Orpheum Theatre

842 S. Broadway      | map |

Los Angeles, CA 90014 

(877) 677-4386

Website:  Go to www.laorpheum.com for many great photos, technical specs and more. Don't miss panning around the auditorium, lobby and stage using the 360 degree photos on the photo gallery page.  Also visit the Orpheum on Facebook.

Architect: G. Albert Lansburgh, who had also designed the 1911 Orpheum (now the Palace) and the 1922 RKO Hillstreet for the Orpheum circuit.

This French baroque fantasia was one of his most elaborate theatres and is one of the best preserved Los Angeles movie palaces. The Orpheum went wild with lots of marble in the lobby, huge crystal chandeliers, and plush furnishings.

Lansburgh was one of the country's most successful theatre architects.  His other work in Los Angeles includes the auditoriums for the El Capitan Theatre, the Shrine Auditorium and Wiltern Theatre.  Stylistically, this "Orpheum style" appeared in theatres in other cities, sometimes replicated by other architects.

Opened: February 15, 1926 with two-a-day Orpheum circuit vaudeville. Many famous acts such as the Marx Brothers, Sally Rand, Duke Ellington and Jack Benny have performed at the Orpheum.

"Another Orpheum Theatre Installs H-W Seating"
Ads in the July 10 and August 7, 1926 issues of Motion
Picture News advertised Heywood-Wakefield's "Special
Opera Chair" installed at the New Orpheum.
full size view
| on Internet Archive

This c.1928 ad has Jack Benny playing
the Orpheum in the next to last spot.
full size view

Page one of the program for the week of July 22, 1928 discovered
 by Danni Bayles-Yeager of the Performing Arts Archive. Vaudeville
programs are scarce -- people tended not to save them as they did
 legit programs. A Mr. Frankenstein is heading the orchestra.
And we're running film this week -- a newsreel
instead of an intermission.

On November 16, 1929 the L.A. Times ran a story by Muriel Babcock noting that the Orpheum, one of the last strongholds of vaudeville west of the Rockies, was installing film projection equipment and would be of offering films as of January 1, 1930.  By that she evidently meant sound film equipment with the intent of running features. The theatre had been equipped with a full size booth when it was constructed and had silent film equipment for occasional use during the vaudeville programs.

While the Orpheum on Broadway went to a film only policy (for a while anyway) in the early 30s, the RKO Hillstreet  at 8th & Hill continued with vaudeville. In early 1931 the Hillstreet was advertising "the only RKO vaudeville in Southern California."

Lettering from the front of the RKO marquee redo of 1931.
 It's a detail from a 1932 photo in the USC Archives.

An ad for the 1932 run of "Frankenstein" from DLZ1277's
 LA Spook Show collection on Flickr. In addition to the film, on
Saturday nights of the run you got a late night Spook Show. One ad
promised that "ghosts will walk."
  An ad for the 5th week noted
that there would be "Two Hours of Terror. Do you dare?"

"Big Time RKO Vaudeville" was back with
the films by August 1932 as seen in this ad on
 Photos of Los Angeles posted by Scott Pitzer.
full size view

RKO in neon on the front of the Orpheum's
marquee. It didn't stay up there long. It's a detail
from a great 1932 photo in the USC Archives.

Business remained so so bad at the Orpheum, despite the reintroduction of vaudeville programs, that RKO closed the theatre at the end of 1932.

Sherill Corwin of Metropolitan Theatres ( in conjunction with Charles Skouras' Principal Theatres) reopened the venue in September 1933 with vaudeville, big band shows, personal  appearances and more. He kept the stage in use until 1947 when the circuit moved their vaudeville shows to the Million Dollar.

Thanks to Scott Pitzer on Photos of Los Angeles
 for finding this 1940 ad for an appearance
 of Sally Rand at the Orpheum.

full size view

A 1943 Los Angeles Orpheum usher photo
that surfaced on eBay. Thanks to both Michelle
Gerdes and Sean Ault for sending it our way.

full size view | on eBay

When we get closer we can see what he's
advertising on his lapel: "Hollywood Pinup Girls."
Starting Wednesday -- not a movie but a stage
show with a cast of 40 and 12 big scenes!
Presumably we got a feature film as well.

Josephine Baker onstage at the Orpheum in 1947.
It's a photo by Arnold Hylen and appears courtesy of his
grand niece Greta Gistafsson.
For more of Hylen's
work, visit the Arnold Hylen- Photographer Facebook page.
 full size view | on the California State Library website

Vaudeville was back in 1949 and continued intermittently, along with rock and roll, big bands and personal appearances into the early 50s. The Orpheum continued to be operated  by Metropolitan Theatres until the closing as a film house in 2000.

