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Palace Theatre

Palace Theatre

First Opened: 26th June 1911 (108 years ago)

Former Names: Orpheum, Broadway Palace, Fox Palace, News Palace, Palace Newsreel Theatre

Status: Open for special events and filming

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

Telephone: (213) 553-4567 Call (213) 553-4567

Address: 630 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014 Show address in Google Maps (new window)

Featured Photos

Overview

The Palace theatre was built as a vaudeville house and opened in June 1911 as the Orpheum Theatre. Designed by G. Albert Lansburgh (assisted by Robert Brown Young) in a French Renaissance style, it is the oldest remaining theatre from the original Orpheum vaudeville circuit. The Palace played host to vaudeville stars such as Al Jolson, Harry Houdini, Sarah Bernhardt and the Marx brothers.

3-level Auditorium in 1911
3-level Auditorium in 1911

Seating capacity at the time of opening was just under 2,000, spread across three levels. A separate entrance at the north end of the building led to the Gallery which had its own ticket booth. The Gallery was not connected with the rest of the theatre and had its own restrooms.

When the Palace was being designed, theatre fire safety was of paramount concern. A few years previously there had been a devastating fire at the Iroquois theatre in Chicago with a loss of life of over 600. The Palace’s auditorium was afforded 22 fire exits and the building boasted one of Los Angeles’ first fire sprinkler systems.

The auditorium is both elegant and intimate, no seat more than 80ft from the stage, finished in a French Renaissance style with subdued shades of gold, pink and blue/green. Paintings of whimsical girls feature in the ceiling murals, and elaborate plasterwork surrounds the proscenium arch and surmounts the decoration on the flanking side walls. Lansburgh employed innovative recessed lighting to highlight the ceiling features which appeared to glow without obvious light source.

Building Facade in 1911
Building Façade in 1911

The theatre’s façade is particularly grand and is a combination of brick and multi-colored terracotta loosely styled after a Florentine Renaissance palazzo, featuring sculptures of the four muses of Vaudeville (Comedy, Dance, Drama, and Music) sculpted by Domingo Mora and executed by the Gladding McBean Tile Company. The original light-up “ORPHEUM” lettering is still visible on the façade above the marquee.

Lansburgh designed the building with retail space at street level flanking the theatre’s main entrance, and office space on multiple levels facing onto Broadway. The two-story top level, with its huge double-height windows and lofty outlook, is a favorite for movie location shoots. Entrance to the office space is from the alley at the south side of the theatre, where two original manually-operated elevators are still to be found.

The New Orpheum, opened 1926
The New Orpheum, opened 1926

In February 1926 a new-and-improved Orpheum Theatre, also designed by Lansburgh, opened down the street on Broadway, seeing this theatre renamed as the Broadway Palace – often suffixed by “the old Orpheum”. The Orpheum Circuit continued managing the Palace but in July 1926 announced a change in programming to a movie-only policy. The “big-picture plan” was again announced in mid-October 1926 so it perhaps took some time to institute the new policy. The theatre limped along for several years and when it was sold in August 1928 to Harry Strere of Pacific Amusement Co., it was reported by Variety Link opens in new window as “Orpheum Loses Lemon”. A year later, in September 1929, Fox West Coast Theaters was announced as having taken over the theatre which would reopen on 16th October 1929 as the Fox Palace.

Fox spent $150,000 on “radical wrecking and reconstruction” of the theatre over a short 10-day period from 6th to 16th October 1929. The major change was removal of the auditorium’s boxes which were deemed impractical for viewing the movie screen. The boxes were replaced with large oil paintings depicting French-style pastoral scenes, painted by Los Angeles artist Anthony Heinsbergen. The theatre was wired for sound and gained an enlarged projection booth, in addition to the neon marquee which is still in place today above the theatre’s entrance. Auditorium seating was replaced and reconfigured however the Gallery bench seating was not replaced and could not have been popular, nor appropriate, for a movie audience.

In late 1929 pastoral paintings replaced the auditorium boxes
In late 1929 pastoral paintings replaced the auditorium boxes

In 1939 the Palace became a newsreel theatre and was renamed the News Palace, later the Palace Newsreel. Some first-run movie engagements were shown in the mid-1940s, such as Best Years Of Our Lives in 1946, however the Palace remained predominantly a newsreel theatre.

Metropolitan Theatres took over in 1949 and while there were some first-run screenings, the Palace gradually fell into playing double features and low-grade “B”-movies (a.k.a. a grindhouse) through the 1950s and 1960s. Later it became a home for Spanish-language films from Mexico and occasionally featured stage shows along with the films.

