AKA: RKO Pantages Theatre, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Heinsbergen Decorating Company, Interior Designers (firm); Priteca, B. Marcus, Architect (firm); Gregory Ain (architect); Antoon B. Heinsbergen (interior designer/muralist); Barnet Marcus Priteca (architect)

Dates: constructed 1929-1930

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6233 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA 90028-5310

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northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Street;


Benjamin Marcus Priteca, one of the most talented West Coast designers of movie palaces during the 1910s-1940s, designed this theatre for the Pantages chain in the late 1920s. Priteca developed an early relationship with vaudeville impresario and movie exhibitor Alexander Pantages (1867-1936) by 1907, when he designed a theatre for him in Vancouver, BC.

Building History

Constructed for the Bartlett Syndicate Building Corporation, the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood opened 06/04/1930, seating 2,812, and costing $1,250,000 to build; (the cost did not include theatrical and projection equipment needed by this vaudeville and motion picture theatre); it is now seen as one of the last great movie palaces, and had the second largest stage in Los Angeles at the time, behind only the Shrine Auditorium; on 06/04/1930, it hosted one of the most glamorous and well-attended openings of any movie palace; built just after the advent of sound, the Pantages boasted one of the most sophisticated audio systems in the world;

Howard Hughes and his RKO Pictures company purchased the theatre in 1949 and renamed it the RKO Pantages; Hughes also boosted the number of seats to 2,800; it hosted the Academy Awards ceremonies from 03/23/1950-04/04/1960; the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences left the Hollywood Pantages after 1960 when Universal Pictures demanded that seating be reduced by 1,000, in order to show its blockbuster, Spartacus, to best advantage.

The Pacific Theatre chain bought the RKO Pantages Hollywood in 12/1967, having leased it since 1965; Pacific operated the theatre as a motion picture venue until 01/1977; Pacific collaborated with the Nederlander Organization (the firm that renovated the New Orpheum in San Francisco in 1981), and only theatrical performances have been staged there since 1977; seating was returned to the original 2700 seats by the Nederlander Organization; original drawings for the Hollywood Pantages exist, including one watercolor study, a longitudinal section of the auditorium, dated 06/29/1929; Anthony Heinsbergen painted the walls of the Art Deco lobby.

Building Notes

The Pantages, one of the most glamorous movie palaces of the 1920s-1930s, was included in the Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District, created for the National Register of Historic Places. This design by the Seattle and Los Angeles-based architect B. Marcus Priteca (1889-1971) was his third in Los Angeles designed for Alexander Pantages.


The Nederlander Organization apparently spent $12 million in the late 1990s to restore the Pantages Hollywood, primarily to accommodate the Disney production of The Lion King; part of the expenditure was to shore the theatre up, as it was damaged in the 6.8 magnitude Northridge Earthquake of 01/17/1994.

Los Angeles City Historical-Cultural Monument: 193

PCAD id: 1559