4473 Sunset Drive,
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Lou Bard’s Hollywood Theatre opened on October 16, 1923 with Baby Peggy in “Tips” (attended by Baby Peggy ‘in person’) plus vaudeville acts on the 7ft deep stage. The seating capacity at opening was for 838. It was built for and operated by the L. Lou Bard theatre chain named Far West Theatres Inc. The main façade of the building is in a pretty Spanish Revival style, which was to have been the overall architectural theme of the entire building which was designed by noted theatre architect Lewis Arthur Smith. However, during its 1922 construction, King Tutankhamen’s Tomb was discovered in Egypt, setting a trend for Egyptian style architecture and from the entrance lobby through the auditorium that style dominates.
It was re-named Vista Theatre in the late-1920’s and it was later operated by independent operator Whitson-Lewis Theatres in the 1940’s, remaining in operation as a popular neighborhood movie house. By 1949 it became an important revival theatre and then an art house cinema screening foreign movies, renamed Art Vista Theatre. By 1977 until 1980 it operated a gay male porno cinema.
In 1980 it was taken over by Mike Thomas and became a revival house. It was refurbished by Landmark Theatres in the early-1980’s, and it was at this time that the Egyptian style paybox was installed on the sidewalk entrance and the theatre began playing mainly off-circuit movies. But this closed in June 1985 when Landmark didn’t renew their lease.
It remained closed for several years until in the early-1990’s it was beautifully restored and reopened for mainstream movies in around 1998.
Alongside its elegant Spanish style façade, the interior is the true stunner in an Egyptian style at this old single screen palace in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles.
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