La Tosca Theatre

2928 S. Vermont Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90007

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm

The current Google street view shows that La Tosca has now been demolished. The theater and adjacent buildings have been replaced by an apartment complex, a photo of which can be seen at the top of this web page.

As the apartments have already begun leasing, the demolition of the theater must have taken place quite some time ago, perhaps more than a year, but I haven’t been able to find out anything about the event on the Internet. I guess L.A.’s news media just weren’t interested.

neum0100
neum0100 on May 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Hello all, I’ll be in LA next week to conduct research about this theater and would be interested to see any programs or advertisements that still exist or conduct oral interviews with anyone that has memories of attending films here. Specifically, I’m interested in the time when the La Tosca presented German-language films. You can email me at ciccone (at) bust (dot) com. Thanks!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 13, 2010 at 4:01 am

La Tosca was still in operation at least as late as the early 1970s. It was included in the Independent Theatres listings in the Los Angeles Times of February 10, 1971. I don’t know what kind of movies it was showing then, as its listing carried only the note “Call theatre for program.” I do recall the theater showing mostly German movies through the 1960s.

The La Tosca Theatre is also listed in the Los Angeles City Directory for 1973. Unfortunately I don’t have access to directories between 1973 and 1987, so I can’t find the year in which it vanished from the listings. It was not listed in 1987 though.

Also the page still needs the 1915 aka of Photoplay Theatre.

karencotter
karencotter on August 12, 2010 at 5:43 am

THIS LINK SEEMS TO NOT BE ACTIVE ANYMORE BUT I CAN’T HELP LEAVING MY MEMORIES HERE: I WAS BORN ON 30TH STREET IN LOS ANGELES EAST OF VERMONT AVENUE IN 1937 12 HOUSES FROM THE THEATER. AND LIVED THERE UNTIL 1952 WHEN THE WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD POST WWII BEGAN A WUICK DECAY. AROUND 1960 USC BEGAN BUYING UP ALL THE AGING PROPERTIES IN A LARGE AREA AROUND THE LA TOSCA AND AGAIN THE FINAL BLOW STRUCK WHEN THE WATTS RIOTS GAVE THE COUP DE GRACE TO A HUGE AREA OF L.A.
AND VERMONT AVENUE BECAME THE SLUM IT REMAINS TO THIS DAY NORTH OF USC AND SOUTH ALL THE WAY TO THE SOUTH BAY. WHITE FLIGHT DOOMED THE NEIGHBORHOOD SAVE THE IMMEDIATE AREA AROUND USC.

THE THEATER ITSELF WAS DISMANTLED AROUND THE EARLY 1960’S I’D SAY, AS I WORKED AS A YOUNG ADULT IN DOWNTOWN L.A. AND HAD OCCASION ONCE OR TWICE TO DRIVE BY MY OLD CHILDHOOD NEIGHBORHOOD.

THE OTHER LITTLE THEATERS IN THE AREA WERE THE “TROJAN” ON JEFFERSON BLVD. AT HOOVER, ALSO LONG GONE AND A BIGGER THEATER CALLED THE “BOULEVARD” AT WASHINGTON AND VERMONT. THERE WAS A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF RACISM IN L.A. DURING THE 1950’S AND BEYOND AND (I’M SIMPLY SPEAKING THE TRUTH HERE – FROM MY CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES) AND WHEN THE BOULEVARD’S CLIENTELE CHANGED FROM PREDOMINATELY WHITE TO BLACK, THE THEATER DECLINED AND WAS EVENTUALLY ALSO CLOSED. THE AREA NORTH OF VERMONT AND JEFFERSON/ADAMS IS STILL A WAR ZONE BUT MUCH OF THE AREA HAS BEEN PURCHASED BY USC OVER THE DECADES AND IS SLOWLY BECOMING RE-HABBED FOR STUDENT HOUSING AS THE UNIVERSITY SPREADS IN SCOPE.

AS ANYONE WHO LIVES IN SOUTH CENTRAL L.A. KNOWS, THE AREA POST THE WATTS RIOTS FROM APPROXIMATELY MANCHESTER TO THE SOUTH AND NORTH TO THE 101 FREEWAY WAS BEEN PRETTY MUCH DESTROYED AND THE BUILDINGS STILL CIRCA THE 1920’S IN DESHABILE. KOREATOWN IS SLOWLY EATING AWAY FROM THE NORTH SOUTH OF OLYMPIC AND WHILE THE BUILDINGS ARE STILL ROTTEN TO THE CORE, A LIVELY COMMERCIAL ATMOSPHERE PREVAILS.