Seating: 2,190 originally. Currently 1,976:  Orchestra 1,019   Mezzanine 146    Balcony  781   Boxes  30 

The marquee: The Orpheum circuit did a serious marquee update in 1930 or 1931. The present marquee was installed in early 1941.  | February 1931 - RKO redo - USC Archives | 1932 - "Frankenstein"- USC Archives | c.37 still RKO marquee - Herman Schultheis/LAPL photo |  new marquee 1946 - Bobby Cole/Vintage Los Angeles |

Stage Specs:  Proscenium: 50' wide   28'6" high.  Stage depth: 29' from smoke pocket to back wall. See our page on the stage for more details.

Status: It's owned by Steve Needleman of Anjac Fashion Properties. The theatre is open for for film shoots, tours and special events after a $4 million refurbishment.  The office building is now residential and known as the "Orpheum Lofts." 

The Orpheum regularly hosts many concerts and other events plus there are occasional film screenings sponsored by the L.A. Conservancy.   The theatre has events over 200 days per year, all rentals. They don't promote any events themselves.

Earlier Orpheum theatres in downtown Los Angeles:

110 S. Main St. -- Grand Opera House was the home of Orpheum vaudeville from 1894 to 1903.

227 S. Spring St. -- The Los Angeles Theatre, later called The Lyceum was known as the Orpheum from 1903 to 1911.

630 S. Broadway -- Now the Palace Theatre -- this was the Orpheum between 1911 and 1926.

Also see the RKO Hillstreet Theatre which was an Orpheum Circuit property with a "Junior" policy of continuous films and vaudeville throughout the day.  The Hillstreet, now demolished, opened in 1922.

The Orpheum Theatre in the Movies:

The Orpheum and the Warner are seen in the 11
minute 1946 short film "Your Traffic Officer" from the
L.A. City Clerk's office.  "Suspense" was a June 1946
release with Barry Sullivan and ice skater Belita.
larger view | the film on YouTube

Thanks to Eitan Alexander for the screenshot. 
And to Torr Leonard, Michelle Gerdes and Hunter
Kerhart for also calling our attention to the film.

Rudolph Maté's "D.O.A" (Cardinal Pictures/United Artists,
1950) starts in San Francisco but about an hour in we come to
 L.A. and get a ride down Broadway with views of the Orpheum,
 Tower and Million Dollar. 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

In the distance note the UA building with two lit verticals -- one
for the theatre and one for Texaco. This footage also appears as part
of the title sequence in Thom Andersen's "Los Angeles Plays Itself."

The Orpheum's interior is a Hollywood favorite.
If there's a theatre needed on the road anywhere in a
musical bio-pic, the Orpheum usually shows up.

The theatre is period-friendly with all F.O.H. lighting
positions being removable so the theatre can
be photographed as a 20s interior.

We get a lot of action at the Orpheum in Billy Wilder's
"The Front Page" (Universal, 1974) with the theatre's
interior doubling as a Chicago Balaban & Katz house in
the 20s. Susan Sarandon is seen here playing the organ. 
larger view

Walter Matthau behind the screen at
the Orpheum in "The Front Page."
larger viewalong a side aisle

Susan Sarandon heading offstage right to
a dressing room in "The Front Page."
larger view

The Orpheum auditorium appears in a scene in
Peter Bogdanovich's "At Long Last Love" (1975).

The Tower, Rialto and Orpheum appear briefly in Sidney
Poitier's "Let's Do It Again" (Warner Bros./First Artists, 1975)
although we're supposedly cruising around New Orleans.
larger view

The Orpheum is standing in for the New Amsterdam in
New York in Herbert Ross's "Funny Lady" (Columbia, 1975). Here
Barbra Streisand and Roddy McDowell take a walk through
the house after the closing night of a Ziegfeld Follies show.

See our "Funny Lady" post on Theatres in Movies
for more Orpheum views. We also go to the Los Angeles
Theatre  and the Pan Pacific Auditorium.

We take a drive down Broadway for a look at the
Orpheum's marquee as Harry Dean Stanton explains the
code of the
"Repo Man" (Universal, 1984) to Emilio
Estevez. "Staying Alive" (1983) is playing.

