Million Dollar Theatre

307 S. Broadway    | map |

Los Angeles, CA 90013

(213) 617-3600 or  The Yellin Co. at (213) 621-0200

Website: |
| Grand Central Market events page | GCM on Facebook  |

The news:  The Million Dollar is open occasionally for special events such as films sponsored by the Grand Central Market, which is under the same ownership.

In March 2014 the Million Dollar received a facade lighting improvement grant from the City of Los Angeles for $138,587 to illuminate the decorative arch above the marquee, spotlight the third floor statues and light tile panels on 3rd Street. The grant was part of a $750,000 package awarded to 13 Broadway properties.

Opened: February 1, 1918 by Sid Grauman as Grauman's Theatre (his first in Los Angeles) with a star-studded premiere of "The Silent Man" starring William S. Hart. Lillian Gish, Charlie Chaplin and others attended the premiere.

Architect: Albert C. Martin did the 60,000 square foot building and William Lee Woollett designed the theatre. The exterior sculpture was by Joseph Mora.  The owner of the building was Homer Laughlin, Jr.'s Stability Building Co., which also owned the Grand Central Market Building (originally known as the Homer Laughlin Building), just to the south.  

Martin was a noted L.A. architect who designed the office building in an opulent Churrigueresque style for the building's main tenant, the Edison Co. Later, the Metropolitan Water District occupied the office building which has a frontage of 115' on Broadway and 65' on W. 3rd.

In addition, a wing of offices extends along the auditorium on the 3rd St. side at the 2nd floor level.  While the office building was a conventional steel framed structure, the theatre portion was largely cast-in-place concrete.

Some photos of the theatre appeared in the August 1918 issue of the San Francisco based magazine The Architect, available on Internet Archive. Included were an exterior view (in an ad for the L.A. Pressed Brick Co.), balcony framing and rear auditorium shots,  proscenium and organ grille photos, and a floorplan.

An article in the September 1919 issue of Popular Mechanics, "Mammoth Concrete Arch in Costly Theater," described the wonders of the Million Dollar and included some construction photos.

"Notable not only as one of the most beautiful and expensive structures of its kind in the country, but as one in which for he first time a concrete arch, such as is used in bridge construction, supports the balcony of a theater, a 12-story office and theater building recently constructed in Los Angeles, Calif., at a cost of $1,000,000.

There are no posts in the theater because of the arch, for which concrete was used when it was found impossible to obtain steel. The weight of the span is 9,000,000 lb. It is 12 ft. wide and 110 ft. long, and contains 180 steel rods. In pouring concrete into the forms for the arch, chutes made of steel concrete floor forms, overlapping in clapboard fashion, were used. This form of chute is said to be original with the Los Angeles builders.

Extremely elaborate are the decorations of the theater, both interior and exterior. Carved wood is conspicuous in the interior decoration scheme. Another feature is the projection room, in which are placed the moving-picture machines and spotlights. This is built of concrete, and placed so as not to obstruct the view of any person sitting back of it. Steel and asbestos doors to this room lessen the fire danger. Steel was used in the construction of the office building.

One of the features of the theater is a great jeweled dome, so placed in the ceiling as to appear to be suspended in the air. Hidden lights, playing on the dome, produce a gorgeous effect. Due to the careful planning of the architects, the acoustics are nearly perfect."

Formwork for the balcony.
full size view

The caption reads:  "Form into Which 1,620,000 Pounds of Concrete
was Poured to Make the Self-Supporting Balcony of the Los Angeles
Theater: An Idea of the Amount of Steel Used for Reinforcing the Great
Arch can be Obtained by Studying the Interior of the Form. Completed,
 the Balcony Weighed 9,000,000 Pounds. So Far As is Known, This Is
The First Use of a Reinforced-Concrete Arch of Such Size
 in Building Construction." [ the caps are theirs ]

This is the chute for channeling the concrete for the
massive balcony pour. The roof is not in place yet. We're
 looking down from the office building onto the curve
that will be the front of the balcony.
full size view

The caption reads: "This Picture Shows One of the Concrete
Chutes Used to fill a Mammoth Arch Form in Constructing a
Los Angeles Theater Building." After the balcony was poured,
the roof framing began.

