Earl Carroll Theatre

6230 W. Sunset Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90028

| map |

News: The building has been declared a City of Los Angeles Cultural-Historic Landmark. Julia Wick on LAist had a December 8, 2016 photo spread of many vintage views along with the story "Hollywood's Earl Carroll Theatre Gets Landmark Designation." Patrick Lee had a December 9, 2016 story on L.A. Curbed: "Hollywood building that once housed lavish supperclub wins landmark status."

The Curbed article mentions "restoration" of the theatre but offers no details other than facade work. Which may be, along with preservation of existing deco lobby details, about all we get. Not to complain-- this is a better outcome than it looked like at the beginning of negotiations. LAist says the agreement with the owners "will ensure that one of the last remaining examples of modern entertainment venues constructed during the height of the Golden Age will remain for decades to come." But don't expect to go to a show. There is no program to restore the auditorium. It hasn't been a public performance venue for years and may or may not be returned to that use in the future -- it depends on what sort of tenants the building gets.

Escott O. Norton, of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, offers more details:

"The developer says that the current tenant, Nickelodeon, will continue to use the property. When they choose to leave then the developers will look for a new tenant. They are not in the theatre biz, so if we can find the right operator for this unique property, it might very well be returned to a public venue. We were able to add protections for some of the interior elements, including the rotating stage which is currently covered by the production facility floor. Also, there will be some dedicated parking for the theatre, not nearly enough but some."

The building and its adjacent parking lot are currently owned by Palo Alto based equity fund Essex Property Trust. They're proposing to build a 7 story mixed use structure, the 6250 Sunset Building, in the parking lot west of the theatre that would contain 200 apartments and 4,700 sf of commercial space. The existing building would be retained and connected to the new via a "paseo."

The initial proposal from Essex contained no assurances that the theatre would remain an entertainment-related venue or that any of the remaining historic features (such as the deco lobby) would be preserved. Preservation organizations including Hollywood Heritage and the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation had negotiations with the developers regarding preservation of historic aspects.

The developers are planning to restore the facade to its 1938 look, including the vertical neon stripes on the Sunset facade and (eventually) the neon sculpture with the lettering "Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world." No cement signature blocks, however. The developers have expressed enthusiasm about retaining the deco lobby but there have been no assurances about the auditorium. Unlike the lobby, the auditorium has been extensively remodeled over the years. As of 2016, some of the original stage equipment (including the revolving stage) still remains in place.

The building may stay as a production facility if Nickelodeon leaves. Or get turned to other commercial use. Initially there was little chance it would ever again be a public venue as Essex didn't want to meet the necessary parking requirements. Now, with some dedicated parking, that possibility has been left open for the future.

It's unknown how much protection the City of Los Angeles landmark status gives the building. But it was a big step as earlier the developers had expressed an interest in applying -- but only after their work was completed. While much of the building has been altered, enough historic features remain to make the Earl Carroll also eligible for inclusion on the National Register. The developers have also talked about a facade easement to the L.A. Conservancy to obtain certain tax credits.

The Los Angeles Conservancy has a fine page outlining the project. Hit the "our position" tab for more information about their reservations about the project as originally proposed. Also see the Draft Environmental Impact Report from March 2015 and the Conservancy's comments.

Curbed L.A. had a 2014 article by Bianca Barragan on the project "Here's the Latest Look for the Sunset-Vine Mixed User" that included a number of renderings.

Thanks to Richard Adkins of Hollywood Heritage for updates on the project. He notes that "There are some good things to their plans for the new adjacent building. It has a facade on Hawthorne as well as Sunset in order to upgrade that street. They are borrowing rhythms and massing from the Carroll and they are restoring or returning elements of the vintage signage."

Looking west on Sunset across the facade of the historic theatre
toward the new building. It's from the 2014 Curbed story.
full size view

Opened: December 26, 1938 for lavish Earl Carroll musical comedy revues. The exterior featured a 20-foot high neon silhouette of Beryl Wallace, one of the Earl Carroll girls (and Mr. Carroll's wife). The lettering around the silhouette said: "Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world."

The theater was sold following the 1948 deaths of Earl Carroll and Beryl Wallace in an airplane crash. The theatre had a difficult time in the early 50s and in 1953 re-opened as the Moulin Rouge nightclub. It also had spells as a TV studio in the 50s, including use by "Queen for a Day."

From 1965 until early 1968 it was the Hullabaloo Theatre. In 1968 it became the Kaleidoscope. In late 1968 it was renamed the Aquarius for a run of "Hair" and other shows. In 1977 it was briefly known as the Longhorn Theatre. It was also called the Sunset Blvd. Theatre, the Star Search Theatre and (in 1993) the Chevy Chase Theatre. Other uses have included being a venue for Jerry Lewis Telethons and Filmex.

