Rialto Theatre

812 S. Broadway,
Los Angeles, CA 90015

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Showing 51 - 63 of 63 comments

vokoban on December 18, 2005 at 4:00 pm

I understand the war was on but what I found funny was ‘shapely overalls'and flashlights 'concealed in miniature shovels, spades and hoes’. Plus, you have to admit its a little funny to go on top of a beautiful theater and pick an onion.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 18, 2005 at 3:51 pm

Mr. Quinn’s interest in gardens was probably motivated by an event in April of 1917; the United States declared war on Germany. As in the second part of the world war, in the 1940’s, Americans in 1917 became concerned about the effect of farmers being drafted into the army, and there was a movement to encourage ordinary citizens to plant gardens in order to alleviate potential food shortages. As silly as Quinn’s notion of rooftop gardens downtown was (especially given the fact that Los Angeles was already a highly suburbanized city with plenty of huge back yards far more suitable for gardening), it isn’t particularly surprising. People have always come up with a lot of silly and impractical ideas when they are caught up in the giddiness which typically accompanies the onset of wars.

kencmcintyre on December 18, 2005 at 2:12 pm

That’s funny. Re the Garden of Allah performances, see the 1921 picture posted above.

vokoban on December 18, 2005 at 9:06 am

I don’t know if this ever came to fruition, but it’s hilarious and Quinn sounds like he might have been a little nutty:

(May 11, 1917)
The roofs of downtown office buildings, department stores and theaters may be used for home gardens and the sky line of Los Angeles may resemble a well-cultivated farm if business men and owners of property in the downtown district take up the movement started yesterday by J.A. Quinn, who plans to place boxes all over the roof of his new Rialto Theater Building on Broadway, fill these with dirt, and have them planted with onions, potatoes and other vegetables.
Mr. Quinn said last night, he believed the output of vegetables for Los Angeles could be materially increased by this means, and he intends to father a movement of this kind in the business district.
Luther Brown, chairman of the Home Gardens Committee, indorses the project. He also favors the postponement of the home garden benefit from May 14 to May 21, believing that it will give more time to auction off the seats at prices far in advance of the regular admission fees.
Mr. Brown plans to hold several auctions, and have a corps of pretty girls sell the tickets, so that several thousand dollars will be raised for the home gardens funds from the “Garden of Allah” performances on May 21, the gross receipts of which have been donated in the entirety by Mr. Quinn.
In keeping with the home gardens idea, Mr. Quinn plans to have the ushers at the benefit garbed in shapely overalls, and instead of the usual cylindrical flashlights to show patrons their seats the lights will be concealed in miniature shovels, spades and hoes.

vokoban on December 14, 2005 at 8:47 pm

I’ve been told on a few occasions that the Million Dollar Mermaid on the marquee is from when the exterior was used for a set on a movie called The Mambo Kings. The movie people never removed the letters, apparently. I don’t have any proof of this. Has anyone seen The Mambo Kings?

kencmcintyre on October 12, 2005 at 5:41 pm

Here is a photo of Quinn’s Rialto in 1921, courtesy of the LA Library:


RobertR on November 1, 2004 at 11:00 am

The old letters in the above picture are so much nicer then most of the ones of the times. I remember most of them were not so three dimensional.

William on November 1, 2004 at 10:54 am

The marquee is still in good shape, after all these years. It is the longest marquee after the Paramount Downtown Theatre was razed in the early 60’s.

RobertR on November 1, 2004 at 9:13 am

What a beautiful old marquee, what kind of condition is it in?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 1, 2004 at 6:45 am

The Rialto is one of those rare old theaters that features stadium-style seating at the back of the house, with an ordinary raked floor section at the front. Access to the auditorium is via two tunnel-like aisles that slope up to a cross aisle which bisects the house about midway, at the bottom of the stadium section. Given the current popularity of stadium seating in new multiplex theaters, the Rialto was some three quarters of a century ahead of its time.

MagicLantern on October 2, 2004 at 6:31 pm

The marquee isn’t entirely blank – the clinging letters remaining on one of its sides spell out a screening of Esther Williams' “Million Dollar Mermaid” (1952).

DavidT on November 26, 2003 at 2:00 pm

To see a 1972 view (LAPL Collection) of the Rialto marquee click here: