One of the treasures in Hollywood from the roaring twenties is The Fonda Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. In its 92 years of existence it has gone full circle from a music venue showing revues, to a legitimate theatre, to films and back to being one of LA’s top music venues. Taking in a concert at The Fonda Theatre should be on your list of things to do in Los Angeles.
Over the decades the theatre has been the Carter DeHaven Music Box Theatre, the Guild Theatre, the Fox Theatre, and and the Pix Theatre. The 31,000 square foot Spanish Colonial Revival style theatre has live events, films, and radio broadcasts.
The Carter DeHaven Music Box opened On October 18, 1926, with a revue called Fancy. The Music Box switched from revues to legitimate theater in 1927 with the west coast première of Chicago, starring Clark Gable and Nancy Carroll. The theatre also featured such legendary performers as Fanny Brice, Jean Harlow, James Cagney and Marlene Dietrich.
Fox West Coast purchased the theatre in 1945 and remodeled it for film exhibition and covered the Spanish Colonial Revival façade with sheet metal. When it re-opened in February 1945, the theatre showed movies for 32 years; first as the Guild Theatre, then as the Fox Theatre, and finally as the Pix Theatre, before closing its doors in 1977.
In 1985, the house was re-opened as a legitimate theater and named in honor of film and stage actor Henry Fonda. In ensuing years, productions such as the Pulitzer Prize winning play Glengarry Glen Ross, and Driving Miss Daisy graced the stage.
In the 1980s, the Spanish Colonial-style venue was renamed as the Henry Fonda Theater before undergoing renovations and reopening in the 2007 as the Music Box at the Fonda. In 2010, the name was shortened to the Music Box after the place was refurbished with glittery new fixtures and mural-size classical-style paintings. In 2012, there was yet another change, with the local concert promoters Goldenvoice taking over the Music Box and renaming it the Fonda Theatre.
Efforts to restore the theater to its Roaring Twenties glory began in 2002, culminating in the original name being placed back on the marquee. In 2012, Goldenvoice took over the Music Box and changed the name back to The Fonda Theatre. It re-opened on March 17th, 2012 with a performance by FEED ME with Teeth. Other notable performers include The Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, Trey Anastasio Band, Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, Radiohead, Stevie Wonder, Black Crowes, Afro Jack, Esperanza Spalding, Beach House, Alabama Shakes, and Mogwai to name a few.
Currently, the Fonda is an all ages venue that hosts concerts, dance nights, awards shows and special events. The Kills, Gogol Bordello, Cults, the Dresden Dolls, Gang of Four, Ariel Pink, Os Mutantes, Television, Concrete Blonde, Jenny & Johnny, the New York Dolls and Turbonegro are among the diverse musicians who’ve graced the theater’s large stage. The Fonda Theater was named the top venue in Los Angeles by LA Weekly in 2015.
My one wish with the Fonda Theatre is that it would remove the sheet metal false front that was added over the years covering the Spanish Colonial facade. Smoking is permitted only on the upstairs outdoors patio. The theater has several full bars. All ages. Street and lot parking.
For more information, visit the Fonda Theatre website. It is located at 6125 Hollywood Blvd.