Truss construction for the auditorium roof.
full size view

The caption reads: "How the Roof of the Million-Dollar
Theater was Erected: The Lower Girder of This Steel Roof
 Member is 108 Feet long. Cut in Half, It was Laid on Three
 Half-inch Steel Cables, Strung between Concrete Pillars, and
 Then Joined into a Solid Piece. Afterwards the Upper Parts
 of the Support were Fastened on Top of the Girder, Making
 a Construction Strong Enough to Hold the Roof."

The theatre ready for opening day.
The caption reads: "One of the Costliest Theater Entrances Ever
Built, Photographed in Los Angeles a Few Days Before the New
Playhouse was Opened to the Public: The Money Value Is in the
Neighborhood of $10,000, and Dozens of Artists and Workmen
Labored for Two Years to Produce This Result."

Thanks to theatre historian Ed Kelsey for unearthing the Popular Mechanics article and Michelle Gerdes of the LAHTF for making it available. See the boxoffice areabooth and auditorium pages for additional photos from the article.

The office portions of the space are now (along with the upper floors of the Grand Central Market) known as the Grand Central Square Apartments.  One of the penthouses includes the former office of William Mulholland, of Department of Water and Power fame. 

Martin had earlier designed the Liberty Theatre and Wonderland/Jade Theatre buildings on Main St. Martin's firm would go on to design the City Hall and the Department of Water and Power Building and the Town Theatre on Hill St. The company is still in business as both architects and contractors with descendants of A.C. Martin running it.

Woollett (1974-1955) was later the designer of Los Angeles' largest movie palace, the Metropolitan (also for Sid Grauman). He also did a remodel of the Rialto for Grauman and the 20s remodel of the Strand in Long Beach is attributed to him.

Seating: 2,345           Main floor:  1,400     Balcony: 945

History:  In 1919 Paramount Pictures became a silent partner in the theatre operation and thus the theatre ran a lot of Paramount product. 

An April 1919 telegram from Sid Grauman to Adolf Zukor
cementing his partnership with Paramount/Famous Players-Lasky
 in the Million Dollar Theatre. And they were already planning the next
 one together, the Metropolitan. The telegram was a find by Michelle
Gerdes in the AMPAS Margaret Herrick Library collection.
full size view | on Photos of Los Angeles

In an October 1919 telegram in the AMPAS collection Grauman tries to set up a partnership with Paramount in a San Diego house. Which didn't happen -- it sounds like it was promised to Sid but Paramount was going with someone else. There's mention of the remodel of Quinn's Rialto, soon "to be the prettiest little house in America." 

Also mentioned in the telegram is the possibility of acquiring a theatre they refer to as the Mercantile Place Theatre. This was probably the Pantages (now the Arcade Theatre), next door to the Mercantile Place shopping area, later the site of the Arcade Building. The theatre was up for grabs as Alexander  Pantages was moving to his new theatre at 7th & Hill. This didn't happen.

Soon Grauman's Theatre became known for Sid's extravagant "preludes" prior to the feature films as well as lavish premieres. By 1919 the theatre was being advertised as Grauman's Million Dollar Theatre because it had cost something more than that sum for land, office building, theatre and furnishings. This wasn't exactly a new tag as "Million Dollar Theatre" had appeared on the construction signage.

A 1920 ad for the "Great Fashion Pageant" prologue and
the Paramount feature "His House in Order" with Elsie
Ferguson. Ken McIntyre posted it on his Photos of Los Angeles
 Facebook page. If this is just the ad, imagine what splendors
were presented in the show itself.
 full size view

The ad above plus another full page story about this particular
production appears on pages 212 and 213 of Ben Hall's "The Best
Remaining Seats" (Clarkson N. Potter, 1966).

The Million Dollar was the first real movie palace on Broadway. And the Million Dollar gets the prize as the first real Los Angeles movie palace built for that purpose. Although the Auditorium Theatre at 5th & Olive, when running as Clune's Auditorium, was perhaps the first real movie palace in Los Angeles it was originally built as a church.

The Million Dollar was also noteworthy as the first theatre built as part of a "height limit" building, the first clear span balcony  in town for a major theatre - largely cast concrete. It also had an orchestra pit extending half way upstage to showcase the players. On July 3, 1922 a pit fire occurred during a prologue (there were no injuries) and the pit was later rebuilt along more standard lines.

