Holly Theatre

6523 Hollywood Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90028

| map |

Opened: July 31, 1931 as an "automatic theatre" called the Studio Theatre in what had been a 30' x 100' store space across the street from the Iris (later the Fox).  The building dates from 1920.

The "automatic" business meant that there were no ticket takers or ushers and just vending machines in the lobby. This was a project of Howard Hughes' Hughes-Franklin circuit. The circuit didn't last long but the theatre survived.

The newly opened theatre got a lot of coverage in Motion Picture Herald, available on Internet Archive. A facade drawing and floorplans of the theatre appeared with the article "The Unique Studio Theatre" in the August 1, 1931 issue. 

The article's authors appeared worried that the "turnstyle" method of admitting patrons, pioneered by Trans-Lux in newsreel theatres in New York would, when applied to a theatre running feature films, degrade the moviegoing experience. It might "create a distinct class of theatre, opposed in many ways to the type that the industry had at great cost and effort ultimately built up."

A sketch of the facade of the Studio from the
August 1, 1931 Motion Picture Herald Article.
full size view | on Internet Archive

Among the interesting features of the "world's most unique theatre":

"Whispering display cases" -- there were speakers below to give you some    audio information about the film being advertised.

 Front doors used as display cases for added display area.

A soft drink bar that served both customers in the lobby as well as passers-by on the sidewalk.

An exposed boxoffice counter -- the glass separating the customer from the cashier was slid across only in inclement weather.

An electric eye to open the door automatically for the customer after he had paid.

A remote controlled automatic change machine recessed in the wall.

Vending machines in the lobby -- styled to match the deco lobby. Also a penny scale.

An electric eye operated drinking fountain.

No ushers -- that military style of service was dispensed with.  But there was an unobtrusive hostess to offer her services as needed.

The upstairs lounge offered more vending machines -- and a photo booth.

A look at the basement mechanical equipment through a glass panel in the sidewalk.

Floorplans for the theatre from the
August 1, 1931 Motion Picture Herald Article.

"The Studio Theatre: Machine Age Cinema" appeared in the August 29, 1931 issue.  The four page article included six photos of the theatre.

"The Features of an Automatic Cinema as seen in the Studio theatre" by the architect,  S. Charles Lee, appeared in the November 21, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald.   | article continuation

A view of the entrance (and the "weather factory") appeared in the Dec 19, 1931 Motion Picture Herald issue with the article "Air Conditioning Small Theatres and its Cost."

In 1936 the theatre got a remodel and was then called the Colony at least through 1939. It was known in the 40s as the Hollywood Music Hall and in the early 50s was renamed the Academy.

The theatre was remodeled and born again as the Holly in the late 1960s. It was operated by a variety of circuits: Statewide, Century, General Cinema (Holly Cinema), Loew's (Loew's Holly) and SRO. It was frequently a move-over house from the Paramount/El Capitan.

The most renowned booking the theatre had was a 62 week run of Caligula starting in 1980. 

Architect: S. Charles Lee. He also did the 1936 remodel.

Seating:  In 1936 the capacity was reported as 500, perhaps mythical. When the theatre opened the capacity was 303.

Status: Gutted and once again is retail space.  It closed as a theatre in 1986. It was a Scientology testing center for several years.

More Information:  See the Cinema Treasures page for a lively history by former patrons and employees.  

Also see our listing for an earlier theatre at or just to the west of this space -- (Hollywood Boulevard's first) the Idle Hour.

The theatre shows up in its days as the Academy in a nice 1963 clip from Getty Images that was originally shot by Warner Bros. The Academy is playing "Bye Bye Birdie" with Ann-Margret.

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.

Warren Beckerman

Thanks to Warren Beckerman for sending this 1966 view
our way. We're looking west with the theatre, here called the
 Academy, running the western "Alvarez Kelly," an October
1966 release with William Holden and Richard Widmark.
full size view

Another 1966 photo by Mr. Beckerman
looking east toward the Warner.
full size view

Thanks, Warren!

Hollywood Photographs


From the Bruce Torrence Hollywood
 Photographs Collection comes this 1972 exterior
view taken during the run of "Cabaret."
full size view

L.A. Public Library Collection


A 1970 view of the Holly from
the LAPL collection.
full size view

A look at the building after it had closed as
a theatre -- during the 1992 riots.
full size view

Also in the collection:
| another 1992 view |

Mid Century Modern

...and Historical Los Angeles in the '60s, '70s and '80s


An 80s view from the Alison Martino Collection.
 "Rich and Famous" dates from 1981.
full size view

A 1970 look at what was then called Loew's
Holly during the run of "Watermelon Man."
It's from the Mark London collection.
full size view on the MCM page

Motion Picture Herald


A facade drawing and floorplans of the theatre appeared with
the article "The Unique Studio Theatre" in the August 1, 1931
issue. They're up in the left column of our page.

