Picfair Theatre

5879 W. Pico Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90019

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Showing 1 - 25 of 34 comments

rivest266 on August 9, 2016 at 3:00 pm

January 24th, 1941 grand opening ad in photo section.

lirwin on November 17, 2015 at 9:47 am

The Joseph Moritz mentioned in the caption was the father of Milton Moritz, president of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) and the grandfather of Neil Moritz, producer of the “Fast and Furious” movies.

blacula on July 11, 2013 at 9:08 pm

At one point it became a swap meet and the facade of the building was covered. After the riots burned the building, you could see the marquee and the P sign. Behind the P were lights that flashed on and off. I went to the children’s film matinees during the summer in the ‘70s. Remember Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Pippi Longstocking the most. It was already run down by then. We named our neighborhood association Picfair Village after it.

mohixx on June 18, 2011 at 12:13 am

The comment by the projectionist is mostly correct. It was opened around 1940 or 1941.It was built by Joe De Bell. It was on north side of Pico just west of Fairfax. thus the name PICFAIR. There was a sound proof crying room upstairs where mothers could take their crying children and watch the movie. The first ushers were Jimmy Lang & Alan Mc Farlane and they wore uniforms. The customer who made the biggest stir at the theatre was the boxer Billy Conn shortly after he almost beat Joe Louis, He was brought there by Robert Taylor & Barbara Stanwyck, who were ignored by the customers who flocked around Billy Conn. There was a coin operated popcorn machine in the lobby,the price for a bag was 10 cents. There was a sweet shop next door that also sold sandwiches and was operated by Norman & Rose Stengel, she was the sister of Nina Mohi. The cashier was Nina Mohi was wife of Ben Mohi she was also my mother. The theatre when opened was owned and operated solely by Ben Mohi, an individual who was also the manager and it was sold to Arkoff & Nicholson in the mid forties.

I should know the above facts as Ben Mohi was my father and I spent a great deal of time in the theatre.

Gary Mohi

ChasSmith on March 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I was just watching a bad DVD transfer of a 1962 film “The Devil’s Hand”, and in one location shot near the end you can see the PICFAIR marquee in the background. I’d lived in L.A. during the ‘70s and '80s and remembered the name Picfair, but I didn’t recall whether I knew it as the name of a theater, a neighborhood, or whatever. If I had the means to grab a frame of that shot, I’d post it, but at the moment I don’t. If you’re watching the film, it’s just a minute or two before the end.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 10, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Picture says it all ken mc.thanks.

kencmcintyre on March 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

This appears to be the Picfair after the riots in 1992:

kencmcintyre on November 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Here is a February 1971 ad for an Andy Warhol film at the Picfair:

kencmcintyre on August 23, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Here is a profile from the LA Times in October 1977:

PICFAIR-5879 W. Pico Blvd at Fairfax, Los Angeles 933-5609

The Picfair has been for years a popular neighborhood theater. In 1968, the Loews chain bought it and financed $100,000 worth of remodeling, including a modern marquee, new upholstery, air conditioning and other assorted accoutrements. Attendance, however, began to drop off and the theater went through a series of programming changes, from foreign films to X-rated. Recently it was taken over by Jamiel Cetin, with “great faith in its possibilities” said Cetin, “because of its location central to Century City, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and the Santa Monica Freeway.”

The theater had developed a rowdy reputation, with occasional brawls breaking out inside. But now the customers and the fare are different. “We are moving towards a cultural policy”, said Cetin, “retrospectives of classic foreign and American films, festivals devoted to an era or a director as well as first-run foreign films.” Features have included Louis Malle’s “Black Moon”, Satyajit Ray’s “Distant Thunder”, “The African Queen”, “The Lion in Winter”, Nureyev and Fonteyn in the Bolshoi’s “Romeo and Juliet”, and the Los Angeles premiere of Joel Seria’s “The Cookies of Pont-Aven”.

“I want to create a cultural film center for Los Angeles”, said Cetin, “bringing the best foreign films I can obtain, as well as musicals and ballet.”

William on July 9, 2009 at 8:46 am

It was torched during the 1992 riots.

kencmcintyre on April 16, 2009 at 7:11 pm

I recall driving around this area immediately following the riots, but I don’t remember seeing the theater. It looks like it was demolished shortly thereafter.

unihikid on April 16, 2009 at 6:58 pm

wow ken
that just put a smile on my face.in the late 80s the building was gray.thanks for posting.

William on January 16, 2009 at 11:50 am

The India’s Oven restaurant was on the west end of the building and Albee’s Discount Appliances was located in the former theatre lobby and auditorium. The food was good at the India’s Oven, till a friend who lived nearby told me he would see them hosing down cook pots in the little service alley behind the restaurant.

kencmcintyre on September 28, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Here is a May 1969 ad from the LA Times:

unihikid on September 24, 2008 at 6:15 pm

they started contruction on that building around 01 or 02.the lot had been empty for at least 7 years.

vokoban on September 24, 2008 at 10:23 am

By 1984 there are advertisements for India’s Oven restaurant there and then in 1985 it changes to Albee’s Discount Appliances.

vokoban on September 24, 2008 at 10:19 am

The last movie listing I can find is from June 12, 1980 so far:

PICFAIR, 5879 W. Pico-939-5212
Super Classic Hit-“Mere Mehboob”

haineshisway on September 24, 2008 at 9:31 am

The building in that photo is misleading – and when did they put up that building??? If Fairfax is indeed the block we can’t see to the very east of the building, that’s where the Picfair was – just a few steps west of Fairfax on Pico, hence the name Picfair.

unihikid on September 24, 2008 at 8:48 am

when exactly did they stop showing movies there(including indian)?

DixonSteele on September 15, 2007 at 4:35 am

Ah right. Not the Picfair, I meant the Picwood!

DixonSteele on September 15, 2007 at 4:35 am

Saw the orginal run of ET here, and also saw WOLFEN. Nice theater, great location.

kencmcintyre on June 14, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Advertised as an Indian language theater in the LA Times on 3/15/81.

haineshisway on February 12, 2006 at 7:20 pm

Like two-reeler above, I went to the Picfair almost every week from 1954 to 1964, seeing every Saturday matinee (I was probably at the same shows as he was). I remember running into the lobby when The Fly was unmasked, so horrifying was it. I saw Hard Day’s Night there, and Billy Wilder’s One, Two, Three and hundreds upon hundreds of others. One thing no one has mentioned is that the Picfair could not show proper Cinemascope. They simply showed it on their 1:85 screen, cutting the sides of the image off – and having black bars top and bottom – in essence, the first letterbox cinema! For those who are nostalgia-minded, the Picfair (and the Lido and the Stadium) all play huge roles in three novels I wrote, a trilogy and thinly-veiled fiction of my childhood growing up in Los Angeles. For those who are interested, the books are Benjamin Kritzer, Kritzerland, and Kritzer Time – you can read about them at amazon.com.

theprojectionist on August 15, 2005 at 8:35 am

This theatre opened in spring 1941. It was built and leased along with the other property by Joe DeBell who was a general contractor who built the theatre, stores, and upstairs apartments for investment income. As a kid I used to go here in the early 50’s (along with the Picwood, Stadium, Lido, Palms, Culver, & Meralta – all of which I worked when I became a projectionist in the early 60’s.) This is the theatre where I was trained in ‘59-'60 by George L. Roth (1905-1978). It had a checkered operational history with several independent operators until Statewide Theatres (Fred Stein)got it in 1963 – later selling it to Loew’s who was the last chain operator. Again resuming independent operators until it died a sad death in 1979 – becoming Albert’s appliances until it was torched in the 1992 riots as described above.