Playwright John Turturro is taking a curtain call
for his play at the Belasco in New York City at the beginning
 of Joel and Ethan Coen's "Barton Fink" (Fox, 1991). 
Except that it's actually the Orpheum.
larger view

John Turturro, as a Clifford Odets type socially
concerned playwright, watching his play from the
wings in "Barton Fink." The lobby of the Wiltern
(as a hotel) also appears in the film.
 larger view

The Orpheum is used as Minsky's Burlesque Theatre in the
1993 TV movie version of "Gypsy" with Bette Midler. Here Cynthia
Gibb as Gypsy is on the runway. Mama  Rose is lurking around there
somewhere. Thanks to Mike Hume for the screenshot.

See the Theatres in Movies post on "Gypsy" for more Orpheum
shots from the film as well as views of the State and the Palace.

The Orpheum is the star of "Last Action Hero"
(Columbia, 1993) -- well, after Arnold anyway. On the
street we're on 42nd St. in NYC. Inside, it's the Orpheum
in Los Angeles. All but the booth (that's a set).
full size view

 The film is surprisingly funny and what's not to like?  It's all
about the joy of going to the movies in run-down old theatres.  See
our Theatres in Movies post about "Last Action Hero" for more
Orpheum interior shots, several views of the set built for the
projection booth scenes, and a shot of the Olympic Theatre
-- supposedly with New York City traffic in front.

In Tim Burton's "Ed  Wood" (Touchstone Pictures, 1994) we
head to a premiere of "Plan 9 From Outer Space" at the Pantages
in Hollywood but when we go inside we're in the Orpheum.
larger view

A great shot looking toward the stage from "Ed Wood."
larger view

The "Ed Wood" gang in the proscenium boxes.
larger view

Policeman Michael Rooker goes to a Cartoon Festival at the
Tower. But when we're inside it's the Orpheum. The bad guys are
waiting but here comes Chow Yun-Fat down the aisle to save the evening
in Antoine Fuqua's "The Replacement Killers" (Columbia, 1998). 
larger view

One of the people to avoid at the Orpheum is up in a
proscenium box in "The Replacement Killers."  Mr. Magoo
is dodging bombs and bullets in the cartoon onscreen
while we get a shootout in the auditorium.
 larger view

Looking across the glorious Orpheum auditorium in
"The Replacement Killers." Michael Rooker and his kid are
being hunted by the bad guys. Mira Sorvino is about to
hop into the frame and save them.
 larger view

In "The Replacement Killers" we also see a lot
of the Mayan interior as well as views of the exterior
of the Million Dollar and the Tower Theatre.
See our
 Theatres in Movies post for more from the film.

In "Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks, 2006) we get a musical number
filmed on the stage but the only architectural features we see
are bits of the proscenium boxes on either side of the shot.

In David Lynch's "Inland Empire" (Studio Canal, 2006)
Laura Dern has all sorts of unfathomable adventures
including coming into the Orpheum and seeing herself on
the screen doing a tour of the theatre.
larger view | another shot -- sidewall view

Looking north on Broadway in Michael Bay's
 "Transformers" (Dreamworks SKG/Paramount, 2007).
Thanks to the Cinema Heritage Group for the screenshot,
from their Cinemas in the Movies Facebook album.
larger view | on the CHG FB page

The chaos looking south in "Transformers."
The screenshot is from Marc Zimmerman of the
Cinema Heritage Group. Thanks, Marc!
larger view | on the CHG FB page

Check out the Cinemas in the Movies album on the Facebook page
of the Cinema Heritage Group for
another "Transformers" shot done
in front of the Orpheum as well as one showing the Rialto marquee.

The album also some nice shots from other movies.

In 2007 the Orpheum also appeared
in "Alvin and the Chipmunks."

In David Fincher's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
(Warner Bros., 2008), the Orpheum interior doubles as the
interior of NYC's Majestic with Cate Blanchett onstage
for the ballet in a performance of "Carousel."
  larger view | a look from the stage 

In "The Great Buck Howard" (2009), the Orpheum lobby
and auditorium doubles for a theatre in Cincinnati.

In "Funny People" (2009) we're in San Francisco with
 an exterior shot of the Curran and Geary theatres. Then
 we go inside and we're in the Orpheum for a number of
 nice auditorium shots during a comedy performance.

In Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" (Warner Bros., 2011) we get an early
 30s scene at the Orpheum with views of the auditorium and the lobby
(with Shirley Temple). For the exterior views, the marquee is re-done as
the Strand Theatre but the anachronistic Broadway Bar signage next
door and 60s plex Orpheum readerboard are retained. There's also
 a great view up a digitally re-imagined Broadway with a theatre
inserted across the street where the Majestic used to be.

