Baldwin Theatre

3741 S. La Brea Ave.    | map |

Baldwin Hills (Los Angeles) 90016

Opened: August 10, 1949 with a Paramount sneak preview plus "Sorrowful Jones" with Lucille Ball and Bob Hope. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were among the stars at the opening.

The Baldwin was operated by Fanchon & Marco. The firm, once famed for its touring prologues (which they termed "Ideas," for example "The Sunkist Beauty Idea"), had a string of theatres in south Los Angeles.

They also managed the two Paramounts: Downtown (the former Metropolitan) and the Hollywood Paramount, now back to its original El Capitan name. For more on the brother and sister team of Fanchon Simon and Marco Wolff see the family's Fanchon and Marco website curated by Steve Simon.

Bill Gabel notes on Cinema Treasures that the theatre was later operated by Statewide, Century, Loew's and General Cinema. In the 80s it was and triplexed and operated by Inner City Cinemas, a local African-American owned chain that had AMC as a partner. They soon ran into financial difficulties and the partnership was dissolved.

Architect: Lewis Eugene Wilson designed the innovative structure supported by laminated wood arches. The theatre is featured in a June 3, 1950 issue of Boxoffice where he speculates about various cost savings that might have been possible using steel construction instead.

Seating: 1,800 seats originally, 970 as a triplex.

Status: Closed as a theatre in 1994. A year later the Magic Johnson multiplex opened nearby. The auditorium remains, converted to office space. The front has been demolished and replaced by a branch bank.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Baldwin for lots of interesting articles and discussion. The Cinema Tour page has a dozen 2003 exterior photos from Ron Pierce, including some showing the demolition of the lobby.  

See Big Orange Landmarks for a spread on the Village Green project, of which the Baldwin Theatre was a part.  And don't miss Steve Keylon's great set on Flickr of Baldwin Hills Village photos by Julius Schulman.

    Los Angeles Public Library

A look out toward the lines for the opening night.
The facade at the opening.
A vista from across the street.
full size view

    Julius Shulman - SRK on Flickr

A 1949 look at the Baldwin by Julius Shulman. The
photo is in a Baldwin Hills 1950s and 1977 set, one
of many architecture related sets posted on Flickr
by Steve Keylon. We're running "You're My
Everything" and "Mr. Soft Touch."
on Flickr

The photo above also appears on Vintage Los Angeles
and the Mid Century Modern Facebook page. The Getty's version
taken the same week is a bit different -- we have people in it.

The theatre from across the street. Playing this
 week is "The Girl From Jones Beach" and an
Abbott and Costello title "Africa Screams."
 on Flickr

A look at the side of the theatre.
full size view | on Flickr

The rear of the auditorium.
 full size view | on Flickr

Display cases along the south side of the
theatre -- we're looking toward the street.
on Flickr

The vista down the lobby
toward the main entrance. 
full size view | on Flickr

A look toward the screen of the 1,800 seat
auditorium.  Note in this version, unlike the
Getty's, the curtain is all the way down.
full size view | on Flickr

The redeveloped Baldwin Theatre.

photo: Google Maps  - 2012

Click on the photo to enlarge or head to
Google for the current the interactive version.

about photos from other
websites that appear on this page...

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

    Cinema Treasures

A lobby photo from the Bill Gabel collection.

   Julius Shulman - Getty Research Institute    

 | | Shulman photos |

| |

A 1949 exterior photo by Julius Shulman with
the theatre running "The Girl From Jones Beach."
full size view

A version of the photo appears on a 2012 post about the
 Baldwin Theatre on Tumblr from 20th Century Man.

One of at least two shots Shulman
took with the theatre playing "You're My
 Everything" and "Mr. Soft Touch."

A version of the shot above also
appeared on Photos of Los Angeles.

A look along the side of the lobby toward the street.

An auditorium view from Julius Shulman
showing off the house's contour curtain.
full size view

A version of the photo above also
appears on Cinema Treasures.

The Getty Research Institute's set has 4 photos
of the Academy taken in 1940 by Mr. Shulman
in their collection. It was his job #548.

Thanks to architectural photographer Hunter Kerhart
for finding these shots in the Getty collection.

    Ken McIntyre on Photobucket

A 2009 look by theatre sleuth Ken McIntyre toward the
space where the lobby of the thetre had once been
full size view | on Photobucket

A 2009 view along the side of the former auditorium.
 We're looking toward the screen end of the building.
 full size view | on Photobucket

A look at the unusual rear of the auditorium.
full size view | on Photobucket

Also see:

Visit Ken's Photos of Los Angeles page on Facebook
 for an ongoing celebration of historic Los Angeles,
Thanks, Ken!