Joesph Musil passes away quietly

posted by RonMahan on June 30, 2010 at 9:45 am

SANTA ANA, CA — Famed Theatre Designer and Showman Joseph J. Musil Jr. died at age 74 last night after a long illness. He will be mostly remembered by his greatest work, the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood as well as the Majestic Crest in Westwood.

You can find more information about this genius at Cinema Sightlines along with a tribute.

Theaters in this post

Comments (11)

William on June 30, 2010 at 10:06 am


Thanks for all your Wonderful Work. I got lucky to work the El Capitan and Crest Theatres after your remodels.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on June 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm

In my fifty plus years of cinema and theater work, I have never met another person quite like Joseph Musil! He was THE most consummate professional in what ever he undertook and presentation was a major factor in his magnificent creations.

Joe was my next door neighbor and good friend of whom I learned more than I thought was ever possible. He very proudly told me “Hollywood was my playground. I grew up here with the world’s greatest collection of movie and theatrical palaces to visit.”

That gentle giant and I would often chat for ages over iced tea (with extra lemon) all about an era long gone but well remembered.

My fondest memory of Joe will be of the numerous visiting patrons during the THS conclave in 2005… We slaved, yes slaved to present “The Symphonic Cavalcade of Music, Lights and Curtains” for the audience. But the grand finale was, at the end of “The Great Ziegfeld” revolving stage & curtain scene, I raised the screen and Joe stepped forward with arms raised forward, beaming into the spotlight and, with three more sets of beautiful closing curtains behind him, softly announced “And Ladies and gentlemen, that’s Hollywood.”


JohnMessick on June 30, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Joseph Musil…May you rest in peace.

nickmatonak on June 30, 2010 at 10:13 pm

It is a sad day to hear that Joe passed away.

The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation will be hosting an open house of his studio in Santa Ana, here are the details:

The Studio will be opened one last time for Southern California historic theatre fans to benefit the LAHTF. Members of Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation will be admitted free, (but a donation is suggested). All others – suggested donation is $10. Donations at the door defray Studio expenses. You can join LAHTF on the spot or through PayPal at our website —– .
A basic membership is only $25.
People will be there to sign you up and tell you of upcoming theatre related events.

Since the Studio was also Joe’s Workshop, it was rare that the public was allowed inside.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity – Bring your camera.

Saturday, July 10, 2010, 1:00pm —– 4:00pm
LAHTF Members Free. Non-members – $10. (suggested donation)
American Museum of Theatre Design – Studio of the Theatres
207 No. Broadway, Suite P
Santa Ana, California 92701
Between 3rd and 2nd Streets at the beautiful Santora Building, Second Floor, Downtown Santa Ana. Parking is available in a structure and lots at a low price nearby. Places to dine are also close by.
Santa Ana had many theatres in its day, and while you are there you might like to drive around and look at them.

For more information about the event, visit, our FaceBook page or contact:
Hillsman Wright —– —– 310 403-0865

If you are interested in purchasing components of the Museum, contact Joe’s brother,
Robert Musil (714) 6671021; cell 253/509-2929 – e-mail:
Thank You. We look forward to seeing you on this special one-time-only theatre day.

MPol on June 30, 2010 at 10:50 pm

RIP, Joe Musil.

HowardBHaas on July 1, 2010 at 1:19 am

The decor of both El Cap & the Crest are magnificient! RIP, Joe Musil.

carolgrau on July 1, 2010 at 7:05 am

RIP Joe we will all miss yourwork but your theatres hopefully will live on a long long time..

JohnHolloway on July 2, 2010 at 2:46 am

Had the pleasure of meeting this amazing man and his Salon Of The Theatres on my first visit to LA from Australia seven years ago. This was the undoubted highlight for me. Such a charming man with a love for his work and enthusiasm to share his outstanding talent and skills. I was even honoured to see “backstage” – his workshop – which was as awe inspiring as the museum itself. A very sad loss, but please Los Angeles, ensure his Salon Of The Theatres remains as a permanent memorial to his outstanding talent and humanity to inspire future design students and visitors for years to come.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on July 2, 2010 at 9:02 am

“bercy”… Your last two lines are well said and important! Here’s hoping $omeone, without delay, will take up the challenge and do just that.

Surely there is room for much of Joe’s fantastic models and props to be secured on display in one of the numerous L.A. Broadway theaters?.

CSWalczak on July 17, 2010 at 10:27 pm

An article about Mr. Musil’s passing that first appeared in the LA Times: View link

TLSLOEWS on July 19, 2010 at 10:09 am

R.I.P Joe Musil, great work.

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