Olympic Theatre

313 W. Eighth Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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Olympic Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

In 1927, the Bard’s Eighth Street Theatre opened on the north side of Eighth Street between South Broadway and Hill Street, opposite the huge May Company department store. Architect Lewis A. Smith remodeled a restaurant into this last theatre added to shownman Lou Bard’s theatre chain. The interior featured vaguely Chinese decor and had 600 seats.

The opening feature was the premiere showing of Universal’s farce comedy “Oh Baby”, starring Madge Kennedy and with Creighton Hale in the leading male role.

In 1932 the theatre was renamed Olympic Theatre to commemorate Los Angeles hosting the Olympic Games that year. The theatre was remodeled in 1942 by architect Charles O. Matcham.

During the later years Metropolitan Theatres ran this theatre as a Spanish language house. The theatre itself appears in movies including “The Omega Man”(1971) starring Charlton Heston.

The Olympic Theatre was closed in the summer of 1986 by Metropolitan Theatres to enable wall stengthening to withstand earthquake shocks, but it never reopened. By 2004, the facade and marquee had been repaired and by then, the interior was used for storage and had been stripped back to its four walls and painted white, with the floor leveled. The ceiling retained a large oval area and the organ screens were still intact. Two stairways leading to the auditorium from the lobby were cemented to make ramps.

In 2007, the building was reopened as a shop for chandeliers and French rococo furniture, with much of the remaining original interior repainted in white and gold.

Contributed by William Gabel, Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 70 comments)

drb on April 9, 2009 at 2:51 pm

From the LAHTF’s email flyer:

Contact: Hillsman Wright – 310 403-0865

For immediate release â€" 4/7/09

The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation www.lahtf.org
Invites You & Your Friends to Attend
All About the Tower/Rialto/Olympic (Bardâ€\s 8th St.)
Saturday, April 18, 10:30 am â€" Doors open at 10:00 am
Tower Theatre * 802 S. Broadway * Downtown Los Angeles
Special thanks to the Delijani family

The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation (LAHTF) takes its popular All About… series to three theatres near the intersection of Broadway and 8th Street, the Tower (1927), Rialto (1917), and Olympic (Bardâ€\s Eighth Street Theatre, 1927) on Saturday, April 18, 10:30 am. The public is invited to attend.

Show & Tell
Theatre historian Ed Kelsey will present a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation on the storied past of these three very different theatres and relate fascinating tales about the out-sized impresarios â€" Gumbiner, Quinn, Bard, Grauman, Corwin â€" who built and operated them.

Tours will explore the far reaches of the theatresâ€\ public areas, support spaces, and stages to provide attendees with an insiderâ€\s, behind-the-scenes look at three of Broadwayâ€\s smaller theatres.

LAHTF volunteers will explain how you can get hands-on experience saving, restoring and programming great theatres in Los Angeles by becoming actively involved with the LAHTF. There will be announcements of a series of exciting events coming to historic theatres on Broadway soon.

Make it a day Downtown.
Join us at Cliftonâ€\s Cafeteria immediately following the event to continue the discussion.
Shop for bargains in the nearby Garment District, Broadwayâ€\s shops and Grand Central Market.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: Save the Dates: May 16, June 13 & 20.

Many people are fascinated by the architecture of fantasy so beautifully on display in Southern Californiaâ€\s great historic theatres. People are also curious about how the theatres work. What does it look like backstage? What do the performers see when they look out across the footlights? Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation’s “All About” series gives the public an insider’s look at these wonderful theatres and share parts of their histories – good and bad – as a way to encourage people to become actively involved in protecting and ensuring their futures.

The LAHTF is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, restoring and supporting the operation of Southern Californiaâ€\s historic theatres. For more information visit www.lahtf.org

kencmcintyre on April 10, 2009 at 5:08 pm

99 cent films at the Olympic in 1980:

kencmcintyre on April 27, 2009 at 7:21 pm

An older vertical blade can be seen on the left in this late 30s photo, as well as the Tower further down on Broadway:

kencmcintyre on April 27, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Tower is the white building on the next block.

monika on June 22, 2010 at 11:09 am

Here is a May 2010 night photograph I took of the Olympic: View link

drb on June 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Oh. They uncovered the old façade.

NothingDiesWithBlueSkies on August 17, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Here is a photo from 2007 before they painted it black
View link

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on July 18, 2011 at 7:59 am

Wow, love the recent photos, with the old facade exposed!

northstar16 on April 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Here is 11 minutes of nighttime process footage from 1946 shot for the Rita Hayworth film “Down to Earth,” which shows the Olympic, the RKO Hill Street and several other theaters.

View Link

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