Monuments in Time: The Palace Theater

By Alan Reyes

The Palace Theater opened in 1911 as The Orpheum designed by G. Albert Lansburgh in a beaux-arts style, it was one of the longest running movie palaces in the U.S. until it closed down in 2000. Originally a vaudeville theater Every major vaudeville star at the time performed in this theatre. The names included: the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Sarah Bernhardt, Bob Hope, Al Jolson and Will Rogers. When Houdini performed his magic and escapes, an ambulance was kept parked outside on the curb in case of emergency. In 1926 it then became a silent movie house and later added sound for the talkies. During the war it became one of the movies houses that had news reels so Los Angeles residents would flock to Broadway to see the latest news, over the years as Downtown residents moved out and headed towards West LA, so did the theaters.

The Palace Theater along with the other 11 theaters became run down showing B movies only. In the late 1970’s and throughout the 80’s and 90’s as new immigrants from Mexico and Central America populated downtown the palace became a popular theater once again showing Mexican Narco Cinema and other Spanish films until it closed. Now the Theater sits empty and waiting for a new life, it is still used for filming location but mainly remains unused but it is in the process of reopening soon for live performances and special events.