Seating: 1,000 -- in a dinner-show arrangement

Architect: Gordon B. Kaufman, with interior and exterior design work by Count Alexis de Sakhnovsky and Kaufman. The cost of the building was estimated at $500,000.

The stage featured a 60' revolve with separately operated inner and outer sections. There was also a water curtain, an orchestra pit lift, a small circular lift downstage center for a soloist and a revolving tower of four pianos stage right.

Status: It's been used since 1997 by Nickelodeon and known as the Nickelodeon on Sunset as their west coast production hub. See the "News" section at the top of the column for information on the plans for redevelopment by the new owner.

The Earl Carroll in the Movies:

We get some nice aerial shots in the Jerry Lewis film
"The Errand Boy" (Paramount, 1961). Here looking west on
Sunset it's the Earl Carroll (here renamed the Moulin Rouge)
on the left and the Palladium across the street.
larger view

See our Theatres In Movies post about
"The Errand Boy" for a Hollywood Blvd. aerial view and
visits to the Fox Westwood Village and the Chinese.

A vintage exterior photo of the theatre as the Earl Carroll
that's used at the beginning of "Zoot Suit" (Universal, 1981)
larger view

Another exterior image from the opening.
larger view

The end credits of "Zoot Suit" note that it was filmed at
the Aquarius Theatre, as it was then called. There are some
shots of the audience in the auditorium during the film --
but we really don't see anything in the except seats.
There are, however, some views of the lobby.

A lobby shot from "Zoot Suit"
larger view

Thanks to Lanna Pian for the tip on this one. Our "Zoot Suit"
Theatres In Movies post has several more lobby shots.

More Information: See Alison Martino's 2015 Los Angeles Magazine article "Uncovering a Secret Gem..."

The Wikipedia article on the Earl Carroll Theatre has an informative history on the Hollywood theatre and Earl Carroll Theatre in New York City. Also visit their listing for Earl Carroll. See also the listing for Earl Carroll on Find A Grave.

You Tube has a nice 2 1/2 minute clip from Robbies Video Archives "The Hullabaloo Club, Hollywood, 1966" with a nice discussion of its transition from the Earl Carroll/Moulin Rouge.

Earl Carroll also was a film producer with titles including the cult-classic "Murder at the Vanities" (1933), "Stowaway" (1936), "Love is News" (1937), and "A Night at Earl Carroll's" (1940).

The Missing Plaques: The Earl Carrol had a whole wall of little plaques that were signed by the stars. In a June, 2011 story, L.A. Magazine's Chris Nichols answers a question about what happened to them:

"In 1968, a Dutch art collective known as the Fool replaced the nameplates with a psychedelic mural of Greek muses and stored the autographed pieces in the basement. They stayed there until 1979, when Magic Castle founder Milt Larsen acquired them for his Variety Arts Center downtown.

Gene Autry lassoed them for his museum later that year. Finally, Butterfield & Butterfield auctioned off 104 of the plaques in 1989 and 1990. Two bearing the names of Norma Shearer and Amos ’n Andy had been left beneath the theater stage. They were put on display until 2006, when the property was sold again—it’s now the Nickelodeon Theater—and the owner gave the pair to the handyman."

As of 2015 some of the plaques were evidently still in the possession of Milt Larson.

The motor for the turntable -- now disconnected.

photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011

Martin Alison on Flickr


Martin has a delightful collection of 60s views of
Los Angeles. Here we're looking at the theatre
in 1965 when it was called the Hullabaloo.
full size view

Card Cow


A c.1946 card looking east on Sunset.
full size view

The L.A. Conservancy also has a version of this card.

A great view of the theatre as the Moulin Rouge.
full size view

A souvenir postcard from the theatre.
full size view

This site has thousands of great vintage
postcards to browse.

Also in the collection:
| signature wall | night view -- as Earl Carroll |
| another night view | c.1946 looking east |
| souvenir card -- another showgirl card |

Felix in Hollywood Tour Company


In this entertaining YouTube video Earl Carroll showgirl Shirley Claire
gets interviewed by Felix's Philip Mershon. She discusses, among
other things, Mr. Carroll's desire for his girls to be "alabaster white."

On YouTube:
|  "Shirley Claire at the Earl Carroll Theater"  |
| "Swinging at the Earl Carroll Theater"  |

Mr. Mershon leads walking tours
exploring Hollywood history:

Elizabeth Fuller's L.A. Postcards


Ms. Fuller's great Old L.A. Postcard Collection is filled
with many wonders -- 560 cards in all.   Don't start
-- you'll be there all afternoon.