ANOTHER WORLD, ANOTHER TIME, BUT THE LA TOSCA WILL ALWAYS REMAIN IN MY MEMORY: SMALL, OLD, SHABBILY CLEAN AND ALL THE NEIGHBORHOOD KIDS FROM ALL DIRECTIONS HAVING A GOOD TIME EVERY SATURDAY FOR 5 CENTS!
THE TROJAN CHARGED 7 CENTS! VERY UPSCALE! AND THE BOULEVARD 10 CENTS.

WE WERE DEPRESSION BABIES AND 5 CENTS WAS LIKE A DOLLAR TODAY.

HOPE THIS STRIKES A CHORD WITH SOMEONE WHO MIGHT READ THIS.

K THORSEN

AT ANY RATE, THE LA TOSCA THEATER WAS A BIG PART OF MY CHILDHOOD AS IT HAD ALL THE KID TYPE MOVIES ON WEEKENDS, ALL THE TARZAN MOVIES, ALL THE WESTERNS OF THE 1940’S AND EARLY 50’S AND ON SATURDAYS, THE THEATER WAS PACKED WITH THE NEIGHBORHOOD KIDS. THERE WERE TWO FEATURES !!!, THREE CARTOONS (BUGS BUNNY, THE ROADRUNNER, ETC) AND A CONTEST FOR KIDS CHOSEN FROM THE AUDIENCE. SIMPLE CONTESTS, I.E., A HERSHEY BAR WAS ATTACHED TO A LONG STRING, 6 KIDS WERE LINED UP ON STAGE WITH THE END OF THE STRING IN THEIR TEETH AND THE KID THAT COULD “EAT” THE STRING TO BRING THE CANDY TO THEIR MOUTH, WON THE CANDY BAR! THE STRING WAS GATHERED UP IN ONE’S TEETH AND HELD IN THE MOUTH, NOT SWALLOWED, OF COURSE, UNTIL WE GOT OUR TEETH IN THE HERSHEY BAR WRAPPER. USUALLY A BOY WON, BUT ONCE IN A WHILE A GIRL WOULD BE VICTORIOUS! BECAUSE WE WERE ALL POOR, THAT CANDY BAR WAS INDEED WORTH THE STRUGGLE. OTHER GAMES LIKE THAT WERE PLAYED WITH VARIOUS CANDY BARS THE PRIZE. FOR WE POOR KIDS, THOSE SATURDAY MOVIES WERE THE STANDOUT OF OUR WEEKENDS AS MOST OF OUR FAMILIES HAD NO CARS DURING WWII AND LIKE US, NO CARS UNTIL AROUND 1950. AS I RECALL THE LA TOSCA CHANGED HANDS AROUND THE TIME I LEFT AND BRIEFLY BEFORE WE MOVED IN 1952, SWITCHED TO GERMAN MOVIES. BY THEN WE WERE TEENAGED AND HAD MOVED ON TO BIGGER THEATERS.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 18, 2010 at 1:02 pm

That’s interesting. I’ve driven past that building a hundred times, didn’t realize that that it was the old theater building. Thanks.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 6, 2010 at 1:09 am

Magic Lantern is correct. This building is not demolished. The L.A. County Assessor lists this lot as 2928 Vermont, and says that it is occupied by a building of 7693 square feet, erected in 1912 but with an effective construction date of 1930. I thought that 1930 might be the year the building was converted into a theater, but La Tosca Theatre is listed at this address in earlier city directories.

In the 1923 City Directory, 2930 S Vermont is listed as the location of “Lustig & Gore (B.H. Lustig, Michl Gore) motion pictures….” and is listed again as the location of the La Tosca Theatre.

In the 1915 City Directory, the address belongs to “Photoplay Theatre motion pictures….” It looks as though was probably a theater in this building from the time it was built in 1912.

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on July 5, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Building’s still there. Now operating as Genesis Vacuum.

William
William on July 23, 2007 at 6:22 am

You can see the front exterior marquee in the 1972 Columbia film “Black Gunn” with Jim Brown. (Around 22 minutes in)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 3, 2007 at 9:41 am

On 1/22/50, the La Tosca featured “Imitation of Life” and “Magnificent Obsession”.

rwallach64
rwallach64 on June 16, 2005 at 12:38 pm

I saw a photograph of the La Tosca Theater (formerly on Vermont in Los Angeles) submitted, I think, by Mr. De Luca. I am coauthoring a small publication on the University of Southern California neighborhood and its history, and wonder whether it will be possible to a. obtain a copy of the photograph for the book, and b. obtain the right to publish the photograph.

