies, but was a legit operation most of its life.  Ramon Navarro had his first job at the Majestic, as an usher.

The cover for "Imps March" from Morosco's "extraordinary"
production of "Tik-Tok Man of Oz." The illustration appears
 on the Facebook page for the Music Division of the New York
 Public Library.  The production opened at the Majestic on
 March 31, 1913 and only played in Los Angeles.
full size view | catalog info

Thanks to Michael Hudson-Medina
for spotting this one!

Danni Bayles-Yeager, on her page about the Majestic notes that "the Majestic saw its share of sad stories: One night in 1913, as Lon Chaney, Sr. was onstage performing, his wife Cleva ran to the wings and attempted suicide by ingesting mercury bichloride. She lived, but was never able to sing again. Lon Sr. immediately cut her out of his life, telling Lon Jr. that she had not survived the poison."

Around 1914 and 1915 Major Film Manufacturing Co. had the lease on the building. It's not known what their involvement with the theatre portion of it was.

In the mid 20s, Thomas Wilkes Enterprises was operating the theatre. They also operated theatres in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Denver and New York.

A cover of the 1924 program for "Captain Applejack"
when the theatre was under Thomas Wilkes management.   
Click on it for a larger view.

 It's from the collection of Danni Bayles-Yeager.
full program | Archive of the Performing Arts

In 1926, the theatre was operated in conjunction with the Orange Grove, better known as the Grand Theatre. The productions at the time were somewhat salacious and resulted in occasional police raids. In the early 30s it was an occasional film house as well.

Seating: 1,700. It was a two balcony house.

Status: Demolished in 1933.  Sad.  It's unknown whether is was demolished as a result of damage from the 1933 earthquake or just the desire for a parking lot.

Joe Vogel on Cinema treasures notes that Film Daily reported on May 25, 1933 that the theatre had been "closed and dismantled."

The Majestic in the Movies:

The most famous picture of the Majestic Theatre is this shot of
Harold Lloyd in "Safety Last!" (Hal Roach Studios, 1923). That's the the
Majestic behind him.  You can also see Tally's Broadway Theatre
two storefronts beyond the Majestic. Hamburger's (later the
May Co.) is at the end of the block.  
full size view

See the Theatres in Movies post about "Safety Last!" for another shot
 from the film showing the Million Dollar as well as links to several
sources detailing the making of the film.

In the Harold Lloyd feature "Feet First" (Paramount, 1930)
we get views up Broadway toward the Majestic. The trouble began
 at the Post Office in the now vanished Triangle Building just south
of Olympic -- Harold arrived in town in a mailbag, you see.

Beyond the set that Harold is climbing on we see the Blackstone
Building on the SW corner of 9th & Broadway, the Eastern Columbia
Building (with construction just being completed), and the the Majestic,
with its vertical.
At the extreme right is the 1929 addition to the
Hamburger/May Co. Building with the original building beyond.

Another "Feet First" shot looking north on Broadway. All our high-
rise stuff in the film is supposedly on the same building but we also end
up a bit farther south on Broadway (viewing the United Artists) and
over, somehow, at 8th & Spring looking west at the Tower Theatre.

See the Theatres in Movies post about
"Feet First" for more shots from the film.

More on Harold Lloyd Los Angeles filming locations:
See John Bengtson's Silent Locations blog for many great posts on "Safety Last" locations." In the finale we get a glimpse of the top of the Million Dollar, a sequence analyzed in "How Harold Lloyd Filmed the 'Safety Last' Finale." John's book "Silent Visions" is available 0n Amazon.

Annette Lloyd has a piece on YouTube: "Harold Lloyd's LA Locations." Also see "Harold Lloyd 'Safety Last' Documentary" on YouTube.  Brent Walker also has a "Safety Last" page analyzing some of the film's locations.

The Morosco-Egan Institute of Dramatic Arts:  The 8th floor of the building was given over to this school, begun in 1909 by Morosco and and Hobart Bosworth. Drama teacher Frank C. Egan soon was on board and ended up running the operation. By 1911 it was just "The Egan School" and he soon moved the operation to a building on Figueroa, the Little Theatre, later known as the Musart.

Egan is discussed in a fascinating Southern California Architectural History post from 2012 that involves a number of performance venues as well as Rudolf Schindler, Edward Weston and many other interesting personages.

More Majestic Information: See the Cinema Treasures page for a lively discussion of the Majestic's history including reprints of lots of newspaper articles posted by various contributors. 

Pacific Coast Architecture Database has a page on architects Edelman and Barnett.

     Antoon Molkenboer    

This is a site (in Dutch) about the work of Antoon Molkenboer
 (1872-1960). See the Majestic Theatre page, where you can
 click on any of the 12 images to get to a slide show. Or use
 the links below for separate pages also appearing on
 the site for some of the images.