Here is a card of the Earl Carroll Theatre
from her collection. Thanks, Elizabeth! 
 full size view

The photo itself also appears in the
Los Angeles Public Library

Hollywood Photographs


A view of the Earl Carroll Theatre lobby.
full size view | data page

It's just one of many amazing views that the
Bruce Torrance Hollywood Photograph Collection
has of the Earl Carroll Theatre:

| another lobby view | turntable construction |
| lobby stairs | table layout from above |
| 1949 show from above rear |

| at night - 1939 | 1940 night view | from the west |
| 1987 - as the Aquarius | 1977 - as the Longhorn |
| 1979 -- "Oliver" | another 1979 "Oliver" view |
| 1979 - "Ain't Misbehavin" |

And browse lots more from Hollywood Photographs:
Earl Carroll Theatre

L.A. Public Library Photo Collection


A 1938 construction view of the revolving stage.

full size view

The caption says: "Earl Carroll's theater-restaurant is famed
not only for its 'most beautiful girls in the world' but, also, for
its unique revolving stage. During the show, leggy ladies of the
line will parade onto the huge circular, revolving stage. This
photo shows Earl Carroll and some of his aides and chorus
girls examining the construction of the revolving stage in 1938."

A 1938 lobby view.
 full size view

The Library's great collection includes about a
hundred photos of the Earl Carroll Theatre with many
 concerning specific productions and performers.

Simply do a photo search for "Earl Carroll."   These
 we show are some of the most interesting

Another lobby view.
 full size view

A 1938 auditorium photo.
 Note the neon ceiling lighting.
 full size view

Chorus girls onstage in 1949. 
full size view

The exterior in 1938.
  full size view

A 1938 Herman Schultheis shot of the installation
 work on the famous neon on the exterior. The piece,
a 20' high likeness of Mr. Carroll's companion Beryl
Wallace, is ringed with the words "Through These Portals
Pass the Most Beautiful Girls in the World." 
 full size view

Thanks to Nile Hight for posting the view above
on Vintage Los Angeles, prompting a look
for it in the LAPL collection.

An Ansel Adams shot of the "neon
Earl Carroll girl" on the facade.  
full size view

A night view by Bob Plunkett.
  full size view

The "Celebrity Wall" in 1948.
full size view

Big plans for a new film theatre were
announced in 1946 but never realized.
full size view

The photo also appears on Vintage Los Angeles, where
 Brian McCray offers details on the never-built theatre:

"1948, seating 7,000, $15 Million, structure to be larger than
Radio City Music Hall, Sunset Boulevard, a half a block east
of current structure. Proscenium 130 ft., THREE revolving
stages 75x100, and ice rink AND a water tank, so that Esther
Williams and Sonja Hennie could BOTH perform simultaneously
while 110 dizzy dames twirled. Movie Theatre, TV studios,
nightclub and a high rise office tower topped with a heliport.
(And we got The Cinerama Dome instead.)

Thanks, Brian!

Also in the LAPL collection:
| Carroll and the Girls - 11 girls who will appear in
"Murder at the Vanities"  Herald-Examiner Collection  |
|   night exterior view  | c. 1939 exterior - Herman Schultheis  |

Noirish LA -- Skyscraperpage.com


G.S. Jansen posted this nice view by an
unknown photographer on his
post #1508. It's
when the building was called the Moulin Rouge.
full size view

Another Moulin Rouge shot that Mr. Ethereal
Reality found on eBay for his post #23819.

Visit Noirish LA for a great ride around the
"bright and guilty place" that is Los Angeles!

Also see several nice views on
 Ethereal Reality's post #5759.

Pomona Public Library


The Frasher Foto Postcard Collection at the Pomona
 Library has hundreds of photos from all over southern
 California. Here we're looking toward the Earl Carroll
 Theatre in 1939. It's a "Frasher's Foto Postcard."
 full size view

The card above also appears as part of an Earl Carroll
album on the Facebook page SoCal Historic Architecture.

Here we have another Frasher's Card
with a 1947 night view. 
full size view

In the UCLA Calisphere collection:
higher resolution view  |

Vintage Los Angeles


A 1939 look at a booth in the lounge. Added by
Nile Hight to the Vintage Los Angeles collection. 
full size view

A view of Earl Carroll showgirls from a program page
posted by Tam Timothy O'Connor Fraser.  Tam's mother,
La Gay Guistina, is in the upper right. She was with the
theatre for a year or so around 1945.
full size view

Earl Carroll and some of the showgirls with
autographed blocks. Evidently there was some
controversy about their disposition.
 full size view

An ad for a New Year's Eve celebration
added to the Vintage Los Angeles
collection by Kliph Nesteroff. 
full size view

Thanks to Nile Hight for this c.1942
 look at an Earl Carroll show.