Along with lots of other L.A. locations, (including the Bradbury
Building and the Los Angeles Theatre) the Orpheum makes
a glorious black and white appearance during the opening of
 Michel Hazanavicius' "The Artist" (The Weinstein Co., 2011).
It's nice to see a band in the pit! Too bad they didn't
 reinstall those first few rows of seats for the film.
Garrett has a blog post about locations for "The Artist."

Another shot from "The Artist" with a
picture on the screen.
  The film stars Jean
Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.

The Orpheum is featured in Sacha Gervasi's "Hitchcock"
(Fox Searchlight, 2012), a drama about the director's relationship
with his wife Alma during the making of "Psycho." It stars Anthony
 Hopkins (seen here on the Orpheum stage) and Helen Mirren.  The
Suzanne Tenner photo is from the Fox Searchlight Facebook page.
 larger view

In "Hitchcock" the Orpheum is doubling for the United
Artists in Chicago for the premiere of "North By Northwest"
in 1959. The L.A. Times ran a story about the downtown filming. 
 The Palace is also seen in the film, doubling for the DeMille
Theatre in New York where Psycho premiered.
larger view

James Gandolfini is onstage at the Orpheum, used for the
theatre at his new "signature hotel," the Doug, in Las Vegas.
 It's a shot from Don Scardino's "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone"
 (New Line/Warner Bros. 2013), a comedy about magic.

A shot with Olivia Wilde, Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi
onstage in
"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone." The film also
Jim Carrey who, for his big trick at the Orpheum,
drills a hole in his head.

A nice view of the end standards on the main floor from
 "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone." Yes, that's a body being
 dragged up the aisle. It's part of the "vanishing audience"
 trick at the end of the film.

Up in the balcony in a shot from "The Incredible Burt
Wonderstone."  This is how they treat their customers to
 get them out of the theatre -- roll them down the steps.

We also see a lot of the Orpheum in
"Now You See Me"
(Summit Entertainment, 2013),
another film about magicians.
They're caper artists stealing from banks to give to the poor.  The
exterior is a backlot creation pretending to be a theatre called the
 Savoy in New Orleans. Inside we're at the Orpheum. The film
 stars Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg and Isla Fisher.

We're backstage at the Orpheum, doubling
 for the Ed Sullivan Theatre, in Clint Eastwood's
"Jersey Boys" (Warner Bros., 2014).

An onstage shot from "Jersey Boys."
larger view

"Jersey Boys" also uses the Palace and Belasco theatres.
See our Theatres In Movies post for some of those shots.

The Orpheum puts in an appearance in "Whiplash"
 (Sony Classics, 2014), set in New York City.  We get a nice
exterior shot of Carnegie Hall but
we're at the Orpheum when
go backstage, check out the lobby, and view the auditorium.
The film, which also uses various bits and pieces of the
Palace, stars Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.

Aspiring model Elle Fanning and her new friend Jena Malone
head to a party in the Orpheum lobby in Nicholas Winding
 Refn's "The Neon Demon" (Broad Green Pictures, 2016).
 larger view

See our Theatres In Movies post on "The Neon Demon"
for a balcony lobby shot and several of the restroom -- but the
one they use turns out to be at the Los Angeles Theatre. 

We get night views of the Orpheum and the Broadway Bar near the
end of Dan Gilroy's "Roman J. Israel, Esq." (Columbia/Sony, 2017). The
film features Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo in a
story of a brilliant, idealistic lawyer who makes a serious misstep. We also
get glimpses of the Warner Downtown, Rialto and Los Angeles Theatres.
See the Theatres in Movies post for more about the film.

See IMDb for a page on films shot at the Orpheum.


See the great 12 minute video "Orpheum Theatre" by Hollywoodish on YouTube.  Also see Mike Rivest's "Orpheum Theatre Los Angeles" which features an interview with owner Steve Needleman.

And don't miss Don Solosan's wonderful video done for the L.A. Conservancy: "The Markham Collection."  It's about the historic curtain collection of Steve Markham. Much of it was shot in the Orpheum. 

"The Markham Collection"-- stick around for
Mr. Solosan's fine time lapse action sequence
behind the final credits.

More Information on the Orpheum Theatre:

The Cinema Treasures page on the Orpheum Theatre has a great discussion of the theatre's history and many photos. The Cinema Tour page on the Orpheum Theatre has many great photos by Adam Martin.  The Los Angeles Theatre Organ Society has a page on the pipe organ at the theatre. 