Skouras-style EXIT sign
1940s Skouras-style exit sign

At some point in the 1940s, likely around 1946 when Fox retried first-run screenings, the theatre’s public areas underwent a revamp. The 1940s “Skouras-style” changes are still in place today, featuring fixtures and fittings common to other Fox West Coast theatres such as hanging lights. The Gallery was also closed at this time.

Despite something of a revival in the 1990s, thanks to renewed interest from preservationists and Hollywood studios, the Palace could not sustain itself financially and it closed in 2000.

The Delijani family bought the building in 2004 and oversaw a cleaning of the façade in 2007. In June 2011, following a $1 million restoration, the Palace reopened as a special events venue under the management of the Broadway Theatre Group Link opens in new window, who also manage the Tower, Los Angeles and State theatres on Broadway.

Of particular interest backstage is the center stage trap[door], specially built for Harry Houdini and affectionately known as the “Houdini Trap”. When Houdini performed his stage magic at the Palace an ambulance was kept parked on the curb outside the theatre in case of emergency.

The original Ladies Lounge, overlooking the theatre entrance
The original Ladies Lounge, overlooking the theatre entrance

The Ladies Power Room was located above the inner lobby and featured windows looking down onto the entrance lobby so that ladies could look out for their “date” arriving. In 1911 women were not permitted to go to the theatre without being escorted, nor were they permitted to travel with a young man without a chaperone. The overlooking windows of the Ladies Powder Room protected against these social pitfalls. This space was opened-up in the 1940s revamp and is now generally used as a pop-up bar.

The Palace has been used numerous times as a filming location. Notable movies include Bette Midler’s Gypsy (1993) and Dreamgirls (2006), for which the theatre’s original 1911 auditorium boxes were recreated.

Part of the 1983 video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller was filmed outside the theatre; more recently “Weird Al” Yankovic recorded Tacky, his take on Pharrell Williams’ Happy, in the vacant office space above the theatre, the original 1911 elevators, and the theatre itself. In 2019 Toyota filmed a commercial at the theatre.

Movie, TV & Music Video Appearances

Movies

Television

Music Videos

Documentary

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Listed/Landmark Building Status

How do I visit the Palace Theatre?

As of May 2017 The Palace does not offer theatre tours. Instead you may wish to check out the theatre’s website Link opens in new window to see upcoming events scheduled at The Palace.

The Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats program generally uses the theatre as a venue for screening classic films in June each year. Pre-screening Backstage tours are often available but very limited in numbers and fill-up quickly. Check out the Last Remaining Seats website Link opens in new window for schedule and more information.

Cinespia occasionally hold movie screenings at the Palace Theatre, particularly during the winter months. Check the Cinespia website Link opens in new window for upcoming events and more info. Other promoters who sometimes run events at the theatre are Spaceland Presents Link opens in new window and the Secret Movie Club Link opens in new window.

The theatre is an active participant in Councilmember Jose Huizar’s annual Night On Broadway event (usually the last Saturday in January) when the theatre is opened-up to the public for free and hosts a variety of live entertainment programming. Check out the Night On Broadway website Link opens in new window for more details.


Upcoming Special Events
** CANCELED ** Tigran Hamasyan

** CANCELED ** Tigran Hamasyan (11th April 2020, 8pm)

** THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED **

Rum & Humble + Spaceland Presents

Tigran Hamasyan at The Palace Theatre

ON SALE NOW, TICKETS MOVING FAST, this will sellout!

Doors 7pm, Show 8pm. Tickets $35 - $85.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window




** CANCELED ** Norm Macdonald

** CANCELED ** Norm Macdonald (1st May 2020, 8pm)

** THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED **

Norm Macdonald is best known for his 4 year stint on Saturday Night live where Chevy Chase noted he was the best anchor to ever grace the chair. He is a favorite guest on Late Night shows, having performed the final stand-up set ever on David Letterman. Mr. Letterman referred to Norm as the funniest man in the world. Conan O’Brien also lists Norm as his favorite guest.

After leaving SNL, Norm starred in 2 movies, one being the cult classic “Dirty Work” and also appears in many Adam Sandler films, including his first “Billy Madison”, where Norm played Adam’s best friend. Norm also starred in 3 television series. In 2015 he was a judge on “Last Comic Standing” as well as portraying Colonel Sanders in an avant-garde series of spots for KFC.

His tour-de force anti comedy roast of Bob Saget became an instant classic, as well as the five-minute “Moth Joke” on Conan which received a full one-minute laugh. His most recent credits include voiceover work for Activision Blizzard’s “Skylanders Academy”, Adult Swim’s “Mike Tyson Mysteries” and guest starring in Netflix’s original series “Girlboss”. In 2017, Norm released his own special titled “Norm Macdonald: Hitler’s Dog Gossip & Trickery” and currently hosts “Norm Macdonald has a Show,” both currently streaming on Netflix.