A 1950 view posted by Laura DeMarco showing the
 theatre when it was operating as the Moulin Rouge. 
full size view

A wonderful 50s billboard for a Moulin Rouge
engagement of Louis Prima and Keely Smith.
 It's a Gary Leonard photo. 
full size view

A 1959 program cover from the Gs Jansen
 collection on Vintage Los Angeles.   
full size view

A 1965 look at the celebrity autograph slabs
from the Richard Wojcik collection. 
full size view

Programs and ephemera on Vintage Los Angeles:
| Earl Carroll - program photo | two Earl Carroll beauties -- promo photo |

More building photos on Vintage Los Angeles:
| night Moulin Rouge - "C'est la Vie" |
| busy 1944 street view --  from the west |
| 1945 with servicemen -- Richard Wojcik collection |
| June 1966 - as the Hullabaloo -- Richard Wojcik collection |
| 1971 -- after the run of Hair -- Richard Wojcik collection |
 | Turtles at the Celebrity Wall - 1966  |

And see Alison Martino's blog post:
| The Aquarius Theater  |

The Earl Carroll Theatre as a studio for Nickelodeon.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

[ click on any of these photos to enlarge ]

A look east on Sunset Blvd from Argyle.

photo: Google Maps - 2009

That's the Palladium on the left. Click on the image
to enlarge or head to Google for an interactive view.

A view of the lobby.

photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011

As of 2015 the building is still a production facility for Nickelodeon.
In 2011 it was home to "Victoriuos," "iCarly" and other shows. Chuck
Weiss, who was working in the building on "iCarly," reports that the
owners were keeping the lobby in near mint condition.

Chuck's photos originally appeared on the Facebook page Vintage
Los Angeles where you can see the comments they garnered.

The grand staircase in the lobby.

photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011

The top of the staircase -- leading to the restrooms.

photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011

Looking down toward the exit.

photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011

Chuck notes: "The original statuette is in excellent condition,
and still greeting those who enter the doors of this amazing place."

See the comments on Vintage Los Angeles.

[ click on any of these photos to enlarge ]

An elevator under the stage to
take a dancer up to stage level.

photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011

Chuck notes: "Under the stage of the Earl Carroll Theater,
this is one of the tiny elevators the dancing girls would ride
up to stage level. A corkscrew lift would take the scantily
clad dancer up to an opening in the stage floor where she
would be a part of the show."

On Vintage Los Angeles: comments

We're under the stage looking at the rollers
and track for the stage turntable.

photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011

Chuck notes: "Apparently the rotating turntable stage
had two separate movements - one part of the stage could
rotate at a different time/speed/direction than another section.
I'll have to crawl around the basement more to see
how this was accomplished."

A detail of the rollers and concrete
race that supports the turntable.

photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011

Thanks, Chuck!

A 1940 view of the tire shop along the side of the theatre. Thanks
to Michael Hayashi for the photo, a post on Photos of los Angeles.

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.

Sean Ault Archives

Thanks to Sean for this fine night view of the Earl
Carroll taken when CBS was using the theatre.
full size view

It's also on Vintage Los Angeles as
 a post from Richard Wojcik.

Calisphere - UCLA


A 1939 view of the boxoffice area at the
Earl Carroll. It's a Maynard Parker photo
from the Huntington Library. 
full size view

Mr. Parker's 1939 photo of the stairs
leading into the auditorium.
full size view

A look at the interior -- again by Mr. Parker.
full size view

A view of the rear of the seating
area from onstage.
full size view

A proscenium photo by Mr. Parker.

Check out the full set of 23 views
of the theatre on Calisphere.
| view the collection |

Having a Nice Time


A 1943 postcard of the Earl Carroll on this blog
post  "Earl Carroll Theatre-Restaurant"  by Mark.  
full size view

The back of the card reads: The Earl Carroll
 Theatre - Restaurant in the heart of Hollywood on Sunset
Boulevard near Vine, is a favorite Nite Spot in the Film
Capital of the World.  Seating arrangements are terraced
so all guests may enjoy an unobstructed view of the lavish
stage production with "Sixty of the Most Beautiful
Girls in the World."

A view by Mark of the Earl Carroll in its
current guise Nickelodeon on Sunset.
 full size view

Huntington Library


A view of the lobby by Maynard Parker in the
 Huntington's collection.  The description (on a now-
vanished page) noted that "the statue by Martin Deutsch
still graces the lobby,
though her ribbon of neon is gone."
 full size view

A c.1938 Exterior view by Mr. Parker. 
full size view

Check the right sidebar along the page for the
image above for an index of other views of the
theatre on the Huntington website.

