Ricardo Montalban Theater

1615 North Vine Street,
Los Angeles, CA 92262

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Showing 26 - 50 of 84 comments

jwells on November 21, 2008 at 9:10 am

18 Nov 2008 … TIMECRIMES

jwells on October 23, 2008 at 11:45 pm

Here is that 1930’s photo side-by-side with present day Vine Street (October 2008). Unfortunately the W Hotel construction and billboards obscure the buildings somewhat. My photographer tried her best to get a similar angle.

And no Ken shoe purchase is not required.

Special film screenings have been extended through the end of the year.

kencmcintyre on October 8, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Do I have to buy the shoes if I go to the movie?

jwells on October 8, 2008 at 5:58 pm

On August 8th, 2008, The Montalban became the temporary home of Nike Sportswear’s unique retail and special events theatre. As part of this theatre has been cleaned, painted and upgraded. New sound and lighting as well as 35mm film and HD video projection have been installed. A massive 55x26 screen recovered from one of San Diego’s single screen theaters, most likely the Valley Circle, was installed in The Montalban. Artist Geoff McFetridge was commissioned to create large scale murals on the roof and south side of the building and installed a unique wallpaper motif in the second floor mezzanine room.

From a press release: Margarita Cannon, the theater’s creative director explains, “One of the great challenges in having a landmark theatre is reversing the aging process. Nike Sportswear brought in ideas and artists, and now the Montalbán has new life to share with our community.”

Movies came back to the Montalban in a major way with weekly Cinema Tuesdays series, which features premieres, advance screenings and sneak peeks of innovative films from around the world:

19 Aug 2008 … TOKYO OLYMPIAD
23 Sep 2008 … MEGUNICA (U.S. PREMIERE)
30 Sep 2008 … ROCKNROLLA
14 Oct 2008 … LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

kencmcintyre on October 8, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Do you see the Vine Street Brown Derby across the street? I actually ate there just before it burned down in the mid 80s. The place was pretty shabby by that time.

jwells on October 8, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Here is the corrected link to the great photo of the theater as the Studio from the USC archive.

Here is the metadata and description of same photo.

I’d like to shoot a current photo (for a then and now) from the same spot, since the Montalban, Broadway Hollywood and Taft buildings are all still standing.

Michele41 on February 23, 2008 at 6:23 am

Oh, being a big 60’s music fan, this must have been around the same time (1963) that Sonny Bono went to work as Phil Spector’s Go-Fer/Assistant while they recorded at Gold Star on Santa Monica Boulevard. Now I KNOW that Gold Star must be long gone by now.

Michele41 on February 23, 2008 at 6:05 am

Thank You Joe V.
After your knowledge of Aldos, I looked it up in the LA library directory. I’m quite sure it was the 6413 Hollywood Boulevard location…I remember Coffee Dan’s and Woolworth nearby. My father worked for KFWB which was a few doors down. We went to Aldos often, and late 62 to 63 would have been the time period. Funny you should mention Sonny Bono as I completely recall him. He must have been doing promo work, my father knew him well and he definitely did stand out. He dressed pretty funky for the times. Not long ago, I was in a bookstore where I live now in the midwest, and ran accross a book Cher had written a while back. Sure enough, she met Bono at Aldos and described him as the strangest man she had ever seen (though she was totally attracted to that aspect of him). I was intrigued, so I looked up Bono in that same 1963 directory. He lived at 7237 Franklin Avenue #1. This would be the apartment Cher talked about in her book. She moved in with him not long after they met. Strictly platonic at first, as she needed a place to stay, but eventually it became a romantic relationship. Interesting. Wonder if that building he lived in still exists? I know Franklin Ave. was and still is sprawling apartment complexes. Anway, thanks for the info. I had fun researching this…wish my father were still alive and I could talk to him about my findings. I guess I wasn’t too far off, at least in the vicinity. Not bad for a 10 year old mind at the time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 1, 2007 at 11:32 pm

Or I might have overlooked it, since I keep forgetting to enlarge the page in my browser when reading that pale text (I wish it had a “darken” function as well as the enlarging function.)

The 1930s photo I linked to on October 12, 2006, showing the theatre when it was called the Studio, has vanished from the USC digital archives altogether. Maybe the archives lost track of it when they were redesigning their website. Fortunately, there’s still a photo from the L.A. library showing the theatre’s marquee when it was called the Studio. It’s essentially the same as the Mirror marquee in the picture ken mc linked to on November 8 of this year.

This creates a bit of a problem with the time-line of the theatre.
S. Charles Lee’s plans for remodeling the Mirror into the Studio, including adding a new marquee, were announced in 1936, and it looks like this marquee already existed by 1936. So did Lee not design a new marquee after all, or was the rather austere CBS Radio Playhouse marquee the one he designed in 1936, or do we just not yet have a photo of his short-lived marquee?

kencmcintyre on December 1, 2007 at 9:22 am

Joe, I posted a photo of the Mirror on November 8.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 30, 2007 at 11:07 pm

Yes, it was the Huntington Hartford Theatre for some thirty years, from 1954 until at least 1984, longer than it bore any of its other names. It was Hartford who caused the original facade to be stripped away and replaced with the bland exterior the building wore for most of its history. The interior was gutted at that same time. The current facade is more a homage to than an actual recreation of the original that was lost to Hartford’s remodeling. For all practical purposes, none of Myron Hunt’s original work on the Vine Street Theatre remains.

The Doolittle name was in honor of James Doolittle, an impresario who for many years programed the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, and then programmed the Hartford itself for a while starting in the mid-1960s. I think the theatre was called the Doolittle for about a dozen years.

