Fox Ritz Theatre


5214 Wilshire
Blvd. (near La Brea)

Los Angeles, CA 90036 

| map


Opened: October 15, 1926.   It was operated for years by Fox West Coast Theatres.

Architect:  Lewis A. Smith   

Seating: 1,660 originally, reseated down to 1,402 

Status: Demolished in 1977 for a parking lot.

For a time the Ritz was used by Mike Todd as a private preview house. Mr. Todd died in a plane crash in 1958.

Smell-O-Vision at the Ritz:  In 1960 the Ritz ran the Mike Todd Jr. 70mm production "Scent of Mystery" in Smell-O-Vision. It was with 6 channel stereo sound and all the smells.


An ad for the New York run of "Scent of Mystery" from
an article featuring a reprint of the 1960 Variety review
of the film on the great website
In70mm.com
full size view




An L.A. Times ad for "Scent of Mystery" at
 the Ritz. Ken McIntyre found it for his
 Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.


The film was later re-cut as "Holiday in Spain" and went out in both 70mm and 3 strip Cinerama and Cinemiracle versions. See the "Holiday in Spain" listing on Roland Lataille's Cinerama website for all the details. There's also an article about the process from Boxoffice magazine.

The Belknap collection's Hollywood Ballyhoo section also has a page on Smell-O-Vision. The page notes:

"Todd, Jr. invested his inheritance in the development of Smell-O-Vision, a process in which evocative smells were pumped to the cinema audience through pipes leading to individual seats in the auditorium. Bottles of scent were held on a rotating drum and the process was triggered by a signal on the film itself.

Only one film, 'Scent of Mystery', was made in Smell-O-Vision and was far from a milestone in movie history. Mike Todd, Jr. lost his entire investment and left the film business. As an added audience incentive, Eddie Fisher, best friend of Mike Todd, Sr. and, at the time, the husband of Todd's widow, Elizabeth Taylor, sang the memorable theme song from 'Scent of Mystery.'

Filmmaker John Waters paid homage to Smell-O-Vision with his 1980 film, 'Polyester.' Waters created the process of Odorama and, rather than pumping in scents, used individual audience 'Scratch and Sniff' cards."

Later action at the Ritz: In 1963 the Ritz was leased to the Lindy Pen Co. as the Lindy Opera House, a venue for legit dramas, musicals and revues.

In 1976 the Ritz was renamed the American Theatre with grand plans for a bi-centennial revue that had only a short run.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Fox Ritz. Also see their list of theatres by Lewis Smith.  There's now a Facebook page: I Heart Miracle Mile.

Also on the Miracle Mile: The Four Star and the El Rey.  See the Vintage Los Angeles Miracle Mile photo set for more views of the area.



     I Heart Miracle Mile    

www.facebook.com/IHeartMiracleMile



A 1929 view looking west on Wilshire. We get a bit
of the Fox Ritz signage on the left of the photo. 
full size view




    Motion Picture News    



On the Internet Archive is the Motion Picture News
issue of December 28, 1929. Section Two is the
"Theatre Building & Buyers Guide" with a small photo
looking east along the Ritz's facade in an article
 "Harold B. Franklin Analyzes Theatre Personality."
the page  |  on FB/LAtheatres



     Neat Stuff     

neat-stuff-blog.blogspot.com



A dazzling 1954 view looking east on Wilshire from
the Neat Stuff Blog. It's from a 2009 post
called "Vintage Los Angeles." 

You can see a bit of the red Ritz vertical sign in the
center just to the left of the Whelan Drug sign. 
The photo is from "nicepictures" on eBay.
full size view

The photo also appears on Vintage Los Angeles
and I Heart Miracle Mile.

The Four Star Theatre is down the street on
the same side just two more blocks.




    Noirish Los Angeles    

forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread

Historic Wilshire Blvd. Theatres -- The Fox Ritz

"Handsome Stranger" posted this great 1929 view
looking east along the
Miracle Mile. His post #4301 also
has some other very nice vintage L.A. views.


Note the Fox Ritz Roof sign in the middle of the photo
.
The Stranger found it on e-Bay.  It's on the Skyscraperpage
forum thread  Noirish LA - page 216.  
full size view


    Photos of Los Angeles    

www.facebook.com/groups/244565982234863


A 1975 look east on Wilshire posted by Ken McIntyre.
The sharp eyes of Steven Otto spotted the vertical sign
saying "OPERA"
on the right. The photo was taken
when the Ritz was called the Lindy Opera House
and used for legit shows.

full size view



    USC Archives    

In this detail from a 1930 view in the USC Archives
we're looking east on Wilshire. You can spot the Fox Ritz
by the roof sign. The photo was taken from the Tower
Building, west of La Brea. The image is in the USC
C.C. Pierce Collection.
  full photo



A 1932 view looking east on Wilshire toward
La Brea with the Ritz on the right.  It's a photo taken
for the Automobile Club of Southern California.
full size view


The Fox Ritz on Miracle Mile.

A 1932 view that gives us a slice of the Ritz
vertical down on the next block on the right. It's a
photo from the
California Historical Society.
full size view  |  another shot  - a bit closer

The image above also appears on the
Facebook page I Heart Miracle Mile.

The large building on the left opened in 1929 as the
E. Clem Wilson Building. Major tenants later were General
of America Insurance and Mutual of Omaha.

It's still there -- now with a big Samsung Mobile sign on the top.
See I Heart Miracle Mile's
Wilson Bldg. description.

Also in the USC Archives:
looking east 1939 -- a glimpse of the Ritz sign
on the right, El Rey on the left  |
  | 1940  aerial view -- Ritz on the right  |






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

We've tried to give appropriate credit. Please
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question concerning reproduction or other use.



     L.A. Public Library Photo Collection    

 www.lapl.org  



A 1931 look east on Wilshire Blvd. past the fox Ritz. 
full size view



A view of the facade while running a Greta Garbo
feature, "As You Desire Me" from 1932. 

full size view



A detail of the second floor terra cotta
from the Library's collection. 
full size view




A 1947 panoramic look at the block
full size view



The streamlined facade in 1950. 
full size view





The marquee of the Fox Ritz in 1955.
full size view




The ticket lobby of the Ritz after the
Skouras renovations of the 40s.
full size view




The lobby of the Fox Ritz in the 40s.
full size view



A balcony view of the proscenium of the
Fox Ritz
from the Library collection.
full size view




Another more detailed look at the proscenium. 
full size view




A sidewall view from the Library's extensive collection.
full size view




A look toward the rear of the house. 
full size view




A 50s look at the balcony after the
disastrous Skouras-style renovations.
full size view

Also in the Library's collection:
 | 1930 from above -- looking east |



    Vintage Los Angeles    

www.facebook.com/VintageLosAngeles

Historic Los Angeles Theatres -- The Fox Ritz

A great 4 minute drive along the Miracle Mile in
August, 1967.  The Fox Ritz is at the right (in 1967 called
the Lindy Opera House) -- the vertical says "Opera."

We also get glimpses of the Four Star (with
4 flashing stars atop the tower) and the El Rey. 
The footage is from www.producerslibrary.com.

 On YouTube:
"Wilshire Blvd. Miracle Mile August 1967."