Carthay Circle Theatre

6316 San Vicente Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90048

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Showing 76 - 100 of 128 comments

vokoban on August 31, 2007 at 12:26 pm

I knew that Olympic was Country Club Blvd. at that time but I didn’t realize that this stretch of San Vicente was called Eulalia Blvd. then.

vokoban on August 31, 2007 at 12:24 pm

Here is a 1927 Sanborn map overlayed on a 2007 satellite map showing the exact location of the theater (in yellow).

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vokoban on August 30, 2007 at 11:37 pm

I bought Caprice after reading Orlando’s comment above. Here’s a cropped screenshot I took of Doris' stunt double going over the edge of the balcony which shows the ceiling of the Carthay Circle:

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vokoban on August 28, 2007 at 1:49 pm

(July 2, 1955)
The final curtain fell on the Carthay Circle Theater stage last night for Isabel Bonner, New York stage and television actress, who collapsed and died as she played a hospital bed scene with Actor Dane Clarck in “The Shrike.” Miss Bonner, 47, who in private life is the wife of Joseph Kramm, author of “The Shrike,” was seated by the bedside of Clark when she suddenly fell forward with her head down on the spread.

vokoban on August 28, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Here is something interesting from an LA Times article from Nov. 6, 1983:

“Shoes of the Fisherman” was the last film to be shown before the wrecking crews moved in to dismantle the white and blue concrete structure with its multi-colored tiled high tower. The theater was something of a repository of early Californiana. In the lobby hung a painting, “California’s First Theatre,” by Frank Tenney Johnson, depicting the Eagle Theatre built in Sacramento in 1849, and painted on the drop curtain was “An Emigrant Train at Donner Lake,” also by Johnson, a tribute to the ill-fated Donner party.
A fascinating story unearthed in The Times' archives relates to the peculiarity of an early Carthay Circle Theater lease agreement. In complicated legal phraseology, the lease drawn in the 1930s stipulated that it would remain effective day to day just as long as a ticket of admission was sold regularly at the box office. In order to retain that lease through five lean years, when no entertainment was booked for the house, A.E. Weatherbee, “a tall thin man of serious mien and tremendous determination,” appeared at the theater each morning to comply with the law. Letting himself into the box office, Weatherbee removed his hat and opened the ticket window for business. That done, he strode around to the front announcing into the empty cubicle that he wished one ticket. At times, in a facetious mood, he would put down a $1 bill, return to the box office and make change, as he thrust the ticket through the window. Weatherbee would then proceed into the theater, chop his ticket at the door and drop the torn stub into the receptacle, retaining the other for his legal protection. Settling himself into a loge seat in the dimly lit auditorium, he would listen for 10 or 15 minutes while an organist “stroked the console.” The solemn duty performed, Weatherbee would lock up the theater. Another incident remembered by those who frequented the theater in the 1950s was the day the final curtain fell on the Carthay Theater for Isabel Bonner, a New York stage and television actress, who collapsed and died as she played a hospital bed scene with actor Dane Clark in “The Shrike.” The playgoers were then refunded their ticket money.

vokoban on August 28, 2007 at 12:37 pm

If you buy or rent the recently restored and released Norma Shearer version (the only version!) of Marie Antoinette, there is an extra on the dvd called Hollywood Goes To Town which has about 10 minutes of the premiere of Marie Antoinette at the Carthay Circle. They dress up the grounds with statues and things to look like Versailles.

kencmcintyre on June 13, 2007 at 9:24 pm

This blurb was in the LA Times, 12/15/44. I couldn’t figure out if the jailbird was Ginger Rogers or Shirley Temple:

Unusual Film Announced for Three Theaters

“I’ll Be Seeing You” will begin extended engagements at Carthay Circle, United Artists and Fox Wilshire Theaters. Starring Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten and Shirley Temple, the picture is a romantic drama of a soldier who is given a Christmas furlough after being released from a long hospitalization. He meets a girl who has been given a similar holiday leave from a woman’s penitentiary for good behavior. Assisting the stars are Spring Byington, Chill Wills and others.

kencmcintyre on May 18, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Here is a 1937 premiere from the UCLA collection:

smile2004 on April 14, 2007 at 4:41 am

Actually, a friend was the stunt coordinator on Grease 2 and we filmed at Norwalk High…I think they mentioned the first one was filmed there too. Carthay Center School (my old school, like voxpop, I grew up on Commodore Sloat Drive) can be seen in a few scenes of Paul Mazursky’s “Alex in Wonderland”. In the background of one scenes you can see the awful insurance building being constructed on the site of the freshly demolished theatre. However, if you run the film slowly, you can see Donald Sutherland drive by our old gas station when he drops off his daughter at the school…there was a gas station attached to the property along with Figart’s electronic store. In front of the Theatre was the Green’s grocery store/deli.

hemetsphere on March 17, 2007 at 11:04 am

The school that was used to film Grease is in Venice, quite a long distance from the theater.

seymourcox on March 17, 2007 at 7:45 am

In the background of some those Carthay Circle photos can be seen a school building. Is that the same school used in the movie “Grease!”?

