State Theatre

703 S. Broadway,
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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Loew's State Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Loew’s State Theatre was opened November 12, 1921 with vaudeville and “A Trip to Paradise” starring Bert Lytell. It was equipped with a Moeller 3 Manual/18 Ranks theatre organ. The theatre had two entrances, one on S. Broadway, the other on W. 7th Street and the theatre is surrounded by a 12 storeys high office building (the largest brick-clad building in Los Angeles). Inside the auditorium the decorative style combines Classical, Medieval and traditional Spanish styles. Three outstanding features are a lavish ceiling decorated in a Spanish Rococo style, a seated Buddha occupying a niche above the proscenium arch and the splendid futuristic painting on the asbestos safety curtain which depicts a composition of orang and gold planets and comets floating around onion-domed towers on a brilliant blue background.

Loew’s Inc. only operated the State Theatre until 1924, when it was taken over by Fox West Coast Theatres, who took out a 25 years lease on the building and it became the State Theatre. They removed the Moeller organ and replaced it with a Wurlitzer 3 Manual/6 Ranks organ in 1925. In 1928 an act low on the vaudeville bill was the ‘Meglan Kiddie Revue’, which introduced a 6 years old Francis Gumm to the stage in her debut performance (Of course everyone knows she became Judy Garland). Franchon & Marco stage shows were an early feature of the programs and they featured early performances by a chorus line which included future stars Janet Gaynor and Myrna Loy.

By 1941 the State Theatre was operated by United Artists Theatres Circuit, and by 1963 it was operated by Metropolitan Theatres when it became the first S. Broadway movie palace to convert to screening general release movies dubbed into Spanish. The Wurlitzer organ quietly ‘disappeared’ sometime in the 1970’s when the organ at the Los Angeles Theatre vanished too.

During the 1990’s the State Theatre was used for location shoots, where Bette Midler’s version of “Gypsy” had a scene filmed here. Also the Tina Turner based biopic “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and for “Wild Bill” when it stood in for a 5 second shot as an 1885 New York theatre. For this one shot alone the film production crew re-painted the auditorium and re-draped the proscenium with red velvet swags, fringes and tassels which remain today. The State Theatre closed as a movie theatre in 1997.

In 1998 it was taken over (on a lease) by the Brazilian based ‘church’ Universal Church of the Kingdom of God(UCKG) when they moved out of their previous home at the Million Dollar Theatre.

The State Theatre is designated a Historic-Cultural Monument.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 127 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 7, 2010 at 1:04 am

The marquee of the State can be seen in this 1952 photo from USC:
http://tinyurl.com/2vg92kx

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 15, 2010 at 2:58 am

Great photo ken mc I quess every city had a least 1 Woolworths also.

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on July 21, 2011 at 3:06 am

I’m an East Coast guy, but I’m an enormous classic film fan and movie palace enthusiast, so I have a sad question. Is downtown L.A. really “doomed,” as I read above? I’ve never been there, but I know it like the back of my hand.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on August 16, 2011 at 12:48 am

Rafaelstorm, in terms of these theaters ever operating solely as movie theaters again, maybe. In the near-term picture, no. There’s a larger, more diverse population living there now. They’re cleaning up the buildings, fixing the sidewalks, and talking about putting in a streetcar. For a certain type of person (single, interested in an urban lifestyle), downtown is very attractive. And businesses are moving in to support them. The Belasco and Palace have recently reopened as a multi-purpose entertainment venue and a theater, respectively. Of course, the Orpheum, Globe, Mayan and Million Dollar have been operating for a while now in various capacities. The UA may open a new chapter in its history, if the right buyer can be found.

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on August 19, 2011 at 8:14 am

Thanks for your answer, Don. I keep seeing an interstitial on Turner Classics that several times a year the downtown L.A. movie palaces open their doors to the public and show vintage movies.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on August 20, 2011 at 1:20 am

Yes. Mainly that’s the Los Angeles Conservancy’s big fundraising event, Last Remaining Seats. Starting on the last Wednesday in May, we show six classic movies, usually in the downtown theaters, but sometimes branch out to other parts of LA.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on August 20, 2011 at 1:22 am

By the way, my understanding is that the State has a drop-down ceiling over the stage which precludes lowering the screen or closing the curtains. So even if the church was receptive to the idea of allowing movie fans in, it wouldn’t be practical…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 10, 2015 at 7:10 pm

An article about the State Theatre in the December 3, 1921, issue of Exhibitor’s Trade Review had this interesting information about the movie screen in the new house:

“The new Loew State Theatre which opened in Los Angeles Nov. 12 has a screen 24 by 44 feet. It is twice the size of any other screen in use in that city and pictures are furnished for it by what is said to be the largest projection booth in the world. It will be interesting to note how the public takes to this mammoth picture sheet.”

spectrum
spectrum on April 23, 2015 at 2:52 am

The theatre is owned by the Broadway Theatre Group which also owns the Los Angeles, Tower and Palace Theatres.

The webpage is: http://www.statetheatre.la/

The theatre is still rented by the Cathedral of Faith and is not currently available for other bookings or film shoots. But the webpage has a couple nice interior photos and it looks like it has recently been repainted in a nice, more colorful color scheme.

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