Ricardo Montalban Theater

1615 North Vine Street,
Los Angeles, CA 92262

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Showing 51 - 75 of 95 comments

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.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 23, 2006 at 1:18 pm

Here is a recent photo of the Ricardo Montalban Theater for comparison.

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 (?).

trooperboots on October 11, 2005 at 8:28 pm

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 on September 28, 2005 at 3:34 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 on August 2, 2005 at 6:20 am

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 on June 30, 2005 at 12:10 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.

KenRoe on January 20, 2005 at 6:21 pm

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

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

trooperboots on January 15, 2005 at 5:23 pm

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

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 15, 2005 at 5:17 pm

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 on January 15, 2005 at 12:36 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 5:03 am

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 on January 15, 2005 at 3:43 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 1:39 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 on January 14, 2005 at 9:17 pm

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 14, 2005 at 8:19 pm

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 on January 14, 2005 at 4:34 pm

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.