William on August 31, 2006 at 10:34 am

“The same minds who sold the Carthay Circle Theatre to National General”.
The Carthay Circle Theatre was never sold to National General, it has always been a part of the original chain. It opened as part of West Coast Theatres chain which later merged with Fox to become Fox West Coast Theatres. Which was the operating company for California division. During the 50’s the studios had to give up their theatre holdings. Which is when National Theatres & Television, Inc. was born which was one of the operating subsidiaries of Fox. Then it became National General Theatres till Mann Theatres bought the chain in the early 70’s.

voxpop on August 19, 2006 at 12:52 am

I grew up on Commodore Sloat Drive one of the streets on which the theatre was situated. I rode my bike in the parking lot. The theatre was described as mission style but the theme of the theatre had to do with the old west. There were glass display cases in the lobby of old saddles and western memorobilia. Above the lobby water fountain was a bas relief in concrete of a tribute to pioneer women, showing a woman standing next to a wagon wheel. I know this because I own it, having bought it from Cleveland wrecking when they tore down the theatre. It is in my garden.

Next to the theatre on a grassy way, officially dedicated as a park, were historic monuments of the west, chosen and maintained by the Native Sons of the Golden West organization. This grassy way continued north of the theatre in a median on Crescent Heights Blvd., to Wilshire Boulevard. and south onto the next block. The median and the monuments are still there.

These things are significant in that when Natioanl General tore down the theatre, it was their intention to destroy the parkway and construct a huge building in the center of a residential neighborhood, effectively destroying the community. Years later I attended a party with some lawyers who were laughing that they had almost destroyed a community and made a lot of money.

Unfortunately for National General, the community was an activist community who stopped the plan and forced NG to build, respecting the grassy park. For this reason, NG constructed two smaller buildings with a park between them, denying them the huge profit they anticipated from a huge building.

This helped the neighborhood survive but didn’t save the theatre.

I believe that the mettle of a companiy’s leadership shows when times are difficult and creative thinking is required. The same minds who sold the Carthay Circle Theatre to National General are the ones who sold the 20th Century Fox backlot to Alcoa outright, without any royalty, to create Century City, so they could finance the movie Cleopatra which lost money.

I wonder if Rupert Murdock, who now owns Fox, would have made the same decisions. I think not.

BarryL on August 15, 2006 at 1:28 pm

Also, the theatre was torn down to make way for the Corp headquarters of the National General Corp., the owner of the NGC theatre chain that included Graumans Chinese, The Village, Bruin
El Rey, Culver, Fairfax, Fine Arts The Wilshire etc. The chairman of NGC was Eugene V. Klein, the late owner of the San Diego Chargers of the NFL and a well known racing horse owner.

BarryL on August 15, 2006 at 1:02 pm

I was the assistant mgr at the Fine Arts Theatre under Jim Peters
I was offered the same position in 1969 at the Carthay Circle for the Shoes of the Fishererman starring Anthony Quinn. Knowing that the fire dept deemed the upper level a hazard due to the steep incline,I declined the promotiom. Later the upper level of the Fox Wilshire was also closed for the same problem.

haineshisway on February 12, 2006 at 11:18 pm

Considering I lived five minutes from the Carthay Circle, I was only there twice – once for El Cid and once for the reissue of Gone With The Wind. But those two times left an indelible impression on my – it was a spectacular theater, and El Cid looked amazing there.

hemetsphere on January 30, 2006 at 1:42 pm

For the opportunity to purchase vintage and reprint photographs of the beautiful theater – both interior and exterior views. Check the eBay store of HEMETSPHERE.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 1, 2006 at 3:26 am

Tim- I recognize that picture as being an aerial view of the north end of Burbank, with the San Val Drive-In in the foreground. The wide, busy surface street across the lower part of the picture is San Fernando Road, and the empty highway just beyond that is the Golden State Freeway, which looks as though it is just about complete. That stretch of freeway opened sometime in the mid-1960’s as I recall, so that’s probably when the picture was taken.

TimothySHays on December 31, 2005 at 5:41 pm

Hey, Ken McC: that first, accidental picture— where was it taken, and when?

I am a fifth generation Angeleno who’s lived in New York for 26 years. When I return home on business or leisure, I take my kids to all the historical sites dad remembers. Carthay Circle, near where I grew up, was last on our journey. But please tell me whewre that areal photo was taken, thank you in advance.

kencmcintyre on December 26, 2005 at 12:42 pm

Go on the LA Library website,, and click on photo collections. Put in your keyword such as Egyptian or Carthay.

Here is a 1944 photo:

dispar on December 5, 2005 at 9:53 am

By the way, can those great photos be accessed directly from the internet (as well as other Hollywood and LA landmarks)? If so, can someone please provide the site?

dispar on December 5, 2005 at 9:49 am

Was the premiere that was staged in BOY MEETS GIRL (with James Cagney & Pat O'Brien) also shot at the Carthay Circle (Ronald Reagan also hosted)?

Also, was the theater/store on Disney World’s MGM/DISNEY STUDIOS Sunset Blvd. based on the Carthay Circle?

kencmcintyre on November 4, 2005 at 6:46 pm

The first picture was a mistake. Here is the correct picture, from the LA Library: