Sunday, July 17, 2011

Los Angeles Theater

Los Angeles Theater
9" x 12" oil on panel

I just finished the 9" x 12" painting of the historic Los Angeles Theater at 615 N. Broadway in downtown LA. The theater was built in 1931 by H. L. Gumbiner, and was the last and most elaborate of the movie palaces built on Broadway.   Designed by S. Charles Lee in the French Baroque style, its majestic six-story main lobby, crystal chandeliers, and 2,000 seat auditorium recalls the glamour of 1930’s Hollywood.  The main floor was designed with eight aisles, so as to allow no more than six seats per row.  Although primarily built as a movie house, the Los Angeles had a full stage, orchestra pit and dressing rooms allowing live performances before and after the film.

The 1931 opening night of the Los Angeles Theater hosted the premier of Charles Chaplin's City Lights, while an estimated crowd of over 25,000 converged on Broadway hoping to get a glimpse of celebrities. The theater’s success, however, was short lived due to an inability to book first-run films from the major studios. The theater's creditors, including architect Lee, forced Gumbiner's company into bankruptcy only three months after the theater opened.  It was re-opened in 1939 and operated until the 1990’s when the dwindling downtown movie audience forced its closure.

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