More information about the Orpheum Circuit and RKO: 

We get a brief history of the circuit on from page 612 of Frank Cullen's "Vaudeville Old And New" (1368 pages in 2 volumes, Routledge, 2006).  It's on Google books. Cullen's comments  on p. 612 about the Keith-Albee-Orpheum circuit:

"In 1927, after a score of years of rivalry and increasing accommodation through joint booking arrangements between the two big-time circuits, the Keith-Albee and the Orpheum circuits merged into a single corporation, Keith-Albee-Orpheum. The event should have been momentous, two giants combining and consolidating their power and reach, but it occurred late in December 1927, ten weeks after the part-sound movie 'The Jazz Singer' opened in New York City. By that time, any news that vaudeville could generate was relegated to the back pages; motion pictures that talked, sang and danced were the talk of the town.

The stronger of the two circuits was Keith-Albee, and as E.F. Albee held a substantial block of voting shares of the combined stock, he became president of the corporation. His lieutenant, J.J. Murdock, whose holdings were about half that of Albee's, was made vice president. It was Murdock who brought Joseph P. Kennedy into the deal.

Albee had assumed that Murdock was as loyal to him as Albee had been to B.F. Keith. Murdock had always made it seem that way, but J.J. was interested in getting into the movie business. He believed that Albee had failed to recognize the growing importance of motion pictures and the decline of vaudeville. Murdock looked to Kennedy to bring new energy and purpose into the Keith-Albee-Orpheum enterprise and to give Murdock a commanding role in the new order.

In less than a year, Keith-Albee-Orpheum was no more. It had been recast as Radio-Keith-Orpheum, and its business refocused by the participation of Radio Corporation of America (RCA), founded by David Sarnoff, who also headed the first and most developed radio network, National Broadcasting Company (NBC).

The new agenda included RCA's development of an improved system for sound motion pictures, the adaptation of the Keith-Orpheum operation to distribute and exhibit movies in their coast-to-coast network of theatres, and the utilization of Kennedy's FBO studios to produce talking pictures.

Albee's power, along with his name, had vanished from the new corporation, RKO, yet Murdock did not win the top executive slot and replace Albee. The era of showmen was over, and not just in vaudeville. Show business had become a industry, and financiers wielded the power in industry."

C.W. Porter's website about Joe Kennedy and his ruthless business methods has a page on "The Robber Baron and the Film Industry." He quotes from "The Sins of the Father" by Ronald Kessler regarding Joe's adventures assembling what became RKO. Some excerpts from the page:

"After making his fortune on and off Wall Street, Joe was one of the first Eastern businessmen to grasp the potential of the movie business. By the mid-1920s, the American film industry was turning out 800 films a year and employed as many people as the auto industry. This was 'a gold mine,' Joe told several friends. After buying a chain of thirty-one small movie houses, Joe realized that the way to make real money was on the production side.

Moreover, he was attracted to the glamour of Hollywood. Not only could he influence the way films were made, he could meet dazzling young women. While his wife Rose was in Boston, pregnant with their eighth child, Joe was in Hollywood engaged in his notorious liaison with the superstar Gloria Swanson.

In 1926, Joe convinced a patron of his brokerage firm, named Guy Currier, to finance his plans to enter the movie business. Using insider information he received as a broker at Hayden, Stone, Joe bought the Film Booking Offices of America (FBO), sight unseen, from its British owners; and then received a commission of $75,000 from the trading company for the deal. Joe quickly changed the studio's focus to making cheap Westerns and dog pictures that could be turned out in a week for $30,000 to $50,000 each. Although they lacked artistic merit, the pictures sold, and FBO profits ballooned.

The following year, Joe Kennedy used the profits from FBO to purchase the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) who had a new system for making motion pictures with sound. Now that Joe headed a studio, he wanted to buy a theater chain to distribute his pictures. This desire would eventually lead to the infamous 'Pantages Scandal.' [Note: Joe Kennedy may have had stock in RCA or its parent, General Electric, but he never "owned" RCA. - B.C.]

Kennedy purchased KAO (Keith-Albee-Orpheum Theaters Corp), a chain with 700 movie theaters in the US and Canada, and more than 2 million patrons daily. Edward Albee, the founder of KAO, had initially refused to sell out, but when Joe promised that he would remain in control of the chain, Albee agreed to Kennedy's offer. But once the papers were signed and Joe was chairman, Joe said bluntly, 'Didn't you know, Ed? You're washed up. Through.'

