6523 Hollywood Boulevard,
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Architects: Simeon Charles Lee
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Studio Theatre, Colony Theatre, Music Hall Hollywood, Academy Theatre, Loew's Holly Theatre
The Holly Theatre is perhaps best known for premiering and exhibiting “Caligula” exclusively for over a year in 1980-1981, and is located across Hollywood Boulevard from the Fox Theatre.
Converted from a garage by architect S. Charles Lee for operators Harold Frankin and Howard Hughes, it had 303 seats and was originally named the Studio Theatre. Opened on 31st July 1931 with Charles Starrett in “The Viking”. It was the first ‘automatic’ theatre in the area, having no ushers, just a cashier, a manager and a projectionist as staff. Patrons passed through a turnstile after purchasing their tickets, which operated automatic doors. Candy, cigarettes and drinks were sold via coin operated slot machines. The Studio Theatre was billed as the ‘World’s Most Unique Theatre’.
On December 9, 1936, it was renamed Colony Theatre screening Bing Crosby in “Rhythm on the Range”. On August 8, 1945 it had changed names again to Music Hall, Hollywood playing Burgess Meredith in “Story of G.I. Joe”. By then the seating capacity had been increased to 488 after a remodelling. By the mid-1950’s, it was known as the Academy Theatre.
It remained a first run movie theatre and became the Loew’s Holly Theatre on June 20, 1970, when its Art Deco style interior was curtained over and a false ceiling was installed. The reopening movie was “Watermelon Man”. Soon it became the Holly Cinema, and the notorious Penthouse production of “Caligua” broke box office records.
The Holly Cinema was a companion theatre to the Paramount (now the El Capitan Theatre) through its series of owners. The Holly Cinema was taken over by Pacific Theatres and was closed in the Summer of 1986.
It was converted into retail use, at one time becoming a shoe store, and since 2004, was used as a Scientology Learning Center. All traces of its cinematic past have either been removed or covered over. By early-2020 it was operating as Harold’s Chicken & Bar.
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