Ricardo Montalban Theater

1615 North Vine Street,
Hollywood,
Los Angeles, CA 92262

Unfavorite 3 people favorited this theater

Showing 51 - 75 of 84 comments

trooperboots
trooperboots on October 12, 2005 at 4:28 am

Hi Jeane! If your window faced Vine Street and you were looking south, towards Sunset Blvd, then you were probably looking at this theater. Looking that direction, you would have also seen the NBC studios at the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine, which also had many stars in radio broadcasts during World War 2, as well, and it’s quite possible that Frank Sinatra would have performed there, as well, but if you could clearly see the front of the theater, it was the Montalban. Looking north would have afforded a view of the Hollywood Playhouse, which I believe was a playhouse in those days as well, so it doesn’t seem like the venue Sinatra would have used for a wartime concert.

Islandgirl
Islandgirl on September 28, 2005 at 11:34 pm

In 1943 I used to look out on Vine St. from the 4th floor window of the Taft Building at Hollywood and Vine (worked at Local Loan Co.) to watch all the girls lined up around the block to go into a Frank Sinatra broadcast. Would this have been at the Lux Radio Theatre at The CBS Radio Playhouse at 1615 North Vine ?

richie51
richie51 on August 2, 2005 at 2:20 pm

I think some of the above comments tend to sell this wonderful building a bit short. It just so happens that the structure now known as the Ricardo Montalbán Theater is one of the most famous venues in the entire history of American radio. The Vine Street Playhouse began hosting CBS’s highly-rated program “The Lux Radio Theatre” on May 13, 1940, with a production of “True Confession,” starring Loretta Young and Fred MacMurray. The show remained in that venerable location (Monday nights at 9:00 ET / 6:00 PT) until May 25, 1953, with a production of “Lure of the Wilderness,” starring Jean Peters and Jeffrey Hunter. During the course of those thirteen glorious years, a total of 568 broadcasts originated from The Vine Street Playhouse. The program’s titular “producer,” through January 22, 1945, was Cecil B. DeMille, and almost all of Hollywood’s most famous stars appeared there at one time or another in their careers — before live audiences that, each week, filled to capacity the hall’s nearly 2,000 seats. This auditorium should be consecrated as a shrine to the Golden Age of Radio.

KNXT
KNXT on June 30, 2005 at 8:10 pm

The Lux Radio Theatre used the Music Box (Henry Fonda) Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard until 1940. At that time, additional audience studios were constructed at Columbia Square on Sunset and the lease on the Music Box was not renewed by CBS. “Lux” moved to The CBS Radio Playhouse on 1615 North Vine in 1940 and remained there until 1953. CBS then moved “Lux” to Columbia Square and it emanated out of the large Studio A.

Other radio programmes that used the 1615 Vine Street location were: The Frank Sinatra Old Gold Show, The Judy Canova Show, This Is My Best, Maisie with Ann Sothern, The Colgate Theatre of Romance, The Nelson Eddy Show, The Hallmark Playhouse, The Chesterfield Show with Harry James, The Joe Penner Show, and others.

The Music Box was once again leased by CBS for radio programmes in late 1948 for a couple of years. The Red Skelton RADIO Show came from there, as did the Monday to Friday “Tide Show” starring Jack Smith, Dinah Shore, Frank DeVol and Ginny Smith.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 21, 2005 at 2:21 am

The Las Palmas Theatre, Hollywood is listed here on Cinema Treasures and did show movies /theaters/2368/

Christian;
I have no records of the Ivar Theatre showing movies but let us know if you fine out more info please.

trooperboots
trooperboots on January 16, 2005 at 1:23 am

Thanks Joe! Yes, I recall the Las Palmas as well!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 16, 2005 at 1:17 am

The big four playhouses built in the 1920s were the Vine Street, the Hollywood Playhouse, The Music Box (later the Fox, then the Pix, now the Henry Fonda Theater) and the original El Capitan, which became the Paramount. Since the Vine Street showed movies as the Mirror in the early 1930s, the Hollywood Playhouse is the only one of the four which (as far as I know) has never been a movie house.

