Picfair Theatre

5879 W. Pico Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90019

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Century Theatres, General Cinema Corp., Loew's Inc.

Styles: Art Deco

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Picfair Theatre

The Pickfair Theatre was a neighborhood theatre, owned and operated in the 1940’s by Joseph Moritz. It opened January 24, 1941 with Wallace Beery in “Wyoming” & Myrna Loy in “Third Finger, Left Hand”. The theatre became part of a four theatre booking combine known as the ‘Academy of Proven Hits’, playing reissued double bill features, many of which were Academy Award winning films. The theatre was managed by James H. Nicholson prior to his forming American Releasing Corporation, which later became American International Pictures. It was closed on September 5, 1983 with Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie” & Phoebe Gates in “Private School”. It became a live music venue in April 1984 which closed in August 1984.

It became a swap meet for several years and was destroyed by fire in the 1992 riots.

Contributed by Ray Martinez, Milt Moritz

Recent comments (view all 36 comments)

kencmcintyre on August 23, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Here is a profile from the LA Times in October 1977:

PICFAIR-5879 W. Pico Blvd at Fairfax, Los Angeles 933-5609

The Picfair has been for years a popular neighborhood theater. In 1968, the Loews chain bought it and financed $100,000 worth of remodeling, including a modern marquee, new upholstery, air conditioning and other assorted accoutrements. Attendance, however, began to drop off and the theater went through a series of programming changes, from foreign films to X-rated. Recently it was taken over by Jamiel Cetin, with “great faith in its possibilities” said Cetin, “because of its location central to Century City, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and the Santa Monica Freeway.”

The theater had developed a rowdy reputation, with occasional brawls breaking out inside. But now the customers and the fare are different. “We are moving towards a cultural policy”, said Cetin, “retrospectives of classic foreign and American films, festivals devoted to an era or a director as well as first-run foreign films.” Features have included Louis Malle’s “Black Moon”, Satyajit Ray’s “Distant Thunder”, “The African Queen”, “The Lion in Winter”, Nureyev and Fonteyn in the Bolshoi’s “Romeo and Juliet”, and the Los Angeles premiere of Joel Seria’s “The Cookies of Pont-Aven”.

“I want to create a cultural film center for Los Angeles”, said Cetin, “bringing the best foreign films I can obtain, as well as musicals and ballet.”

kencmcintyre on November 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Here is a February 1971 ad for an Andy Warhol film at the Picfair:

kencmcintyre on March 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

This appears to be the Picfair after the riots in 1992:

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 10, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Picture says it all ken mc.thanks.

ChasSmith on March 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I was just watching a bad DVD transfer of a 1962 film “The Devil’s Hand”, and in one location shot near the end you can see the PICFAIR marquee in the background. I’d lived in L.A. during the ‘70s and '80s and remembered the name Picfair, but I didn’t recall whether I knew it as the name of a theater, a neighborhood, or whatever. If I had the means to grab a frame of that shot, I’d post it, but at the moment I don’t. If you’re watching the film, it’s just a minute or two before the end.

mohixx on June 18, 2011 at 12:13 am

The comment by the projectionist is mostly correct. It was opened around 1940 or 1941.It was built by Joe De Bell. It was on north side of Pico just west of Fairfax. thus the name PICFAIR. There was a sound proof crying room upstairs where mothers could take their crying children and watch the movie. The first ushers were Jimmy Lang & Alan Mc Farlane and they wore uniforms. The customer who made the biggest stir at the theatre was the boxer Billy Conn shortly after he almost beat Joe Louis, He was brought there by Robert Taylor & Barbara Stanwyck, who were ignored by the customers who flocked around Billy Conn. There was a coin operated popcorn machine in the lobby,the price for a bag was 10 cents. There was a sweet shop next door that also sold sandwiches and was operated by Norman & Rose Stengel, she was the sister of Nina Mohi. The cashier was Nina Mohi was wife of Ben Mohi she was also my mother. The theatre when opened was owned and operated solely by Ben Mohi, an individual who was also the manager and it was sold to Arkoff & Nicholson in the mid forties.

I should know the above facts as Ben Mohi was my father and I spent a great deal of time in the theatre.

Gary Mohi

blacula on July 11, 2013 at 9:08 pm

At one point it became a swap meet and the facade of the building was covered. After the riots burned the building, you could see the marquee and the P sign. Behind the P were lights that flashed on and off. I went to the children’s film matinees during the summer in the ‘70s. Remember Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Pippi Longstocking the most. It was already run down by then. We named our neighborhood association Picfair Village after it.

lirwin on November 17, 2015 at 9:47 am

The Joseph Moritz mentioned in the caption was the father of Milton Moritz, president of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) and the grandfather of Neil Moritz, producer of the “Fast and Furious” movies.

rivest266 on August 9, 2016 at 3:00 pm

January 24th, 1941 grand opening ad in photo section.

dallasmovietheaters on October 31, 2020 at 6:13 am

The Picfair closed September 5, 1983 with a double feature of “Tootsie” and “Private School.” In April of 1984, the Picfair became a live music venue closing in August that same year.

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