Hollywood Playhouse


1735 Vine St.

Los Angeles, CA 90028   | map |

The theatre is now a music venue called Avalon(323) 462-8900

| avalonhollywood.com | on Facebook  | tech info & plans  |

Also in the building is Bardot Hollywood at
1737 Vine St., a separate restaurant and club occupying the second floor areas fronting on Vine St. as well as the rooftop patio behind those spaces.

| bardothollywood.com | on Yelp  | on the Avalon site  |

Opened: January 24, 1927 as the Hollywood Playhouse, a legitimate theatre operation. 

Architects: Gogerty and Weyl.  


One sheet of the plans for the building  from the collection
of Joël Huxtable. He's a lighting designer who also took
on the task of being the theatre's archivist until 2009.
He's continued collecting material about the building.
 larger view

Henry L. Gogerty (1894-1990) and Carl Jules Weyl (1890-1948)  also designed many other Hollywood buildings. Mr. Gogerty did many as solo projects after his partnership with Mr. Weyl was dissolved in 1928.  Some area buildings include:

Mountain States Life Building/Yucca Vine Tower - 1928 - 6305 Yucca Ave.
Bernard Luggage  1638 Vine St. - 1928
Blaine Building - 1925 - 6601 Hollywood Blvd.
Fred Thompson Studios (Cat and Fiddle) - 1928 - 6530 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood News  Cherokee Ave.
Owens Studio Building (Hollywood Toys) 6560 Hollywood Blvd. - 1926
Dance Studio / Capitol Records  - 1930 - Yucca and Vine
Original Brown Derby Restaurant - Vine St.
Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale - 1928- 1310 Air Way
Fiesta Hall & Great Hall -- Plummer Park, West Hollywood

Seating: Originally 1,178. Seats have been removed on the main floor.

The Playhouse in the 20s: The operator, Ed Rowland, generally brought in traveling shows, largely dramas.  The initial production was "Alias The Deacon" staring Berton Churchill, then the biggest star on Broadway. Later the Henry Duffy company productions were featured. Duffy also produced at the El Capitan (the one on Hollywood Blvd., that is).

Noted performers in the early years of the Playhouse included the Duncan Sisters, Charlotte Greenwood, and Billie Burke.


Coming attractions listed in the Hollywood

Playhouse's opening night program.


The staff and policy page of the program.
 It's from the collection of Joël Huxtable.
full size view




The program cover for "If I Was Rich," available
 as a print from TheaterPrint. The 1927 production
 featured Phil Tead and Charles Miller.

The Playhouse in the 30s: In the late 30s the Playhouse was used for a number of WPA Federal Theatre Project productions.

A program cover from the 1933 production of "Androcles
and the Lion."  This was the first of many WPA productions
at the theatre. It's from Joël Huxtable's collection.
slightly larger view

The program cover above is available
as a print from TheaterPrint.


The "Androcles" cast onstage.
full size view



The Playhouse had a fling with burlesque in 1936.
Larry Harnisch's The Daily Mirror blog post on burlesque
star Carrie Finnnell downtown at the Follies also featured
 this ad for Billy Minsky's show -- and a story of
his troubles with the vice squad. 
larger ad view  | full article




A poster in the Library of Congress collection
 for 1937's "Revue of Revues" by the Federal
 Theatre Project at the Hollywood Playhouse.
full size view




A Library of Congress collection poster
 for "The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse" in 1938.
 full size view




A WPA poster for "The Warrior's Husband"
in the Library of Congress
  collection.
full size view

Also in the LOC collection:
| "Ready! Aim! Fire" - 1937 | " Two a Day" - 1938 |
| "Judgment Day" - 1938 | "Caesar and Cleopatra" - 1938 |
... and lots more


Also see the
Federal Theatre Project Materials Collection
items at George Mason University including:
| "Revue of Reviews" - 1937  | .. and  7 more


In the 40s: In 1942 the theatre was purchased from Guaranty Bank (who had foreclosed) by C.E. Toberman and Sid Grauman.  Toberman moved the name El Capitan to this building as his original El Capitan (on Hollywood Blvd.) was then being called the Paramount.  Their first tenant was Ken Murray, whose "Blackouts" had a long profitable run of seven years and 3,844 performances.

