Strand Theatre

4232 Whittier Boulevard,
East Los Angeles, CA 90023

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 19, 2018 at 5:32 pm

The L.A. County Assessor says that the Strand was built in 1928/1929.

Here is an item about the Strand’s owner Paul Swickard from the April 7, 1945 issue of Boxoffice:

“J. Paul Swickard, like most ‘native sons,’ has been a booster not only for California but for that state‚Äôs great industry, motion pictures. In 1917 he operated the University Theatre and 14 years later the Strand, Los Angeles, a 1,000-seat house, his present property. A resident of San Marino, Swickard is a member of the Masons and Rotary Club. Married, he has three sons, all in uniform: J. Paul jr., and Donald R. with the army, Ross H. aboard a submarine.”
This ca. 1938 photo of actress Bonita Granville at the Strand shows a bit of the mural decorating what appears to be the lobby wall.

thefilmguy on July 18, 2011 at 4:47 am

Hi Don, thank you for that Youtube video. I have a question. Has there ever been any interest in the building or theater as a cultural landmark? Has the interior been totally gutted of it’s movie theater past?

MJuggler on June 21, 2010 at 2:07 am

Just found out that my Dad was an usher at the Strand in the 1940’s. A great Father’s Day tale but I need to find out more info.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm


William on April 22, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Thanks for sharing those memories here!! I really enjoyed them.

TLSLOEWS on April 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Very interesting slide show.

frankie on June 25, 2009 at 4:42 pm


DonS on June 25, 2009 at 3:02 pm

I am Donald R Swickard, and have made many comments above. I now have a YOUTUBE showing before, during, and some of the Movie Stars that appeared there. Hope you enjoy these past memories.

Homeboy on May 31, 2009 at 5:52 pm

From “Ask Chris,” a column in Los Angeles magazine, June 2009:

“The Strand Theatre opened as a neighborhood movie house in 1929 and soon became a center of Eastside kid culture. Cowboy star Buck Jones had a Ranger Club of almost 4,000 ‘courteous and obedient’ youngsters headquartered there. One of the Rangers' activities was to invite celebrities like Boris Karloff and Gene Autry to write their names (and Ranger safety slogans) in wet cement in front of the theater. When the Strand closed in 1952, owner Paul Swickland removed the cement blocks and used them to pave his San Marino patio. About a mile west of the former theater I found slabs autographed by Tom Mix and Tonto (their fragile state and my Ranger Club oath forbid me to reveal the location). As for the building, it’s now owned by the L.A. Archdiocese.”

kencmcintyre on June 23, 2007 at 11:25 pm

This 1990 LAPL photo shows more detail than you will see in my photos from Saturday:

kencmcintyre on June 23, 2007 at 12:40 pm

I was out there yesterday. The side of the building says “Warner Brothers Home of Vitaphone Pictures”. I took aome photos which I will post later. There was a homeless guy out front who chided me for taking pictures too fast and not paying attention to some of the details of the building. I apologized.

DonS on March 6, 2007 at 12:35 pm

The NW corner off Sunol facing Whittier (now enclosed) was the location of the box office. A circular awning ran N to the edge of Whittier Blvd, with the marqui above. The front of the building had a ramp leading to the stage, on the E side (tall) portion of the building, where the complete screen and speakers were lifted for vaudville and open stage.The front of the building facing Whittier had three large billboards advertising upcoming shows, hiding most of the side of this building. It was closed in 1952 due to lack of business due to TV. This was the “home” of the Buck Jones Ranger
Band", and semi home of the “Son’s of the Pioneers” which brought Roy Rogers to fame. Numerous Movie Stars signed their names in a cement block, and some were layed around East Los Angeles.
I mentioned is the above posting, I do have a number of pictures of events held outside, and numerous stars signing the cement blocks, and some interior shots—-however, I do not know how to get them posted. Donald R Swickard

DonS on February 21, 2007 at 2:28 pm

My name is Donald R Swickard. My father, J Paul Swickard was the owner of the Strand. I do have a few exterior pictures, and some older interior, as well as many of the movie stars that appeared there. my e-mail address is Weould like to post these, and to fill anyone in on the details of cement autographs, etc.