The cover for the "Grauman's Theater and Grauman's
 Rialto Magazine"
for January 7, 1923 from the Woody Wise
 collection.  It was an issue of 31 pages promoting the films
"Outcast," "To Have and to Hold" and "Robin Hood."
 full size view

In November, 1923 Sid sold his downtown interests (half of the Million Dollar plus interests in the Rialto and Metropolitan) to Paramount and moved on to Hollywood.  The Egyptian had opened in 1922. The Chinese was to come along in 1927.

In 1925, the three theatres started advertising themselves as part of the Publix chain, Paramount's theatre division. The theatre was initially leased from owner Homer Lauglin. In 1925 A.C. Blumenthal purchased the building for approximately $1 million. In 1927, Fox West Coast took over the actual operation of the Publix theatres in Los Angeles.

The Million Dollar News for August 26, 1927 with Vilma
Banky on the cover, appearing in "The Magic Flame."

larger view |
the film on the marquee

Thanks to Mr. Ethereal Reality who found
the magazine on eBay and included it in his
 Noirish Los Angeles post #17525. He has an inside
 page and several short articles as well.

In 1928 the theatre was closed for a refurbishing -- including installing the chandelier formerly in the Broadway lobby of the Metropolitan in the formerly chandelier-less auditorium dome of the Million Dollar. 

The Motion Picture News issue of October 20, 1928 reported that the government wasn't happy with Fox having the west coast Publix houses and forcefully suggested that they be divested from Fox control.  There was a closure at some point and in February 1929 the theatre reopened after a lease deal was made with Simon Lazarus. His Lazarus Corp. tried second run bookings, some first run Universal product, and even some elaborate prologues before the features. 

A 1933 ticket for a giveaway of a refrigerator in
 a promotion with the May Co. It's from the
Sean Ault Archives by Osiris Press.

The ticket's reverse reveals that the film at the
theatre that week is "Jennie Gerhardt," a film of Theodore
 Dreiser's novel with Sylvia Sydney.  It was a bad day at
the print shop. They got both the title and author's
first name spelled wrong.

In 1935 the Million Dollar came under the management of Harry Popkin's Circle Theatres, who  had purchased the building.  The policy was stage shows and second run films.

In the 1940s, the Million Dollar was a home to many jazz and big band shows. Performers included Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday and Artie Shaw. In 1945 Metropolitan theatres leased the theatre from Harry Popkin Enterprises for a 15 year term. 

Metropolitan Theatres had been running vaudeville at the Orpheum and decided to just do first run films there and have their stage shows at the Million Dollar.  In 1946 Metropolitan renovated the lobby, which involved installing a dropped ceiling and other modernizations.  The murals in the balcony lobby dome were spared in the 1946 renovations. 

Starting in 1950 the Million Dollar gets sub-leased to Frank Fouce and began a long run as a Spanish language film house and Mexican vaudeville theatre.  Fouce died in 1962 but the policy continued under his son Frank Fouce, Jr. In 1969 Fouce Jr. purchased the building from the Popkin interests for $2 million. He announced plans to spend $1 million to renovate the theatre, office space and store areas.  The Fouce family was also at various times involved with the California Theatre, the Mason Theatre and other venues.  Frank Jr. died in 2013. The L.A. Times ran a story about his contributions the spread of Latino culture in Los Angeles.

The theatre building was sold in 1989 to Ira Yellin, who announced plans to turn the theatre building into (again) an upscale office building.  The project eventually morphed into apartments in the former office spaces above the theatre as well as in the adjacent Grand Central Market building. Metropolitan Theatres eventually came back as operator in 1974 and ran the theatre into the 90's with a policy of Spanish language films and Mexican vaudeville acts.

The theatre closed in 1993 and became a church under a sub-lease from Metropolitan Theatres. When the  church group moved to the State Theatre there was another attempt at Mexican live shows and movies but that ended in 1999. A second church group was a tenant in 2000. 

Former nightclub operator Robert Voskanian leased the theatre in 2005 and gave it a million dollar cleanup and repair. It re-opened in February 2008 for concerts, events and occasional films. There had been talk about the proscenium being in need of a seismic retrofit but evidently all was stable enough for occupancy.  Much seismic retrofitting had been done when the office portion of the building was converted into apartments. There's bracing visible up in the stagehouse, for example, and a shear wall evident in the basement.

