Variety Arts Center

940 S. Figueroa Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90015

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DavidZornig on June 22, 2016 at 6:25 pm

1941 photo as the Times Theatre added courtesy of the AmeriCar The Beautiful Facebook page. Likely originally from one of the dead links…

dtrigubetz on November 25, 2011 at 8:42 am

In the 1980s I saw live magic shows there, as well as performers Rudy Vallee, Buddy Ebsen, the Wiere Brothers, Bob Cummings and others. One year I attended the New Years Eve dance. Art Deco and His Orchestra were the house band. Art’s mother proudly told me of his violinist son, “He studied with Heifetz.”

The artifacts were a blast: Walter Winchell’s hat, W C Field’s trick pool table, drums Eleanor Powell danced on in a movie, the original Johnny Carson Tonight Show set.

DonSolosan on December 4, 2010 at 6:39 pm

The last time I was in the neighborhood, the building was empty. However that was about five months ago, and something interesting could have happened in the meantime…

Note re: description at the top, it should read Times, not Tomes.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 4, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Don, are these two theatres in use now?

DonSolosan on July 25, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Toured this building today; there are two theaters in there. The film theater is on the ground floor, the live theater is upstairs. Don’t know if the live theater is original, or an add-on. The ballroom has been converted into a lounge-type space.

TLSLOEWS on March 4, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Like the photo of the Times marquee with 20 cents sign on it.

kencmcintyre on January 16, 2009 at 6:56 pm

The theater is for sale on Loopnet for 12.5 million. This area by Staples Center is undergoing massive redevelopment.

DavidZornig on November 16, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Wow, that’s quite an article. Thatnks for posting it.
It’s amazing that any developer could have spent 8 million dollars just four years ago for some place so massive, only to sell it off yet again.
I hope the Time’s get’s a new lease on life soon.
That club interior is reminiscent of the famous Bergoff Restaurant in Chicago.
Maybe the club portion could be opened up as a money maker first, with hopes of generating interest in reopening the theatre portion.

Maybe the new, young Hollywood millionaires could pool their resources ala Planet Hollywood, and become heroes for restoring such a landmark theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 16, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Floyd B. Bariscale has posted an extensive entry about this theater, with many images, here, as part of his ongoing series of pieces about Los Angeles landmarks.

drb on October 27, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Here’s where the USC site is currently hiding the two 1941 photos:
View link
View link

And there’s lots more photos linked from here, including several interior shots:
View link

kencmcintyre on August 29, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Here are the LOC photos, in a more permanent form:

kencmcintyre on August 16, 2008 at 10:23 am

I can’t fix the links, I don’t know how.

kencmcintyre on August 16, 2008 at 10:15 am

There was a good shot in one of my earlier additions, but I can’t find it now.

kencmcintyre on August 16, 2008 at 9:53 am

These USC links are not very reliable. Here is another shot from 1941:

kencmcintyre on October 13, 2007 at 9:09 pm

Here are the updated USC links:

Here is a 1983 ad from the LA Times:

reluctantpopstar on May 5, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Too bad those 1941 photos don’t show The Pantry; I would have liked to have seen a picture of it in its original context. It’s in the far left background of the first photo, probably behind that church (wow! Didn’t know there was a huge church right there!)

Here’s hoping that Anschutz does something good with the place. The first portions of L.A. Live are scheduled to open by the end of this year, maybe early 2008. It’ll be here before we know it. There’s scheduled to be a two building complex of apartments built right next to it (called the Concerto), that’s where the Finkle Arms was. Unfortunately, that project seems to be stalled at the moment. Apart from that, that whole neighborhood is like brand new compared to 10-15 years ago.

kencmcintyre on April 20, 2007 at 8:03 am

Here is a re-post of Joe´s photo as his link has failed. BTW, there was an interesting article in the LA Times recently about the German guy who runs the website. He flies here, takes a boatload of photos and flies back. Most of his friends don´t even realize he runs the site.

kencmcintyre on December 29, 2006 at 2:00 pm

Here are two photos without the marquee from the Library of Congress:

kencmcintyre on July 18, 2006 at 4:01 pm

I like the apartment building up the street in the 1941 photograph. The “Finkle Arms”…not exactly the prestige of living in the Waldorf.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 18, 2006 at 2:26 am

The Times Theatre was located in the auditorium of the Friday Morning Club, a womens' organization. The auditorium opened on Monday, May 5th, 1924, and was for several years a popular venue for plays, lectures and musical performances. It was used for club functions as well.

I’ve been unable to find during which years the Times Theatre operated, but it had long been closed by 1977, the year in which the building was sold by the Friday Morning Club to Milt Larsen and was converted into the not-for-profit Variety Arts Center, dedicated to preserving historic forms of live entertainment such as Vaudeville.

The five story Italian Renaissance style building was designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm of Allison & Allison. In addition to the large auditorium, it contains a smaller theatre (apparently never used as a movie house) and various meeting and club rooms. The building was declared a city monument in 1978, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

In 2004, the building was purchased by the Anshutz Entertainment Group, the company which is building the massive L.A. Live entertainment complex a few blocks farther south on Figueroa Street. For now, the theatre remains dark while the company studies options for reuse of the venue.

Here is a recent photograph of the Friday Morning Club building.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 14, 2006 at 6:05 pm

Ken: I didn’t think anyone would ever unearth a picture of the Times Theatre,a nd that it was gone forever. But then, I didn’t know that the Times Theatre was actually located in the Friday Morning Club building, and thus was one and the same with the Variety Arts Center. Apparently neither did William when he posted this theatre, or he wouldn’t have listed it as being “closed, demolished”. The listing definitely needs an update. Thanks for digging up this happy news.

I’d say that the Times/Variety Arts has a bright future, being located in the new entertainment district that appears to be forming along south Figueroa Street. Now that we know it is the building of the Friday Morning Club, it seems likely that we could even find the name of the architect in the California Index at the L.A. Library web site.

kencmcintyre on July 14, 2006 at 5:05 pm

These 1941 photos are from the USC Archive. The Variety Arts Center still stands on 9th Street. That would make my post above inaccurate, which is nothing new:

kencmcintyre on September 17, 2005 at 2:25 pm

If the even numbers are on the east side of the street, going south, then this theater would be where the Holiday Inn is now, across from the Pantry and somewhat adjacent to the Staples Center.