Pantages Theatre Hollywood

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6233 Hollywood Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90028 

| map |

(323) 468-1770

Website: For Pantages Theatre ticket information go to the Nederlander Organization website:

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.

Seating: 2,812 originally, now 2,691.

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.) 

Jim Lewis notes that the Pantages also had a bandcar whereby the orchestra could rise up on the pit lift and then glide back onto the stage. Storage for the platform was in a room upstage.

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 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 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.

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

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

In "Ed Wood" (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."
larger view

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.

We get quite a nice view of the entrance in its
 "modernized" period prior to the restoration in
"Ed Wood." 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" (1995) used the theatre's lobby. The Pantages
also makes an appearance in "Money Talks" (1997). The Frolic
Room next door is seen in "L.A. Confidential (1997).

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 one of the men's rooms.
larger view  | another lobby shot

The theatre also appears in "Paparazzi
(2004) and "Black Dahlia" (2006).
IMDB has a page about films using the Pantages.

The Pantages exterior in 2007.

photo: Bill Counter

[ click any of these images for a larger view ]

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.

A facade detail.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

[ click on any of these views to enlarge ]

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.

The Pantages office building lobby.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

  [click on any of these views to enlarge ]

The Pantages office building lobby ceiling. 

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

The California State Library collection has some
1930 Mott Studio office building photos:
| office building entrance  |  office building elevators  |
another office building lobby view  |

A night view of the facade.

photo: Bill Counter
- 2010

A view looking east.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

[click any of these to enlarge]

Another look at the famous Frolic Room neon.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

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.

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.

See the From Script To DVD Pantages Theatre page. The site also has a nice
Photo Gallery of Los Angeles Theatres that were equipped for 70mm.

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.

See the Smoker's Hack blog post "The Real Way to Smoke " celebrating the Pantages men's and women's  smoking areas. 

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.

about the photos from other websites...

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on the website hosting it.  Please contact us if there are incorrect
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