Cezar Del Valle's
Theatre Talks blog post devoted to the El Capitan gives us a bit from the July 11, 1942 issue of the magazine Billboard:

"Another West Coast two-a-day vauder, Blackouts of 1942, presented by Ken Murray and Billy Gilbert, opened this week at the 1,100-seat El Capitan, formerly the Hollywood Playhouse, on North Vine.

Attendance has been good, with the first several nights sell-outs at $1.65 tops. Show runs two hours 15 minutes.

Murray and Gilbert have gathered a likely array of talent and show holds interest, but its exceptionally good spots are few and far between. Comedy is good, however, and that's what West Coast people seem to want these days." 



A program for Ken Murray's "Blackouts of
1942" from the collection of Marlaine Hysell.
full size view


The reverse side of
the 1942 program.
full size view




A 1944 ad from Playgoer magazine in the Paper
Ephemera collection of Eric Lynxwiler on Flickr.
full size view




A 1945 L.A. Times nightlife ad from Kliph Nesteroff
on Vintage Los Angeles. In the middle, we get the
 El Capitan touting "Ken Murray's Blackouts of '45."



The cover of the program for "Blackouts of
1947" from the Cezar Del Valle Collection. 
full size view  | page 2 | page 3page 4 | page 5 |



Page 6 from the 1947 program.
full size view

In the 50s: The theatre later became the Jerry Lewis Theatre and the Hollywood Palace as a TV production studio. Nixon broadcast his "Checkers" speech from here in 1952.

Current Status: The building got a major makeover in 2003 and it's now a music venue known as the Avalon. The second floor space facing onto the street operates as a separate lounge called Bardot. The outdoor patio on this level serves as a smoking lounge. There also is a main floor restaurant at 1733 Vine called Honey.

The Avalon in the Movies: 



The Avalon gets a starring role in Taylor Hackford's
"Against All Odds" (Columbia, 1984) as Jake's Palace, a
nightclub owned by James Woods. The film also
 stars Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward.
 larger view


James Woods at the bar at the back of the main
floor of Jake's Palace in "Against All Odds." 
 larger view



A look up the main lobby stairs in "Against All Odds." 
That entrance into the auditorium from the
landing is a recent modification.
larger view


A street view of the Avalon as Jake's
Palace in"Against All Odds."
larger view


Status: It's always been a live house or TV studio and currently is a music venue.  

More information: There are some recent pictures of this theatre as the Avalon Hollywood on Yelp.  Also see About.com's article on the Avalon Hollywood. The site also has a review of Bardot. The Bardot piece has a photo of the patio plus 3 interior space views.  TheaterPrint has a history page that includes the Hollywood Playhouse.

You-Are-Here has photos of a number of other Gogerty and Weyl buildings.  See Sharon Knolle's photos of Gogerty's Plummer Park buildings. See the Archiplanet listing for Henry Gogerty.

The other Hollywood Playhouse: There was also a small legit venue on Las Palmas called the Playhouse. It's been through a lot of different names, too. See our Hollywood Playhouse page for details on that one.

The other El Capitan: This venue on Vine St. just borrowed the name temporarily. The Hollywood Blvd. El Capitan opened with that name in 1926 and recently got it back after a spell as the Paramount.




The ticket lobby area.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

[ click on these photos to to enlarge ]



A facade detail.

photo: Bill Counter -- 2010



L.A. Public Library

A facade view with "Pomander Walk" on the marquee.


A c. 1929 view of the Playhouse from above as
we look north on Vine. The tall structure on Yucca

is the Pacific States Life Building. Also note the
Mulholland Dam in the distance.
 full size view  | similar view 

One version of the photo above also appears on one
of the DWP Museum Hollywood pages, along with many
other vintage views from different archives.




A c. 1937 exterior view from the Library
collection.
The show is "Ready, Aim, Fire!"
full size view 



A 1956 aerial view by Howard Kelley with the
Pantages at the lower left and the Playhouse above it.
full size view
 



Another 1956 view from the north.
full size view

A slightly larger version of the photo above
 appears on Vintage Los Angeles.


