Since its opening on June 4th 1930, the Hollywood Pantages Theatre has been one of the most iconic landmarks on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Located at Hollywood and Vine, it was designed by B. Marcus Priteca. It was the last theater built by the vaudeville impresario Alexander Pantages.
Alexander Pantages was a Greek American vaudeville and early motion picture producer who created a large and powerful circuit of theatres. At the height of his empire, he owned or operated 84 theatres across the United States and Canada.
The Pantages Theatre Circuit had been built on vaudeville, and the new Hollywood theater programmed first-run movies alternating through the day with vaudeville acts for its first two years. But like other theaters during the Great Depression, it was forced to economize and thereafter operated primarily as a movie theater, though live entertainment was presented occasionally.
Pantages sold the Hollywood landmark in 1932 to Fox West Coast Theaters. In 1949, Howard Hughes acquired the Hollywood Pantages for his RKO Theatre Circuit and moved his personal offices to the building’s second floor. It has been said that the ghost of Howard Hughes appears in the late hours.
Starting in 1953, television cameras brought the Oscars – and Hollywood Pantages Theatre – to America’s living rooms. Its hosts included such notables as Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis. Award recipients include Frank Sinatra, and Grace Kelly just a year before she became Princess Grace of Monaco
The Hollywood Pantages closed as a movie theater in January, 1977, and re-opened the following month with Bubbling Brown Sugar, the first of the many stage productions that have since become its regular fare. The theatre has presented large-scale Broadway musicals such as Disney’s The Lion King, and hosted the long-running Los Angeles production of the Broadway musical Wicked. These days it’s one of Los Angeles’ leading homes of legitimate theatre (the five highest-grossing weeks in L.A.’s theatrical history were all shows at the Pantages) and a favorite “location” for tv shows, movies and music videos.
As a popular location for filming movies, the Pantages Theatre has appeared in the 1980 film The Jazz Singer and in Michael Jackson’s 1995 video “You Are Not Alone”. Rickie Lee Jones’s 1979 self-titled debut album includes a reference to the Pantages in her song “Chuck E.’s In Love”.
While the use of the Hollywood Pantages Theatre may have changed over the years, the theatre does not appear all that different today. The theater underwent a $10-million restoration and upgrade in 2000 to recapture its 1930 look and luxury.
I recommend that when you are planning a visit to Los Angeles, that you check the Hollywood Pantages Theatre website to see what show will be playing during your visit and obtain tickets. The performances are world class and the majesty of the theatre is something unequaled in modern times. It is located at 6233 Hollywood Blvd, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.