LaShell Theater

5384 Long Beach Boulevard,
Long Beach, CA 90805

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Showing 21 comments

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm

The photo information with the Long Beach Digital Archives' copy of the picture of the Oriental Theatre discussed in earlier comments gives the correct address of 5384 Long Beach Boulevard. That means that Oriental Theatre and Murray’s Theatre (the name on the side of the stage house) are aka’s for the La Shell. It was the L.A.Public Library that got the Oriental’s address wrong, as I’d suspected (although their digital copy is bigger and a bit clearer than the copy Long Beach shows.) Our listing for the Oriental Theatre is redundant and should be deleted.

Thanks for letting us know about the archive, DebraLea.

DebraLea on October 30, 2013 at 4:57 am

more info can be found in the LB Public Library Digital Archives. in ‘Theaters'for pic’s. and the History Annex, and Community Information 'theaters’ lists 54 theaters in Long Beach.

whaering on April 15, 2012 at 11:35 am

Does anyone remember the double features, news reels, cartoons, and serials and the cheap prices? Seems like there was a 12,5 cent price for a while? Good memories – remember the Abbott and Costello movies and the war movies.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm

The photo would confirm that the La Shell was built as a theater, though.

I really don’t see how the Oriental could have been at the address the library gives. If they’d said 4321, where there is now a building built in 1948, it would be plausible, but the spot they say it was in there’s only that 1924 building that couldn’t possibly have been a theater. If there had been a theater there, and it had been demolished and the stores in front preserved and reduced to one story, then the Assessor’s office would have given an effectively-built date for it.

kencmcintyre on March 21, 2009 at 6:00 pm

If you’re correct the new listing would have to be deleted and Oriental given as an AKA for this theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 21, 2009 at 5:58 pm

The stage house of the La Shell was apparently removed in the 1933 rebuilding, after the earthquake. The Southwest Builder & Contractor article said that the back of the building and stage house were to be rebuilt, but the La Shells must have decided to leave the stage house off. I still think it’s most likely that the library got the address wrong. Their photo collection is full of such errors.

The buildings actually look remarkably similar to me. The four wide second floor windows of the old building could have easily been narrowed into the eight windows of the La Shell, and the La Shell’s tower was undoubtedly part of the 3828 sq. ft. 1939 addition. That’s probably when the building got its Art Deco look.

kencmcintyre on March 21, 2009 at 4:58 pm

I thought about that Joe, but the two buildings appear dissimilar. Did you see the large add-on in the back of the Oriental? I don’t think that was ever part of the LaShell.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 21, 2009 at 4:55 pm

The L.A. Library has this view of the La Shell, dated 1947.

The library also has this 1920’s photo, unearthed by ken mc, which depicts an Oriental Theatre, identified by the library as being at 5341 Long Beach Boulevard, which would have been across the street and down a block from the La Shell. Could the library have gotten the address wrong? Is it possible that Oriental was an earlier name of the La Shell?

The L.A. County Assessor’s office gives the construction date of the building on the parcel where the Oriental should have been as 1924, but that building bears no resemblance to a theater.

William on October 31, 2008 at 7:16 am

The stage house is long gone from the building.

William on October 29, 2008 at 2:58 pm

or the former theatre.

William on October 29, 2008 at 2:46 pm

The theatre was located between Gloria’s Salon and Van’s Nails. And with your info from LoopNet it looks like it was turned into a warehouse. That’s why there is a large door on the rear of the house.

William on October 29, 2008 at 2:38 pm

On the back of the building there is a one large loading door on the south end of the building and a small door on the north end of the building. And something filled in in the center between. On some small size theatres there would be a small equipment door to get to the speakers, since the screen frame and curtains were up againist the front of the house.

William on October 29, 2008 at 2:28 pm

The address should be changed to 5384 Long Beach Blvd. . The theatre is still there, from the shots you did on Oct. 11th, 2008. It was only a small 450 seat house. Since the theatre was small it had a small lobby and it could fit in the current building with that alley behind the house. The barbershop building is another building all together. You should check to see if there are exit type doors or what would have been exit doors there.

morskajak on October 29, 2008 at 2:06 pm

We moved from No. Long Beach in 1948. Used to go to the LaShell fairly often, though the only movies that I really can remember are two. They were, what I believe was called, Anthony and Cleopatra, the first color movie I can remember. The other was about a concert pianist in b & w. The score used Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto quite a bit. Can’t remember the name.

I was driving around No. Long Beach looking for the old theater a couple years ago, but didn’t have any luck finding it. No wonder, what with all the changes to the facade. Besides, I was looking on the wrong streets. Probably drove past it several times. Anyway, thanks to the listers who sent photos. Brings back old memories. Now if I could find some information on Shady Acres Gold Course which was also on Long Beach Blvd.

Bill Herr

kencmcintyre on October 11, 2008 at 11:42 pm

Here are two photos taken today. I think the smaller building with the barbershop replaced the half of the building that contained the theater.

kencmcintyre on October 11, 2008 at 9:27 am

If the theater took up the whole block, I suppose what I photographed last year was half of the building. Mabe it should be closed/partially demolished.

kencmcintyre on June 13, 2007 at 6:36 pm

A story in the LA Times dated 8/2/59 describes a play being put on at this theater by the LaShell Players. The address is given as 5384 Long Beach Blvd, which would correspond with my observation above. So the theater is closed but not demolished.

The article goes on to say that one of the actors put on a one man show at the Oriental Theater, which was torn down to build the LaShell. The article further states that the movie theater closed as a victim of television. The chronology would be movie theater, play house and then retail.

kencmcintyre on June 13, 2007 at 9:22 am

It could be demolished if there were two similar wings for the building in the photo above. The building on the corner of LB Blvd looks remarkably similar to the 1947 photo above, but that address is a little north of 5364. I took some photos which I will post soon. Current occupants are a beauty salon and furniture store.

dougsarvis on February 21, 2004 at 9:50 pm

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m the only person who remembers the was a small place that probably never did really well.
My parents tell me that it had been there since the mide 1930’s…but it was closed in about 1955…sat vacant for years before being turned into a furniture store..

The only thing i remember seeing there was The Fighting O'Flynn(1949) with Doug Fairbanks JR.