Majestic Theatre

845 S. Broadway,
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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vokoban
vokoban on March 1, 2006 at 6:19 am

Sorry, my fingers were tired…I spelled remembrance incorrectly above.

vokoban
vokoban on March 1, 2006 at 6:03 am

The date of the last article is April 23, 1933. Here’s one last rememberance:

(May 21, 1933)
LET ME WHISPER
By Beau Deep

Seeing the old Majestic Theater torn down makes us all feel a little sad, for we have enjoyed many a thrilling evening in those rather antiquated purlieus…Do you remember when Olga Simpson (now Mrs. Henry Grandin) screamed so realistically during a performance of the “Thirteenth Chair” that she nearly stopped the show?

vokoban
vokoban on March 1, 2006 at 5:54 am

This is a long article but I’m going to include it because it has a lot of great history…1933 style:

MAJESTIC THEATER’S HEYDAY RECALLED ON EVE OF RAZING
Golden, glamourous heydays of the once-proud Majestic Theater down near Ninth and Broadway, now about to be razed to make way for a parking station, are being recalled by old-time Los Angeles theatergoers. Built in September, 1908, the Majestic housed during its quarter-century of life many of the famous actors and plays of yesterday and today. In its earlier days it was run as a theater of touring attractions under the Schubert management. To it came William Faversham and Julie Opp in “The Fawn,” Mrs. Leslie Carter in “Two Women,” Florence Reed in “The Deep Purple;” to it came opera and dance spectacles, Gertrude Hoffman and her troupe in “Sumurun,” Mimi Aguglia in Italian repertoire and many others. Henry Savage’s production of the opera, “The Girl of the Golden West,” by Puccini, was given there. In this theater Ramon Novarro began his theatrical career-as an usher. Ramon still treasures two theater stubs given him by Charlie Chaplin. Later he was given bits, after that helped with stage management. Its golden era as a home of Los Angeles theater began shortly after the war. In the spring of 1919 the Wilkes brothers took it over and formed a stock company in which were Lewis Stone, Florence Oakley and David Hartford. In August of that year, having had little luck, the brothers turned the showhouse over to their sister, Wilhelmina Wilkes, who assembled a company which had Dickson Morgan as its stage manager. In this group were Edward Everett Horton, Evelyn Varden, Marie Curtis, Sara Sothern. The first play of this group to run more than two weeks was “The Willow Tree,” the second Oscar Wilde’s “The Ideal Husband.” Then came such plays as “The Nervous Wreck,” with Horton: “The Rear Car,” starring Franklin Pangborn; “The Fool,” by Channing Pollock. All three of these, successes later in the East, were started at the Majestic. Mary Newcomb became leading woman. Horton played “Clarence,” “Outward Bound” and “Beggar on Horseback.” And with Miss Newcomb became a theatrical idol of the town. Wilhelmina Wilkes died. Dickson Morgan, whose first production was “Oh, Boy,” a musical, went on as producer of plays. There were productions such as “Anna Christie,” with Pauline Lord; Shaw’s “Man and Superman,” with John Davidson featured, and Barrie’s “The Professor’s Love Story,” with Horton. Davidson substituted as leading man of the company one summer, while Horton was away on a vacation. Later days of the Majestic Theater found the Macloons presenting “The Desert Song,” “Hit the Deck” and “New Moon;” saw Eddie Horton come back from the Vine-street Theater and present “Serena Blandish” and “The Swan,” which gave Ralph Forbes great prestige. And during the last year or two-pictures and burlesque. Now it is to be razed.

vokoban
vokoban on March 1, 2006 at 5:25 am

Keeps getting better:

(Dec. 8, 1932)
SHOW TRIAL JUDGE FINDS SIX GUILTY
Two women and four men, arrested in a police raid on the Majestic Theater at 845 South Broadway August 18, last, yesterday were found guilty of violating the city indecent-show ordinance by Municipal Judge Northrup. The court found the defendants, Sylvia Burke, Nona Franklin, Jess Mack, Walter Owens, John Rader and Jack Kirdwood, guilty of one count each, dismissing other similar charges against them. Judge Northrup also denied a motion by Murray and A.J. Chotiner, defense attorneys, for a new trial, and ordered the defendants to appear tomorrow for sentence. Sylvia Burke and Jess Mack were the only defense witnesses called by the Chotiners, following denial by Judge Northrup of their motion to dismiss the charges on the ground that the ordinance is unconstitutional. Their testimony was limited to statements that their acts were not intended to be obscene not to corrupt the morals of patrons.

