El Portal Theatre

5269 Lankershim Blvd.         | map

North Hollywood, CA  91601

(818) 508-0281
    Boxoffice: (818) 508-4200

Website: Visit www.elportaltheatre.com for theatre history, stage specifications and more.

Opened: Fox West Coast Theatres opened the El Portal October 5, 1926. The opening film was Ralph Graves in  "Blarney."

Architect:  Lewis A. Smith. See the Cinema Treasures list of the many other theatres designed by Mr. Smith.  Richard McCann was the architect for the renovation.

Seating: 1,346 originally.  Currently the building houses 3 theatres: the 354 seat Mainstage Theatre, the 95 seat Forum Theatre and the 42 seat Studio Theatre.  The main theatre has a 19 person orchestra pit and utilizes the 1926 proscenium and stagehouse.

Status:  Renovated and operating as a performing arts center since 2000. It's the anchor of the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood. While the boxoffice, entry area and facade are of historical interest, little of the original decor remains in the auditorium space.

History:  The theatre ran vaudeville shows along with films until the talkies came along.  The house got a makeover in the 40s. Drapes and neo-baroque "Skouras style"  swirls were installed obliterating the original decorative work on the interior.

Fox West Coast and its successor companies, National General and Mann, operated the theatre for decades. Prior to closing in the 80s, it had a run as an independent venue screening Spanish language films.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake resulted in extensive damage including the cave-in of the auditorium ceiling.  The Actors Alley acquired the building and did a seismic retrofit and interior remodeling. The City of Los Angeles has the building on its list of Cultural Historic Landmarks.

More Information: See the Cinema treasures page on the El Portal for an extensive history and links to lots more additional photos.

Laist has a nice photo gallery and article about the area in their article "Neighborhood Project: NoHo Arts District."

Mary Mallory did a fine history of the theatre on the Daily Mirror blog: "El Portal Theatre Entertains San Fernando Valley."

A view of the El Portal Theatre on a
 hot Sunday afternoon in 2010 in NoHo.

photo: Bill Counter

A closer view of the facade.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

[ click any of these to enlarge ]

Another view of the Fox West Coast
Skouras-style boxoffice at the El Portal.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The marquee of the El Portal Theatre.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

    Los Angeles Times   

A view of the rear of the El Portal auditorium
by Bob Carey of the Times. 

A 2012 view by Luis Sinco.
full size view

   Museum of the San Fernando Valley  


This view of the "Bringing in the Harvest"
frieze in the lobby of the El Portal
appears on the Museum's
post in 2007 about
...Two Block-Buster Shows..." at the theatre.
larger view

    RFM Architects   


A view of the lobby showing many original features
retained by architect Richard McCann when renovating
 the theatre into a performing arts venue.
larger view

See his
El Portal photo gallery for more
views and the Project List for links to photos
 of other theatre projects by the firm.

    Skouras-ized for Showmanship   

Skouras' West Coast Theatres
by Preston J. Kaufmann

Theatre Historical Society, 1987


buy from THS | buy on Amazon

This 1987 THS annual (#14) is packed with photos of
 theatres that Fox West Coast gave the moderne
 "Skouras look" to in the 40s.

Here we're looking at the lobby of the El Portal
in a photo from this great collection that's
credited to Ken Kramer.

A rare auditorium view of the El Portal in the 40s.
Most of the 1926 decor has been stripped away.
The photo is credited to Ken Kramer and Jim Lytell.

    Theatre Mania    

A view of the interior of the El
Portal formerly
on this site's page
devoted to upcoming
attractions at the
El Portal Theatre.

    USC Archives   


A 1926 view looking north on Lankershim
the USC Archives. The almost-completed
 El Portal
Theatre is on the left. 
full size view

A 1937 photo looking south on Lankershim. It's from
the Automobile Club of Southern California. Our feature is
 "Mountain Music" with Bob Burns and Martha Raye.
 full size view | on the USC Archives site

A view of the El Portal Theatre facade.

photo: Betty Sword - 2002

[ click any of of these photos to enlarge ]

A view of the Boxoffice in 2002.

photo: Betty Sword

 The photos above by Betty Sword are in the collection of
Cezar Del Valle, a Brooklyn-based theatre historian.
Visit his
website Theatre Talks and check out his Facebook  page.

The marquee at night.

photo:  Mark Peacock - 2009

See Mark's Vintage Theatres photo set for lots more great
Also visit his blog: 
On the Road With Mark Peacock.

The soffit in the entry area is a survivor
from the Skouras era remodel.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

A facade detail.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

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.

    Jon Haimowitz on Facebook   


Thanks to Jon Haimowitz for this 1976 look at the
El Portal. He added it as a comment to a photo of the
Studio Theatre on Photos of Los Angeles.
full size view | the thread on PoLA

Three Big Hits at the El Portal:
"Eat My Dust" "Grand Theft Auto" and "Crash."

    L.A. Public Library Collection   

Well, you can't see much here but it's a nice 1927
look south on Lankershim with the new theatre down
there beyond the Security Pacific National Bank
Building. The photo is from their collection.
full size view

OK, the 1927 shot is a waste of time -- but just
for the sake of completeness, here's a detail from it
 with the theatre at the center. Note we have a
vertical sign, removed by the early 40s.

A vintage view from the LAPL collection. The theatre
 is running 1942's "Take a Letter Darling."
 full size view

A 1948 view with the theatre advertising Mark Hellinger's
 "Naked City" with Barry Fitzgerald along with "To the Victor."
 And don't miss Rathbun's "Miss America - Frolic" on
Saturday the 15th at 10.30 AM. It's a Valley Times
 photo in the LAPL collection.

A 1962 look north on Lankershim toward the
El Portal, playing "State Fair."
The photo is in
the Library's Herald Examiner collection.
full size view

 The photo above also appears (with lots of
comments) on the 
San Fernando Valley Relics
Facebook page as a post by Jon Haimowitz. Thanks
Stephen Russo for spotting it there.

A nice noirish night view of the El Portal in
2000. It's a photo by Gerard Burkhart.

An early look at the El Portal's interior.
An early undated photo of the El Portal's lobby.

Also in the collection:
| nearing completion - also in the USC Archives |
| 1950 booth view |