In early 2010, LAHTF's Hillsman Wright reported that the City's Bringing Back Broadway committee was working with the building owner and the then-operator Voskanian to help address some of the building's current problems including poor loading access, insufficient restrooms and lack of a decent HVAC plant. 

Voskanian had hoped to install a cafe in the lobby and planned to continue renovation work in the theatre as funds came in.  Business was spotty and bookings were scarce. Much good work was done but the operation turned out to be not financially viable.  Voskanian terminated his lease with the owner in July 2012.

Thanks to the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation and Broadway's preeminent theatre historian (and Orpheum Theatre general manager) Ed Kelsey for much of the historical data above.

Status:  Vacant and looking for a new operator. The building is still owned by the Yellen Company. The future of the theatre is unknown.  LA Cowboy had a July 2012 story. The company is now controlled by Adele Yellin, the widow of Ira Yellin. They also have the Grand Central Market and the Bradbury Building (across the street) in their portfolio. The Market Square apartments occupy the upper floors of both the Million Dollar and Grand Central Market buildings.

The success of the Million Dollar is crucial to the Broadway revitalization efforts. Currently the only other theatres regularly open on Broadway are the Orpheum and the United Artists. The Palace got a million dollar restoration in 2011 but bookings remain infrequent.  The Globe is scheduled to reopen in mid-to-late 2014.

The lobby in the Million Dollar had been stripped of its decor over the years but there is hope of restoring a ceiling dome hiding above a dropped ceiling.  The auditorium decor is quite intact with the exception of murals which had been painted over by a church group. 

Million Dollar in the Movies:  

We get a glimpse of the top of the Million Dollar in "Safety Last"
with Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis (Hal Roach Studios, 1923).
The finale sequence was partially filmed atop the Washington Bldg.
 at 3rd & Spring.  Famed silent film detective John Bengtson has it all
 analyzed in "How Harold Lloyd Filmed the 'Safety Last' Finale,"
a Silent Locations blog post.  Thanks, John!

The shot most widely known from "Safety Last" features
 Mr. Lloyd hanging from a clock on Broadway with
 the Majestic Theatre in the background.

We get a brief glimpse of the flashing marquee of the
Million Dollar in "Footlight Parade" with Jimmy Cagney
 (Warner Bros., 1933) as we speed by on the bus to put
 on a Chester Kent prologue in a New York City theatre.
larger view

Hillsman Wright, of the LAHTF notes that had we been
 there we might have seen a similar scene with Grauman
 busing his prologue casts back and forth between
the Million Dollar and the Rialto.

Rudolph Maté's "D.O.A." (United Artists, 1950) starts in
San Francisco but about an hour into it we come to L.A. and
get a ride down Broadway with views of the Tower and Orpheum.
Later we pay a visit to the Bradbury Building and get this shot of the
 Million Dollar. Our star Edmond O'Brien is trying to track
 down the guy who gave him a lethal dose of radium.
larger view  | entire film on Internet Archive

"D.O.A." was produced by Harry Popkin's Cardinal Pictures. Popkin
owned the Million Dollar building at the time. There's another shot from
the film on Handsome Stranger's Noirish Los Angeles post #7288.

The theatre is running "The Big Wheel" starring Mickey Rooney
as a race car driver. The  "D.O.A." footage also appears as part of
the title sequence of Thom Andersen's "Los Angeles Plays Itself."

In Steve McQueen's last film "The Hunter"
 (Rastar/Paramount, 1980) we get a shot up
3rd St. along the side of the Million Dollar.

Thanks to Marc Antony Stewart on
 Photos of Los Angeles for spotting
 the shot in "The Hunter."

In Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" (Ladd Company,
Warner Bros., 1982) we have a number of shots of the
marquee as lots of the action was filmed across the street
in the Bradbury Building. The film stars Harrison Ford,
 Sean Young, Darryl Hanah and Rutger Hauer.
larger view

Another shot from "Blade Runner." The columns we see
looking out from the Bradbury Building were added
 by the for the film by the production designer.
larger view

We get a look at the Million Dollar in a big cruise down
Broadway during the opening credits of Dennis Hopper's
"Colors" (Orion, 1988).  For architecture buffs anyway, the rest of
the film (with Sean Penn and Robert Duvall) is less than compelling. 
larger view

We get a look at the exterior of the theatre in
"Murder in the First" (Warner Bros., 1995)