vokoban
vokoban on March 1, 2006 at 5:16 am

From 1926 until 1932, the news is mostly about live shows at the Majestic with a few movies. Then it starts to get a little seedy. I guess this one is before myspace existed:

(June 15, 1932)
MORE LIGHT THROWN ON KIDNAP TALE
Questioning a taxi driver who drove the girl and her supposed abductor away and a companion of the mother and sister, police yesterday expressed the belief that Miss June McLaughlin, 16-year-old dancer known professionally as June DeVon, may have consented in her disappearance from in front of the Majestic Theater last Sunday night. The mother, Mrs. Louise McLaughlin, and sister Violet McLaughlin of 836 Sanborn avenue, originally reported to police that the dancer was forced by a former sailor admirer to accompany him. They declared, according to their report, that the so-called abduction took place immediately after they met the girl at the theater and after she told them the sailor had caused a disturbance which resulted in the loss of her position.

vokoban
vokoban on March 1, 2006 at 5:03 am

Here’s a few items on the decline and death of this great theater. There are literally hundreds of items in the LA Times about plays and operas put on here all through the 20’s and then it starts becoming more burlesque and finally being razed in 1933 for…of course, a parking structure. At least that’s what one article claims.

Here’s one about a merger:

(June 12, 1926)
The Majestic and Orange Grove theaters were merged into one organization yesterday when a deal was closed by Michael Corper, Ralph Spence, Will Morrissey and Arthur Freed. Corper will officiate as director-general of both theaters, holding a controlling interest over all productions which Spence and Morrissey are to stage at the Majestic. Morrissey, it was announced, will open at the Majestic Sunday evening, the 20th inst., with a new edition of his Music Hall Revue….

Englewood
Englewood on February 20, 2006 at 5:59 pm

In the magazine section of the Feb. 19, 2006 Los Angeles Times (West; “The Most Fiendish Face in Movies”; p. 25), there is an article about the famous silent screen actor Lon Chaney, Sr.

Chaney Sr. had married a 16-year-old singer, Cleva Creighton, while touring in musical comedies. It was, however, a tough life and the marriage was apparently souring. The following paragraph is from yesterday’s article where the Majestic Theater comes in:

“The marriage became troubled, but no one expected what happened next. On April 30, 1913, during Chaney’s performance at the Majestic Theater in downtown Los Angeles, Cleva went into the wings and attempted suicide by swalling a vial of bichloride of mercury. She lived, but was never able to sing again.

“In a bout of fury, Chaney cut Cleva out of his life. He more than divorced her—he never saw or spoke of her again, left her all of $1 in his will and told their son [Lon, Jr.] that Cleva had not survived the poison. (Lon Jr. would not find out the truth until after his father died.) The actor then married a chorus girl named Hazel Hastings, herself divorced from a legless man who ran a San Francisco cigar counter and eventually let it be believed that she was Lon Jr.’s mother In the insular world of traveling theater, however, Cleva had caused enough of a scandal to make employment difficult for her former husband, which likely led to Chaney’s (Sr.) decision to try his hand at the movies.”

I’m surprised no one else in Los Angeles picked up on this story but me.

Gerry Curran

vokoban
vokoban on January 2, 2006 at 4:34 pm

I posted some interesting articles about the Symphony, the Palace of Pictures, and the Forum on their respective pages. A mysterious figure named Dr. Breckwedel, who did a very good job of keeping his personal business out of the papers, seems to be the man behind these theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 31, 2005 at 2:09 pm

vokoban, I don’t know if Oliver Morosco ever got his theatre on the east side of Broadway between 6th and 7th, but three theatres are listed as having been there: The Palace, of course, built for the Orpheum Circuit, and then the two rather mysterious theatres, The Symphony, at 614 S., and The Palace of Pictures, at 642 S. Broadway.

Perhaps Oliver Morosco had something to do with one or the other of those. Virtually nothing is known about either of them. However, Mososco did eventually build a theatre in the next block down Broadway, The Globe (opened 1913 as The Morosco.)

vokoban
vokoban on December 31, 2005 at 12:31 pm

Here are a few more short items I found that might fill in a few gaps:

(Jan. 8, 1906)
The promotion of Oliver Morosco’s new Majestic Theater has suddenly revived, and the manager said yesterday that contracts had already been let to Carl Leonardt, and that actual work would commence in three weeks. Mr. Leonardt, it is said, has notified tenants in the little brick buildings on the site that they must vacate within the month. His contract calls for the completion of the entire structure by November 1 of this year, but he believes that he can have it almost completed by September 1. Orders for steel have been placed, according to the same account, and there will be no let-up in the prosecution of the work. The proposed Majestic has suffered numerous delays, but its chief promoter seems assured that there will be no more of these.

