Pantages Theatre Hollywood

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6233 Hollywood Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90028 

| map |

(323) 468-1770

Website: For Pantages ticket information go to the Nederlander Organization website: Don't miss the site's Pantages Facts and Trivia page.

Opened: June 4, 1930 with "Floradora Girl" with Marion Davies. On the great stage was the Fanchon and Marco "Rose Garden Idea."

Alexander Pantages had sold most of his circuit to RKO in 1929 but this house ended up opening under the Fox West Coast banner. That guy sure knew a good time to sell. 

Pantages had previously opened two downtown Los Angeles theatres for his circuit, the buildings that later became known as the Arcade Theatre (1910) and the Warner Bros Downtown (1920).  The  Warner page has information on Pantages' legal troubles at the time and how Joe Kennedy engineered a forced sale of the chain.

Howard Hughes acquired the the Pantages from Fox for RKO in 1949.  Rodney and Lloyd Pantages, sons of Alexander, managed the theatre until the sale to RKO.  Rodney died in 1986 with the L.A. Times noting his death.

Hughes was forced to divest his theatre holdings by the feds in 1950 as part of the industry-wide consent decree and they were spun off into a separate company, eventually becoming RKO Stanley-Warner Theatres. The Pantages was leased it to Pacific Theatres in 1965, with a purchase consummated in 1967. 

Architect: Seattle architect B. Marcus Priteca conceived this opulently kaleidoscopic showplace as the most spectacular theatre in the Pantages circuit.  

He had earlier done the 1920 Pantages downtown (later called the Warner) along with lots of other work for the circuit. Of all the Los Angeles theatres in the art deco style, the Pantages is without question the grandest. 

At the same time the Pantages was going up Priteca was also at work on three smaller houses (about 1,500 seats each) for Warner Bros., the Warner Beverly Hills, Warner San Pedro and Warner Huntington Park.

A sectional drawing of the theatre.
Thanks to Mike Hume for the photo.
full size view

Seating: 2,812 originally -- now 2,703.

The pipe organ: What pipe organ? The chambers are there. Theatre historian Kurt Wahlner says it's on the plans for a round revolving organ lift on the house right side of the pit. The instrument was to be a gigantic Robert Morton installation but the deal was cancelled during construction and no organ was installed.

Stage Equipment: The Pantages was one of the few Los Angeles theatres to have the orchestra pit on a lift. (Others with lifts included the Metropolitan, the Warner Hollywood, the Carthay Circle and the United Artists.)  See our backstage page for more information.

Academy Awards at the Pantages:  The Pantages Theatre was the site of live telecasts of the Academy Awards from 1950 through 1959.

70MM roadshows at the Pantages Theatre:  The Pantages hosted many reserved seat engagements including "Spartacus" in 1960 and "Cleopatra" in 1963.  For "Spartacus" the capacity was reduced to about 1500 by draping off the upper balcony and rear side areas of the main floor.

"Indoor Luxury From Sidewalk To Screen," a May 9, 1960 Boxoffice article discusses the first phases of the 1960 renovation program. The later aspects were detailed in a January 20, 1961 article titled "RKO Pantages in Los Angeles Faces New Era After $100,00 Remodeling."

In a Motion Picture Herald ad for Norelco AAII 35/70mm projectors we see the proscenium draping for "Spartacus" at the Pantages.

"Spartacus" within the draped proscenium in 1962.
Norelco projector ad   

The Norelco ad appeared adjacent to a March 14, 1962 article about the modern makeover of the Warner up the street, where the proscenium looked very similar to the view above after its own drape treatment. Cinerama historian Roland Lataille found the article [page 1 | page 2 ] for the Warner page of his In Cinerama website.

The Pantages Theatre goes legit: The theatre closed in January 1977 for a renovation by Pacific Theatres and the Nederlander Organization in preparation for operation as a legititimate theatre. The first attraction was "Bubbling Brown Sugar."

Status: The Pantages Theatre was refurbished again in 2000 (to the tune of $10 million) by the Nederlander Organization and is wonderfully dazzling.

The theatre consultant for the restoration was Roger Morgan with much of the restoration of the decorative surfaces done by Evergreene Architectural Arts, both based in New York. Quinn Evans Architects supervised the project.

The theatre typically plays long-running Broadway musicals with occasional concerts on dark nights.  In 2013 a pitch was going around town about the possibility of selling naming rights to the theatre. Kevin Roderick on LA Observed had the story.