 

The asbestos curtain as viewed from
under the balcony.

full size view



A view of the lobby in 1927.
full size view


Also in the Library's collection:
| 1927 proscenium view |
 | c.1937 facade - "Ready Aim Fire" - Herman Schultheis |




The Travelen

www.thetravelen.com




A view of the back of the main floor at the theatre
from this site's Avalon Night Club page. 
full size view



Another view of the patio of the complex
from this travel site.  The patio is used as an
outdoor smoking lounge.
full size view




Vintage Los Angeles

facebook.com/VintageLosAngeles



A nice Life Magazine shot of the Playhouse in its
early days
posted by Alison Martino on her Facebook
page Vintage Los Angeles.
It's from 1936.
full size view




A rare look south on Vine in 1953. That's the
 
Playhouse's stagehouse on the far right of the
 photo. It's a post by Alison Martino. 
full size view


A larger view of the photo above is on
Flickr in the collection of ElectroSpark.
  The
image also appears on Photos of Los Angeles.




A look south on Vine St. in 1956 from the Richard
 Wojcik collection taken shortly after the opening of the
Capitol Records building. We get a view of the Hollywood
Playhouse tucked in to the left of the Knickerbocker.
 full size view
  |  on FB/LAtheatres



A 1966 view from the UCLA / L.A. Times archive
posted on Vintage Los Angeles by Doug Boethin. 
full size view




A 1967 shot added to the Vintage
Los Angeles collection by Nile Hight.
full size view




A good look at the facade in 1968.
It's from the Richard Wojcik collection.
full size view  |  a re-post




A view of the theatre in its Merv Griffin Show days
added to Vintage Los Angeles by Johns Burwell. 
full size view

Also on Vintage Los Angeles:
1971 view -- looking south on Vine "Hollywood Palace" |






 
The Avalon, formerly the Hollywood Playhouse.


photo: Bill Counter - 2007

[ click to enlarge ]


A view of the Hollywood Playhouse complex looking
south on Vine St. toward Hollywood Blvd. 

photo: Google Maps
- 2011

Click on the image to enlarge or go
to Google for an interactive view.




The entrance to the club.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010


about the photos from other websites...

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




AvalonHollywood.com

avalonhollywood.com


A view of the lobby from the Avalon website.
Click for a slightly larger view.



A view of the auditorium from the balcony.
Click for a slightly larger view.



A view of the auditorium from the site's rental setup
page.  Click on it for a larger view.  On the page is a photo
portfolio of 11 other interesting rental setups.



A stunning view out through the Bardot lounge roof
canopy up toward the Capitol Records building.
  It's on the
 site's
Bardot page. Click on the photo for a larger view.



A view on the patio looking toward the fireplace from
the Avalon website's
Bardot page. Click on the photo for
a larger view.
The page also has two additional
photos of the lounge areas.

Visit the Avalon venue photos page for more
great views of this historic building.



Biz Bash

www.bizbash.com/losangeles


A view of the Bardot lounge area at the Avalon
complex. It's from the site's spread on the Avalon.
full size view



The Boulevard Blog

theboulevardblog.blogspot.com



Two view of some facade ornament at the
theatre from a
 great 2009 post "We Had Faces."  See the post for many
 more details of ornament from Hollywood buildings.





California State Library

www.library.ca.gov


The State Library has some fine Mott Studio
pictures of the Hollywood Playhouse including
this nice view of the proscenium and sidewall.  
full size view




Also in the State Library collection is
this view of the balcony soffit and
rear of the main floor.
full size view


A main ceiling chandelier detail.
full size view



A vintage look at the balcony stairs in the center
of the lobby of the Hollywood Playhouse.
full size view


 
It's a tapestry in the lobby.
full size view



The view from the south toward the
house right end of the lobby.
full size view



A closer look at the
house right end of the lobby.
full size view



The house left end of the lobby.



The main and balcony lobbies
from the stair landing.
full size view




In the balcony level lobby looking south. Through the
doorway straight ahead there's a restroom and, to the right,
stairs up to the balcony crossaisle house left.

The lit doorway at the left gets you out onto the patio.
The stairs at right head down to the main floor lobby.  
full size view

More interior views of the Hollywood
 Playhouse in the State Library collection:

Main Lobby:
 | stairway | another stairway view |

Balcony Lobby:
| upstairs lobby door detail |



A view of the upstairs patio from the
State Library collection.  We're looking north --
the auditorium would be off to the left.
 
full size viewanother take

More exterior photos of the Hollywood
 Playhouse in the State Library collection:

Facade:
  exterior  |  entrance detail  |  entrance from the south |
 
Patio:
 |  patio view #2 - doors to balcony lobby at left  |
 |   patio view #3 - looking toward balcony lobby  |
patio view #4  - fireplace  closer up | patio furniture |
 |  furniture and fireplace |



Club USA



A nice view of the rooftop patio that was
 once on this site's
Los Angeles page.

full size view

The photo also appears on About.com and is
credited to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.