(Aug. 7, 1910)
This way, Mr. Electrician-turn your “spot” on the Majestic theater, for this year it is a house of colossal possibility. John Cort, the most interesting single figure in the theatrical world today, prevailed upon Oliver Morosco to build a theater when he-Cort-was a third-rate power in the syndicate. Mr. Morosco prevailed upon Mr. Hamburger, and for his friend, Cort, he at last secured a beautiful house. Cort wasn’t himself sure, half the time, just what was going to be seen upon its stage. Its first season shows ran from mediocre to worse. Bigger men laughed at Cort. But he and Morosco were still good friends. Both of them believed that they would come out on top some day. A few months ago-the landslide. Cort became the man of the hour in American theatrical affairs. Lesser managers and producers flocked around the Shubert banner, of which Cort had become chief defendant, like a drove of frightened sheep. The very foundations of syndicate security seemed tottering. And Cort was still Morosco’s friend. The Majestic is a very beautiful theater, of just the right size, and of the most modern design. Morosco, intimate friend of Charles Frohman, David Belasco, Abe Erianger and others of the dyed-in-the-wool syndicate stripe, thus becomes a Shubert manager. Odd position, isn’t it? To date, he is the only man on record who has succeeded absolutely in transporting agua on both shoulders without spilling any of it.

vokoban
vokoban on December 31, 2005 at 7:40 am

Thanks Ken, but I think you were correct originally in that the final architects were Edelman(Edleman?)& Barnett. It sounds as though Rosenheim was the original architect for the Majestic when it was going to be built on the East side of Broadway for Morosco. Something must have happened between 1905-1907 because after 1907 the theater is called Hamburger’s Majestic and Morosco’s name isn’t even mentioned again in connection with the theater. Also, the pre-1905 plans say that upper floors of the building would be a hotel and after 1907 the upper floors are an office building. Does anyone know if the Morosco building was actually built under another name on the East side of Broadway? Maybe he sold the name of Majestic, since he clearly already owned half of the Majestic in San Francisco, and this new theater was supposed to be a sister.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 31, 2005 at 7:05 am

Jeff;Many thanks for posting these archive news reports. Now we know that the architect was Alfred F. Rosenheim, who in 1910 designed the still existing Clune’s Broadway/Cameo Theatre. We also have a good aproximation of the seating capacity of the Majestic Theatre as between 1,600 and under 1,700.

vokoban
vokoban on December 31, 2005 at 6:56 am

This first article is for comedy relief, the second clearly shows that the Majestic did show movies, at least for a time.

(May 27, 1910)
Adding to laurels won as a robber-taker last September, Miss Elizabeth La Rue, a costumer in the Majestic Theater Building, yesterday captured a clothes-stealing malefactor in a shop on South Spring street and marched him prisoner to her office on Broadway, guarding him until police arrived. She made a hold-up man so dizzy last September, when she nearly shook his teeth loose, that he was unable to escape with her gold watch and $200 which he had grabbed from her as she was leaving the All Night and Day bank. After holding her assailant in a wrestling bout for nearly a minute, he was so stunned and delayed that the police in the neighborhood were able to reach the scene and run the man down…….Miss La Rue, when asked as to her manhandling capabilities, said she wants it made plain to everyone that she is not seeking notoriety or trying to obtain a position as a woman policeman. “Why, I just can’t help putting up a fight for my property. Anyone who won’t try to capture a thug or thief does not deserve to have anything of value. There is nothing strange about my behavior, because WHY should any able-bodied woman be afraid of a mere man?” is the way she put the case.

(March 20, 1913)
The remarkable advance that has been made in motion photography within the past few years is being proved at the Majestic Theater every afternoon and evening this week, in the series of films called “Satan,” and representing the efforts of the evil one to conquer good. The films were made in Italy by the celebrated Ambrosio company and are typical of the foreign-made motion pictures. The “Satan” films will be continued at the Majestic throughout this week.

vokoban
vokoban on December 31, 2005 at 6:40 am

This first article is very interesting and goes into great detail about the interior decorations of the Majestic. If anyone wants the complete article, I will gladly email it.

(June 14, 1908)
Interior decorations for the Hamburber Majestic Theater of Broadway, between Eight and Ninth streets, are being prepared by Antoon Molkenboer at his studio, No. 2548 West Pico street. The ‘cartoon’-as artists call it-for the beautiful panel over the great proscenium arch has been completed, and the artist is now preparing the canvas on which the final work will be painted. The order for the artistic embellishment of this beautiful fireproof theater is perhaps the largest ever given for any structure on this Coast, as the work will include the decorating, in original designs, of the auditorium, lobby, foyer and cafe. The panel over the stage, in sight of the entire audience, is the only part containing human figures. All the rest will be in ornamental effects of flowers and birds.

