Ricardo Montalban Theater

1615 North Vine Street,
Los Angeles, CA 92262

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Showing 76 - 84 of 84 comments

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 1, 2005 at 7:00 am

Thanks, Ken. I went to a few movies at the Music Box in the 1960s, when it was called the Pix Theatre. Then, I had no idea that it had had such a long and varied career.

I also remember passing by the Huntington Hartford, and having no idea what was under that modern facade. Until recently, I was under the impression that it had actually been built from the ground up by Hartford in the 1950s.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 1, 2005 at 6:46 am

I have notes that the Music Box Theatre became a radio studio theatre in 1936, the same year as the Mirror Theatre became the Studio Theatre.

It could be that ‘The Lux Radio Theatre’ was broadcast initially from the Music Box, then transfered over the CBS Playhouse in 1938.
The Music Box could have become ‘dark’ when this happened.

I have notes on stars such as Mae West, Al Jolson, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper and Jean Harlow all gracing the stage at the Music Box Theater when ‘The Lux Radio Theatre’ was being broadcast.

The Music Box Theatre returned to legitimate stage use briefly in the early 1940’s when a production of “Life With Father” had an extensive run in 1942. Possibly ‘dark’ again until it then went over to full time movies as the Guild Theater from February 1945 when Fox West Coast Theatres took control.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 1, 2005 at 6:23 am


Do you happen to know the years during which the Lux Radio Theater was broadcast from the old Music Box (now Henry Fonda) Theater on Hollywood Boulevard? I know that the show started in New York City, then moved to Hollywood, where it was broadcast both from the CBS Playhouse and the Music Box, but I don’t know which theater was used first, or for how long each was used.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 1, 2005 at 6:11 am

These are the offical names that the theater has had over the years;
Wilkes' Vine St Theatre
Vine St Theatre
Mirror Theater
Studio Theatre
CBS Radio Playhouse
Huntington Hartford Theatre
James A. Doolittle Theatre
Ricardo Montalban Theatre

The new neon lit marquee and vertical sign that S.CHarles Lee designed in 1936 for the Studio Theatre only lasted a couple of years, as in 1938 a new slim plain marquee was errected when the name changed to the CBS Radio Playhouse (Pictured in the book ‘Hollywood Then & Now’ by Rosemary Lord PRC Publishing 2003 on page 120).

Just to point out you have a couple of the former names mixed up. It was never called Lux Radio Playhouse (‘The Lux Radio Theatre’ was the name of a show broadcast from the theatre which had Cecil B DeMille hosting and featured stars such as Gloria Swanson and George Raft)

For CBS Radio Theatre-this should read CBS Radio Playhouse.

In its early years, actor Edward Everett Horton starred in many productions at the theatre between March 1928 and January 1929.

I believe that in recent years it was leased to the Nederlander Theatres Org?

The Ricardo Montalban Theatre showed movies again in November 2004 when for 3 days the 1st Annual Nosotros American Latino Film Festival was held. Is the theatre fully equipped with projectors, screen and sound system now, or was this a temporary insallation?

trooperboots on January 1, 2005 at 5:17 am

I understand the architect Myron Hunt also designed some other significant buildings. Pasadena’s Huntington Hotel, Public Library, Rose Bowl, the Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino and Occidental College and the Ambassador Hotel Theater in Los Angeles.

trooperboots on January 1, 2005 at 5:05 am

KenRoe… THANKS for the additional information. Also for the correction on the Helen Hayes play of 1954. Also did not know about the names “Mirror Theater” and “Studio Theater” during the 30s. Great information and it’s appreciated.

I attended that play, but was only 4 years old at the time! I lived only 2 blocks from this theater on Vista Del Mar at the time, so we walked over to the playhouse. We often ate at the Brown Derby in the coffee shop across the street.

Also want to add that Huntington Hartford, who took over the theater in 1954 was the heir of the A & P Supermarket Chain and he spent a lot of his fortune on this and other entertainment ventures. He was not fond of the grocery business himself.

I am currently doing historic research for this theater for Nosotros, the new owners of the theater, who want to do some kind of historic display, and would apprecite any other information on this
beautiful venue.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 31, 2004 at 5:47 pm

I have run across mentions of S. Charles Lee having remodeled a “Studio Theater” on Vine Street in 1936, but thought they were mistaken, because there was a Studio Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. This clears up the mystery.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 31, 2004 at 4:23 pm

Just to add a few more pieces of the historical time line of this theatre to the above notes;

Wilkes' Vine Street Theatre opened on 19th January 1927.

It became a full time movie theater from 15th March 1931 and was re-named the Mirror Theater. This lasted until 1936 when CBS Radio took over and it became known as the Studio Theater. It was at this time that architect S. Charles Lee added a dazzling neon lit marquee and vertical sign on the front of the building and a new air conditioning plant was installed.

It re-opened as a legitimate playhouse again in September 1954 and was re-named the Huntington Hartford Theater, when Helen Hayes starred in “What Every Woman Wants”.

kelley on December 31, 2004 at 4:00 pm

I wasn’t aware this theatre ever played motion pictures. I thought, since its inception it was a legit playhouse.