Cezar Del Valle - Theatre Talks


A 1948 look at the theatre when running Ken
Murray's "Blackouts." It's a Bob Plunkett photo
on the postcard from Cezar Del Valle's collection.

full size view

 Cezar is a Brooklyn-based theatre historian with
a fondness for Los Angeles Theatres. Thanks, Cezar!



Hollywood Photographs

From the great Bruce Torrence Hollywood
Photographs Collection comes this detail
of
the entrance in 1927.
full size view



A 1949 look at the main stairs to the balcony.
full size view




A 1949 look down towards the end of the lobby.
full size view




Looking across the auditorium toward
the built-out stage in 1955.
full size view


More interior views:
rear of the auditorium - 1955 |
  toward the stage - 1955 |


More exterior views in the collection:
1927 exterior - as the Hollywood Playhouse |  another 1927 view |
| 1930 exterior ('34?)- "White Cargo" | 1937 exterior |
 |
1947 exterior -- as the El Capitan - "Blackouts - 5th year!  |
|
1978 exterior -- as the Palace |  1987 exterior | .. and many more
search Hollywood theatre photos  |



Mid Century Modern

www.facebook.com/groups/75888708987


A colorful look down Vine St. toward Hollywood & Vine
in 1964 added to the archive by Gs Jansen. The theatre
(then the Hollywood Palace) is on the right. 
full size view



A look at the theatre in 1967 when it was the Hollywood
Palace. It was added by Christiana Starr to Alison Martin0's
terrific Mid Century Modern Facebook page. 
full size view




A 1968 snap of the Hollywood Palace added
to the Facebook page by Gary Schneider.  
full size view



Photos of Los Angeles

facebook.com/groups/244565982234863


An early view from Bill Gabel looking north on Vine St.
The Hollywood Playhouse, over on the left, appears
to be running a show called "Meet The People."
 full size view
  |  on FB/LATheatres




Ken McIntyre found this 1947 view looking west

 from Yucca and Argyle. Admittedly it's a better photo
of the City Food Mart than of the Hollywood Playhouse
beyond it. Here it's called the El Capitan -- note that they've
painted that name across the top of the stagehouse.
full size view  | on FB/LAtheatres




A 1947 look north on Vine St. as the theatre celebrates
 
the 5th year of Ken Murray's "Blackouts." Ken McIntyre
found the shot for Photos of Los Angeles.
 full size view  | on FB/LAtheatres




A 1952 look at the theatre as an NBC studio. 
full size view

Note that we still have the
 "El Capitan"
signage on the side.

The photo above also appears in the
collection of Hollywood Historic Photos.




A c.1960 night view looking south on Vine St. added
by Ken McIntyre to his Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
The outline of the Playhouse can be discerned at the right. 
full size view




A 1968 view looking north on Vine discovered
by Ken McIntyre. The Playhouse is over there on
 the left hiding behind a billboard.
 full size view  | on America in the 60s 


The photo above also appears on our
 Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page.




USC Archives

digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm



A nice 1934 exterior view from the
California Historical Society. Leon Gordon
 is appearing in "White Cargo."
 full size view

A 1934 production of the play at the Hollywood Playhouse
 was mentioned in a news item in the Reading Eagle. Mr. Gordon
 was also the author of the play. A later production of it
ran over
 a year at
the Beaux Arts Theatre in 1939 and 1940.




A 1942 telephoto look south on Vine by Dick Whittington.
You don't get much of the
theatre (here still called the
 Playhouse)
but if you look at the right side there's the
 marquee and a
bit of decorative plasterwork visible.
full size view

The photo above also appears
on
Photos of Los Angeles.



Wikipedia

www.wikipedia.org


This picture (and a history of the theatre)
appears on the Wikipedia Avalon Theatre page.
full size view

Also on Wikipedia:
Poster for Federal Theatre event - Myra
Kinch & Group in "
Modern Dance Now."



 You-Are-Here Hollywood Blvd. Tour

www.you-are-here.com


Shown here is a nice facade detail of the Hollywood
Playhouse in its blue period by Martin from his
great website.  full size image

Also see:
 
| facade view |

Take Martin's tour down Hollywood Boulevard
for lots more terrific photos.