I do have a vague memory of seeing newspaper ads for movies being shown at the Ivar, though I’ve never been to that theater. The only other live theaters that I can remember in Hollywood are the Las Palmas and the Coronet. I went to a play at one of them, in the mid 1960s, but can’t remember which of the two it was (it was a small theater with a courtyard entrance, on a side street just off Hollywood Boulevard- sounds like the Las Palmas, doesn’t it? I can’t remember where the Coronet is.) As far as I know, neither of them has ever been a movie house.

trooperboots
trooperboots on January 15, 2005 at 8:36 pm

Let me know about the other 3 live venues you are referring to. If one is the IVAR, I remember seeing movies there as a kid in the 1950s, but I will have to check to make sure. What are the other 2 theaters that have always been live?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 15, 2005 at 1:03 pm

No, I don’t think the Hollywood Playhouse has ever shown movies. It was a live theater, a television studio, and a live music venue, and now I think it is a nightclub. That makes it the only one of the big four Hollywood stage theaters from the 1920s which never went cinematic. Someone ought to show a few films there, just so it can join the club.

trooperboots
trooperboots on January 15, 2005 at 11:43 am

Well said, Joe! By the way, the reason the Hollywood Playhouse/El Capitan/Palace theater is not listed here at cinematreasures.org is because it was never a movie house that I could find. If you are aware if it ever was, Joe, we can add it to the database. I think it’s always been a live theater, however.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 15, 2005 at 9:39 am

Robert R:

The original El Capitan in Hollywood was the one on Hollywood Boulevard. Later, it became the Paramount. During part of that time, the theater on Vine Street north of Hollywood Boulevard, and which had opened as the Hollywood Playhouse, used the name El Capitan Theater. Later, the name was changed to the Palace.

Some time after that, when Disney bought and restored the Paramount, they restored the original name to it. So, the El Capitan/Paramount/El Capitan on Hollywood boulevard is not the theater from which the TV show Hollywood Palace was broadcast. The show came from the Hollywood Playhouse/El Capitan/Palace on Vine Street.

RobertR
RobertR on January 15, 2005 at 5:17 am

It mentions in the opening summary that the theatre was often mistaken for the Hollywood Playhouse where the Hollywood Palace TV show took place. Didn’t it come from the El Capitan for it’s whole run?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 15, 2005 at 4:19 am

My copy of the Los Angeles Times Calendar section of August 24th, 1986, contains and ad for a musical performance piece called “Rare Area” appearing at the James A. Doolittle Theatre on Vine Street. I don’t remember how much earlier the renaming took place, though.

trooperboots
trooperboots on January 15, 2005 at 12:34 am

The theater became part of James Doolittle’s Greek theater group on September 21, 1964 and premiered at the Huntington Hartford with a lavish production of “H.M.S. Pinafore.” I am still looking to find out when the theater was re-named the “Doolittle Theater.” Does anyone know? As far as I can tell, it was sometime in the 1980s.

trooperboots
trooperboots on January 8, 2005 at 8:57 am

Joe, You are most likely correct. The CBS “Columbia Square” building on Sunset Blvd. is probably the place. It is interesting that the Lux Broadcasts I have somehow stop after 1955.

Paul, I do have a fairly good list of programs that the LUX Radio Theater broadcast from the theater from about 1938-1953 on Monday nights. Among the shows I have is “Sunset Blvd.” broadcast with Gloria Swanson and William Holden in 1951, a year after the movie became a hit. The stars who performed live on that stage during those years was a real “whos-who” of Hollywood history, including Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Rita Hayworth, Barbara Stanwyck and hundreds of others.

I also have a couple of brochures from the theater from the late 60s. I will see what I come up with. The problem with a lot of the theater’s history was a fire which destroyed the Hollywood Public Library in the 1980’s. The library held much of the theater’s historic records.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 8, 2005 at 7:39 am

Christian:

I think that the Music Box had become the Pix Theatre by the 1950s, and was showing movies. I think it most likely that the last two seasons of the Lux program were broadcast from the KNX studios on Sunset Boulevard.

