1050 S. Hill Street,
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Petroleum magnate Edward Doheny developed this and the adjacent Mayan Theatre (same architects-1927) as part of a new legitimate theatre district, which he hoped would augment or replace the older theatres on North Main Street, in downtown Los Angeles.
The Belasco Theatre was the first of the two to be completed. It was built as a legitimate playhouse and was operated by the Los Angeles based producer Edward Belasco, brother of New York based David Belasco. The Belasco Theatre opened on November 11, 1926 with the stage production of Anita Loos comedy "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". It is interesting to note that until around 2006, when the exterior of the building was repainted, the original (by then faded) painted sign on the side-wall of the stage house could still be seen with the words; ‘Belasco Theatre’ "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes".
The exterior of the theatre has an exotic Spanish Conquistador theme, with a series of seven figures of conquistadors, set in pineapple shaped niches across the top of the facade. The lower section of the facade originally had decorative features, but these were removed in a remodeling, and the area is now plain.
Above the lobby is a large ballroom which can accomodate up to 400 persons, and the theatre also has an expansive ‘green room’ for the artistes. Inside the shallow auditorium, seating is located on orchesta and balcony levels. It has a gold gilded decorative scheme in a Spanish Renaissance/Moorish style, with a huge shallow domed ceiling, which again is highly decorated.
The Belasco Theatre was mainly used as a playhouse and hosted successful productions starring the likes of Helen Hayes and Tallulah Bankhead. However it briefly screened movies mainly of the exploitation type, accompanied by burlesque, for a two year period between 1948 and 1950.
The Belasco Theatre was closed in 1952, as the area began to become run-down. By the 1970’s it had become the Metropolitan Community Church (a gay church). The moved out of the building by 1984 and the building remained closed and empty. It occasionally was used as a location for a film shoot, including the 2001 John Travolta movie "Swordfish". There were plans proposed in 2002 to convert the building into a nightclub, like the adjacent Mayan Theatre but this was not done.
Almost $10million has now been spent renovating the Belasco Theatre and it re-opened as a live and events venue on March 19, 2011. In January 2020 it was taken over by Live Nation.
The Belasco Theatre is designated a Historic-Cultural Monument.
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