The proscenium mural being roughed
out in the artist's studios on W. Pico Blvd..
The site notes: "On the window it reads: 'J. B. Evans
No. 2548.' The studio was located on West Pico
Boulevard (Pico Heights) in Los Angeles."

The completed  mural.
 on the AM website

The house left side of the mural.
 on the AM website

The site notes, in a bit of text from a newspaper article quoted
 by Jeff Bridges on Cinema Treasures: "The proscenium was the
piece of decoration in which people were shown, the auditorium,
and cafe were decorated with floral and bird motifs."

A detail from the center.
 on the AM website

The artist working on the mural.

The rear of one of the photos.
 on the AM website

Another detail.
 on the AM website

A house right side detail.
 on the AM website

The site notes: "A newspaper article from the LA Times
from June 14, 1908 reports that the proscenium is completed
the studio, and that the artist can then start with the
for the remaining spaces in the theater."

A closer detail of the far right side of the mural.
The artists signature is in the lower right corner.
 on the AM website

Also on the site is the Los Angeles Times article of
June 14, 1908 describing the artist's work on the theatre.

A translation of some copy on the site's Majestic Theatre page:

"In 1905 Molkenboer moved with his wife to New York. While he
studied at the
Arts Students League, he made cityscapes of  New
York and
the ruins of San Francisco after the great earthquake of
 1906. After winning a contest he was asked to work on the
 Majestic Theatre on South Broadway in Los Angeles,
 including the mural above the proscenium...

Molkenboer worked with twelve assistants more than a year
 on the job, which also included the decoration of the lobby
and the restaurant. The theatre's name was 'Hamburger's
Theater.' ...Unfortunately, this theater was
 demolished in 1933.

The site credits Alfred Rosenheim as architect. He had done
earlier plans for a Majestic for Morosco at another Broadway
 location and would later do the 1913 Morosco/Globe but he
 didn't do this one.

Thanks to Ericle  for posting a link to this
material on Cinema Treasures and theatre sleuth
Michelle Gerdes for spotting it there!

     UCLA Archive - L.A. Times |

A 1920 L.A. Times view of the Majestic
Theatre building from the UCLA  archives.
full size view | on Calisphere

Note Tally's Broadway peeking in on the right.

Also in the UCLA collection is this view
 of the entrance to the Majestic Theatre
full size view | on Calisphere

Noirish Los Angeles also has both these views:
facade viewentrance  |

Also in the UCLA / L.A. Times collection is a closeup
of Clark Gable and Adrian Morris in a scene from a 1930
production of the play "The Last Mile."  It's also on Calisphere.
 Thanks to Michael Hudson-Medina for the find.

     UC Riverside

A nice look north on Broadway with the Majestic Theatre,
Tally's Broadway, and the big hulk of Hamberger's
Department Store beyond.

It's a detail from a view c. 1914-18 by Underwood
& Underwood. It's from the Keystone-Mast Collection,
UCR/California Museum of Photography,
University of California at Riverside. 
larger detail view 

A look at the full image. Well, half of it
-- the original is a stereo pair.

Looking south at the site of the Majestic.

photo: Google Maps - 2011

Click on the image for a larger view
or head to an interactive version.

The Majestic was just this side of the turquoise Eastern
Columbia Building. On the right is the 1929 expansion of
Hamburger's Department Store (later the May Co.) that
devoured Tally's Broadway.

 In the distance is the tower of the United Artists Theatre
Across the street is the Orpheum.  Out of the frame to the left
of the Orpheum are the Rialto Theatre and Tower Theatre.

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     Gerald DeLuca on Photobucket

There's a murky view of the Majestic Theatre
vertical down the the street on the right just before
 the green Eastern Columbia building.
full size view | on Photobucket

This great 1931 postcard also shows the marquee of Bard's
(later Olympic Theatre) Broadway entrance in the classical
white Merritt Building at right. The marquee in the left
foreground is the President Theatre, now the Globe.   

Mr. DeLuca has an interesting collection of theatre
 photos. Check out his Cinemas Album and others.

     Huntington Digital Library

A look at the south side of the Majestic Theatre
from across 9th St. 
It's a 1915 view by G. Haven Bishop.
Southern California Edison commissioned it not to
look at the theatre, but to tout their power lines
 going to the building at the right.
full size view

The low-rise building this side of the Majestic would
 later become the site of the Eastern Columbia Building.

Note that on the Huntington Library's pages
 you can use the slider to enlarge the photo and then
 pan around to look at details.

A detail from the image above.

    L.A. County Natural History Museum

How often do you see a 60 ton whale on Broadway?
It's a 1929 or 30 look north toward the Majestic
 from the Museum's Seaver Center Collection.
Note the 1929 addition to Hamburger's Department Store
just beyond the Majestic. The lot this side of the Majestic looks
vacant -- they're building the Eastern Columbia Building at the
 time of the photo. It opened in
September 1930 after
 just nine months of construction.

Thanks to BifRayRock for finding the photo in the NHM
 collection and posting it as his Noirish Los Angeles post #32330.

     L.A. Public Library Collection  

A nice early view toward the Majestic facade and
also looking down on Tally's.  Note that the Eastern
Columbia Bldg. has not yet arrived south of the Majestic.
full size view

Take a look on the east (right) side of the street
 and we appear to be looking down on the roof of Woodley's
Theatre (later the Mission), evidently under construction.

An early undated facade view
in the Library's collection.
full size view

A view of Claud Beelman's Eastern Columbia building
under construction. At the right we see the Majestic.
It's a Moss photo from July 3, 1930.
full size view | nearer completion | finished

This early 30s view looking north
 is in the Library's collection.
 full size view

It's the Eastern Columbia Bldg. (1930) on the
left with
the Majestic just beyond.  North of the Majestic is a squat
retail store and then the
May Co. (1908, previously
 Hamburger's Department Store).

The side of the May Co. closest to us is the 1929
 expansion (taller than the rest of the building) where
 Tally's Broadway (833
S. Broadway) used to be.  

We're right across the street from
  the Orpheum. Its vertical can be seen
  at the far right of the photo.

A view of the Majestic Theatre's ceiling from
the Library's collection. There seems to be a serious
lack of photos of the interior of the Majestic.
full size view

An undated photo of performers onstage.
full size view

Also in the Library's collection:
| top of the building - 1914 - the Embassy
 Auditorium is in the distance |
| Hamburger's -- Majestic building beyond - early undated view   |
| Hamburger's postcard  | another postcard - 1909  |

     Noirish Los Angeles | Noirish LA forum

A 1926 view looking south.  On the right the Majestic
 is down beyond Hamburger's Department Store.

The newly completed Orpheum is on the left.

Thanks to Mr. Ethereal Reality for finding these on eBay.
They're on his Noirish Los Angeles post #21355.

     Photos of Los Angeles    

A wonderful 1923 parade photo discovered by
Ken McIntyre. We're looking south toward 9th St.
Starting at the left is the pre-Eastern Columbia Building version
of clothing retailer Columbia ("Good Clothes"), the curved marquee
of the Majestic Theatre (with a couple of guys standing on it),
Robbins (a credit retailer) and Tally's Broadway Theatre.

Thanks, Ken!

A c.1928 view Ken McIntyre located for his Facebook
page Photos of Los Angeles. We're looking south from
8th & Broadway past Hamburger's department store, the
 Majestic Theatre and on toward the United Artists.
full size view

A c.1930 view looking north past the Eastern
Columbia building toward the Majestic.
 full size view  |  on FB/LAtheatres

The night view above is from the California State Library
collection. See photo #12 of their 15 photo set # 001443391.
Also see another version of the photo in set #001412390.
It's a Mott Studios photo.

There aren't any good views of the Majestic but if
you're looking for daytime shots of the Eastern Columbia
Building, see the State Library's 15 photo set # 001386281.
And there's another 10 photo set of the Eastern Columbia
 in the daytime, # 001386284.

     USC Archive

From the USC Archives: A 1925 street view
 looking north.  The Majestic is on the left
with a snatch of the Tally's Broadway
  sign visible beyond. 

On the right, the Orpheum

is under construction.
full size view

A giant c.1915 panoramic image taken from 9th & Main
by C. C. Pierce. The Majestic is over at the far left.
full size view

A view of the south side of the Majestic Building
 and the stagehouse of the theatre in page 2 of the
panorama from the USC Archives. We're
looking west from 9th & Main. 
full size view

The "Egan School" signage on the side of the Majestic
 refers to a school headed by  Frank C. Egan, a popular
 drama teacher of the era. He also operated the Egan
 Theatre, later the Musart Theatre, on Figueroa.

The Egan School had earlier been known
 as the "Egan-Morosco School."

Another view from the panoramic image.
Here we have the Majestic on the left and Tally's
 Broadway just to the north. The large building
 at the center is Hamburger's Department store. 
full size view

A rare Christmas season 1930 night view from
the California Historical Society.  The Majestic marquee
and vertical can be seen at left. The Orpheum can
 be seen at the right of the photo.

full size view

The Majestic is running films - Will Rogers in
"So This is London" (released June, 1930) while the
Orpheum has "Ex-Flame" (released November, 1930)

A detail from the USC photo above.
larger view

Just north of the Majestic:
Tally's Broadway |

In the same block, across the street:
| Tower | Rialto |
Orpheum | Mission |