Hayworth Theatre

2509 Wilshire Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90057

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Vagabond Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Vagabond Theatre, which originally opened in 1926, is located on Wilshire Boulevard, in the Wilshire area of Los Angeles. This was one of Los Angeles' great revival houses until the late-1980’s, when video almost killed the place. It hung on a few more years into the 1990’s, showing classic 3-D films such as “Kiss Me Kate” and “Dial M for Murder”.

The Vagabond Theatre closed in 1993 and was afterward used for some time as a church. The theatre can be seen in the 1988 film “The Naked Gun”.

Since early-2006, the former Vagabond Theatre has been hosting live theatre, and is now known as the Hayworth Theatre. It has three auditoriums, with seating for 99, 42, and 49. The Hayworth Theatre is home to the Circus Theatricals theatre company. A recording of the show “Naked Bois Singing” was filmed here.

Contributed by Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 42 comments)

Scottoro
Scottoro on May 9, 2009 at 6:18 pm

I went to the Vagabond several times in the late 70s and early to mid 80s. It was the sister theatre at the time to the Tiffany. You could pick up schedules at either theatre for both. Often attending the old movies were elderly people, some of whom I suspect were actually in the films. They wouldn’t have had any other way of seeing them except when they were shown on TV (and even then, cut up and interspliced with Cal Worthington commercials). Some memorable occasions come to mind: Mel Torme showed up for Good News. He talked for about ten minutes about the film before it started, then was interrupted by an old woman who shouted “Sing something for us, Mel!” “Hey, lady, this is FREE,” he growled back. Saul Chaplin was there for a roadshow print of “Star!” He still seemed bruised by the film’s failure. Another time I went to see “Invitation to the Dance”. An old man came out of the previous screening and warned my friend and I in the lobby “It’s two hours of sheer tedium.”

Someone’s odd idea of decorating the Vagabond was to paint stark, high-constrast giant stills from Potemkin on the walls, so right next to the screen was the famous shot of a woman screaming as her baby carriage rolled down the Odessa steps. this was a bit jarring when just to the right was, say, Betty Grable singing a song of love and romance. I also remember the theatre sometimes stunk of garbage because of a dumpster located just behind the building.

Overall, I avoided the Vagabond because at that time I merely had to walk to the Tiffany to see pretty much the same fare. See my post for the Tiffany for more stories.

cinemabon
cinemabon on May 12, 2009 at 7:04 pm

I lived in Hollywood in 1977. My buddy Rick called me one afternoon to say that (can’t remember his first name) Cooper struck a new 35mm print of “Gone With The Wind” and they were showing it at the Vagabond. No one had seen the original print in years. The opening was cut and reprinted as a series of stills for 70mm prints back in the 1960’s. I don’t recall who showed up that night, but I do remember Kleig lights. When the film opened with those sliding credits, the younger members of the audience who had never seen the film gasped. As I recall, this same person was responsible for reviving several films, including “Wizard of Oz” and “Singing in the Rain.”

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 23, 2009 at 6:12 am

No fake owls on the marquee in the 1980s photos.

ChasSmith
ChasSmith on June 21, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Oh man, thank you for those 1982/83 photos! I’d been trying to dredge up my own vague memories of the look of the place, and those are a life-saver. Thanks, too, for the reminder about the stills painted on the walls!

The years I most attended the Vagabond were 1975-79, and I wish I’d gone way more than I did. Like others have said, I remember it as “the” premier revival house in terms of print and projection standards. In particular, I remember a “North by Northwest” that blew my friends and me away. I also recall thinking it had the most uncomfortable seats anywhere. Sadly, I never went next door to eat in La Fonda.

I didn’t have a car in those years, so the bus was my usual transportation. I remember coming out of the Vagabond late at night and waiting for it, while enjoying what seemed a dignified old neighborhood. With the obvious exception of MacArthur Park and points east, I felt no sense of danger at all there.

While I’m happy to learn that the place was preserved and is now a live theater, at least, the shocking/sad thing about those photos is what looks like a totally empty block to the west. Hate that.

ChasSmith
ChasSmith on June 21, 2009 at 10:17 pm

(That last comment refers to a much more recent picture posted above, not the 1982/83 ones.)

PaulRosenthal
PaulRosenthal on December 12, 2011 at 9:17 pm

What made theaters great such as the Vagabond and Tiffany was the efforts of their owner/operators to find and program unusual films. Tom Cooper was a master at this. He would pester the studios to let him play old 35mm nitrate prints that he had the projection booths specially converted to so they met the fire codes. When I was at Universal we were able to get him copies of the Howard Hughes RKO films, Scarface and Hell’s Angels. They opened to large crowds for a limited engagement in the 80’s.

milliondollar
milliondollar on January 25, 2012 at 1:08 am

What became of Tom Cooper?

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on January 25, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Was that the same Tom Cooper who made an LP album as a vocalist entitled “Great Songs from Movie Musicals?” It was rather good, and had endorsements from Mel Torme, Kathryn Grayson, and Debbie Reynolds on the back cover. One of the 12 songs was a duet with Betty Garrett of “Strictly U.S.A.,” which had originated in her MGM musical, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

meredithlee
meredithlee on February 7, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Yes Tinseltoes, it was the same Tom (Tommy) Cooper who owned the Vagabond and the Tiffany in those years and had made that record album you wrote of.

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