Mira Sorvino has an office across from the Million Dollar
on 3rd in Antoine Fuqua's "The Replacement Killers" (Columbia,
1998). All hell breaks loose when Chow Yun-Fat cones to see her
about getting some forged papers.  Here's some carnage
about to happen on the fire escape.
larger view

Looking north on 3rd toward the Million Dollar in "The
Replacement Killers."  Chow Yun-Fat and Mira Sorvino are
in the car.  "The Replacement Killers" also uses the outside
of the Tower as well as Orpheum and Mayan interiors.
larger view

The interior of the Million Dollar is lovingly shown in
glorious black and white in Alex Holdridge's "In Search
of a Midnight Kiss" (2008).  We see the exterior of the
Orpheum but it's the Million Dollar inside.

"Vagiant!" is the film playing at the Million Dollar
 in Marc Webb's "(500) Days of Summer"
 (Fox Searchlight, 2009).

The strange crowd on the sidewalk for
 the film in "(500) Days of Summer."

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt outside
 the theatre after the film in "(500) Days of Summer."

Some specifications:
Proscenium width: 39' 11"        Proscenium height at center: 47'
Stage depth: 32' 1" -- from smoke pocket to face of backwall columns
See our backstage page for more information.

More information: Sandi Hemmerlein's Avoiding Regret article details her adventures at the 2013 LAHTF "all-about" tour with many wonderful photos. A shot from the top of the balcony kicks off Star Foreman's 54 item "Million Dollar Theatre Tour" slide show on L.A. Weekly's website.

Other 2013 tour coverage included a great collection of photos both vintage and new on Curbed L.A. and an article on L.A. Observed.  The Cinespia website has interesting photo coverage of the March 2013 screening of "Blade Runner" at the Million Dollar.

The Cinema Treasures page on the Million Dollar has a nice history by Ken Roe and Howard B. Haas plus lots of recollections about various performances at the theatre. The Cinema Tour page has some interesting comments regarding the inspiration for the ornamentation as well some exterior photos. 

Wikipedia also has an article on the Million Dollar TheatreDoves2Day has a 2010 photo essay on the Million Dollar featuring many fine photos. There is a Million Dollar Facebook page, but it's not associated with any current operations at the theatre.

The 2008 reopening had received lots of press including LA Times "A Million Dollar Dream."  The Times article includes this great photo of the Million Dollar Theatre from the Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann archives:

Note the skulls as decoration
on the front of the balcony.
larger view

A full size view of the photo above also appears
 on the LAHTF Facebook page. It's also on the back
cover of the Second Quarter 202 issue of Marquee,
the publication of the Theatre Historical Society.

The USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism's Neon Tommy website ran a nice article in 2010 by Caroline Vandergriff on the Million Dollar's rebirth.  Several photos accompanied the article including Ms. Vandergriff's view of the rear of the main floor:

More on Sid Grauman: The definitive book on the career of Sid Grauman has yet to be written. The best we have so far is Charles Beardsley's "Sid Grauman: Hollywood's Master Showman" (Cornwall Books, 1983)It's available on Amazon.  Wikipedia has a biographical article on Sid Grauman.

The Million Dollar on video: For some nice views of the Million Dollar check out Haeyong Moon's "The Show Starts on Broadway" on You Tube.

Haeyong's "Million Dollar Theater: The Hidden Layers" takes you up above the current dropped ceiling in the lobby with Hillsman Wright from the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation: Part 1Part 2Part 3.

Hillsman Wright with one of the murals hiding above
the lobby's dropped ceiling in "Hidden Layers: Part 2"

Also see the 3 minute 2010 clip with Hillsman Wright:"Ally Quest Los Angeles, 1940s Part II: Million Dollar Theatre" and Don Solosan's fine "Insiders Peek #10," about the 2013 LAHTF "all-about" tour of the building.

     L.A. Public Library Collection 

A 1918 view of the exterior prior to opening. Note
the nice "Grauman's" signage above the arch.
full size view

"For Rent" -- in the two bays at the left
that were later the open air ticket lobby.
full size view

Another early view -- notice they've filled in more
window framing in the two bays at the left at the left.
 full size view

In the view above, note the Aladdin's lamp
signage on the 3rd St. side of the building.

A 1925 view of the theatre when
presenting Chaplin's "Gold Rush."
 full size view

Note ductwork on the stagehouse going up to the
fan room on the roof. Also note that the two south bays
of the facade are now an open ticket lobby area.