DonS on February 19, 2007 at 4:50 pm

My name is Donald Swickard, son of Paul Swickard, owner of the Strand Theater, East Los Angeles. I do have some pictures of the interior or the theater, and details regarding the activities from the 29’s to the time we closed in 1952. I can be reached at Would like to share any and all details.

UKuser on November 2, 2005 at 3:48 am


T'he Los Angeles Theatre' on South Broadway, LA is playing host to the UK television show ‘Dead Famous LIVE’. We are currently looking for people who would like to come along as part of the studio audience.

‘Dead Famous LIVE’ is a studio entertainment show all about Hollywood History and the paranormal. We will be welcoming celebrity guests on to the show and investigating famous locations around Hollywood which are rumoured to be haunted including the Los Angeles Theatre itself.

This is an invaluable chance to get access to the Los Angeles Theatre, the place where Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City Lights’ premiered in 1931 and to have a thoroughly great day out! (And its free!!)

We’re transmitting ‘Live’ back to the United Kingdom so expect it to be exciting and fun!

We will be filming on three days from 11th – 13th November between 11.30am – 4pm. If you are interested in coming on one or all of these days then email me for tickets!


I look forward to your responses!

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 14, 2005 at 7:10 am

The photo above shows the huge stage house and the low side wall of the building. (It looks rough because buildings that backed onto it have been demolished). The main front of the theatre is to the right, off camera. Also in faded painted letters written on the flytower (almost visible in the photo) is a line of script with the wording ‘Home of Vitaphone Pictures’….there is more but it is too faded and not readable today.

gorf on January 8, 2005 at 5:13 pm

well thought i’d share my know'ledge,of what i know,well i was raised in east l.a since i was knee high…i attended boulevard,alameda,and golden gate,theater’s..i remember going into the srand theater,when and is still use’d as a clothes factory,yeah all the interior is filled with rows of sewing machines,,,but the outside is still intact,you can still see the original painted sign on the outside that reads ADULT 15 CENT CHILDREN 5 CENT..I NEVER ATTENDED the grant theather,but always remember the sing,and try to picture what it was like….just as the picture looks today..its still the same……gorf…..east l.a

RobertR on April 28, 2004 at 1:16 pm

Now it looks like a prison camp with all the concrete smeared on it.

sdoerr on April 28, 2004 at 1:13 pm

I wish someone had picturs of it from before or now, It makes you wonder what it really looks like from the way the exterior looks.

ppops70s on April 28, 2004 at 1:02 pm

According to my Grandmother, the building is intact.

ppops70s on April 28, 2004 at 12:53 pm

Gary, thanks for your posting. I live near the old Strand Theatre. My grandparents use to go to the movies in the 40s and 50s. As a kid I used to go to other old movie theatres in the area, such as the Boulevard Theatre, Golden Gate, Brooklyn Theatre, and Garmar Theatre.

GaryLee64 on January 1, 2004 at 11:30 am

My parents business was near there and in the 30’s and 40’s The Strand was a big venue. My mother talked about vaudeville there as a child. My mother graduated in 1937 so that gives you a time frame. As a child she saw shows there. The R Streetcar made its turn there and that made it a busy place. In front of the theatre was footprints of Trigger and Roy Rogers and other Western Stars. In the late 50’s I used to go and look at them. I was told by my Uncle that they were removed during the night. The Strand became a button factory. My mother said it was always packed as a child. I remember a sign the last time films were shown. The Marquee said A Streetcar Named Desire and Viva Zapata. Under that sign it said CLOSED HOME WATCHING TELEVISION TOO. It was the early 50’s. I believe 1950? In the late 20’s it was a big Italian section and they loved live shows. My mother was Will Rogers there.