Also missing is the one aka under which this house operated exclusively as a movie theatre, the Mirror Theatre. I’m sure that Lux Radio Playhouse was not an actual name the theatre itself bore, but was merely the name of one of the programs CBS broadcast from the house during its years as the Studio Theatre (another missing aka) and then as the CBS Radio Playhouse (not CBS Radio Theatre.)

For a full list of the theatre’s names in sequence see Ken Roe’s comment of January 1, 2005 above.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 9, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Michele: Almost all of the ground floor of the Taft Building was occupied by a Rexall drug store in those days. I remember a coffee shop called Aldo’s in the neighborhood, but I can’t recall exactly where it was. It was supposedly at Aldo’s that Cher first met Sonny Bono in 1963. I don’t know if Cher would remember exactly where Aldo’s was or if she’s suppressed that knowledge.

Oh, wait. The L.A. library website now has some street directories of the era available on-line. OK. Aldo’s is listed in the 1960 directory as having two locations on Hollywood Boulevard: at 6413, which would have been just east of the Warner Cinerama Theatre; and at 6721, almost directly across the street from the Egyptian Theatre. I don’t know at which of these locations Cher met her diminutive destiny.

The 1960 directory lists another Aldo’s at 7369 Melrose, but I have no memory of that location at all.

richie51 on November 9, 2007 at 7:11 am

Jeanne and Christian both speculate that Frank Sinatra performed in the Vine Street Playhouse during the war, and indeed that is the case. For Lux Radio Theatre, he starred in “Wake Up and Live” on February 21, 1944, and appeared as an intermission guest during “Magnificent Obsession” on November 13, 1944. Following the war, he starred in “Anchors Aweigh” on December 29, 1947, and in “The Miracle of the Bells” on May 31, 1948.

kencmcintyre on November 8, 2007 at 7:21 am

Here is a photo of the Mirror from the early thirties:

Michele41 on July 8, 2007 at 6:25 pm

Kind of off topic, but can someone help me out with a defunct restaurant that I believe was in the Taft building? I think it was called Aldo’s and was on the bottom/street level. Anyone remember exactly where it was or better yet an address. Think this would have been 1960 or so.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 23, 2006 at 1:04 pm

And, from the L.A. Public Library, a dramatic night shot taken when it was still called the Vine Street Theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 12, 2006 at 3:40 am

Here, from the USC digital archives, is a 1930’s photo of Vine Street showing this theatre when it was called the Studio.

jhld on July 12, 2006 at 8:13 pm

In regards to the Hollywood Playhouse: No it was never a motion picture theatre, however, it did (and still does) have a projection booth and at one time had two projectors that were removed in 1981 when the building was remodeled and transformed into THE PALACE – a concert venue and nightclub. I have worked there on and off in the eighties and again in the late ninties thru now. While there The Palace has shown some films as special events, though nothing truly notable: Premier of Eurythmics documentary and a private screening of Disney’s Beauty and The Beast for all the staff that worked on the film along with a viewing of the Academy Awards as that film was nominated for best film.
PS – The Playhouse was renamed several times through it’s life, which may account for some confusion of some other thatres: Hollywood Playhouse, WPA Federal Theatre, The El Capitain (interesting footnote), The Jerry Lewis Theatre, The Hollywood Palace, The Palace, Avalon.

haineshisway on February 12, 2006 at 11:07 pm

While the Huntington Hartford was definitely a legit house all throughout the 60s they did, in fact, show one motion picture – Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

trooperboots on January 18, 2006 at 10:06 pm

Hi Jeane, I was raised only a few blocks away from 1951 until 1958 on Gower Street. My mom was a disc jockey for radio KMPC, which was a music station in those days and she sold records at Wallach’s Music Store at the corner of Sunset and Vine. In those early 50s days, we used to walk the 2 blocks at midnite, when mom got off work and dine at the Brown Derby Coffee Shop. The chicken noodle soup was amazing. We also ate at Nickodells restaurant on Selma and Argyle, which was always a treat. I remember the Taft Building in those days, because the big Rexall Drug Store was located on the corner of Hollywood and VIne Streets and there was a HUGE sign on the roof for Miller Highlife Beer that appeared around 1952 or so.

Here is a photo of the Taft Building in 1945…

Here is a photo of the Taft Building about 1958…

Great memories!

Islandgirl on October 12, 2005 at 6:40 am

Thanks, Joe, for that info on the Blackouts pictures. Will follow up on that.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 12, 2005 at 2:04 am

Jeane Mari: The Bruce Torrence Collection has pictures of Ken Murray’s Blackouts (with Marie Wilson) at the Vine Street El Capitan. The biggest hit record of “Got a Date with an Angel” was probably the one by Hal Kemp and his orchestra, but I doubt that they could have fit onto the back of a truck.

Islandgirl on October 11, 2005 at 9:40 pm

Thank you, Christian, for taking the time to reply. Yes I could see clearly the front of the theatre on Vine Street which was just beyond the Broadway Hollywood Dept. store on the corner. Also, from the same window I once saw a flatbed truck right below with a full band on it playing and selling war bonds. The song I remember was, “Got a Date with an Angel, Gonna Meet her at Seven, Got a date with an angel, I’m on my way to Heaven.” wish I knew the name of the band. (Yes, with all this hanging out the window, I got my work done). You’d be surprised the big name stars who would co-sign loans for their poor friends. And my bos howled when he had to explain to this young girl newly arrived from Canada – who and what gay people were. Melody Lane restaurant was kitty cornered across on Hollywood Blvd and beyond that the El Capitan Theater where I saw Ken Murray Blackouts with Marie (?).