I have a vague memory of some mention of a CBS Playhouse being located in the Sunset Boulevard facility. It was somewhere in the History of KNX section of the station’s web site. I think it was a caption to one of the pictures there (reached by a small link near the top of that page.) There is also one good photograph of the Vine Street Theater there, and another which I think is of the Music Box, but the captions of both refer to them as the CBS Playhouse.

PaulEhert
PaulEhert on January 8, 2005 at 5:58 am

I attended many live productions at the Huuntington Hartford in the 1960’s. That theatre was known for its great acousitcs. There was also a great sense of “connection” between the actors on the stage and the audience. Even though it had 1200 seats, it was very intimate. There was not a “bad seat” in the house. I would love to find a complete list of the productions that played at the Hartford in the 50’s and 60’s Any suggestions on how to do that will be greatly appreciated.

Paul LA,CA

trooperboots
trooperboots on January 8, 2005 at 5:41 am

I have recordings of old LUX radio shows recorded at the “Music Box” from 1935 until this theater began broadcasting from l938. There is a broadcast from 1940 of “Dark Victory” with Warner Brothers star Bette Davis and co-star Spencer Tracy from MGM. In radio, the stars from different studios could do radio plays together, apparently… so the performance is first rate. Does anyone know where the last Lux Radio Broadcasts were made in 1954 and 1955, recorded? This was 2 years after Huntington Hartford took over the theater and wonder if they were still made here, or perhaps moved back to the Music Box or Vine Street theater?

trooperboots
trooperboots on January 5, 2005 at 12:02 am

This theater has it’s own beautifully designed website at…

http://www.ricardomontalbantheatre.org

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 2, 2005 at 5:13 pm

Christian;

Thanks for your kind remarks. It’s difficult doing research from so far away (as I am in the UK), but I try my best when I am over in the USA to locate as much info as I can on theatres. I think I have exhausted my knowledge on the Ricardo Montalban for the moment though.

I remember Lux soap over here in the UK in the 1950’s, in fact I think it could still be on sale in a few outlets. Of course we had the BBC which doesn’t allow sponsership of its programmes, well it didn’t back in the ‘old days’.

I too just bought Rosemary Lord’s book for the older photo’s, being a ‘coffee-table’ type book, its not the type you pick up and actually ‘read’ is it!

Glad we finally got the Helen Hayes play title right! As they say ‘A picture never lies’. Great photo. Thanks

trooperboots
trooperboots on January 2, 2005 at 2:29 am

KenRoe, found out that the play Helen Hayes was in for the 1954 re-opening was not “What Women Want” (as I thought) or “What Every Woman Wants” (what you thought), but rather “What Every Woman KNOWS” … I found a photo of the front of the theater on opening night … (isn’t this fun?) …

The caption on the photo is “ Opening night—celebrities and first nighters are shown arriving at the new million dollar theater, the Huntington Hartford Theater, for its premiere performance. The theater, located in Hollywood, is the first legitimate theater to open in America in 27 years. Movie fans standing in bleachers cheer as screen stars enter the lobby of the theater. Photo dated: October 2, 1954.”

Here is the photo: http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics34/00036905.jpg

trooperboots
trooperboots on January 1, 2005 at 11:20 pm

KenRoe, your information is invaluable. Thanks so much for the update. When you research on the internet, sometimes you get conflicting information and gaps that you almost have to guess at. I appreciate the clarifications! I also found out that the Lux Radio program was called that because “Lux Soap” was the sponsor. By the way, I have Rosemary Lord’s book, but bought it only for the older photos. Some of her information is inaccurate however and I think the modern photos do not match up to the historic ones from angle or time of day.

Manwithnoname
Manwithnoname on January 1, 2005 at 4:18 pm

I was also unaware this theater ever presented movies. As the Huntington Hartford, I saw Henry Fonda perform is one man show “Clarence Darrow” here. I still have the program.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 1, 2005 at 4:00 pm

The Huntington Hartford Theatre always looked to be a fairly drab building to my eyes, and it always seemed to be ‘closed’ whenever I visited LA, so I never went into it. Maybe I will have more luck on my next visit in a couple of weeks time! Last time I was there it was shrouded in scaffolding during its recent renovation.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 1, 2005 at 3:56 pm

I have just posted a fairly comprehensive history up on the Music Box Theatre page /theaters/493/