The Pantages on Video: See Don Solosan's wonderful 3 minute 2010 tour of the Pantages: "Insider's Peek #7: Pantages" on the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation's YouTube channel.

Also see the 12 minute 2010 "Pantages Interview" video with Hillsman Wright and Pantages general manager Martin Wiviott. They  discuss the adventures in managing and restoring the building.

Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" (1995) has him singing to an empty house on the bare stage of  the Pantages. It's on YouTube.

More information:  See the Pantages Theatre page on Cinema Treasures. The Cinema Tour  page devoted to the Pantages has additional exterior photos. 

An August 30, 1930 article in Exhibitors Herald World discusses the wonders of the new theatre.  Four additional photos of the theatre appeared in an October 25, 1930 "Recent Creations in Theatre Design" article.  Also in the October 25 issue is an article by F. H. Richardson: "Projection at the Pantages."

Floyd Bariscale's Big Orange Landmarks is a blog investigating all the City of Los Angeles cultural landmarks. See the Pantages Theatre entry for a nicely done story of the theatre along with photos both old and new. Also see his Pantages Theatre set on Flickr for a number of exterior views.

Albert Domasin has a great 53 item photo set on Flickr from 2010. See the wonderful 57 item Pantages Theatre 2010 photo set on Flickr by Steve Shriver.

Wikipedia also has an article on the Pantages as well as one on the architect B. Marcus Priteca.

The building was originally supposed to be a 10 story office building and various plans have been hatched over the years to "complete" the structure. Curbed L.A. had a 2007 story about one proposal.

The Pantages blog has a lovely "Pantages Theatre IMDb" post from September 2015 that highlights films that have used the theatre. They used some of the material that was on this page -- and found some interesting items we had missed.  Thanks!
IMDb also has a page about films using the Pantages.

The Hollywood Pantages hides its opulence well.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

Looking at the storefronts here, you'd never
guess that one of the
most dazzling of all the
Los Angeles theatres awaits you inside.

A 50s post card view looking east.

It's a card that was in the collection of the
now vanished website Yesterday LA.

  [click on any of these photos to enlarge ]

A facade detail.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

The Pantages Theatre stagehouse.

photo: Bill Counter -2007

The Hollywood Pantages had the largest stage that was ever
built for the Pantages chain. The building
was designed by
noted theatre  architect B. Marcus
Priteca, who had designed
the downtown
Pantages at 7th & Hill in 1920.

A night view of the facade.

photo: Bill Counter
- 2010

A view looking east.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Another look at the famous Frolic Room neon.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The Pantages office building lobby.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

The Pantages office building lobby ceiling. 

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

The California State Library collection has several 1930 Mott Studios
office building photos. See photos 2, 4 and 5 in their set #001387215
for shots of the office building entrance and two lobby views. Other
takes of the lobby views also appear in their set #001453624.

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.

more pantages theatre pages:
street view timeline 
| ticket lobby  |  lobby areas  |  lounges  |
auditorium  |  backstage  | 
booth  |  support areas  |

The Pantages exterior in 2007.

photo: Bill Counter

[ click on the photo for a larger view ]

The Pantages in the Movies: 

Chester Conklin is out on a beam atop the newly
 completed Guaranty Bldg. at Hollywood Blvd. and
Ivar in "Cleaning Up" (Paramount, 1930). We see
the vertical of the Pantages on the left and the
Music Box Theatre further down the street.
larger view | on Photos of Los Angeles

Thanks to Bill Gabel for posting the shot on Photos of
Los Angeles. The image also appears on page 35 of the Arcadia
Publishing book "Location Filming in Los Angeles."

Margaret Sullavan gets a job as an usherette in a
large movie palace in Budapest in "The Good Fairy"
(Universal, 1935). The lobby of the Pantages is
what we see as the theatre's lobby.
larger view

There's another lobby shot from the film on
 page 35 of "Location Filming in Los Angeles."

Ms. Sullavan has a neon arrow to direct patrons
right or left as they enter the promenade at the rear
of the main floor in "The Good Fairy."
larger view

We get a look at the boxoffice in Henry Hathaway's
"Go West Young Man" (Paramount, 1936) with Mae West
and Randolph Scott. This island boxoffice was later removed
 in favor of ticket windows off to the side.
larger view

A look at the changeable neon letters on the
Pantages marquee in "Go West Young Man."
larger view

Entering the Pantages lobby in
 "Go West Young Man."
larger view

A look up the stairs to the balcony promenade
in Gregory Ratoff's "Footlight Serenade" (2oth
Century Fox, 1942) with John Payne, Betty
Grable and Victor Mature.
larger view

Descending to the mezzanine lobby in
"Footlight Serenade." That's the main lobby
 in view off to the left.
Thanks to Christopher McPherson for posting the "Footlight
Serenade" photos on our Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page.

