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The Wiltern, Koreatown

The Wiltern, Koreatown

First Opened: 7th October 1931 (88 years ago)

Reopened: 1st May 1985

Former Names: Warner Brothers Western Theater, Wil Tern / Wil-Tern, Wiltern Theatre, Warner’s Wiltern, Stanley Warner Wiltern

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

Telephone: (213) 388-1400 Call (213) 388-1400

Address: 3790 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010 Show address in Google Maps (new window)

Featured Photos

Overview

The Wiltern opened in 1931 and is a stunning example of Art Deco architecture. The exterior and surrounding office building was designed by Morgan, Walls & Clements with the theatre interior by G. Albert Lansburgh. Originally built with seating for 2,344, the theatre was modified in 2002 to remove the 1,200 Orchestra-level seats so as to create a flexible layout catering to seated, cocktail table, and standing room only configurations.

Pellissier Building
Pellissier Building

The surrounding office building and tower, with retail units at street level, was known as the Pellissier Building – the Pellissier family owned the land upon which the building was developed. The entire building exterior was clad with a special turquoise shade of Gladding-McBean terracotta, which came to be known as Pellissier Green.

The theatre opened as the Warner Brothers Western Theater, primarily intended as a movie theatre but including stage facilities for vaudeville. It was the flagship for the Warner Bros theatre chain and boasted the largest pipe organ in the Western US at the time: a 4-manual, 37-rank Kimball (opus 6644), with nine of the ranks in an “echo organ” chamber at the rear of the auditorium next to the Projection Booth. The organ was transferred from the Forum Theatre where it had originally been installed in 1924.

Auditorium Ceiling Skyscrapers
Auditorium Ceiling Skyscrapers

The decorator for the theatre’s interior was noted muralist Anthony Heinsbergen. The centerpiece of the interior design is the auditorium ceiling which heralds a multi-colored sunburst pattern of Art Deco skyscrapers, an imagining of future buildings on the city’s up-and-coming Wilshire Blvd.

Warner Bros terminated their lease due to poor business and in May 1933 the theatre closed. It reopened as an independent theatre about a year later in 1934, re-branded the Wil Tern or Wil-Tern, named after the intersection it is located at: Wilshire & Western. Over time the space/hyphen fell out of use and the theatre became known as the Wiltern Theatre. Warner Bros returned to program the theatre in 1939 and it was variously known as Warner’s Wiltern and the Stanley Warner Wiltern.

In 1956 the Pellissier family sold the theatre and surrounding building to the Franklin Life Insurance Company of Springfield (Illinois), and in 1968 Pacific Theatres took over operations from Stanley Warner.

The theatre’s organ underwent a complete restoration in 1962 by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Theater Organ Enthusiasts. Just before the theatre closed in late 1979, Pacific Theatres removed the organ and placed it in storage. Theatre organ expert Ron Mitchell advises that at a later date the console went into the private collection of Phil Maloof in Las Vegas and the remainder was “parted-out”, two known recipients being organ builder Terry Kleven, and the Carma Laboratories theatre organ installation – a passion project of Carma Labs’ President Paul Woelbing. According to a post on the Cinema Treasures website Link opens in new window the 32-foot Diaphone rank ended-up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) Convention Hall’s organ in Salt Lake City.

Renovated Lobby from above
Renovated Lobby from above

During the 1970s the building fell into disrepair. In 1979, despite being nationally and locally landmarked, the theatre was closed and the building stripped for demolition. The then-fledgling Los Angeles Conservancy mounted a campaign to save the building and negotiated with the City to delay demolition while a feasibility study for alternative use was commissioned. Ultimately the Conservancy’s campaign saved the theatre, and it was first major preservation success for the young organization which had been formed only one year earlier.

In 1981 the building was purchased by developer Wayne Ratkovich who worked with local architect Brenda Levin to restore the theatre and surrounding office building and tower to their former glory. It was a massive task given many of the fixtures and fittings had been stolen or sold, much of the plasterwork was damaged, and a large part of the auditorium ceiling was missing.