In 1928, Joe was asked to serve as a special adviser on the board of Pathe Exchange Inc., a production company who produced a weekly newsreel. Joe soon became chairman of Pathe and began implementing his own ideas, beginning by slashing the salaries of the employees. The cost-cutting applied to others, however, and not to himself - he was drawing a salary of $100,000 from Pathe.

Later that year, Joe merged FBO with his chain of theaters (KAO) to form the  famous RKO. Joe then had RCA trade its FBO stock for stock in the new company, a deal which brought him $2 million. [The acquisition of FBO and KAO by RCA, later to be known as RKO, happened in October 1928. - B.C.]

In 1931, Joe Kennedy plundered Pathe Exchange. He arranged for RKO to pay Pathe insiders like himself $80 a share. The rest of the stockholders would receive just one dollar and fifty cents a share... Since Joe had acquired the stock for $30 a share, he more than doubled his investment in fewer than two years. Stockholders filed suit, but nothing came of it.

Moreover, he took advantage of privileged information from the files of major stockholders in the movie companies who were clients of Guy Currier, his partner at RKO. While Currier was on vacation in Italy, Kennedy pillaged his files for inside information such as the size of holdings of other stockholders and their financial condition. He then used the information to further his own interests.

When Currier returned, he discovered that RKO's value had plummeted, and he and his fellow investors had been betrayed. Years later, Wisconsin Congressman John Schafer took to the floor of the House to denounce Joe Kennedy as the 'chief racketeer in the RKO swindle.'

Joe Kennedy had been chairman of FBO for two years and nine months, chairman of Keith-Albee-Orpheum for five months, special adviser to First National Pictures for six weeks, special adviser to RCA for two and a half months, and adviser to Paramount Pictures for seventy-four days. In all, Joe had made an estimated $5 million in the movie business."

Also see an October 27, 1928 Motion Picture News story on Internet Archive about the merger of RCA with the Keith-Albee-Orpheum circuit.  The combined circuit had about 700 theatres.

In 1929 RKO purchased the Pantages circuit to enhance their west coast holdings. The story is that after Alexander Pantages rebuffed Joe Kennedy's initial offers, he started finding product hard to obtain for his theatres.

One Eunice Pringle claimed she was raped by Pantages in a broom closet at the Pantages Theatre at 7th & Hill St. Kennedy's final offer before the scandal (which some accounts say he engineered) was $8 million. He ended up buying the circuit for $3.5 million. See the main Warner Downtown page for more salacious details.

Wikipedia has articles on Joe Kennedy's Film Booking Offices as well as RKO Pictures.

     USC  Downtown Walking Tour    


This site offers a great stroll through downtown.
Here's a shot of the Orpheum marquee at dusk
toward the end of its regular movie days.
full size view

This is in the site's chapter on the Historic Core.
Click on any of the buildings on the map for a view.

A view of the marquee.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

The Orpheum vertical sign.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

[ click on any of these images to enlarge ]

The recently restored roof sign -- it used to be

 double faced sign that also said "vaudeville."

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

 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
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Assume that all the images are subject to copyright
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     Sean Ault Archives    

A fine early 40s view looking north with the
Orpheum's new marquee on display at the right. On
the left, note the hole north of the Eastern Columbia
 Building where the Majestic Theatre was until 1933.
 full size view

A 50s look north on Broadway toward the
Orpheum and the Rialto and Tower (with the
Newsreel vertical) beyond.
full size view

Richard Wojcik also has a post of
the 50s view on Vintage Los Angeles.

A lovely look north on Broadway in 1967. In addition
 to the Indy 500 telecast what's playing at the Orpheum?
The best guess (so far) is Dean Martin in "Murderer's Row," a
 December 1966 release, along with Lee Marvin in "Cat Ballou"
 from 1965. Both presumably with Spanish subtitles.

Thanks, Sean!  Up the street we see a bit of the
Rialto and the Tower, back to its original name in
1965 after a spell being known as the Newsreel.

     Broadway Theatre Tour    


A 1995 view of the Orpheum on Grace
Market Research's Broadway Tour page.
full size view

     DLZ127 on Flickr    


A 1946 spook show at the Orpheum from DLZ127's
fine LA Spook Show collection of ads on Flickr. The
feature film that week was "So Dark The Night."
full size view
| on Flickr

Thanks to Beaudry for including the photo and a
link to the set on his Noirish Los Angeles post #25113.