(Jul. 5, 1908)
Embodying engineering features equaling and in some respects surpassing anything of the kind ever attempted before in such construction, the Hamburger Majestic Theater on South Broadway, near Ninth street, stands preeminent among modern reinforced concrete buildings, and its completion will add another to the many magnificent structures boasted by this City of the Angels….(this one goes on and on)

(Nov. 24, 1908)
The large representative audience that went to the opening of Hamburger’s Majestic Theater last night, for the production of “The Land of Nod,” got more than the usual theater crowd gets, even on an opening night. For the audience not only saw something new and vivacious on the stage, but it saw something newer and more beautiful in the cosy playhouse. Cosy is the best way to term it. And yet it has size, seating, as it does, nearly 1700, and it looks big. But the cosiness comes from the fact that its construction gives such a perfect sightline to the whole stage, its unsupported gallery and balcony present no obstruction to view and the roominess of the seats is and invitation to return.

vokoban
vokoban on December 31, 2005 at 6:17 am

(Aug. 20, 1905)
The Contractor and Builder thus describes the new Majestic Theater:
Architect A.F. Rosenheim has completed working drawings for this magnificent theater and office building to be erected on the east side of Broadway, between Sixth and Seventh streets, and the plans are now ready for estimates. It will be a sevenpstory, attic, and basement structure, 116.6 x 150 feet, thoroughly fireproof, and modern in all its appointments……

Now it switches to the West side of Broadway. (vokoban)

(June 12, 1907)
BUILDING CONTRACTS LET
Hamburger Realty and Trust Company to F.O. Eugstrum(sp?) Company, eight-story and basement reinforced concrete building, $146,497. The foregoing contract is for what is to be known as the Majestic Theater, to be situated on the west side of Broadway near Ninth street.

(Aug. 25, 1907)
There are many unique engineering features about the new Hamburger’s Majestic Theater, a permit for which was issued last week, calling for and outlay of $180,000. The building is and eight-story reinforced concrete structure, a picture of the accepted design having appeared in this department several months ago. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the engineering work are the cantilevers, which support the balcony and gallery, in which the cantilevers have a clear projection or overhang of from twenty-five to thirty feet. The cantilvers are really forty to fifty feet in length, extending from the exterior walls of the structure to the extreme end of the balcony, part of which hangs in mid air without support than afforded by the delicately balanced base. These are reinforced with cold twisted steel bars which are anchored into the exterior walls. These cantilevers are four feet longer than the famous ones on which the balcony of the Temple Auditorium hangs…..(very long artice) The building was designed by Edleman & Barnett, and all the engineering problems were worked out by Mayberry & Parker, architectural engineers. The contract has been awarded to F.O. Engstrum.

vokoban
vokoban on December 31, 2005 at 5:57 am

Joe’s opening date for this theater is correct, Nov. 23, 1908. The interesting thing to me is that this theater was being consistently discussed in the preceding 4 years. Most of the talk concerns the revolutionary building and also a healthy competition with San Francisco for the grandest theater on the West Coast. If anyone wants me to send them the newspaper article .pdf’s, let me know. Here are a few highlights. Note how the location and plans change over time. My email is

(Aug. 16, 1904)
Incorporation papers of the Majestic Building Company were yesterday sent to Sacramento for the signature of the Secretary of State, and the $300,000 seven-story fireproof hotel and theater proposed for the east side of Broadway, between Sixth and Seventh streets, will probably be built. It is proposed to begin work September 1, and it is estimated that the entire structure will be completed by March 1, 1905. Oliver Morosco is to be the lessee of the theater, and will make the new place his principal house. He will continue the control of the Burbank on Main street as a cheaper priced theater…..“The theater will seat 1600 people,” said Oliver Morosco yesterday, “and I claim that it will be the most gorgeously and completely finished theater in the Southwest…” A.F. Rosenheim is the architect.

