warner brothers theater
Hollywood Attractions,  LA Urban Legends

The Haunted Theatre on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Warner Pacific Theater

There are at least two venues on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that are said to be haunted. The first that we will talk about is the Hollywood Pacific Theatre, aka the Warner Pacific Theatre or the Warner Brothers Theatre at 6433  Hollywood Blvd.  Not only is it haunted, but a former usher took revenge on the theatre in a fabulous way.

You won’t miss the towers of the theatre while you are on the Walk of Fame but it is also unlikely you will be able to go inside it on your visit to Hollywood unless you manage to get a private tour.  If you’re afraid of ghosts it’s just as well.  It has been haunted since it opened in 1928.

The Italianate beaux arts building was said to be the largest theatre in LA and one of the first equipped with sound to be able to show “talkies”.  The theatre was built by the Warner Bros who also positioned the radio transmitter towers of their station KFWB on top of the building where they remain to this day.  Though covered by the letters spelling PACIFIC the original WARNERS letting can still be seen inside the towers.

The theatre closed its doors as a full-time cinema on August 15, 1994, not so much due to its ghost as the structural damage done to it from the construction of the Hollywood Subway Red Line and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.  The theatre was in use for other events up until about 2013 and has been shuttered ever since.

Though the theatre has been designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, the owner feels the cost of restoration of the building is cost prohibitive.  Many fear the great old theatre is in danger of demolition and have been trying to save it.

The Ghost of the Warner Pacific Theatre

In 1927, the Warner Brothers, Harry, Sam, Albert and Jack, were very busy.  They risked everything making the first talkie, The Jazz Singer at the same time they were busy building the largest movie theatre in Hollywood.

Sam was deeply involved with both projects. He was a key person in the development of sound and personally installed the sound system in the new theatre as well.  Working on both the theatre and the first talking movie, he got little rest.

When it became obvious that the theater wasn’t going to be finished in time for the film’s premiere, Sam Warner cursed at the theater, while in the lobby.   He never got to see the New York premiere of their revolutionary film or the completion of the theatre he hoped would be ready for the movie’s premier. Twenty-four hours before the first showing of The Jazz Singer on Oct. 1927, Sam Warner suffered a brain hemorrhage and died in Los Angeles.

Soon after the opening of the Warner Pacific Theater April 29,1928, the apparition of Sam Warner was seen going about his business in the theater, in the upstairs offices and pacing the lobby. His presence in the theatre has been noted ever since.  The cleaning crew has reported seeing Sam’s figure walk across the lobby, push the elevator button and take it up to the second floor.  They were terrified, but they also wondered why an apparition would bother with the elevator!  Security personnel in recent times up to the theatre’s closing are said to accept Sam’s presence as part of being in the building.  They too report seeing him take the elevator and say when it is quiet they can hear him in his upstairs office moving chairs, etc.

Perhaps it is Sam’s wish more than anything that has kept the building from being demolished so long after it was determined structurally unsafe back in 1994.

An Ushers Revenge at the Hollywood Pacific Theatre

Hollywood pacific theater
Carol Burnett’s star sits in front of the Warner Pacific Theatre as poetic justice

This has to be my favorite tale about the Pacific Theatre, where a former usher had the last word in a big way decades later.

In the 1950s, a young usherette was working when the theater was showing Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951). Having already seen the film, she advised two patrons arriving during the last ten minutes of a showing to wait until the beginning of the next showing to avoid spoiling the ending for them.

The manager observed this, fired her on the spot and publicly humiliated her by stripping the epaulettes from her uniform in front of everyone. Two decades later, in the 1970s, the young woman achieved TV stardom as Carol Burnett. When the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce offered her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to recognize her accomplishments, she said she wanted it placed in front of the theatre that humiliated her… the Warner Pacific Theatre.

In closing, you may not be able to get into the Hollywood Pacific Theatre to see just how grand it once way, but I think you should put it on your list of places that you must see while on the Hollywood Walk of Fame just to get your picture taken with Carol Burnett’s star.  And then each time the world kicks you in the teeth pull it out to remind yourself of how best to settle the score!  You can find Carol Burnett’s star on the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Wilcox.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Hollywood!  Be sure to check some of the other things to do on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in Hollywood in our Hollywood Attractions category.

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