Hollywood's Historic Buildings
Theaters and other architectural gems lined Hollywood's famous boulevards during its Golden Age and now hold restored star appeal
- By Laura Kiniry
- Smithsonian.com, March 01, 2010
El Capitan Movie Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California (© Wendy Connett / Alamy)
6838 Hollywood Boulevard
For more than a decade after its 1926 opening, theatre-goers packed “Hollywood’s first home of spoken drama” to catch live productions of plays featuring such film actors like Will Rogers, Henry Fonda and Rita Hayworth. Viewers sat high in the upper balcony or in lavishly ornamented opera boxes alongside the grand theatre’s velvet-draped proscenium. In 1941 El Capitan hosted the West Coast premiere of Orson Welles’ controversial film Citizen Kane, which led to the theater’s transformation to a movie house called the Hollywood Paramount. The theatre underwent a $14-million restoration after the Walt Disney Company took over in 1989. Today it’s an exclusive showcase for first-run Disney films, often accompanied by a live musical revue or melodies played on a 1928 Wurlitzer pipe organ, added in 1999.