(Oct. 18, 1904)
Oliver Morosco has arrived here{San Francisco} from Los Angeles, and when seen at the Majestic Theater tonight, where the house was sold out for a big benefit for the Outdoor Art League, said: “I’m here looking after my business, as I own half of this house. I have made arrangements to erect the counterpart of this Majestic Theater in Los Angeles. A. Rosenheim, who designed the Herman Hellman Building, will be the architect, and the structure will cost half a million. It will front on Broadway, between Sixth and Seventh streets, and work will positively be commenced within fifteen days.” The San Franciso Majestic is the most elegeant theater here and the erection of its counterpart in Los Angeles will give that city as fine theater accommodations as will be found on the Coast.

vokoban
vokoban on December 13, 2005 at 6:00 pm

Now I want to find another photo of the marquee. I’ve been looking through tons of photos of parade’s down Broadway, but nothing yet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 13, 2005 at 5:25 pm

That Bard’s Eighth Street had a Broadway entrance is quite a revelation. The owners must have considered a presence on Broadway very valuable if they were willing to lease expensive retail space to provide one. I know that Grauman’s Metropolitan had a Broadway entrance in the 1920’s, but that theatre was several times the size of Bard’s, it’s Sixth Street entrance was a probably a hundred feet farther from Broadway than Bard’s, and the Metropolitan’s Broadway entrance probably occupied less ground floor space, as it ran mostly on the less costly second floor, entering the theatre at the mezzanine level via a bridge over the alley.

vokoban
vokoban on December 13, 2005 at 4:35 pm

I believe this is explains the theater marquee on the Broadway face of the Merritt Building in the postcard image:

(Nov. 30, 1930) LA Times
The ground floor of the Merritt Building, at the northwest corner of Broadway and Eighth streets, will be divided into two stores and a theater salon and lobby, as a result of a series of leases consumated through the W. Ross Campbell Company……
The north section of the property will be converted into a theater salon and lobby which will provide a Broadway entrance to Bard’s Eighth-street Theater. The lease was drawn for a term of sixteen years. The Windsor Corporation, owners of the Bard Theater Chain, are the lessees in this instance. Store fronts and interiors are being installed on the premises now.

I don’t know how long this Bard’s Eighth street entrance existed, but it seems unlikely that the postcard company would spend the money to have an artist add the marquee, unless they just wanted the image to appear more packed with theaters since it is a picture of Broadway.

UKuser
UKuser on November 2, 2005 at 12:45 am

CALLING ALL THEATRE / MOVIE ENTHUSIASTS!!!

T'he Los Angeles Theatre' on South Broadway, LA is playing host to the UK television show ‘Dead Famous LIVE’. We are currently looking for people who would like to come along as part of the studio audience.

‘Dead Famous LIVE’ is a studio entertainment show all about Hollywood History and the paranormal. We will be welcoming celebrity guests on to the show and investigating famous locations around Hollywood which are rumoured to be haunted including the Los Angeles Theatre itself.

This is an invaluable chance to get access to the Los Angeles Theatre, the place where Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City Lights’ premiered in 1931 and to have a thoroughly great day out! (And its free!!)

We’re transmitting ‘Live’ back to the United Kingdom so expect it to be exciting and fun!

We will be filming on three days from 11th – 13th November between 11.30am – 4pm. If you are interested in coming on one or all of these days then email me for tickets!

.uk

I look forward to your responses!

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 12, 2005 at 2:58 am

Great picture Joe, Thanks. I have seen this one before but not such a clear shot. Also to be seen to the right of the Majestic Theatre in the above linked photo is Tally’s Broadway Theatre, 833 South Broadway. It has it’s own listing here: /theaters/10571

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 12, 2005 at 2:23 am

The clearest picture I’ve found of the Majestic is this excellent scan_01.jpg) of a frame from Harold Lloyd’s “Safety Last” which shows the theatre in the background. The scan is from the excellent Dr. Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans. I haven’t had a chance to peruse much of the site, but I expect that it might contain at least a few other scans of scenes from early movies shot on the streets of Southern California which might contain glimpses of other theatres.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 19, 2005 at 6:45 pm

Here is a picture of the Majestic in the late 1920s, courtesy of the LA Library:

http://jpg2.lapl.org/spnb1/00017150.jpg

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 15, 2005 at 6:37 am

Gerald;

As far as I know, there was never a theater in that location. The tall, classical building to which it is attached was called the Merritt Building, and for much of its history it has been a bank, (I believe the original occupant was the Pan American Bank of California), though it has been used as retail space, too. I’ve seen this particular postcard before, but I have no idea why there is a marquee on the building at the time this picture was taken. In none of the other old pictures of the building that I’ve seen does the marquee exist.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 14, 2005 at 11:46 am

Gerald;
The ‘President’ shown on the postcard is the former Morosco Theatre, after being President it became the Newsreel then the Globe /theaters/1459/

The only other theatre that I have located on the 700 block of Broadway is the Loew’s State which at # 703 would be on the other side of the street but not in the position of the ‘other’ un-named theatre that can be seen on the postcard (That is if it is a theatre? I know the marquee looks like one, but…??)