Los Angeles Conservancy

www.laconservancy.org | on Facebook

A 1946 postcard in the Conservancy's collection
appearing on their page about redevelopment of the Earl
Carroll theatre property as the 6250 Sunset project.

Los Angeles Theatres on Facebook


A souvenir photo folder. Like many nightclubs, the Earl
Carroll sold photos to the happy couples attending the shows.
From Marlaine Hysell's collection comes this view of the cover
of a 40s folder which contained the souvenir photograph.
 full size view

Inside the souvenir photo folder to commemorate
"your breathtaking visit" to the Earl Carroll Theatre
was a great puff piece about Earl Carroll, "America's
premiere authority of feminine beauty."
full size view

A photo taken at the Earl Carroll. On the left: 
Marlaine Hysell's dad, John A. Quinn Wilson and
her grandmother, Lillie Riemann Quinn Wilson.
 On the right: her step sister and a date.
 full size view

On the back of the souvenir folder was information
about how to order additional copies for $1.25 each
from Hollywood Nite Club photos, whose offices were
 located in the Carthay Circle Theatre building.
 full size view

Eric Lynxwiler on Flickr


A matchbook from the Earl Carroll Theatre in Eric's
extraordinary Paper Ephemera collection.
full size view

Martino's "Lost" Angeles Time Machine


A 1939 exterior view of the theatre from
Alison's 2009 post "The Aquarius Theater." 
full size view

The photo above also appears
on Vintage Los Angeles.

A look at the building in 1961 as the Moulin Rouge. 
It's one of many great views on Alison's post.
full size view

The view above is also on Imageshack
via Noirish Los Angeles.

Both these views also appear in Alison Martino's 2015
Los Angeles Magazine article "Uncovering a Secret Gem..."

Brian Michael McCray - Hollywood Postcards

A postcard view of the celebrity autograph plaque
wall from Brian Michael McCray's amazing Hollywood
Postcards collection, formerly displayed on Picasa. 
full size view

Another version of the star wall postcard from the John
Marshall collection appears on Photos of Los Angeles.

A great look at the famous neon face that
was once posted by Brian on Facebook.  

Penny Postcards from California


A view of the "Signatures of the Stars"
wall at the Earl Carroll.

full size view

Also see: 
| theatre night view | more Hollywood postcards  | 

Photos of Los Angeles


A wonderful rainy night postcard view by Bob
Plunkett added by Ken McIntyre to the Photos
of Los Angeles Facebook page. 
full size view

Another version of the Plunkett card above also appears on
Photos of Los Angeles, from the Michelle Gerdes collection.

A view of the theatre as the Moulin Rouse in the 50s
with the show "Paris Toujours" playing. 
full size view

A look at the Earl Carroll in 1968 with
lines for a rock show.
full size view

A 2013 look at the building by Ken McIntyre.

Also see:
as Nickelodeon  |  Earl Carroll color postcard  |
 | 1950 Moulin Rouge -  B &W at night - "All New Show"" |
 |  Moulin Rouge - "C'est la Vie"  | picket line - 1959 |

Soapbxprod on YouTube


A great 3 minute compilation of 50s Hollywood footage,
Luke Sacher's "Hollywood Neon Theatres Clubs Restaurants at
Night 1950s," features the Earl Carroll in its Moulin Rouge
days, the Chinese, the Egyptian and lots more..
 larger viewthe film on YouTube

The Studio for Southern California History

www.socalstudio.org  | the Studio on Facebook

An Earl Carroll Theatre playing card from the
collection of Sharon Sekhon of the Studio for Southern
California History. It's a 2 of spades.
larger view

Visit the Studio's website for news of

interesting exhibits and activities.

Theatre Talks - Cezar Del Valle

www.theatretalks.com | theatretalks.blogspot.com

An undated snapshot view of the theatre from
Cezar Del Valle's delightful collection.
full size view

Cezar is a Brooklyn-based theatre historian. For other interesting
material (including many more Los Angeles theatre cards) see his
website Theatre Talks and visit him on Facebook.

Viewliner LTD -- a Tour of Americana

A postcard of the Earl Carroll published by
Longshaw Card Co. and featured on this blog's page:
 "Longshaw Cards 1946."
full size view



The Wikipedia article on the Earl Carroll Theatre
has this 1938 night view of the exterior. 

It's a 1942 view by Russell Lee of the Farm
 Security Administration.  larger view