     Gary Graver    

A look at the Orpheum Theatre in
1966 taken by
Gary Graver.
full size view

A 1997 marquee view by Gary Graver.
 full size view

Gary Graver (1938-2006) was a filmmaker and
 cinematographer who, over several decades, photographed
many theatres in Los Angeles and his hometown of Portland.
Thanks to Sean Graver for use of the photos.



The Los Angeles Orpheum got a full page (as did the other
Keith-Albee-Orpheum circuit houses) in the opening night program
for the new Memphis Orpheum in 1928. Historic Memphis has the
full program on their website.  The program notes that the Orpheum
was running two performances daily with reserved seats.
full page view | entire program

     L.A. Conservancy    


A great undated view of the outside snack bar once
appearing on the Conservancy's Facebook page. 
full size view

The photo also appears on the Orpheum
 Theatre website's gallery page.

     L.A. Public Library Collection    


A 1926 photo of the newly completed
New Orpheum, "America's Finest Theatre."
 full size view

An early facade view looking south.
full size view

A c.1928 look at the Orpheum's facade from the
north. Note the arrival of the Platt Music Co. Building
 (1927, Walker & Eisen) just north of the theatre.
full size view

A c.1928 photo of the Orpheum with
 Sophie Tucker as the headliner.  
full size view

Note in all four views above the theatre's original vertical
sign is hung on the extreme north end of the building.

An interesting 20s view of the back of the
Orpheum building from over on Spring St. 
full size view | higher res view -- USC Archives

The California State Library has closer view of the
 Orpheum Auto Park building in the foreground. An earlier
 view of the building as the California Public Market is in a
1922 Architectural Digest survey volume on Google Books.

In the USC Archives is a 1939 Dick Whittington view
of the back of the Orpheum and the Orpheum Auto
 Park -- turned into a ballroom. 

Looking in toward
the ticket lobby c.1931 with
the theatre running an Olson & Johnson revue
onstage called "Merry Monkey Business."
Note in the view above that the marquee
hasn't yet had its flashy RKO re-do.

A 1949 view from the Library's collection.
The Orpheum
at this late date still hadn't got
the memo that
vaudeville was dead.   
full size image

A 1961 view of the Orpheum. The theatre is
running "Young Savages" with Burt Lancaster.
full size view

A wonderful 1966 shot with the
Orpheum running "Ambush Bay"
full size view

More exterior views from the LAPL collection:

| 1926 exterior - drawing |
ticket lobby - early view
marquee - 1930 - looking north |
| north on Broadway 1930 - UA and Orpheum  |

| north on Broadway - from Chamber of Commerce Bldg. c.1930  |
 | north on Broadway from above - LAPL says c.1942 but it's earlier  |
ticket lobby - c.1931 -
Olsen & Johnson revue  "Merry Monkey Business" |
| another ticket lobby view - c.1931 - O&J |

| 30s? marquee shot - Harry Quillen - Major Bowes appearing  |
| Broadway north from 9th - c.1937 RKO marquee - Herman Schultheis  |

| marquee detail - 1949 "8 Big Acts"  |
| garment action | roof sign - 2000 - Marissa Roth  |
 | crowd for LA Conservancy screening - Gary Leonard  |

     Metro Transportation Archive    


A great late 40s look up Broadway in the
 Downtown Los Angeles set on Flickr. In
addition to the Orpheum, note also the United

Artists and the Tower (as the Newsreel).
full size view

     Noirish Los Angeles    

www.skyscraperpage.com | Noirish LA forum

A 1926 view looking south. On the end of the marquee:
 "The New Orpheum."
  On the right the Majestic is
down beyond Hamburger's Department Store.

A shot looking north.

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

     Photos of  Los Angeles    


An early Klieg-lit night, perhaps the
opening, at the "New Orpheum." The
photo is from Bill Gabel's collection.
full size view | on Photos of LA

A c. 1928 look north at the New Orpheum from
 Bill Gabel's collection. Note that the Platt Music Co.
 Building north of the theatre has been constructed.
 full size view | on Photos of LA

Thanks, Bill!

The Orpheum in 1952.
full size view

A 50s view that Benny Ballejo found
for the Photos of Los Angeles page.
full size view
| on Photos of LA

The photo above is also on the
 Who Remembers in East L.A. Facebook
Fred Beth also has it posted
 on a Jack Benny Fans page.

