Mary Mallory did a fine history of the theatre on the Daily Mirror blog: "El Portal Theatre Entertains San Fernando Valley."
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."
A view of the El Portal Theatre on a
hot Sunday afternoon in 2010 in NoHo.
photo: Bill Counter
The marquee of the El Portal Theatre.
photo: Bill Counter - 2010
about photos from other
We've tried to give appropriate credit. Please
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
This view of the "Bringing in the Harvest"
Skouras-erafrieze in the lobby of the El Portal
appears on the Museum's post in 2007 about
"...Two Block-Buster Shows..." at the theatre.
A view of the lobby showing many original features
retained by architect Richard McCann when renovating
the theatre into a performing arts venue.
See his El Portal photo gallery for more
views and the Project List for links to photos
of other theatre projects by the firm.
A view of the interior of the El Portal formerly
on this site's page devoted to upcoming
attractions at the El Portal Theatre.
A 1926 view looking north on Lankershim
from the USC Archives. The almost-completed
El Portal Theatre is on the left.
full size view
A view of the El Portal Theatre facade.
photo: Betty Sword - 2002
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
work. Also visit his blog: On the Road With Mark Peacock.
A vintage view from the LAPL collection. The theatre
is running 1942's "Take a Letter Darling."
full size view
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
to Stephen Russo for spotting it there.
An early undated photo of the El Portal's lobby.
Skouras' West Coast Theatres
by Preston J. Kaufmann
Theatre Historical Society, 1987
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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.