Manchester Theatre

322 W. Manchester Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90003

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Showing 24 comments

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on May 14, 2012 at 11:50 am

Click here for an exterior view of the Manchester Theatre in 1930.

lauriebrown on August 19, 2010 at 11:46 am

I grew up on 90th and Main (I was born in 1954, a white kid), and went to the Manchester fairly frequently, in the years between the mid-60s and 1972, when we moved from Los Angeles. I was one of those obnoxious little shits sitting up in the balcony making noise.

Even though I was a kid, I remember the beauty of that theater. What a shame it’s gone. I hate the looks of modern theaters.

rickyrecon45 on February 7, 2010 at 11:16 am

I went to the Manchester Theater all the time as a white teenager. We saw Love Me Tender there which was Elvis' first movie. I grew up at 91st and Vermont and took the bus up the the Manchester and the Triple A theater around the corner all the time in the 50’s-60’s. My black neighbors were not violent. Teenagers fought at all the shows during this period. The Triple A had great kid matinees with cartoons and triple features of course. I loved the Laurel and Hardy movies.

kencmcintyre on October 24, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Here is part of an LA Times story from April 1933:

Police retaliated yesterday with the capture of one bandit after gunmen had gleaned more than $900 cash in four daring daylight holdups, including two theaters, a woman motorist and a Hollywood travel bureau.

Captured shortly after he and a confederate had taken $200 from the Manchester Theater, 330 West Manchester avenue, a man identified as George H. Putnam, 26, was held by police on a charge of suspicion of robbery.

Putnam was taken into custody a short distance from the theater through the alertness of Salvador Cervantes, janitor, who turned in the alarm after the bandits had bound and gagged manager Perry Morgan and another janitor. Putnam was returning to his parked automobile when he was arrested.

Three bandits tied up C.M. Bayers, manager of the Larchmont Theater, 147 N. Larchmont Blvd, to take $500 from the office safe. The bandits used wire in making fast Bayers’ hands and feet.

kencmcintyre on October 3, 2007 at 8:56 am

The building still exists. It’s part of a community outreach center.

DrT on October 3, 2007 at 8:21 am

Ken; They were the same theater, just different names as the years went by. The AAA was the last on the totem pole as far as getting first run pictures and if you missed them at other theaters you could eventually see them at the AAA (Mecca or PIX). Spent many a happy hour in the AAA as a young boy.

kencmcintyre on October 2, 2007 at 7:07 pm

The Mecca is already listed, so AAA would be another name, if I understand you correctly. I thought the AAA and the Mecca were separate theaters.

DrT on October 2, 2007 at 6:45 pm

Speaking of the AAA I add this for a few laughs based on fact.

There were three movie theaters: the Manchester, Mayfair, and the Mecca, which was later called the Pix and then the Triple A (AAA). The Mecca also had a bowling alley above it. The thing I remember most about the Mecca theater (which I think was in its Pix phase then) are two pictures we saw there as young boys. The first was Ecstasy, a picture made by Hedy Lamar in Austria in 1933 that was banned in this country because of a ten minute swim in the nude! Somehow in about 1944 or 45 word went around, mouth to mouth among all of the boys in Bret Harte Jr. High School, that it was going to be shown at the Pix, but you had to be 18 years old to get in. My younger brother Gary (he was about ten years old then) and I, along with every other boy in the entire neighbor showed up and when we were asked if we were 18 we answered yes in the deepest voice we could muster. Gary was the last in line but he passed with flying colors and his dime entrance fee. Of course the nude swim was so dark and murky all you could tell was that she didn’t have a bathing suit on, but we all came out saying and thinking that we had just seen our first naked lady. I’m not sure Mom and Pop knew we saw it or not.
The second picture was a controversial sex education film called “Mom and Dad” that was only shown to segregated audiences (all boys or all girls) with a nurse in attendance. Again I was still in Bret Harte Jr. High School at the time (I was about 13 or 14). It started with a couple of teenagers on a date and petting in his car. Of course she got pregnant (but you didn’t see how), and that’s when the educational part started. The next thing you knew you were watching a natural birth, and then a cesarean birth. After that it went in to all kinds of STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases) showing up close photos of live nude body parts (particularly of the male organ) in all states of disrepair. This was accompanied with an audio description of what this disrepair might feel like and what the treatment was to correct the problem if it could be corrected and if it couldn’t be corrected what the final outcome would be!! The latter half is when they needed the nurse for some people! We left that movie swearing an oath to celibacy as we walked out the front door, but only until we encountered the first girl. Proof of the power of hormones over a bank of cerebral knowledge in the cortex of a teenager’s brain.

kencmcintyre on October 2, 2007 at 5:05 pm

I’ve seen ads for the AAA in the LA Times archives. I don’t think it’s listed on CT.

