Los Angeles Theatre
January 30, 1931 was a monumental day at the Los Angeles Theatre. For one, it was the theatre’s first night open to the public. For another, it was the debut of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights. In his autobiography, Charlie Chaplin writes about this occasion:
“Then a most incredible thing happened. Suddenly in the middle of the laughter the picture was turned off! The house lights went up and a voice over a loudspeaker announced: ‘Before continuing further with this wonderful comedy, we would like to take five minutes of your time and point out to you the merits of this beautiful new theater.’ I could not believe my ears. I went mad. I leaped from my seat and raced up the aisle: ‘Where’s that stupid son of a bitch of a manger? I’ll kill him!’”
Chaplin’s tale certainly depicts the ego on H.L Gumbiner, the Los Angeles Theatre’s developer. This is not to say that the architect, S. Charles Lee, didn’t design an enchanting French renaissance palace, but instead to note that perhaps it takes a fool, blind with vainglory, to spend over $1.5 million on a 2,000 seat movie theatre in the heart of the depression. Gumbiner went into bankruptcy within 3 months of the theatre’s opening and the theatre closed by December 1931. Ownership has passed through several hands over the decades including Fox, Metropolitan Theatres, and the Delson Investment Group.
Now, one must catch a Last Remaining Seats screening, sponsored by the Los Angeles Conservancy, to get inside this gem for its original purpose: movies.
Fore more information, check here: http://www.losangelestheatre.com/lahist01.html
Posted on June 15, 2012, in Downtown and tagged Broadway Theatre District, Charlie Chaplin, Downtown, Downtown LA, Downtown LA Theatres, French renaissance, H. L. Gumbiner, Historic Theatres in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Theatre, S. Charles Lee. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.