Olympic Theatre

313 W. 8th Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Far West Theatres Inc., Metropolitan Theatres

Architects: Charles O. Matcham, Lewis Arthur Smith

Functions: Retail

Styles: Oriental

Previous Names: Bard's Eighth Street Theatre, Olympic Request Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Olympic Theatre exterior

The Bard’s Eighth Street Theatre is located on the north side of W. 8th Street between S. Broadway and S. Hill Street, opposite the huge May Company department store. It was built for the L. Lou Bard chain Far West Theatres Inc. Architect Lewis A. Smith remodeled a restaurant into this last theatre added to showman Lou Bard’s theatre chain. The interior featured vaguely Chinese decor and had 600 seats.

The opening feature on April 2, 1927 was the premiere showing of Universal’s farce comedy “Oh Baby”, starring Madge Kennedy and with Creighton Hale in the leading male role. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer organ, which was opened by organist Peggy Bower.

In 1932 the theatre was renamed Olympic Theatre to commemorate Los Angeles hosting the Olympic Games that year. The theatre was remodeled in 1942 by architect Charles O. Matcham.

During the later years Metropolitan Theatres ran this theatre as a Spanish language house. The theatre itself appears in movies including “The Omega Man”(1971) starring Charlton Heston.

The Olympic Theatre was closed in the summer of 1986 by Metropolitan Theatres to enable wall stengthening to withstand earthquake shocks, but it never reopened. By 2004, the facade and marquee had been repaired and by then, the interior was used for storage and had been stripped back to its four walls and painted white, with the floor leveled. The ceiling retained a large oval area and the organ screens were still intact. Two stairways leading to the auditorium from the lobby were cemented to make ramps.

In 2007, the building was reopened as a shop for chandeliers and French rococo furniture, with much of the remaining original interior repainted in white and gold. By 2017 it was a clothing store named COS.

Contributed by William Gabel, Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 60 comments)

kencmcintyre on April 27, 2009 at 10:21 pm

An older vertical blade can be seen on the left in this late 30s photo, as well as the Tower further down on Broadway:

kencmcintyre on April 27, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Tower is the white building on the next block.

monika on June 22, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Here is a May 2010 night photograph I took of the Olympic: View link

drb on June 22, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Oh. They uncovered the old façade.

NothingDiesWithBlueSkies on August 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Here is a photo from 2007 before they painted it black
View link

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on July 18, 2011 at 10:59 am

Wow, love the recent photos, with the old facade exposed!

northstar16 on April 8, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Here is 11 minutes of nighttime process footage from 1946 shot for the Rita Hayworth film “Down to Earth,” which shows the Olympic, the RKO Hill Street and several other theaters.

View Link

Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez
Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez on April 6, 2015 at 9:16 pm

“Olympic Request Theatre” needs to be added to the list of previous names. Very odd name, I know, but I posted a couple picture of some old programs from this theatre when it had that name for reference. By the way, does anyone know the story of how it got that particular name?

rfwebber on May 17, 2020 at 6:45 pm

As I indicated in my comment of October 8, 2006, in the 1940’s the Olympic operated as a “request” theatre' which meant that the programming of the theatre was determined by requests from patrons. As I recall from a personal visit, there was a desk in the lobby with a book in which one could enter suggestions for movies to be shown.

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