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Vintage Hollywood Theater Photos

Vintage Hollywood Theater Photographs

For years, Hollywood has some of the most gorgeous, lavish and ornate theaters in the world.  Even today, four of them are considered the most beautiful palace type theaters ever built. Hundreds of vintage Hollywood theater photos are on the website.

Vintage photo of the Hollywood Theater

Hollywood Theater

The first movie theater in Hollywood was the Idyl Hour Theater.  Established in either 1910 or 1911, it was located at 6525 Hollywood Boulevard. During its first year, the small theater was little more than a converted store with chairs, a projector and a screen. The Idyl Hour, whose name was changed to the Iris Theater in 1913, moved to 6415 Hollywood Blvd. in 1914, and to a new 1000-seat theater at 6508 Hollywood Blvd. in 1918.

The second theater was, appropriately, the Hollywood Theater. It opened in 1913, had a capacity of 700 and charged ten cents for admission, $.15 for loge seats in the nickel for children. At those prices it prospered and today it is the oldest theater in Hollywood. In the 1980s the theater was acquired by the Guinness book of world records, and today it is a popular tourist attraction.

Early photo of Grumman's Egyptian Theater

Grauman's Egyptian Theater

Grauman’s Egyptian theater, was the first palace type theater to be built in Hollywood. Charles Toberman induced Sid Grauman and his father to settle in Hollywood. When Grauman finally agreed in 1922, Toberman built the huge Egyptian theater on Hollywood Boulevard, east of McCadden Place. It was named the year the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb created an instant society of Egyptologist.

The theater featured a long courtyard entry designed to resemble an Egyptian Temple and lined with potted plants and ornate murals. Inside the auditorium, carved columns and sphinxes flanked the stage. It was here that said Sid Grauman held the first movie premiere in the country. The opening feature, held at the theater was the movie Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks. This film was the first of many gala premieres, complete with searchlights, limousines, and autograph hunting fans.

Early photo of Grumman's Chinese Theater

Grauman’s Chinese Theater

Because of the Egyptian theaters success, said Grauman was looking to build another theater. He again contacted Toberman who secured a long term lease on property at 6925 Hollywood Blvd. On Armistice Day, November 11, 1925, the first rivet in the steel girders was driven by beautiful Chinese actress, Anna May Wong. The Grauman's Chinese theater's grand opening was held on May 18, 1927, when Cecil B DeMille's, King of Kings, was premiered. The film was an immediate success primarily because of fine acting by the likes of H. B. Warner and Ernest Torrence.

One of the theaters most popular attractions is the hand and foot prints that celebrities place in wet cement in the theaters for court. The first two inductees were Douglas Fairbanks and his wife, Mary Pickford. This was done in 1927. Since then hundreds of celebrities have followed this famous tradition.

In the 1970s to smaller theaters were added to the main auditorium. To celebrate the opening of these two theaters, a premier was held for the movie “Hurricane”.

Vintage photo of the El Capitan Theater

El Capitan Theater

Legitimate theaters in Hollywood grew side-by-side with movie houses. In 1926, C.E. Toberman opened a tremendous theater, with a 120 foot wide stage, called the El Capitan Theatre, across the street from the future site of Grauman's Chinese theater. The El Capitan's first presentation was a review featuring British stars Beatrice Lillie Jack Buchanan and Gertrude Lawrence. It continued as a live theater until 1942, when it was adapted for movies and later renamed Paramount Theater.

Some time in the 1980s the Paramount theater was purchased by the Disney company and the theater restored to its original condition. It was also renamed back to its original name, El Capitan Theatre. Today the theater has experienced a resurgence due to Disney's popularity.

Warner Bros. Theater

The fourth of the grand Hollywood theaters was the Warner Bros. theater situated on the north east corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Wilcox Avenue. The brothers Warner, who had been extremely successful in making movies, decided to get into the business of showing films. After four months of construction, the Warner Bros. theater opened amid great fanfare on the evening of April 26, 1928. The event was also the premiere of “glorious Betsy” , starring Dolores Costello and Conrad Nagel. The theater seated over 2700 people, and was at that time the largest theater in Hollywood. The theater also boasted of having one of the largest pipe organs in the country. In the 1950s the theater was converted to Cinerama which showed 3-D movies. Several years later the theater's name was changed to Hollywood Pacific.

Early Hollywood theater photo

Pantages Theater

The last of Hollywood's great movie palaces was opened on the evening of June 4, 1930. The long-awaited opening was for the newest, largest, most lavish, most original, and certainly the most ornate theater – – the Hollywood Pantages theater. The theater, located on Hollywood Boulevard, just east of Vine Street was the last to bear the name of its founder, Alexander Pantages.

The opening attraction was the world premiere of Floradora Girl, starring Marion Davies. Of all the theaters in Hollywood, the Pantages was by far the grandest. The vaulted grand lobby, the largest in Los Angeles was flanked by twin stairways to either and and covered by the most original modern ceiling in gold and Hannah shades. The stage, also the largest in Los Angeles except for the shrine Auditorium, was 70 feet wide and 180 feet long.

Like the other major Hollywood theaters, premiers were held continuously at the Pantages. In 1949, when RKO acquired the theater, the Academy Awards moved in and the gala event was held there annually for 10 years. In the 1980s the theater was acquired and converted into a legitimate theater.

Pussycat Theaters

The Pussycat Theaters were a chain of porn theaters, operating between the 1960s and 1980s. The pussycat theaters had 47 locations in California, two of which were in Hollywood. One. Was on Hollywood Boulevard where the Iris theater was located. The second was on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood.

El Capitan Theater on Vine St.

Shortly after the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, was named Paramount theater, in 1942, C. E. Toberman acquired the former Hollywood Playhouse theater on Vine Street, and renamed it the El Capitan Theatre. Actor and film document maker, Ken Murray, approached Toberman about renting the theater for his variety and vaudeville type shows. Ken Murray's “Blackouts”, played continuously in Hollywood from 1942 to 1949. The show played 3874 performances to millions of patrons and grossed $7 million. Murray assembled a large team of talent to back up his star comedienne Marie Wilson. Over the years, he employed 1456 people and helped launch the careers of hundreds of celebrities, such as Rhonda Fleming, Cara Williams and Mary Ford. The acts, such as Bill and Coo, Daisy the wonder dog and pantomimist, Fred Sanborn.

Other Hollywood Theaters

Hollywood boasted of having more theaters then any other city in the country. Other Hollywood theaters included the Carthay Circle Theater, Vogue Theater, Music Box Theater, Hollywood Playhouse Theater, Admiral Theater, Apollo Theater, Aquarius Theater, Cinerma Dome Theater, Film Art Theater, Gilmore Theater, Hitching Post Theater, Iris Theater, Long Horn Theater, Star Theater, Vine Street Theater, and many more.

The largest collection of Hollywood Theater photos is on the website. There are more than three hundreds vintage photo of Hollywood theaters from which to choose. 

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