Art Theatre

551 S. Main Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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1940's photo original source unknown.

One of over 20 theatres located on S. Main Street in downtown Los Angeles. The Art Theatre seated 350 people and was opened prior to 1937.

Its last years were as an adult house.

It was located next to the Optic Theatre and across from the Burbank theatre.

It has been razed.

The two last theatres to survive on S. Main Street are the Regent Theatre and the Linda Lea Theatre.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

kencmcintyre on February 28, 2009 at 11:18 pm

This is a March 1950 story in the Dixon Evening Telegraph:

Los Angeles, March 15â€"(AP)â€"Marty Brill, 44, Notre Dame football star of 20 years ago and former Loyola at Los Angeles coach, was charged today with misdemeanor, vagrancy and lewd conduct in a theatre. Officer A. G. Wiseman of the police vice squad accused Brill, married and the father of three children, of making an improper advance. Brill told a reporter he had several drinks and vaguely recalled being jostled by someone in the theater. He is at liberty on $500 bail, pending a court appearance later today. A complaint was issued by the city attorney’s office on the basis of Wiseman’s statement.. The latter and two other vice squad officers, H. E. Dorrall and G. H Yorham, made the arrest at the Art Theater on South Main street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 1, 2009 at 12:36 am

Now Marty’s peccadillo will be exposed among Google results when his name is searched. The guy was pretty well known. Here he is hanging out with actor Pat O'Brien, about 1940.

Such “jostlings” were doubtlessly common at the Art and other Main Street grind houses through much of their history, and probably only a small percentage of them ended with an arrest. There’s a whole secret history of these theaters that’s little discussed.

kencmcintyre on March 1, 2009 at 10:51 am

I guess he had a wide stance.

kencmcintyre on March 1, 2009 at 12:46 pm

The Cumberland MD Evening Times had the same story but also included a quote from Marty:

Wiseman quoted the former grid great, now a salesman for a wholesale drug company, “Why don’t you guys give me a break? I’m a married man with three kids. I haven’t done anything like this since I was a kid. I don’t know why I grabbed hold of you tonight. I’m Marty Brill, the famous football player.”

kencmcintyre on March 3, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Something is going on with the LAPL links-not working, at least for me. I hope it’s a temporary problem, given the amount of photos in their database.

kencmcintyre on March 5, 2009 at 7:44 pm

It looks like the LAPL problem has resolved.

kencmcintyre on April 27, 2009 at 4:48 pm

The Art is on the left, about midframe, in this 1939 USC photo:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 11, 2009 at 11:56 pm

At extreme right in the 1939 USC photo, is that the Burbank Theatre’s vertical sign that says “Mexico” on it? Though the marquee is hard to read, it looks like it says “Peliculas” on the first line.

I checked the city directories for 1938 and 1939, and the Burbank is listed in both (under the “Theatres” section rather than “Motion Picture Theatres” and there is no Mexico Theatre listed for either year. The Burbank is listed under Motion Picture Theatres in the 1942 directory.

Unfortunately the L.A. Library doesn’t have a 1940 directory online, or I’d check that. If the Burbank was a Spanish-language movie house called the Mexico, it must have been for a very brief time.

kencmcintyre on May 12, 2009 at 1:14 am

This Gary Graver photo shows some of the theater detail:

scottfavareille on February 18, 2010 at 11:59 am

Gary Graver (who passed away in 2009) was a director/cinematographer. He did film/direct a number of XXX films in the 1970s & 1980s under the name Robert McCallum.

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