Optic Theatre

533 S. Main Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Unfavorite 5 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 89 comments

DavidZornig on December 17, 2016 at 6:43 pm

Just caught a glimpse of the Optic in a 1981 episode of “Hill Street Blues” titled “Hearts and Minds”.

cinecityposters on July 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm

I believe that it is The Optic that is shown in the opening credits of The Rockford Files. They are showing Point Blank. Seems like a Jim Rockford kind of neighborhood.

itscjsspot on September 10, 2010 at 12:14 am

I believe the Optic as well as the Regent, Liberty, Lyceum and Kinema Theaters were all part of the West Coast Theater Chain operated by the Gore Brothers – Mike and Abe. All of their brothers and family were made managers of theaters. From the LA Times, December 11, 1920, Herman Gore is being sued for divorce by his wife of 16 days, Ruth. “She declares he earns $110. a week as Manager for Optic and Regent Theaters; also that he has an interest in the new Ambassador Theater being built in Hollywo0d, and the Liberty, Lyceum, Kinema Theaters.

kencmcintyre on May 9, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Here is Woodley’s Optic, circa late 1930s:

kencmcintyre on April 28, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Here is a nice view of the Optic in the late 1930s. The Star is next door. There is another theater a bit north.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 10, 2009 at 6:54 pm

My USC links have all changed again, too, so here’s the current link to the wide view of the original Optic Theatre on Broadway (located at lower right of the photo.) There is also this cropped version with the Optic in close-up.

Note that just up the street the Broadway Central Building, later to become the location of the Broadway Theatre, is under construction.

kencmcintyre on April 10, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Here is a good view of the Optic in 1983:

danwhitehead1 on December 20, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Believe it or not, Walnut Properties either owned or leased the Optic Theatre in its last days. It was running as a grindhouse and was not showing x-rated. I was there a few times for service calls and repairs. By that time (some time between 1978 and 1981) it was in bad shape and had some scary clientele (and I don’t scare easily). The projector heads were Simplex E7s, the lamphouses were Peerless Magnarc xenon conversions done by Leonard Pincus and the pedestals were those old, heavy cast-iron Simplex 5-point pedestals. The screen had been torn so many time that Mr. Miranda and Mr. Tate had pegboard installed and painted white. On one of my calls, I remember an episode of that awful “T. J. Hooker” show with William Shatner was being shot in a nearby parking lot. I was told that the Optic was one of the first houses in Los Angeles to install sound; I have no idea if that’s true or not.

Someone above mentioned a house with a glass screen. One of my projection mentors, a Mr. William Rankin, told me many years ago of a house in Los Angeles that had a sandblasted mirror for a screen and that it weighed several tons. I sure can’t remember what house he said it was.

kencmcintyre on April 13, 2008 at 11:17 pm

Here is a 1911 photo that Larry Harnisch posted on the LA Times' Daily Mirror" blog. The building advertising vaudeville is similar to the photos of the Optic building posted above, at least for the links that still work. All my USC archive links have expired, again.

reluctantpopstar on December 4, 2007 at 3:15 am

I love the store right next to it: “Ye Post Card Shop.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 25, 2007 at 5:43 am

I don’t know if Belasco had any interest in the first Optic. It’s a possibility that he took a shot at exhibiting movies, though by 1906 I think he was spending most of his time in New York City, from which he directed his far-flung theatrical enterprise. It seems more likely that the building in which the Optic rented space was a conveniently low edifice which provided an ideal location for a billboard, easily seen by the passing throngs on Broadway, and for which the owners of the property undoubtedly received a handsome rent. That it sported an ad touting the Belasco at the time this photo was made may have been mere chance.

vokoban on October 25, 2007 at 5:17 am

There’s a big billboard over it on the larger picture for the Belasco….did he have something to do with the Optic or was he just being a jerk?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 24, 2007 at 10:44 pm

Behold the original location of the Optic Theatre on the east side of Broadway between 4th and 5th Streets.

kencmcintyre on September 6, 2007 at 8:42 pm

In 1963, Popkin & Ringer, 306 W. 3rd Street LA, operated the Optic, Art, Gayety, Hippodrome, Regent, Star and Banner, according to the 1963 motion picture almanac. It appears that they cornered the market on Main Street grind houses. The one thing I don’t understand is that the Hippodrome had ceased to be as a movie theater in the late forties or early fifties.

vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 3:00 pm

These are instances where the Optic shows up in print with a date and an address. LAT=Los Angeles Times, LASAD=Los Angeles Street Address Directory and the rest of the dates are Los Angeles City Directories:

1915, 1916, 1923 LAT, 1925, 1930, 1936, 1942, 1962 LASAD, 1968 LASAD

That’s a pretty long history on Main street.

kencmcintyre on August 14, 2007 at 9:20 am

I noted the aka for the Star. Thanks.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 13, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Virginia must be an AKA for the Star Theatre.

kencmcintyre on August 13, 2007 at 5:56 pm

The LA city directory in 1925 lists the Virginia Theater at 529 S. Main. This would be between the Gaiety on the north and the Optic on the south. It’s not on Vokoban’s list of 12/20/05, but those were theaters that were advertising in the LA Times. Perhaps the Virginia has not been accounted for as of yet. The heading in the directory says “motion picture theaters” so it wasn’t a live playhouse.

kencmcintyre on August 12, 2007 at 8:08 am

I don’t think you can differentiate between the two based on the ads alone. You’re right about the first Optic being on Broadway – I overlooked that yesterday.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 11, 2007 at 11:15 pm

It places the Optic at 446&½ S. Broadway.

It also give the address of Tally’s New Broadway as 254 S. Broadway, but given the evidence of historic photos confirming that it was at 554 S. Broadway, I’d guess that the newspaper listing probably has a typo.

Lots of other interesting stuff in that ad, though, including the address of the first Metropolitan Theatre at 257 E. Fifth, and of the second Los Angeles Theatre, at 340 S. Spring.

It would be nice if it differentiated between movie theatres and stage theatres, though. It’s going to be hard to tell which ones ought to be added and which ones don’t qualify.

kencmcintyre on August 11, 2007 at 10:45 pm

This was the lineup in LA in 1908. As you can see, the Optic was then across the street, or maybe that was an earlier Optic:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 8, 2007 at 8:40 pm

ScottS & ken mc: People’s Theatre was yet another name of the theatre known as as the Olympic/Alphin/Omar/Moon/Gayety.

kencmcintyre on June 8, 2007 at 5:00 pm

People’s Theater address was 523 S. Main, per an ad in the LA Times dated 11/29/08. Another ad on the same page touts Long Beach as “The Atlantic City of the Pacific”, which I liked. Nobody touts my hometown any more except compulsive gamblers.

William on May 29, 2007 at 2:21 pm

In the film “Uptown Saturday Night” a few of the theatres located on Main Street can be seen. The marquees theatres making a cameo in the film are the Burbank, Follies, Optic and the Regent.