It is still Norm’s stand-up which is his pure gift. His 2011 Comedy Special “Me Doing Stand-up” was hailed by The Guardian as one of the best Stand-up Specials of all time and Comedy Central name him in their top 100 comedians of all time. Norm retires all material he has used on specials and guarantees that no two shows will ever be identical. If you know Norm Macdonald, but do not know his stand-up, you do not know him. He is a stand-up comedian who must be seen to be believed.

Tickets $35 to $45. This event is part of Netflix Is A Joke Fest Link opens in new window running at various venues throughout Los Angeles from 27th April to 3rd May.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window




** CANCELED ** The House Of Love

** CANCELED ** The House Of Love (23rd May 2020, 8pm)

** THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED **

The House of Love return to Los Angeles to Celebrate 30 years @ Palace Theatre.

In November 2018, The band played a UK tour culminating with a sold out show at the London Roundhouse, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their much acclaimed self-titled debut album, which was released on Creation Records in 1988. A special edition of the album with many extra unheard tracks was released by Cherry Red Records to coincide.

Doors 6:30pm. Show 8pm. Tickets $35 - $70. This event is all ages.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window




Greg Dulli

Greg Dulli (28th May 2020, 8pm)

Without desire, most of the world’s problems would be solved and it would be a miserable place to live. For the last 30 years, Greg Dulli has been the poet laureate of the bizarre whims and cruel tangents of desire. A foremost authority on the sell-your-soul rewards of carnal lust, the high voltage epiphanies of chemical enhancement, and the serotonin lows left in their wake. The front man of the Afghan Whigs has long been on a first-name basis with his demons, most of whom eventually relented and let him pour them a shot. But then there are the known unknowns at the heart of our nature, the intractable difficulties of love and death, and the recurring human desire for survival and rebirth.

Tickets $19 to $117. This event is all ages.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window




Mac DeMarco & Jonathan Richman with Tommy Larkins

Mac DeMarco & Jonathan Richman with Tommy Larkins (20th June 2020, 8pm)

Before you ancients out there turn your heads and scoff at the premise of a twenty-something rock-and-roll goofball calling himself an old-anything, consider this: said perpetrator, he who answers to the name Mac DeMarco, has spent the better part of his time thus far writing, recording, and releasing an album of his own music pretty much every calendar flip, and pretty much on his own. The fresh meat you’re now feasting on, This Old Dog, makes for his fifth in just over half a decade—bringing the total to 3 LPs and 2 EPs. According to the DMV, MacBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco is 26. But in working-dog years, ol’ Mac here could easily qualify for social security. To stay gold, turns out all he needed was some new tricks.

Jonathan Richman has been writing music, recording and touring for most of his life, gathering the loyalty of fans and fellow artists with his warmth, humor and insightful lyrics. In the early 1970s he formed the Modern Lovers, a major progenitor of punk music. Tommy Larkins was in the groups Naked Prey, Giant Sand and other popular bands in Tucson, Arizona. Jonathan and Tommy continue to record, write music together and tour across the US. Tommy’s drumming along with Jonathan’s guitar and singing create a live experience that is hard to forget.

Doors 7pm, Show 8pm. Tickets $39.50 to $49.50.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window

Further Reading

Online

Books

Technical Information

Flying System
Flying System
Mixture of hemp and counterweight linesets mostly operatred Stage Right
Grid Height
68ft
Linesets
15
General Information
Seating Capacity (Gallery)
645 (Gallery level is no longer in use)
Seating Capacity (Mezzanine)
460 (originally 389)
Seating Capacity (Orchestra)
608 (originally 774)
Stage Dimensions
Proscenium Height
36ft
Proscenium Width
40ft
Stage Depth
31ft 6in from Smoke Pocket to Rear Wall
Wing Space (SL)
31ft x 31ft
Wing Space (SR)
20ft wide x 31ft deep
Historic Photos & Documents

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

Photos of the Palace Theatre

Auditorium

Auditorium - Gallery

The Upper Balcony, or Gallery, was originally segregated, with patrons entering from the alleys on either side of the theatre building. Equipped with only bench seats, the gallery was completely isolated from the rest of the theatre with its own restrooms and lobby space (in reality more of a corridor than a lobby). The gallery was closed-off in the 1940s.


Auditorium Closeups

Backstage

Basement

Exterior

Projection Booth

Public Areas



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