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The Pantages Theater

The Pantages Theater in Hollywood is one of the most iconic theaters on the West Coast.  A Los Angeles Landmark, the Pantages Hollywood opened its doors in 1930. It was the last theater built by Alexander Pantages, a famous Vaudville producer and financier who built his empire on building theaters that showed both film and live productions.

This beautiful and historic art deco building sits on Hollywood & Vine and is one of LA’s leading venues for live theater.  While it had always been popular to watch stage productions at the Pantages, it was actually a combination motion picture and live performance theater when it was first built. During the depression, it became solely a motion picture theater, as the world witnessed the demise of Vaudeville toward the late 1930’s due to the growing popularity of cinema.  After a major scandal in 1932, Alexander Pantages was forced to sell the theater to Fox West Coast, in which Joseph P. Kennedy had a majority interest (yes, THAT Kennedy!).  Eventually, Howard Hughes bought the theater and moved his offices there.  He even lived there for a couple of years.

It was during Hughes’s ownership that the Academy Awards hosted their annual Oscars ceremony at the Pantages from 1949 to 1959.  During the 60’s and early 70’s it continued as a major venue for “Road Show” movies.  Road Show movies were limited releases of new movies coming out before their worldwide releases.  They were very exclusive showings at high-end venues and you had to have advanced reservations to attend. They only showed these movies for a couple of days.

Eventually, the Pantages closed as a movie theater in the late 70’s and reopened as a live stage production venue, in which its first production was “Brown Sugar”.  Since then, many productions and concerts have found a home at the Pantages Hollywood including Disney’s The Lion King, Wicked,  Westside Story, The Phantom of the Opera, The Book of Mormon, and many others.

The architecture of the Pantages is incredible.  While its stone façade on the outside is a little plain, it is anything but on the inside with its vaulted lobby and grand staircase that are a pleasure to behold. While it was redone in the year 2000, you still enter the Pantages and feel like you are in old Hollywood. And you almost expect one of the long ago stars to meet you at the entrance. It truly is a magical place to see a show.

You can see the Pantages and many other historical Hollywood sites on one of our tours at LA Insider Tours. Come join us and discover the magic for yourself!