rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

For Fans of Classic Los Angeles Architecture.

Before he Sid Grauman built his famous Hollywood Boulevard theatres, the Egyptian and the Chinese, he was already the leading theatre owner in downtown Los Angeles. In 1918, he built what was then the most spectacular theatre on Broadway, the Million Dollar.

Although the theatre is not currently in use, it does survive largely intact. Its ornate Spanish Chirriguresque (sp?) entrance can be glimpsed in many movies. It is across the street from the Bradbury Building, which was the setting of Jake Gittes office in Chinatown. Several scenes in Blade Runner, also occur in the Bradbury Building, and the Million Dollar can be glimpsed briefly in some of them.

For many years, beginning in the late 1950s, the Million Dollar was the principal Spanish language theatre in Los Angeles, and, about one week a month, Mexican vaudeville acts would share the bill with a popular Mexican movie. It was largely because of the large hispanophonic population of Los Angeles, and the limited availability of Spanish language television in the area, that the large movie theatres of Broadway survived as long as they did. It wasn't until the 1980s, when the historically Mexican American population of central L. A. began to be replaced by immigrants from central america and Asia, and cable television began to provide more channels in Spanish, that most of the theatres were closed.

I have found no good pictures of the interior of the Million Dollar on the Internet, but the Art Search program of Australian National University has a collection of photographs of Los Angeles, and among them, fifteen excellent pictures of the exterior of the Million Dollar building. They are in two groups, with six pictures here, and a further nine pictures here. These are very large files, and will take a while to load if, like me, you are on a dial up connection, but they are worth the wait. Many of them show the ornate sculpted decoration in great detail. Just as a preview of what you will find in this collection, I swiped and downsized this picture of one of the theatre's buffalo gargoyles from the site.

Gargoyle, Million Dollar Theatre, Los Angeles, 1918.

(I'm sorry my links don't open in new windows, but I was never able to get that bit of code to work, and now I've lost it. Technodoltish and disorganized!)

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