El Portal Theatre

5269 Lankershim Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 91601

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Showing 1 - 25 of 26 comments

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on March 4, 2011 at 12:55 am

Saturday, March 19 – 1st Los Angeles Spaghetti Western Festival, screening “Dead Men Don’t Count,” “Gatling Gun” and “A Fistful of Dollars” at the El Portal.

mujerado
mujerado on January 18, 2011 at 12:36 am

I remember the El Portal from the 50’s and 60’s. It was my Mom’s favorite theatre. Among many others, we kids saw a rerelease of Disney’s Fantasia and we all went to a rerelease of Bambi on my birthday. North Hollywood was a favorite place to go. There was an old wood-floor Woolworth’s right across the street where I’d always order a grilled cheese sandwich and a chocolate malt.

david787
david787 on July 3, 2010 at 9:59 pm

I grew up in North Hollywood during the 50’s. The El Portal was my neighborhood theater. I used to love going there on Saturdays. I miss those days so much. Next to it, on the corner was a diner called Albert Sheetz but it closed. On the other side was a department store called Rathbuns. My parents knew the owners. Nearby was the place where my mom and I used to catch the “red car” into downtown LA. It was really an adventure for me

monika
monika on September 6, 2009 at 10:52 pm

The zip code for this theatre is 91601.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 3, 2009 at 8:30 pm

A good portion of the crime thriller “Hard” (1998) seemed to be set in this theater; the killer used it as his lair and had victims on the stage, in the dressing rooms, etc. The place was nearly gutted at the time, with scaffolding inside. They didn’t show the outside, but they showed the proscenium, exits, asbestos curtain, and other interior details. Near the end of the movie, with the police closing in, one of the cops radios in that they’re at the El Portal on Lankershim, so of course I came to CT and looked it up. Voila!

The R-rated movie, which is about a closeted cop on the trail of this killer, is graphic in its sex and violence, and is currently running on the cable channel Here and is available on Netflix. Buyer beware.

vokoban
vokoban on July 10, 2008 at 11:50 am

Apparently someone listened to this person’s complaint or a deal fell through….
LA Times (July 24, 1977)

PORNO HOUSES MOVE TO SUBURBS
This is a part of a letter to councilman Joel Wachs.
Although I am a resident of Canoga Park, I have many friends in North Hollywood and therefore spend a good deal of my time and leisure there. Certain tragic circumstances have come to my notice in that the old El Portal Theater is being sold and is to be razed shortly and the Guild Theater is to be sold to become a porno house. It would appear that the filth peddlers, being forced out of Hollywood proper, are spreading their disease to the suburbs. Since the only other theater in North Hollywood (the old Lankershim Theater)is also porno, perhaps the City Council should consider making this a “red light district” and bring to the residents the crime, pimping and prostitution that go hand in hand. It seems to me that the theater owners are determined to sell to any get-rich-quick artist who doesn’t give a damn for the residents.

R.A. Simon
Canoga Park

vokoban
vokoban on July 10, 2008 at 11:35 am

Here’s a movie listing from Aug. 3, 1927:

LANKERSHIM
EL PORTAL
Wed., Thurs.-John Gilbert in “12 Miles Out"
Fri., Sat.–"Chang”

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 8, 2006 at 1:16 pm

Here is another photo from USC, showing the El Portal in 1937:
http://tinyurl.com/pf7jn

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on June 12, 2006 at 9:43 am

It’s kind of a bummer the way they altered it. But it looks like the building is getting good use, and many decorative elements remain. All in all not a bad situation.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 9, 2006 at 2:36 am

Here is a photo of Lankershim Boulevard in 1926, with the El Portal nearing completion. (From the USC Archives.)

William
William on April 13, 2005 at 9:01 am

You can also see a shot of the marquee in a current State Farms commercial running now.

William
William on February 28, 2005 at 11:34 am

It was just some CGI work done on the theatre for the ad client.

Manwithnoname
Manwithnoname on February 28, 2005 at 10:52 am

It was this theater allright. The marquee was the same but they doctored the picture to include things like the blade and high rise buildings behind it.

teecee
teecee on February 28, 2005 at 10:22 am

Did anyone notice the name of the theater in the Mercedes add shown during the Oscars last night? It said El Portal, but it didn’t look like this theater (it had a vertical marquee). Perhaps just a fictional theater.

Senorsock
Senorsock on February 14, 2005 at 3:46 pm

The El Portal must have been quite a house in the old days. It features a very large stage and what I think used to be their orchestra pit, now covered. The auditorium is a bit disappointing. Like the Egyptian theater, they basically remodeled by tearing out the interior and building two new theaters inside. Like the Egyptian, the main stage has a much steeper rake than the old seats. This allows them to build a smaller theater underneath the seats for the main stage.
If one looks around, one can still see where the original entrances to the auditorium were. This has now been sacrificed to accomodate a bar and lobby area as well as steps to the upper level of seats. Nothing remains of the original ceiling, torn down to accomodate the catwalk and the high rake of seats.
Can’t be sure, but I think Brian might be right and there may at one time have been a small balcony. Be sure to check out the forward exit doors which still have the crumbling plasterwork that looks like it may have been original.

