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Fonda Theatre

Fonda Theatre

First Opened: 20th October 1926 (93 years ago)

Reopened: 10th February 1985

Former Names: Music Box Theatre, Columbia Music Box, CBS Lux Radio Theatre, Abbott’s Music Box, Guild Theatre, New Fox, Pix, Henry Fonda Theatre, Music Box@Fonda

Website: www.fondatheatre.com Open website in new window

Telephone: (323) 464-6269 Call (323) 464-6269

Address: 6126 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 Show address in Google Maps (new window)

Featured Photos

Overview

The Fonda opened in late 1926 as the Music Box Theatre, offering light-hearted musical comedy reviews. It was one of a flurry of theatres to open in Hollywood during 1926 and 1927. An open-air terrace was included above the lobby which catered for dancing and socializing, as well as illicit drinking. The theatre was designed by L.A.-based architects Morgan, Walls, & Clements.

1926 Opening
1926 Opening

Carter DeHaven, a stage and movie actor, opened the Music Box as a vaudeville revue theatre for the relatively modest cost of $500,000. His drive in building the Music Box was to “bring a bit of Times Square to Hollywood”, striving to get a “Ziegfeld flavor” into Los Angeles’ entertainment.

Despite being backed by investments from John Barrymore, John Gilbert, and King Vidor, and featuring artists such as Fanny Brice and Jack Dempsey, after less than a year the theatre switched to a legitimate operation with the U.S. West Coast premiere of Chicago starring Clark Gable and Nancy Carroll.

In 1936 the theatre became a radio studio for CBS, and was renamed as the Columbia Music Box and later the CBS Lux Radio Theatre. It then reverted to theatrical use in 1940.

Skouras-style 1940s exterior lobby
Skouras-style 1940s exterior lobby

In 1945 Fox West Coast Theatres purchased the theatre and subsequently remodeled it in a Streamline Moderne decor (the present Skouras-style entrance lobby dates from this time). The Spanish Colonial Revival façade was covered with sheet metal which persists to this day.

Films were shown in the modernized theatre (renamed the Guild Theatre) from the start of February 1945.

In 1948 CBS returned to the theatre for a time, then in 1954 it was reopened as the Fox Theatre, showing movies again.

In the Fall of 1959 the theatre was renamed as the Pix, after Pacific Theatres took it over from Fox West Coast. In 1975 the premiere of “Jaws” Link opens in new window was held at the theatre, then in 1976 the premiere of “Rocky” Link opens in new window. Latterly it tended to run Spanish-language films until its eventual closure in the mid-1980s.

The re-invented Auditorium
The re-invented Auditorium

In early 1985 the Nederlander Organization reopened the theatre as the Henry Fonda Theatre (Fonda had played a long-running engagement at the theatre) after a $1.2 million renovation, with a gala dedication ceremony on 10th February 1985 hosted by James Stewart and Debbie Reynolds. Total seating capacity was reported as 863.

The first production was a stage adaptation of one of Fonda’s favorite films, Twelve Angry Men, with a cast including veterans Jack Klugman, Howard Hesseman and Ken Kercheval. Later productions included Glengarry Glen Ross and Driving Miss Daisy.

In 2002 the theatre was leased to a group who wanted to return the theatre to its “roaring twenties” roots. The space was reinvented as a music venue called the Music Box@Fonda and whereas the Orchestra seats were removed and the floor leveled to the stage, other historic details were revealed after many years of being covered-up, such as the deep alcoves flanking the proscenium arch. The theatre enjoyed a long run as a highly successful music venue and nightclub until January 2012.

In March 2012 Goldenvoice took over the lease and changed the name back to the Fonda Theatre. The Fonda continues to be a popular and vibrant live entertainment venue in the heart of Hollywood. The Fonda was recently named top music venue in L.A. (number 1 out of 50) by Los Angeles music critics.

Movie, TV & Music Video Appearances

Movies

Television

Music Videos

Documentary

How do I visit the Fonda Theatre?

As of mid-2019 the Fonda Theatre does not offer tours however they have a packed schedule of live entertainment and concerts. Check out the Fonda Theatre’s event calendar Link opens in new window for events and online booking.

Further Reading

Online

Technical Information

Flying System
System Type Hemp house with pin rail on Stage Right fly floor
Grand Drape Motor-driven contour curtain operated Downstage Right
Grid Height 60ft
Stage Dimensions
Proscenium Height Approx 30ft
Proscenium Width 36ft 6in
Stage Depth 27ft 9in
Historic Photos & Documents

Historic files shown here may be subject to copyright; review our “Fair Use” statement here.

Photos of the Fonda Theatre

Jump to Photo Section:

  1. Auditorium - Balcony
  2. Auditorium - Orchestra
  3. Basement
  4. Exterior
  5. Lobbies
  6. Roof Terrace
  7. Stage
  8. VIP Booth
Auditorium - Balcony

The theatre’s balcony seating was left in place but upgraded during the renovations leading up to the theatre’s 2002 reopening as a live music and nightclub venue. The seats were upholstered with the theatre’s Music Box name. Towards the front of the balcony seating is VIP tables.

Auditorium - Orchestra

The Orchestra seating was removed in 2002 and the floor leveled up to the stage.

Basement

The Fonda Theatre’s basement contains all dressing rooms, with access to the stage via stairs at both Stage Left and Stage Right. Old access doors to the Orchestra Pit are still visible.

Exterior

The exterior of the theatre retains its 1940s sheet metal appearance over the original rooftop pavilion and with a blank blade sign.

Lobbies

The exterior lobby was originally visible from the Mezzanine level. The interior lobby is now a bar space, and at one point the inner lobby was standee space at the rear of the Orchestra seating.

Roof Terrace

The roof terrace has existed in one form or another since the theatre’s opening in 1927. During Prohibition, illicit booze was served from the pavilion fronting onto Hollywood Boulevard. The roof terrace was re-opened to patrons when the theatre operated as the Music Box@Fonda starting in 2002.

Stage

The stage is now at the same level as the old Orchestra seating area however decking is used to create a stage higher than the audience. The stage is notable for being one of Los Angeles’ last remaining hemp houses, with most overhead linesets manually operated from the Fly Floor located Stage Right.

The green velour contour curtain, electrically operated, is still operative.

VIP Booth

The VIP Booth, located one level up at the rear of the Balcony, is the theatre’s original Projection Booth. There is still a secondary door which exits out to the roof terrace.



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