Carthay Circle Theatre

6316 San Vicente Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90048

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Carthay Circle Theatre, Los Angeles - Floor Plan

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Carthay Circle Theatre opened May 18, 1926 with Cecil B. DeMille’s Pictures “The Volga Boatman”. Designed by architect A. Dwight Gibbs, the theatre had painted murals depicting scenes of early-California by artist Frank Tenney Johnson, which included a huge painted fire safety curtain. Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” had its world premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre on December 21, 1937. “Fantasia” was presented in ‘Fantasound’ an early stereophonic sound process and the Carthay Circle Theatre was one of only a few theatres to be equipped with this process. Walt Disney’s “Dumbo” had its Hollywood premiere here, and on December 28, 1939 the West Coast premiere of “Gone With the Wind” was a major coup for the theatre. It was the site of innumerable premieres over the years and was one of the jewels of the Fox West Coast Theatres empire.

It was at the Carthay Circle Theatre where Mike Todd showcased “Around the World in 80 Days” on December 22, 1956. Unfortunately some of the interior of the auditorium was destroyed to accommodate the huge new Todd A-O screen and a new projection box was built at the rear of the orchestra seating area. Other 70mm roadshow presentations were “Porgy and Bess”, “Can-Can”, “The Alamo”, “El Cid” and “The Agony and the Ecstasy”.

The final film to play the Carthay Circle Theatre was “The Shoes of the Fisherman” starring Anthony Quinn in 1969. It was demolished later in 1969 and replaced by an office block. The painted fire safety curtain was saved and installed at the rear of the stage of the downtown United Artists Theatre which became a church for several decades. Now the Ace Theatre on S. Broadway, it has been removed and put into storage until a new home can be found for it.

Contributed by Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 129 comments)

EnnisCAdkins
EnnisCAdkins on August 2, 2010 at 10:01 am

In DAVID SELZNICK’S HOLLYWOOD, he states that GONE WITH THE WIND premiered first in Atlanta on 12/15/39 at the Loews Grand (3 continuous shows daily) , then four days later in New York at the Capitol (3 continuous shows daily) and the Astor (reserved seat; 2 performances daily) and finally in Los Angeles at the United Artist Downtown (3 continuous shows daily) and the Carthay Circle (reserved seat; 2 performances daily). The Los Angeles invited premiere was held the day before on 12/27/39 at the Carthay Circle.

vokoban
vokoban on October 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

Here’s a photo that a friend gave to me. I scanned it before I put it in the frame. I don’t think I’ve seen this one yet: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vokoban/6261222632/in/photostream

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on June 13, 2012 at 2:37 am

A replica of the Carthay Circle has been built at Disney’s California Adventure Park adjacent to Disneyland in recognition of the role the theater had in launching some of Disney’s famous films. Unfortunately, the building only houses a restaurant and cocktail lounge (and probably one of the ubiquitous gift shops so characteristic of Disney parks).

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on June 21, 2012 at 10:55 am

A photo of the replica: View link

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 24, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Two mid `40’s photo added courtesy of Terry Koenig.

moax429
moax429 on August 9, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Anybody who saw the 1941 Our Gang short “The Big Premiere” will remember the Carthay Circle was the theater seen in the opening shot, all lit up at night; the gang attends – and then sabotages – the premiere of the film “Gun Boats,” starring “Imra Acacia” (Ethelreda Leopold).

“The Big Premiere” turns up occasionally on Turner Classic Movies as a short subject between films, and it is also available on “The Our Gang Collection” only from the WB Shop, Warner Bros.‘ online store (not available in regular retail outlets).

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on August 27, 2016 at 4:17 am

Undated photo added courtesy of Doug Simmons. Good shot of the roof mounted signage.

barryinperth
barryinperth on August 27, 2016 at 5:03 am

What a crime this extraordinary theatre was demolished! Are there any interior shots available?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 27, 2016 at 7:16 am

barryinperth:I have added a 1926 photograph of the auditorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 27, 2016 at 3:51 pm

barryinperth: Bill Counter’s Los Angeles Movie Palaces web site has several interior views of the Carthay Circle, including a few shots of the lounge, on this web page. Counter also provides links to additional views at other collections.

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