Looking north on Broadway toward 3rd and the
Million Dollar Theatre in 1929.  At the time, the office
 building was still known as the Edison Building.
 USC Archives dates this one as c.1926.
 full size view

Looking south toward 3rd and the Million
Dollar in the 40s.  The Library dates this one as
1954 but it's obviously much earlier.
full size view

Lionel Hampton at the Million
Dollar in an undated photo.

c.1950 look east down the Angels Flight
 tracks and 3rd St. toward the Million Dollar.
It's a photo by Roy Hankey.
full size view

In the photo above this side of the Million Dollar
is the F.P. Fay Building, now replaced by the
parking garage for the Grand Central Market.

A look east on 3rd in 1982 in a Michael Haering
photo.  That's the stagehouse at the far right.
full size view

More exterior views  in the Library's collection:
 |  facade detail  facade detail 2 |   facade detail 3   |

     USC Archives

A great view looking north in 1923 from the USC
Archives. On the marquee is "The Covered Wagon - 6
performances daily."  Note the "Grauman's" vertical.
full size view

A detail from the 1923 USC photo above.
larger view

A look north from 4th toward the Million Dollar c.1926.
It's a photo from the California Historical Society. 
LAPL has a version of this that they date as 1929.
full size view

A look at the front in 1931. Note the great new
marquee. It's a Dick Whittington studio photo.
full size view | another take - from higher

The photo also appears on BifRayRock's
 Noirish Los Angeles post #11870.

A detail from the 1931 view above.  The open-air
ticket lobby in the south bay at the left is no
more -- it's been rented out for retail.
 larger detail view | on Photos of LA

 They've installed an island boxoffice in front
of the theatre's entrance to replace the original off
to the south side of the entrance.

Looking west on 3rd toward Broadway in 1957.
It's a Los Angeles Examiner photo.
  full size view

Also see:
  |  looking north from 4th - 1939 | looking north from 5th - 1939  |
 |  another view west on 3rd - 1957  |

A view of the the Million Dollar Theatre.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

[ click either of these views to enlarge ]

Looking south past the Grand Central Market
toward the Million Dollar in 1963.

photo: Sean Ault Archives by Osiris Press

A detail from Sean's photo.

Thanks, Sean! Sean Ault is a noted historian of transit
 in the Los Angeles area.
You can see many more items
from his Osiris Press transit archive on YouTube.

See the Million Dollar - Exterior page for
many more recent views of the theatre.

 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.

    Architect and Engineer of California

"Music of the Night" modeled by William Woollett for Gladding
McBean & Co., contractors for the terracotta on the Million Dollar.
It's a photo that appeared with an article by Jo Neely in The Graphic
titled "A Dream Come True." It's reprinted in the May 1918
 issue of Architect and Engineer.

The figure, with the left hand and the ram's horn
now missing, resides on the bottom of the north side
of the outer arch above the marquee.

     Architectural Digest    

1922 edition -- on Google Books

A look at the building in the magazine's 1922 survey
issue of noteworthy southern California buildings. 
It's from the Stanford Library and on Google Books.
 full size view
The page lists some of the suppliers for the building:

Metal lathing construction - Benjamin Schonfeld Co.
Plastering - Fred E. Potts
Heating system - Illinois Engineering Co.
Plumbing fixtures - Crane Co.
Reinforced composition roofing - Pioneer Paper Co.
Metal doors - California Fire-Proof Door Co.
Brick - L.A. Brick Co.
Venetian screens - Western Blind and Screen Co.
Floor coverings and office furniture - Barker Bros.
Grauman's Theatre - complete furnishings by Barker Bros.
Face brick - L.A. Pressed Brick Co.
Hollow tile - L.A. Pressed Brick Co.

     B'hend and Kaufmann Archives

Opening night February 1, 1918. The photo came to the B'hend
 and Kaufmann Collection from the collection of Ron Downer.
Note that we can see a bit of the unfinished area to the left
 of the entrance -- soon to become the open-air ticket lobby.
 full size view  | on FB/LAtheatres

The view above also appears on the
 TCL Chinese Theatre Facebook page.