The ceiling’s original nine Art Deco skyscrapers were a stylized imaging of the new buildings which might rise on the up-and-coming Wilshire Blvd of the 1930s. When the building was scheduled for demolition, decorative parts of the ceiling were removed which left gaping holes in the auditorium for over two years. The current ceiling was installed as part of the 1981-85 renovation and features seven skyscrapers, a mixture of rearranged original pieces and new fabrication to complete the picture.

Tony Heinsbergen, son of Anthony Heinsbergen (the original interior decorator for the theatre), worked on the restoration of the theatre’s murals, ceiling, and interior decoration.

Stage from Stage Lefy
Stage from Stage Left

Ratkovich envisioned the theatre as a performing arts center which could accommodate Broadway-size shows, so during the renovation project the rear stage wall was was knocked-down and rebuilt 15ft further back in order to accommodate a deeper stage and truck loading bay. Following the four year $9.8 million renovation and restoration project, the theatre reopened on 1st May 1985.

At its reopening the theatre’s lobby was dedicated as the Perloff Lobby, in recognition of instrumental contributions to the preservation and revitalization of the theatre by Mimi and Harvey Perloff.

In 2000 SFX took over the lease for the theatre, and in 2002 SFX’s successor company Clear Channel Entertainment embarked upon a $2 million renovation. The Orchestra-level seating was removed and the floor terraced into five levels. The new arrangement allowed for temporary theatre-style seating, cocktail/dinner tables, and standing room only configurations. The orchestra pit was also floored over.

The theatre is currently operated by Clear Channel Entertainment’s successor company Live Nation and continues to host a busy calendar of live events.

Movie, TV & Music Video Appearances

Movies

Television

Music Videos

Documentary

Award Shows

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Listed/Landmark Building Status

How do I visit The Wiltern?

As of March 2017 The Wiltern does not offer theatre tours but you can of course attend one of the many and varied events hosted by The Wiltern. Check The Wiltern’s website Link opens in new window for more details.


Upcoming Special Events
Sebastian Maniscalco: You Bother Me

Sebastian Maniscalco: You Bother Me (27th April 2020, 7pm)

In 2018, Sebastian Maniscalco reached heights that few comedians could ever dream about. With a string of record-breaking, sold-out arena and theatre shows; a best-selling memoir, Stay Hungry; and a role in Green Book, which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, it’s no surprise that Billboard honored him with their inaugural “Comedian of the Year” award.

Tickets $99 to $250. 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




2 Bears 1 Cave with Tom Segura and Bert Kreischer

2 Bears 1 Cave with Tom Segura and Bert Kreischer (28th April 2020, 7pm)

Comedian best friends Tom Segura and Bert Kreischer get together in the bear cave and do what bears do: make each other laugh.

Tickets start at $48.50. 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




Park Na-rae

Park Na-rae (29th April 2020, 7pm)

This show will be performed in Korean.

Tickets $79 to $140. 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




The Degenerates Live Hosted By Jim Jefferies

The Degenerates Live Hosted By Jim Jefferies (29th April 2020, 9:45pm)

Host: Jim Jefferies. Featuring: Christina P, Ms. Pat, Robert Kelly, Big Jay Oakerson.

The Degenerates is BACK and it’s LIVE. You loved the first two seasons of this no-holds-barred comedy show featuring the hottest rising stars of comedy. Now this crude and lewd show is hitting LA for a special Live edition hosted by Jim Jefferies.

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




Ali Wong: The Milk & Money Tour

Ali Wong: The Milk & Money Tour (30th April 2020, 7pm)

Ali Wong is a stand-up comic from San Francisco, now living in Los Angeles. Her first Netflix stand-up special *BABY COBRA* was filmed when she was 7 months pregnant. According to the New York Magazine, “The special’s arrival on Netflix is the sort of star-making moment that unites the tastes of the unlikeliest fans.” Elle applauded it as a “comic genius gem” while Vogue called it “The special that everyone is talking about.” Emily Nussbaum hailed it as “funny and refreshingly rude.” The day before its premiere, Wong’s interview with Marc Maron on his podcast WTF was released. He called the special “the most honest, rawest, funniest special I’ve seen in years.”