A look at the theatre in 1963 -- free parking!
full size view | in the LAHTF Flickr album

A 1996 view of the marquee.
full size view

A crowded day downtown in this undated
shot on Photos of Los Angeles. 
full size view

     Theatre Historical Society    


"Atomic Blast," a free early morning show during the 1952
run of "Greatest Show on Earth." Up the street we get the top
of the Rialto marquee and the Tower vertical in its Newsreel
days. The photo appeared on the cover of the THS magazine
Marquee for the 4th Quarter 2013.  Woody Wise had it
on his All Movie Projectors Facebook page.
Thanks, Woody!

     UCLA Archives    

Here we are in front of the Orpheum with a mess
 in the streets on Victory Over Japan Day.  We're looking
north toward the Rialto and the Tower, at this time
 called the Music Hall.  It's an L.A. Times photo.

The photo also appears as a post from
Bill Gabel on
Photos of Los Angeles.

     USC Archives    


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 1926 view from the California Historical Society
 looking north toward the Orpheum, "America's Finest
 Theatre." We don't yet have the 9th & Broadway
 Building (1931) blocking the view.
 full size view  | a detail on FB/LAtheatres

On the west side of Broadway in the photo above
we see the Western Costume Co. building in the 900
 block but no United Artists Theatre north of it yet.

The street angling off to the right is Broadway
Place, which has been abandoned.

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)

Historic Los Angeles Theatres - The Orpheum

A view of the February 1931 premiere of "Cimarron"
 with Richard Dix and Irene Dunne. It's a Dick
Whittington Studio photo. 
full size view

The Orpheum roof sign as seen from the roof
 of the May Co. in 1931. It's still double sided but the
 "vaudeville" lettering has been removed. This is a detail
from a much larger photo from the Dick Whittington
Studio, one of a set of 6 taken at a rooftop Easter party.
Thanks to Michelle Gerdes of the LAHTF for
finding the photo above in the USC Archives.

The Orpheum in 1932 for the run of "Frankenstein"
in a photo from the Dick Whittington Studio.
A detail of the new RKO marquee from the photo above.
The letters on the readerboard are changeable neon.
An entrance detail during the "3rd Horrifying
Week" of "Frankenstein." It's a Dick
Whittington Studio photo. 
full size view

A detail showing the curved soffit of the marquee from the
 photo above. Note that, unlike with the current marquee, we can
 see all the way into the arched ceiling of the ticket lobby beyond.
 larger view

Also in the set:
| ticket lobby poster "Shake Hands With The Monster"|
| closer view |

Thanks to theatre researcher Michelle Gerdes for
finding the "Frankenstein" views in the USC archives.  See
 an article and several ads from the "Frankenstein" run on
the fun LA Spook Show set of DLZ127 on Flickr.

The USC Archive has this nice 1937 aerial view
down Broadway. The boxy marquee of the
 Orpheum Theatre is on the right.
 full size view

A superb 1937 view of the Orpheum Theatre
 marquee from the Dick Whittington Studio. The Orpheum
 is running "Secret Valley" and Fugitive in the Sky." Note
 that the RKO logo is gone above the Orpheum lettering.
  full size view

Historic Los Angeles Theatres -- The Orpheum -- downtown on Broadway

A nice view looking north from 9th by the Dick
Whittington Studio. It's probably 1938 or 1939. 
"Stage in person: The Gilmore Circus."

Also in the USC Archives:
looking north - from Chamber of Commerce Bldg. -  1928  |
| another 1928 C of C Bldg. view north |
| looking north to UA and Orpheum - from Western Pacific Bldg. - c.1927-29 |
| looking north from Olympic - 1939 - still RKO marquee  |

     Vintage L.A.    


A look at the marquee in 1946 on Vintage
Los Angeles. It's a post by Billy Vera.
full size view

This Life Magazine shot posted on Vintage
Los Angeles by Greg Parulis gives us a nice look
at the signage at the Orpheum in 1952. 
full size view

A  crisp 1956 view from the Richard Wojcik
collection on Vintage Los Angeles. The Orpheum
 is running "The Man Who Knew Too Much." 
full size view

Note the Newsreel Theatre farther down at Broadway and
8th. It was previously and now, once again, is the Tower.

on the same block:
| Tower Theatre | Rialto Theatre |

formerly on the block:
| Garrick Theatre | Tally's Broadway |
| Majestic Theatre | Woodley's / Mission |

more orpheum theatre pages:
 | recent exterior views  | 
lobby  |  lounges  |  auditorium  |
booth  | 
 stage  |  basement  |  lofts  |