The Million Dollar Theatre marquee in a 1946 Otto
Rothschild photo from the Jack Tilmanny collection. The
"films that make you gasp" program had "Camps of the Dead,"
an 11 minute short about Nazi death camps, along with two 1945
features: "Woman Who Came Back" and "Girls of the Big House."
full size view  |  on FB/LAtheatres

The Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann Collection
is part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collection.

     California State Library

A 1925 view of the Million Dollar Building from
the California State Library Collection. The theatre
is running "The Merry Widow" with John Gilbert.
full size view

A William Reagh view of the marquee during
the theatre's days
as a Mexican vaudeville house.
full size view

A 1984 view by Tom Zimmerman looking north
toward the theatre in the days before the facade
restoration at the Grand Central Market -- and
when the Million Dollar still had a vertical sign.

full size view

The photo above also appears
on Photos of Los Angeles.


Grauman's during the 1920 run of the Harold Lloyd
film "High and Dizzy." Lloyd got the 10' x 15' poster up
but his film was just a 26 minute short. The feature was
 "The Fighting Chance." This photo from someone's
scrapbook was on eBay but had no takers.
 full size view | on eBay

Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for finding the Harold Lloyd
photo. Visit his website about another Grauman theatre,
The Chinese --

A 1927 look at the Million Dollar discovered
 on eBay by theatre detective Michelle Gerdes.
Playing is "The Magic Flame" with Ronald
Colman and Vilma Banky.
 full size view

Ethereal Reality has the 1927 photo (and the
program) on his Noirish Los Angeles post #17525.

A 60s look east along 3rd St. discovered on
 eBay by Mr. Ethereal Reality and included
on his post #25194.  Thanks!

     Huntington Digital Library

Architect Albert C. Martin's drawing of the projected

Edison Building and Million Dollar Theatre. 
full size view

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 September 7, 1917 view of the construction by
G. Haven Bishop for the Southern California Edison Co.
The Edison Co. would be the office building's first tenant.
full size view
  | same day - a bit closer

The lore is that the name Million Dollar was applied to

the venue later. But note here that even the construction
signage says "Home of the new Million Dollar Theatre."

A January 1918 construction view of the 3rd St. side
of the building by G. Haven Bishop. Note that we're working
overhead -- not a lot of protection for the pedestrians. 
full size view

A detail from a January 18,  1918 construction
 shot by Mr. Bishop.
also see:

After opening: a detail from a 1918 G. Haven Bishop photo
giving us a view up 3rd St. to Angels' Flight. At the Million Dollar:
Pauline Frederick in "Fedora," a Mack Sennett comedy.

A May 1919 look at the building. The Million Dollar
 is running "The Girl Dodger" with Charles Ray.
full size view 

other similar views:
| June 15, 1919 - "The Girl Dodger" -- with a line in front |
 |   another take - "The Girl Dodger"  | no line - "The Girl Dodger"  |

A detail of the 3rd St. side of the building from the photo above.
It looks like we're loading in a show. Note the Grauman's
"Aladdin's lamp" signage up on the stagehouse.
larger detail view

An amazing undated night shot by G. Haven Bishop.
The bunting is evidently for an Elks convention.
full size view

An entrance detail from the photo above. The Million Dollar
 appears to be running a film with Douglas MacLean.  Note
 the signage over the bays of the boxoffice at left:
 "Grauman's Cinema Temple."

A 1921 G. Haven Bishop shot looking east on 3rd
toward a lost world.  The Fay Building on the right is now
the site of the Grand Central Market parking garage.

full size view

A detail of the "Grauman's" sign hanging high
 on the stagehouse from the 1921 photo above.

More theatre exteriors in the Huntington collection:
| another night view east on 3rd - 1921  |
Broadway facade at night - 1921 |
3rd St. side -- c. 1922 |
| east on 3rd - day view - 1923 | night view west - c.1926  |

The Edison collection also has many views of the interior of
the office building showing use of the space as offices, dispatch
areas, lunch rooms, etc. Searching the collection for
"Edison Building" gets many of these items.

Some of the more interesting ones include:
 | Laughlin Building (Grand Central Market) - 1915 -- before MD construction |
| on the roof  |  office building lobby  |  library  |  directors' room  |
 | ladies' lunch room - basement  | ladies lunch room kitchen  |  ladies lounge  |
 |  mail roomassembly room  |  men's lunch room - 2nd floor  |

A June 1954 look south on Broadway toward
 the Million Dollar. It's a Connor Palmer photo.
full size view

     Arnold Hylen

An undated view looking south on Broadway
toward the Million Dollar from Mr. Hylen's
 grand niece, Lisa Santa Lucia-Riccardi.  On
the Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page:
full size view

     L.A. Time Machines    

An interesting undated exterior view
from this now vanished website
full size view

The red brick structure beyond the Million Dollar
is the Bradbury Building at 3rd & Broadway.

     Metro Transportation Library

A 1956 view looking north toward the Million Dollar.
It's part of the Metro Downtown Los Angeles set.
full size view

     Penn State Alumni Library

A 1925 photo of the Million Dollar running Harold
Lloyd's "The Freshman." It was once on a Penn State
page about Fred Waring. The Pennsylvanians appeared
with the film as part of the stage show for six weeks.
full size view

The signage says "Atmospheric Prologue: On The Campus." 
The marquee advertises the engagement as a world
premiere -- usual prices.

The Pennsylvanians came back for six weeks in 1923 for
the opening show of Grauman's Metropolitan Theatre.

     Photos of Los Angeles

Before the Million Dollar -- a view east on 3rd
toward the Fay Building at 3rd and Hill and on toward
3rd & Broadway, later site of the Million Dollar.
full size view

An interesting 1919 view of customers exiting the
Million Dollar -- then known as Grauman's Theatre.
These two bays at the left side of the facade were
later filled in and rented as retail space.
 full size view

Third St. looking east in a 1939 view discovered
by Kenneth McIntyre and posted on his Photos of
Los Angeles Facebook page.  That's the side of
 the Million Dollar on the left.
 full size view

The view above also appeared
on Vintage Los Angeles.

A view of the facade in 1940. It's a Life
Magazine view unearthed by Kenneth McIntyre.
 full size view

A 1948 look at the marquee. In addition to the
stage attractions, we're running "Angels' Alley." 
full size view  | a re-post | on FB/LATheatres

Looking west on 3rd toward
the Million Dollar in 1959.

LBJ in front of the Million Dollar in 1964.
full size view

A marquee shot from 1987.
full size view | on FB/LAtheatres

A street festival at 3rd & Broadway in 1988.
full size view

     Public Art in L.A.

Here's a detail of some sculpture by Joseph Mora
 on the facade of the Million Dollar. 

It's one of 5 pictures on this site's page
 devoted to the Million Dollar Theatre.

     Theatre Talks - Cezar Del Valle |

An early postcard view of  Grauman's
Theatre from Cezar's collection
 full size view

Another version of the card above is in
the collection of Michelle Gerdes.
 | 0n Facebook  | on Flickr  |

A 1988 Betty Sword photo in Cezar's collection. 
full size view

Cezar is a Brooklyn-based theatre historian with
 a love of Los Angeles theatres. Thanks, Cezar!

The photo above also appears
on Photos of Los Angeles.

     USC Downtown Tour

The Downtown LA Walking Tour from the
Geography Department
has a nice page on the Million
Dollar with a history of the theatre and several more
pictures in addition to this facade detail.
 full size view

Also on this site is this early postcard of the
Million Dollar Theatre with the Grauman's name
 on the vertical at the south corner of the building.  
 full size view

The postcard above also appears in several other collections:
  | Elizabeth Fuller's Old L.A. Postcards  | 
Michelle Gerdes on Facebook  | Michelle Gerdes on Flickr  |

   Charmaine Zoe's Marvelous Melange

The front of the Million Dollar for the 1920 run of "High
 and Dizzy" with Harold Lloyd. Thanks to Charmaine Zoe
for including the photo in her Vintage Cinemas: California
Flickr set of treasures from various trade magazines.
Note the open air ticket lobby in the left bay. Later it was
converted to retail. The photo caption: "Sid Grauman's introduced
some novel exploitation for "High and Dizzy" when he played this picture
at Grauman's theatre, Los Angeles, recently. A photograph fifteen feet in
height, nicely framed, was placed over the lobby entrance, as shown
 in the above cut, giving Lloyd some personal billing seldom
 accorded to any star at the 'Million Dollar Cinema Temple.'"

more million dollar theatre pages:
|  recent exterior views  |  boxoffice area  |  lobby areas  |
 |  auditorium  |  booth  |
  backstage  |  stage basement  |
  backstage  |   stage basement  |  orchestra pit  |
auditorium & building basement