Vista Theatre

4473 Sunset Drive,
Los Angeles, CA 90027

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Vista Theatre

Lou Bard’s Hollywood Theatre opened on October 16, 1923 with Baby Peggy in “Tips” (attended by Baby Peggy ‘in person’) plus vaudeville acts on the 7ft deep stage. The seating capacity at opening was for 838. It was built for and operated by the L. Lou Bard theatre chain named Far West Theatres Inc. The main façade of the building is in a pretty Spanish Revival style, which was to have been the overall architectural theme of the entire building which was designed by noted theatre architect Lewis Arthur Smith. However, during its 1922 construction, King Tutankhamen’s Tomb was discovered in Egypt, setting a trend for Egyptian style architecture and from the entrance lobby through the auditorium that style dominates.

It was re-named Vista Theatre in the late-1920’s and it was later operated by independent operator Whitson-Lewis Theatres in the 1940’s, remaining in operation as a popular neighborhood movie house. By 1949 it became an important revival theatre and then an art house cinema screening foreign movies, renamed Art Vista Theatre. By 1977 until 1980 it operated a gay male porno cinema.

In 1980 it was taken over by Mike Thomas and became a revival house. It was refurbished by Landmark Theatres in the early-1980’s, and it was at this time that the Egyptian style paybox was installed on the sidewalk entrance and the theatre began playing mainly off-circuit movies. But this closed in June 1985 when Landmark didn’t renew their lease.

It remained closed for several years until in the early-1990’s it was beautifully restored and reopened for mainstream movies in around 1998.

Alongside its elegant Spanish style façade, the interior is the true stunner in an Egyptian style at this old single screen palace in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 137 comments)

moviebuff82 on May 24, 2020 at 3:19 pm

This theater was shown during a segment on the impact of Covid-19 on hollywood during the CBS Weekend News.

hdtv267 on May 25, 2020 at 6:19 am

Context please.

Was this the only theatre that was featured?

If so , why did they choose to only show this theatre?

If other theatres were featured and spoke about in the segment, which ones were they?

Is there a link to view the story online at I’m unable to locate it.

hdtv267 on June 14, 2020 at 5:56 am

Nope, still unable to find that link….

bigjoe59 on September 8, 2020 at 3:10 pm


I first visited L.A. April of 1980. so according to hdtv267’s 5/2/20 post the theater had been a gay porn house for approx. 2 years at that point. how long did it in fact stay a gay porn house?

hdtv267 on September 9, 2020 at 5:04 am

My post never mentioned anything about 2 years. I merely provided a date based on information I received from a website. The refurbishing date is speculative. That might have been when done, when started, who knows.

Wow, wondering how long a classic theatre ran as a gay porn house? Just chalk that up to things I never thought I’d hear or read this year. Just like president using DOJ to defend a rape case that occured when he was a private citizen.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 9, 2020 at 5:51 am

Not exactly “just like,” but whatever…

bigjoe59 on September 9, 2020 at 12:10 pm


I just asked a simple question no need to get hyper about it. your 5/2/20 post states that “Heavy Equipment” opened here in 3-D in July of 1978. so since I first visited L.A. in April of 1980 the theater would have been a gay porn house
for at least 2 years at the point I visited. so I was wondering how long it stayed a gay porn house. again a simple question.

stevenj on September 9, 2020 at 9:47 pm

bigjoe55….Don’t know what month in 1980 you were there but this blog post for the Vista Theatre says that Mike Thomas (who ran several SF theatres) “rescued” it in 1980 and turned it into a revival house.

stevenj on September 10, 2020 at 9:46 am

Normally I would put in a direct link but CT thought it was spam so you’ll have to cut and paste into your browser.

bigjoe59 on September 10, 2020 at 12:14 pm


to stevenj many thanks for your replies. I first visited L.A. April of 1980. so if the theater was “rescued” by the end of 1980 than it couldn’t have been a gay porn house for very long.

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