Carthay Circle Theatre

6316 San Vicente Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90048

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Far West Theatres Inc., Fox West Coast Theatres

Architects: A. Dwight Gibbs

Styles: Mission Revival

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News About This Theater

Carthay Circle Theatre, Los Angeles - Floor Plan

The Carthay Circle Theatre opened May 18, 1926 with Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Volga Boatman” starring William Boyd. By 1927 it was operated by the L. Lou Bard chain Far West Theatres Inc. Designed by architect A. Dwight Gibbs, the theatre had painted murals depicting scenes of early-California by artist Frank Tenney Johnson, which included a huge painted fire safety curtain. Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” had its world premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre on December 21, 1937. “Fantasia” was presented in ‘Fantasound’ an early stereophonic sound process and the Carthay Circle Theatre was one of only a few theatres to be equipped with this process. Walt Disney’s “Dumbo” had its Hollywood premiere here, and on December 28, 1939 the West Coast premiere of “Gone with the Wind” was a major coup for the theatre. It was the site of innumerable premieres over the years and was one of the jewels of the Fox West Coast Theatres empire.

It was at the Carthay Circle Theatre where Mike Todd showcased “Around the World in 80 Days” on December 22, 1956. Unfortunately, some of the interior of the auditorium was destroyed to accommodate the huge new Todd A-O screen and a new projection box was built at the rear of the orchestra seating area. Other 70mm roadshow presentations were “Porgy and Bess”, “Can-Can”, “The Alamo”, “El Cid” and “The Agony and the Ecstasy”.

After a 23-weeks run, the final film to play the Carthay Circle Theatre was “The Shoes of the Fisherman” starring Anthony Quinn on April 24, 1969. It was demolished later in 1969 and replaced by an office block. The painted fire safety curtain was saved and installed at the rear of the stage of the downtown United Artists Theatre which became a church for several decades. Now the Ace Theatre on S. Broadway (which has its own page on Cinema Treasures), it has been removed and put into storage until a new home can be found for it.

Contributed by Ray Martinez

Recent comments (view all 133 comments)

DavidZornig on October 24, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Two mid `40’s photo added courtesy of Terry Koenig.

moax429 on August 9, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Anybody who saw the 1941 Our Gang short “The Big Premiere” will remember the Carthay Circle was the theater seen in the opening shot, all lit up at night; the gang attends – and then sabotages – the premiere of the film “Gun Boats,” starring “Imra Acacia” (Ethelreda Leopold).

“The Big Premiere” turns up occasionally on Turner Classic Movies as a short subject between films, and it is also available on “The Our Gang Collection” only from the WB Shop, Warner Bros.‘ online store (not available in regular retail outlets).

DavidZornig on August 27, 2016 at 6:17 am

Undated photo added courtesy of Doug Simmons. Good shot of the roof mounted signage.

barryinperth on August 27, 2016 at 7:03 am

What a crime this extraordinary theatre was demolished! Are there any interior shots available?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 27, 2016 at 9:16 am

barryinperth:I have added a 1926 photograph of the auditorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 27, 2016 at 5:51 pm

barryinperth: Bill Counter’s Los Angeles Movie Palaces web site has several interior views of the Carthay Circle, including a few shots of the lounge, on this web page. Counter also provides links to additional views at other collections.

vindanpar on September 20, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Too bad the fire curtain couldn’t be put on display in Hollywood studios in Orlando. But it’s not like it’s going to generate revenue.

davidcoppock on May 13, 2020 at 8:26 am

There is some footage outside the Carthay Circle Theatre of the World premiere on the blu-ray of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in the special features section(In Walt’s words: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs).

Lee on September 4, 2023 at 11:08 pm

The theater closed down permanently on April 24th 1969. The Shoes of the Fisherman played for 23 weeks

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