Thanks, Ruth Wallach

kd6dkc
kd6dkc on April 2, 2005 at 12:03 pm

The La Tosca neighborhood was already becoming pretty scary by the early 1960s. I only went to matinees there — for that very reason — and if I had not arrived in my own car I always waited for my ride in full view of the ticket booth, figuring Meta, the ticket seller, would call for help if I got jumped. I was in my 20s then and defensively armed but most of the other patrons were much older, so I imagine the area’s downward spiral probably affected business before long.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on April 2, 2005 at 10:05 am

Another great photo, Gerald. I was mugged in front of this theater one afternoon in January, 1980. I’d been staying at a hotel on Jefferson Blvd at the edge of the USC campus where I’d been doing some work. One afternoon I wandered over to Vermont Ave with my camera, and was accosted there by three teenage hoodlums who wanted my camera. Like Baron Scarpia, I gestured grandly, drawing my all-weather London Fog raincoat around me (a sure sign, along with the camera, that I was an East-coast out-of-towner), and proceeded to walk rapidly toward campus. Miracolosamente, a police car appeared at the next corner, and the thugs dispersed.

As I grew up in the darker depths of NYC, attended h.s. in the middle of tough Bed-Sty, and had never come close to being mugged, I thought this incident in sunny LA marked a surprising turn of events. The tale has long since entered my repertoire of frequently recounted experiences. You’re lucky you’ve still got your camera, Gerald (or do you?).

kd6dkc
kd6dkc on April 2, 2005 at 9:16 am

Mr. DeLuca’s 1980s photo is a pretty close match to the way the La Tosca looked when I last saw it in 1979. I originally thought the furniture on the sidewalk in front of the theater indicated work was going on inside but it now seems likely that a nearby store was just displaying sale items all along the walkway. The corner storefront where the word “shop” can be partially seen was called Wanda’s in 1970.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 2, 2005 at 5:50 am

A direct link to my photo of La Tosca.
View link

kd6dkc
kd6dkc on July 23, 2004 at 3:43 pm

Other than the name La Tosca, the most “Italian memory” I have of the theater is of two murals or bas-relief sculptures flanking the stage/screen area and depicting a lute-player serenading his sweetheart who was looking down from a mini-balcony. When I photographed the exterior of the La Tosca in 1979, the marquee was painted light blue and the building was white (paint flaking off on the corner side that housed a small shop formerly called Hansa Haus).

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 23, 2004 at 3:24 pm

This is all very interesting to me. I live on the east coast. I too took a picture of the exterior some time in the 1980s when I went into my marquee-photographing mode. Being Italian, loving Italian films and operas, I thought “La Tosca” was a fabulous name for a movie theatre. Keep us informed.

kd6dkc
kd6dkc on July 23, 2004 at 2:37 pm

They must have removed the water fountain booth before my time as I do not recall that. For their German-speaking audience, they used to mail out illustrated program schedules listing films for several months ahead. Starting in December of 1956 the Saturday ticket prices were increased to 75 cents for matinees and 85 cents for evening showings, but 85 cents for all Sunday and holiday screenings. “Yellow car” trolleys of the V and J Lines passed right in front of the La Tosca but by 1964-65, buses #9 and 95 had replaced the streetcars. A taped announcement of film times could be heard by calling REpublic 3-7292.

alcoatom
alcoatom on July 23, 2004 at 1:12 pm

The La Tosca was my neighborhood show and we went there many times. In those days the price for a kid was 15 cents. The manager or owner’s name was Burkoff. At the time the theater was very much on the cutting edge. There was a water fountain booth that you went into and the water automatically turned and off when you left. Lots of good memories sitting there in “lodge section” watching movies.
I was by the place in the 80’s and have a picture to add, the place is all boarded up and looks like it’s ready for USC to buy it and tear it down. When can I send the picture? tom layden

kd6dkc
kd6dkc on March 16, 2004 at 11:47 pm

It’s possible Italian films were shown there at one time, but it was known for German films when I was a regular customer. However, when I last saw and photographed the La Tosca, circa 1979, it appeared to be undergoing either renovation or demolition, and the marquee listed Korean, Indian and German films. The theater’s name probably had no connection to the films shown there as it likely was a “mainstream” movie house in earlier days.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on March 16, 2004 at 6:10 pm

Considering the name of the theatre, was it ever an Italian-language house?

kd6dkc
kd6dkc on March 4, 2004 at 1:37 am

The La Tosca, at 30th and Vermont, screened old German movies and newsreels (Neue Deutsche Wochenschau) every weekend during the 1950s and early 1960s, usually playing to a full house. Hungarian films were played mid-week. It was owned and operated at that time by Hermann and Meta Kleinhens. Tickets were 75 cents, if I remember correctly. The interior featured Venetian murals.