RKO Hillstreet Theatre

801 S. Hill Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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RKO Hillstreet 1953   3-D Stereophonic Sound in Downtown LA

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The RKO Hillstreet Theatre was the sister theatre of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre. The Hillstreet Theatre was opened in March 20, 1922 with Elaine Hammerstein in the movie “Why Announce Your Marriage” on the screen, and a programme of vaudeville on the stage. It was designed in a Gothic Revival style by architect G. Albert Lansburgh. In 1947, the foyer and entrance was remodeled into a ‘Moderne’ style, to the plans of the Heinsbergen Decorating Company.

The theatre closed in April 1963, and was demolished in 1965. Today what once was the site of the RKO Hillstreet Theatre sits a bank branch and a parking lot.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 68 comments)

kencmcintyre on December 4, 2008 at 10:42 pm

Here is a September 1938 ad from the LA Times:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 5, 2008 at 2:12 pm

For several decades starting in the 1930s, the Hillstreet and Pantages were operated as a “pool” by RKO Theatres and ran the same programs. The Pantages did not have the RKO affiliation attached to it because of an agreement with the Pantages family to honor the founder’s name. The RKO label finally went on when RKO Theatres acquired the interest owned by the Pantages family.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 6, 2009 at 3:22 pm

In November, 1930, this was being advertised under the name of R-K-O Theatre. The circuit was still in infancy and would later drop the hyphens between the letters that stood for Radio, Keith, and Orpheum. At the time of this ad, R-K-O operated only two theatres in Los Angeles, and the Orpheum had been reduced to showing movies only. The vaudeville at the R-K-O Theatre was described as “direct” from the Palace in New York City, but I would guess that there were other engagements along the way: View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 19, 2009 at 6:17 am

The April 26, 1947, issue of Boxoffice Magazine ran an article about the recent remodeling of the Hillstreet Theatre, with several photographs. The remodeling was designed by the A.B. Heinsbergen Company.

kencmcintyre on April 26, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Here is a late 1930s view from the USC archive:

kencmcintyre on May 22, 2009 at 2:41 am

Here is a 1938 ad from the LA Times:

kencmcintyre on July 24, 2009 at 5:28 am

It looks like they are turning the old bank building on the theater space into a nightclub. Here is a 1940 ad from the LA Times:

kencmcintyre on October 31, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Here is part of an article in the LA Times on 4/29/63:

The largest theater in downtown Los Angeles closed two weeks ago-at least temporarily-with no more fanfare than was accorded its opening 41 years ago. The Hillstreet, at 8th and Hill, opened Monday afternoon March 20, 1922, with a vaudeville program and the film “Why Announce Your Marriage?” with Elaine Hammerstein. The theater closed Sunday evening April 14, 1963 with Vincent Price in “Diary of a Madman”.

Although “shortage of product” was the reason given for the theater’s closing, it is reliably estimated that at each of the last three evening performances the 2,752 seats were occupied by a tiny fraction of its capacity. Metropolitan Theater Corp., which leased the Hillstreet from the Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp. in 1959, said it hopes to resume regular programming when summer vacation begins for the city’s schoolchildren.

Designed by G. Albert Lansburgh, the most prolific theater architect in western United States, now living in retirement in San Mateo, the Hillstreet has an almost identical “sister” theater, the Golden Gate, in San Francisco. Though somewhat smaller than the San Francisco house, the Hillstreet has the same faintly ecclesiastical Spanish Renaissance styling. The fan-vaulted ceiling in the foyer of the Hillstreet was covered up when the entrances to both theaters were modernized on their 25th anniversaries.

drb on July 14, 2010 at 5:00 am

The USC photo links from above, plus a few “new” ones, are now here:
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Tinseltoes on July 1, 2012 at 8:21 pm

The dazzling marquee was displayed across the bottom of this 1948 trade ad: boxofficemagazine

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