DrT on October 2, 2007 at 4:49 pm

I am writing my autobiography (since I finished my cookbook) and I used to live right behind the Manchester Theater on 87th street. Our backyard was actually used as part of their parking lot at times. We rented the house and the landlady may a few extra dollars renting part of our backyard to the parking people. We lived there from about 1935 to 1948 and our house was demolished by the off ramp of the Harbor freeway. The Manchester was not demolished because of the freeway but because of the vandalism that occurred in the area as the demographics in the area changed.
It was a true art deco theater with an orchestra pit, a built in pipe organ, and I actually saw some vaudeville acts there. There was a lot of gold leaf on the plaster fixtures around the lights. It was air conditioned with metal capped vents under every second or third seat. Prior to WWII they had a HUGE sign on the roof that was lighted by hundreds of incandescent bulbs and it could be seen for miles, but they never used it again after the war and finally removed it. It had a large balcony the lower half of which was all large lodges and smoking was only allowed in the balcony. Originally there were no refreshments sold in the theater and if you wanted some candy you had to buy it at Mr. Kehoe’s sweet shop next door. The first store to the west. The theater also had some retail shops attached to it that were part of the main building that streched to the alley that ran behind the stores facing Broadway.
It showed first run pictures that were mainstream at the time and Saturday matinees consisted of two regular pictures, a third one that was usually a western, 3 or 4 cartoons, one episode of a serial such as Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers, a news reel and a drawing for a box of candy (that I won once and gave to my Mom). When it had a good first run picture showing the theater would be full with a line waiting to get in outside. There were always two pictures showing and one would be an A movie and the second one was usually a B movie. Now you only get one movie for seven or eight dollars. Saturday matinees cost seven cents to get in so for a dime you coud buy a ticket and get three cents worth of candy at Mr. Kehoe’s sweet shop.
Just to the east at Broadway and Manchester there was a theater that was named the Mecca, then the Pix and finally the triple A (AAA). Just south of that on the same side of Broadway at 86th street there was another theater called the Mayfair. Rating them they would be # 1 Manchester # 2 Mayfair # # 3 the Mecca.
Your write up on the Manchester Theater brought back some old memories. We moved to 109th and Vermont in 1948 and I graduated from Washington High in 1950. Just in time for the Korean War!!.

Best regards;
Dr. LeRoy Trnavsky

kencmcintyre on August 11, 2007 at 9:02 pm

Here is another ad from September 1966:

kencmcintyre on July 29, 2007 at 12:12 pm

An Elvis movie was showing in March 1960:

kencmcintyre on July 19, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Here is an article from the LA Times dated 12/13/25:

Sol Lesser, secretary of West Coast Theaters,Inc, has announced definitely the opening of the West Coast Uptown on the 29th and the West Coast Manchester Theater on January 5, 1926.

The West Coast Manchester has been designed as a family theater and every modern convenience for the public has been incorporated into the building. Sol Lesser said, “We have built this theater with a view of the future growth of Los Angeles. It has a seating capacity of 1700 people and we exppect that part of the city to grow very fast in the next few years. This theater will permit people living a long way from the downtown section to attend a show as fine as any presented in the larger downtown theaters, and to see it in as fine a house as any theater anywhere”.

vingin14 on May 10, 2007 at 4:42 pm

My friends and I used to catch the bus on El Segundo & Central and ride to the Manchester Theater to see the latest movies. We spend a many of Saturdays at the Manchester. Does anyone remember the name of the theater that was just a few blocks away from the manchester?

wobcf on October 23, 2006 at 5:29 am

The Manchester was closed for a short time after WW2, but when it reopened it was very lavish. As young boys (8-12) we would ride our bikes there on Saturday afternoons and watch such films as “Fort Ticonderoga” and “Wax Museum” , both of which were in 3D. There was a bicycle rack alongside the building and it was always full. Sad to hear that it turned to a seedy theater later in it’s life. We would always set in the balcony when it was open.

theaterdude on March 30, 2006 at 2:09 pm

I’ve got it from reliable sources, my father in law, that in the 1930’s, Don Santo was the main emcee at the theater. There also was a man that sold taffy out front. He used a little hammer to break off chucks and sold it to the people going in the theater.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 5, 2004 at 2:26 pm

The Manchester Theater was considered a major neighborhood house and for some years it was the ‘break-in’ house for Francheon & Marco ‘Ideas’ shows before they travelled downtown to the Loews State Theater, where they ‘opened’ minus any mistakes.

I have record of an opening date for the Manchester Theater being 30th January 1926.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 20, 2004 at 6:16 am

The Manchester was built for the West Coast Theatre Circuit. The architect was L.A. Smith.

I was not surprised to discover that Smith designed the Manchester. I the 1950s, we drove past this theater many times, and I was always struck by the similarity of its style to that of Smith’s Garfield Theater in Alhambra.

William on October 20, 2003 at 6:21 pm

On 12/4/1925 the Manchester Theatre installed a Wurlitzer Theatre organ (opus#1214) style 215, it replaced a style B (opus#994) unit which was installed on 2/4/1925.

JustOldBob on September 14, 2002 at 7:42 pm

What George Haider has said, I agree with, if you went to the Manchester Theatre after 1958. However, the Manchester was on the south side of Manchester between Broadway and Figueroa, and yes in the 1950’s the Harbor Freeway came to town and the on ramp to the Harbor Freeway north, was just about half a block away, maybe three quarters. I worked with a Dave Eisenman at one time, and he was the manager of the Manchester during the 1940’s. He told me many stories of the stage shows and the orchestra pit, which was still there when I went there in the 1940’s. I remember it well, it had pipe railings around it, with black cloth going down to a lower pipe going around the pit. I enjoyed the theatre, and I know that many others also did. Also it did at one time have a pretty nice organ in it. It is truly a shame that it had to go into the state that Mr. Haider mentions.