Englewood
Englewood on January 10, 2005 at 11:19 am

It might be noted that, the day before El Portal’s grand re-opening, after months (years?) of delayed renovation, the Northridge earthquake hit. It was almost like going back to square one.

JimRankin
JimRankin on May 25, 2004 at 6:14 am

This theatre is one of some 200 that could be described as “Skouras-ized For Showmanship” which is the title of the ANNUAL of 1987 of the Theatre Historical Soc. of America. In the late 1930s through the 1950s, there occurred on the west coast of the United States a phenomenon known as the ‘Skouras style’ in recognition of the oversight of the Skouras brothers in their management of several cinema chains. They employed a designer by the name of Carl G. Moeller to render their cinemas/theatres in a new style best described as ‘Art Moderne meets Streamlined.’ The then new availability of aluminum sheeting at low cost was the principal material difference to this style allowing for sweeping, 3-dimensional shapes of scrolls to adorn walls and facades in an expression that would have been much more expensive and not at all the same in plaster. With the use of hand tinted and etched aluminum forms, the designers could make ornaments in mass production that allowed much greater economies of scale. The ANNUAL also show in its 44 pages how some 20 theatres were good examples of this combining of aluminum forms with sweeping draperies heavily hung with large tassels, and with box offices and facades richly treated with neon within the aluminum forms. Few of these examples survive today, but it was a glorious era while it lasted, and this collection of crisp b/w photos is a fitting epitaph by the late Preston Kaufmann.
PHOTOS AVAILABLE:
To obtain any available Back Issue of either “Marquee” or of its ANNUALS, simply go to the web site of the THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA at:
www.HistoricTheatres.org
and notice on their first page the link “PUBLICATIONS: Back Issues List” and click on that and you will be taken to their listing where they also give ordering details. The “Marquee” magazine is 8-1/2x11 inches tall (‘portrait’) format, and the ANNUALS are also soft cover in the same size, but in the long (‘landscape’) format, and are anywhere from 26 to 44 pages. Should they indicate that a publication is Out Of Print, then it may still be possible to view it via Inter-Library Loan where you go to the librarian at any public or school library and ask them to locate which library has the item by using the Union List of Serials, and your library can then ask the other library to lend it to them for you to read or photocopy. [Photocopies of most THSA publications are available from University Microforms International (UMI), but their prices are exorbitant.]

Note: Most any photo in any of their publications may be had in large size by purchase; see their ARCHIVE link. You should realize that there was no color still photography in the 1920s, so few theatres were seen in color at that time except by means of hand tinted renderings or post cards, thus all the antique photos from the Society will be in black and white, but it is quite possible that the Society has later color images available; it is best to inquire of them.

Should you not be able to contact them via their web site, you may also contact their Executive Director via E-mail at:
Or you may reach them via phone or snail mail at:
Theatre Historical Soc. of America
152 N. York, 2nd Floor York Theatre Bldg.
Elmhurst, ILL. 60126-2806 (they are about 15 miles west of Chicago)

Phone: 630-782-1800 or via FAX at: 630-782-1802 (Monday through Friday, 9AM—4PM, CT)

ChuckVanBibber
ChuckVanBibber on December 26, 2003 at 8:49 am

This might clear up some of the misunderstandings on the El Portal Theatre.
Taken from the official site of the El Portal
History of the El Portal
El Portal Theatre is a historic landmark in the San Fernandp Valley located in the heart of North Hollywood just minutes from Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Disney, ABC, CBD-Radford and NBC Burbank. The theatre originally built as a vaudeville house in 1926 sits directly across Lanershim Blvd. from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The art deco Marquee is visible to thousands of cars who travel on Lanershim Blvd. daily.
Since its opening in 1926 first for Vaudeville, then Silent Movies and then Academy Award Winning films as the primo house in the valley – the theatre has weathered the Jazz Age, the Depression, 4 Wars, and finally the great earthquake of 1994. The lobbies boast luscious carpeting secured from Century City’s Shubert Theatre and an art gallery featuring 13 Los Angeles Visual Artists.
Rebuilt in the late 90’s and openedin January of 2000 – the once 1400 seat movie palace now houses three theatres, the new Judity Kaufman Art Gallery, and sumptous lobbies. There is even complimentary parking behind the theatre.
Celebrities have starred in and attended theatre productions and misical reviews since 2000 including Charles Nelson Riley, who sold out for 4 solid weeks, Ed Begley, Jr. and his world premiere musical Cesar and Ruben, Marnie Nixon, JoAnne Worley with honorees Donald O'Conner, Carol Channing to name just a few.

William
William on October 27, 2003 at 5:15 pm

The El Portal Theatre is located at 5269 Lankershim Blvd..

http:www.elportaltheatre.com/elportal.htm

William
William on August 7, 2002 at 2:32 pm

The El Portal during it’s movie days had no balcony. The last time I was in that theatre, it looked like nothing had changed. (late 80’s)