We get some nice aerial shots in the Jerry Lewis film
 "The Errand Boy" (Paramount, 1961). Looking west along
Hollywood Blvd. it's the Pantages in the center. To the left of
the Capitol Records building we see the Hollywood Playhouse.
 In the lower left of the image is part of the Music Box.
larger view

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

In "At Long Last Love" (1975) Peter Bogdanovich
gives us a nice scene in the lobby of the Pantages.

In the Neil Diamond version of "The Jazz Singer" (EMI,
Associated Film Distribution, 1980) there's a concert scene
at the Pantages. Thanks to the Pantages blog for the YouTube
link -- it was included in their "Hollywood Pantages IMDB"
article about films at the theatre.
| clip on You Tube |

We don't see much of the theatre, but Jonathan
 Demme's "Stop Making Sense" (Cinecom/Palm Pictures,
1984) with David Byrne and the Talking Heads was filmed
 over a period of three days at the Pantages.

In Mick Jackson's "The Bodyguard" (Warner Bros.,
1992) Kevin Costner is backstage looking for
troublemakers at the Academy Awards.
larger view | a clip on YouTube

A view of the auditorium that
we get in "The Bodyguard."
larger view

See our Theatres In Movies post on
"The Bodyguard" for some views at the Mayan.
The film visits the Shrine Auditorium as well.

In "Ed Wood" with Johnny Depp and Martin Landau
 (Touchstone, 1994) our stars are going to a premiere
of "Plan 9 From Outer Space" at the Pantages.
larger view

Pulling up for the Pantages premiere on a rainy night
 in "Ed Wood." Note that that the Skouras-style boxoffice
we see here is a prop for the movie. The theatre did once
have an island boxoffice but it was long gone by 1994.

larger view

Another exterior shot from "Ed Wood" gives us quite a
 nice view of the entrance in its "modernized" period prior
 to the restoration.  The ceiling of the ticket lobby and the
classic display cases are all covered.  The interior
used for the film is the Orpheum.
larger view

"Batman Forever" (Warner Bros., 1995) used the
 theatre's lobby for that of the Ritz Gotham Hotel.
"Black Sheep" with Chris Farley and David Spade
 (Paramount, 1996) has shots backstage at the theatre.

 The Pantages makes an appearance in "Money Talks" with
 Chris Tucker and Charlie Sheen (New Line Cinema, 1997).

 Kevin Spacey has just come out of the Frolic Room next to
the theatre in "L.A. Confidential" (Regency / Warner Bros., 1997).
Note the still "modernized" treatment of the ticket lobby area.
larger view | the clip on YouTube

 Thanks to "Pantages Theatre IMDB," the 2015 article on the
Pantages blog, for the link to the YouTube clip of the sequence.

We get a classic marquee shot a
moment later in "L.A. Confidential."

In Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" (Miramax/Warner
Bros., 2004) we get scenes outside the Pantages with Howard
Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Katherine Hepburn (Cate
Blanchett) coming to a premiere of "Little Women" (1933).
larger view

We also get several views of the lobby in "The Aviator."
In addition, there's lots of compulsive hand washing in
the men's room. The color palate of these scenes is an
attempt to emulate the look of Technicolor before the
three-strip process came along in 1935.
larger view  | another lobby shot

The Pantages also appears in "Paparazzi
(2004) and "Black Dahlia" (2006).

A re-creation of the 1954 look at the "A Star Is Born"
premiere for Anton Corbijn's film "Life" (Cinedigm,
2015). It's about Life magazine photographer Dennis
 Stock, played by Robert Pattinson.  Thanks to the
website Films in Films for the screenshot.
full size view | on Films in Films

See our Theatres in Movies post about "Life" for more views.

In "Keanu" (Warner/Fine Line, 2016) we take a drive to the
Hollywood Hills for a drug delivery after our two stars, Jordan
Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, get involved with a gang to try
to get back a stolen cat.  On the far left is the dark marquee
of the Vine Theatre with the Pantages in the distance.
larger view

In "Keanu" we also see the Palace Theatre, the
Los Angeles Theatre and the Cinerama Dome. See our
 Theatres In Movies post for more shots from the film.