An entrance view from an August 29, 1931 Herald
"The Studio Theatre: Machine Age Cinema"
which profiled the newly opened theatre.  The four
page article included six photos.
full size view | on Internet Archive

One lobby photo from the August 29, 1931 article
 is seen above with the S. Charles Lee Archive listings.
Here's another lobby view from the article showing the
 photo booth, the "Studio Photo Mill."
full size view | on Internet Archive

Our only auditorium view is this one appearing
with the August 29, 1931 Herald article.

full size view | on Internet Archive

"The Features of an Automatic Cinema...," an article
appearing in the November 21, 1931 issue of the Motion
Picture Herald, included this look at the retail space
 before S. Charles Lee turned it into a theatre.
full size view | on Internet Archive | article conclusion |

Also with the article is a cropped version of the daytime
facade view that's in the S. Charles Lee UCLA Archive.

A night view appearing in the November
21, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald.
full size view
| on Internet Archive

The Dec 19, 1931 Motion Picture Herald issue's article
 "Air Conditioning Small Theatres and its Cost" included
view of the Studio Theatre's entrance.
full size view | on Internet Archive

A 1959 view east on Hollywood Blvd. toward the Academy
 (as it was then called) and the Warner in the next block.

photo: Sean Ault Archives by Osiris Press

The Academy is running "The Wreck of the Mary Deare" with Gary
Cooper and Charlton Heston and "The House of Intrigue." Down the
street we have
"South Seas Adventure" in three strip Cinerama.

A 1956 view of the Academy.

photo: Sean Ault Archives by Osiris Press

The Academy is running "Gervaise"
with Maria Schell.  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.

[ click on any of the photos to enlarge ]

The Holly Theatre building. When the photo was
taken the
theatre lobby area (with the green awning)
was a Scientology testing center.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The east side of the building. We're looking

 at the side of the auditorium.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The west side of the building. It appears
 to be a mashup of several earlier structures.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Another view of the building -- looking west.

This was taken from underneath the marquee
of the Fox Theatre across the street.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Cinema Treasures


A dazzling night shot of the Studio
from the Bill Gabel collection.
full size view

The night view appears as part of a collage in
the S. Charles Lee Archive. Also see the wider version
that was in the Motion Picture Herald.

A 1942 look at the theatre in its Music Hall days.
 It's a contribution to Cinema Treasures by Bill Gabel. 
The main feature is "Commandos Strike at Dawn."

full size view

S. Charles Lee Papers - UCLA

calisphere.org | digital2.library.ucla.edu


Here's a photo from 1931 of S. Charles
Lee's moderne facade from the UCLA
S. Charles Lee Archive.
full size image

The signage says: "The World's Most Unique Theatre."

 A cropped version of the photo above appears with the
article by Mr. Lee "The Features of an Automatic Cinema..."
in the November 21, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald.

A lobby view.  The photographer for these
1931 photos was H.P. Woodcock.
full size image

A view showing the lobby
drinking fountain.
full size view

The lobby photo also appears in an
August 29, 1931 Motion Picture Herald article.

"Fresh air the year 'round." A view of the "weather
factory" down through a glass panel in the sidewalk.
It's a H.P. Woodcock photo.
The weather factory photo also appears in the
Motion Picture Herald article from August 29, 1931.

More about the Studio from

UCLA's S. Charles Lee collection:
| a collage of interior and exterior views | signage rendering |

Photos of Los Angeles


A 30s look east on Hollywood Blvd. toward what
 was then still the Studio Theatre. Both lady and dog are
 unidentified. Admission at the Studio: 15 cents.
Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the find.
full size view | on PoLA

A 1960 look at the Holly, then called the Academy,
discovered by Ken McIntyre. The theatre is playing
the Russian drama "Ballad of a Soldier."
full size view | on PoLA 

Also on Photos of Los Angeles:
| 1973 Christmas view - looking west  |

UCLA  Calisphere


A 1947 Frasher Foto Card from the Pomona Library.
 We're looking east toward the Academy/Studio/ Holly
Theatre on the left
with the Warner beyond.
We also see the Iris/Fox on the right.
full size view

Note that on Calisphere, you can zoom
in and pan around looking at details.

Vintage Los Angeles


A lovely c.1952 look west along Hollywood Blvd. past
the theatre's marquee on the right, here with signage as the
Academy.  The marquee says it's "available." Thanks to
Richard Garcia for the photo on Vintage Los Angeles.

A 1981 marquee view looking east added
to the page by Alison Martino.
full size view