Growing Up at the Carthay Circle

posted by Michael Zoldessy on February 5, 2008 at 3:45 pm

LOS ANGELES, CA — Back in the day, which for me was the late ‘60s, when as a teen of driving age I began to tour every historic movie site in Lala, I had the opportunity to see, for the first time, Gone With The Wind in its fresh new Technicolor print, at the very famous, historic and absolutely entrancing Carthay Circle Theater.

Digression: Back then, and until it premiered for the first time on tv in the ‘80s, that film was touted as so important to MGM it was too big to ever grace the likes of the living room tube, and was only ceremoniously trotted out every 7-10 years or so for one more in a series of periodic road show runs at some fancy glamorous beautiful old theater in or near historic Hollywood. The chosen site for it in 1967 was Carthay Circle.

My memory of the theater, the only time I had the opportunity to be near it let alone step foot inside, was that it was the creme de la creme, bathed in beautiful soft light at what I remember was the cul-de-sac end of a rather beautiful and quiet residential street. The interior was not as memorable but vaguely beautiful, showing no hint of the threadbare end one would imagine would precede the death of a palace just two years later. The atmosphere of the place, the building, the quiet site, was everything I could have imagined in a historic movie palace. It reeked of the glamour of the past and, when I experienced it, the glamour of the present.

Little did I know the great changes that had been taking place in Hollywood since the 1950s would come to a destructive end relatively soon thereafter when Carthay Circle, as beautiful as its name, unnecessarily died young. I feel almost as honored to have had that opportunity to experience it now as I did then, when I was living Hollywood magic.

The only constant in existence being change, it is wise to await and embrace it for the pain it otherwise inflicts, especially when a loss feels so tragic. Such lessons instruct conservation of great beauty until their time—look around and savor, if not save, what you can, so the likes of the Carthay Circle can be shared before they, and memories you may otherwise never have, meet the sudden end of a premature wrecking ball.

~ Craig Hill / Montpelier Vermont / Native Angeleno

Theaters in this post

Comments (2)

William on February 5, 2008 at 5:21 pm

The 1967 reissue of “Gone With The Wind” was billed as “In The Splendor of 70MM, Widescreen and Full Stereophonic Sound”. And it played at NGC’s Carthay Circle for 56 weeks. In this reissue the lab work and print were done by Metrocolor. This was the famous reframing reissue which each frame was recomposed from the 70MM frame (cutting heads and other things too out of the projected picture).

momomama on November 12, 2009 at 5:27 am

I grew up in Long Beach, and went to the 1967 re-release of Gone With the Wind at the Carthay Circle theatre. I never dreamed I would move a block away in 1985. By then, the theatre was gone, given its death knell by Mayor Tom Bradley. The city lost a treasure, and the neighborhood at special center where neighbors could meet and greet, and stroll over for a quart of milk. In flights of fancy, I dream Disney will buy the center, evict its tenants, and re-create the theatre. It did just that in ¾ scale at Disney World in Orlando. If only…

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