Hawaii Theatre

5941 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Hawaii Theatre

The Hawaii Theatre was opened on 6th May 1940 with Raymond Massey in “Abe Lincoln in Illinois”(aka “Spirit of the People”) and Jean Hersholt in “Courageous Dr. Christian”. It was designed by architect Carl Moeller, with Clarence G. Smale acting as consultant architect. The exterior of the Hawaii Theatre was dressed with a tropical mural over the box marquee. Round glass walls proceded onto the sidewalk flanking either side of the front entrance.

Inside, the auditorium was decorated with tropical jungle murals and had a simple Atmospheric style effect on the ceiling to continue the theatre’s theme. All seating was on a single level.

The theatre was closed in July 1963 and was gutted to be converted into the Salvation Army Tabernacle in 1965. It remained their Hollywood headquarters until 2010. Renovations were carried out and another church took over the building in 2015.

Contributed by W Housos, Donald John Long

Recent comments (view all 57 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

You would probably know better than I would about date, Don. I was in Hollywood only two or three times in the 1970s and early 1980s and only knew about the name change from hearsay, and I haven’t been to the Los Angeles area since 1986. I do remember when the Hawaii closed in 1963, though, as I visited Hollywood frequently during that period, and I was very disappointed that the theater closed before I ever got around to seeing a movie there.

fieldight on June 10, 2011 at 6:38 am

I must be confusing it with the World theatre then. Ironically i am living in the same area, about 2 blocks away and walk past these closed theatres pretty much everyday.

blucoyote on January 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm

My father took me to movies there in the 60’s. I remember going to see The Guns of Navaronne there. The parking lot was in the back and you walked down this hallway that ran alongside the building and there were footprints painted on the floor leading to the box office. We thought that was fun to try and walk in the footprints!! I don’t remember the interior though. I think for a while they ran all night movies there in the late 60’s. We went after the clubs closed and saw Wait Until Dark one night. Although that could have been the World Theater nearer to Gower.

moviebuff82 on July 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Having the salvation army using this location is a good choice.

DavidZornig on July 11, 2015 at 10:40 am

1940 premiere of “Rebecca”. Photo added via Susan Milner‎.

Jack Theakston
Jack Theakston on July 12, 2015 at 10:51 am

Article from Showmen’s Trade Review about the opening of the Hawaii: http://www.archive.org/stream/showmenstraderev32lewi#page/n499/mode/2up/

Donald John Long
Donald John Long on February 2, 2016 at 11:36 am

The last time I went to this site, in 2012, the building was closed up and it appeared as if it were either vacant or being used as a storage facility. A sad end to a formerly beautiful theater – but this is unfortunately very often the case with most picture palaces of the past.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long on February 2, 2016 at 12:04 pm

The Salvation Army took possession of the property in 1964 and gutted it and renovated it into a church in 1965 where they have remained to this day. The church was closed in 2010 for repairs and renovations, and reopened in early 2015 as it appears today as Ejercito de Salvacion, a Spanish-language church operated by the Salvation Army.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long on February 2, 2016 at 12:06 pm

The first movie shown at the Hawaii Theater when it first opened on May 9, 1940 was “ABE LINCOLN IN ILLINOIS”. The theater had a gala Grand Opening event with lots of publicity.

DavidZornig on August 20, 2016 at 5:39 pm

1959 photo added, credit Willy Rizzo.

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