She soon after became a very popular Halloween costume. Fans, both male and female, dressed up in Wong’s iconic red glasses, black and white striped dress and pregnant belly. The Smithsonian has asked Wong to donate the actual dress, shoes and necklace she wore in the BABY COBRA, to the Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

Tickets start at $59.75. 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




Ken Jeong

Ken Jeong (1st May 2020, 7pm)

Known for his scene stealing abilities, actor, producer, writer and comedian Ken Jeong has established himself as one of today’s top comedic stars. Since his feature film debut playing the doctor in KNOCKED UP in 2007, Jeong has gone on to star in several memorable movie roles such as the Asian-mobster “Mr. Chow” in the sleeper-hit comedy THE HANGOVER. He recently appeared in the Warner Bros. box office sensation CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which earned the “Best Acting Ensemble” award at the National Board of Review awards.

In February 2019, Jeong returned to his stand-up roots for his first-ever hit Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho.” In television, Jeong was most recently seen as a judge on the FOX hit celebrity reality singing competition “The Masked Singer,” prior to that, Ken starred on ABC’s “Dr. Ken”, which he was the creator, writer, and Executive Producer.

Upcoming projects include MY SPY starring Dave Bautista, and EL TONTO starring, written and directed by Charlie Day. Jeong dedicates his spare time to volunteering with Stand Up 2 Cancer, which is a cause very dear to his heart. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and twin daughters.

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




Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler (2nd May 2020, 7pm)

Regarded as one of the most successful figures in entertainment today, Chelsea Handler and her talk shows, best-selling books, and stand-up comedy have attracted millions of fans worldwide.

After a successful seven-year run as the host of E!’s top-rated “Chelsea Lately,” Handler launched an all-new talk show for Netflix in May 2016. “Chelsea” was the first of its kind for the global on-demand generation and tackled today’s tough issues with the same acerbic wit and fearless curiosity fans know and love. Handler traveled around the world – braving an ice-skating rink in Russia and wielding a Trump-shaped piñata through the streets of Mexico and back again to Los Angeles, where she taped in front of a live in-studio audience featuring celebrities, dignitaries, and surprise guests.

From intimate dinner parties to viral PSAs to “explainer segments” that answered all the questions you’re too embarrassed to ask, she brought you thought-provoking, yet hilarious conversations about topics like international cultures, alternative lifestyles, education, health, sports, parenting, politics, and more. The show’s 120 episodes continue to be available for streaming globally on the platform.

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




Ronny Chieng: The Hope You Get Rich Tour

Ronny Chieng: The Hope You Get Rich Tour (2nd May 2020, 9:45pm)

Ronny Chieng is a stand up comedian, actor and Correspondent on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He was also one of the stars of the worldwide hit movie Crazy Rich Asians and has appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, the New York Times, and GQ.

Ronny co-wrote and starred in his own sitcom “Ronny Chieng: International Student” which is currently airing on Comedy Central and Netflix. In December 2019 Ronny released his debut smash hit Netflix Stand Up Comedy Special “Asian Comedian Destroys America”. He firmly believes there is absolutely no way anyone is reading this.

Tickets start at $27.50. 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

Further Reading

Online

Books

Technical Information

Flying System
System Type
Single Purchase Counterweight System operated Stage Right from Stage level
Counterweight System
56 Linesets
Pin Rail
Stage Right at Stage level
General Information
Balcony Capacity
1,144 (fixed original seating)
Orchestra Capacity
2,300 standing; 1,850 seated
Stage Dimensions
Proscenium Width
Approx 54ft
Stage Depth
40ft
Historic Photos & Documents

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

Photos of The Wiltern

Auditorium - Balcony

Auditorium - Closeups

Auditorium - Orchestra

Backstage

Basement

Dresing Rooms

Exterior

Historic Fire Curtain

The Wiltern’s original fire curtain, dating from 1931, is still in situ and fully operable. Whereas its major component is asbestos it is fully encapsulated and so safe to use. The beautiful Art Deco design is likely a design by Anthony Heinsbergen’s decoration company.


Lobby and Public Areas

Projection Booth



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