"If you ever need a reminder that the City of Los Angeles worships entertainment, come here . . . the cathedrals and duomos of Europe were dedicated to the man upstairs, the Los Angeles Theatre is a no-less-resplendent celebration of something greater.”
Indeed the breathtaking Los Angeles Theatre, the city’s namesake venue, and perhaps the most spectacular and elaborate Baroque theatre in the country, was the last and most extravagant of the ornate movie palaces built on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles and opened on January 30th 1931.
Designed by S. Charles Lee with French Baroque-inspired décor, it is the last great movie palace built downtown on Broadway. Independent theatre operator H. L. Gumbiner ensured the success of his new theatre by making it as lavish and innovative as possible, with architect S. Charles Lee delivering the latest innovations in theater design: a working fountain in the lobby, a children’s playroom, a full restaurant and ballroom, crying rooms where mothers could take their children, a radio broadcast studio, equipment for widescreen films, electric seat indicators for the ushers, even a periscope and prism system to relay the film image down into the basement lounges. It’s rumored that Charlie Chaplin contributed to financing the completion of the theater so that his new film, City Lights, could premiere on schedule—an event that brought on a once-in-a- lifetime photo op in which the comic genius appeared side by side with Albert Einstein in the Los Angeles’ grand lobby. That moment is eternally depicted for patrons in an oversized photo reproduction hung near the Los Angeles Theatre’s front entrance.
And thanks to preservationist and philanthropist Ezat Delijani’s 1987 favor to then mayor Tom Bradley to save it from the wrecking ball, the experience of walking into the Los Angeles Theatre is, still, just as awe inspiring, magnificent, and unlike anything else in all of Los Angeles. Meticulously preserved with its stunning Baroque architecture, monumental, free-standing columned facade, grand chandeliers, seating on multiple levels, concert lighting system, flowing staircases, grand ballroom, elegant facilities and amenities, balustrades and red carpet intact, plus it’s technical upgrades. They just don’t make theatres like this anymore.
The incomparable Los Angeles Theatre is now available for concerts, weddings, and special events.