OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE…WHAT?
Another classic Los Angeles cinema bites the dust. Located at 5112 Wilshire Boulevard just west of Highland, this was the Four Star Theatre in its heyday. This is how it looked today, soon to vanish without trace.
Built by United Artists with 900 seats, and playing first run United Artists films, it opened in the early-1930’s, and was a sister theatre to the UA Theatre in Pasadena. According to Cinema Treasures, it was operated in the late ’30’s by Fox West Coast Theaters until the 1940’s, when United Artists took control again.
It remained a first run theater for United Artists movies until the 1970’s, when by then it had been equipped with 70mm projection equipment. In the late 90’s I remember taking my son Eric to The Wild Bunch there. He was blown away by the big screen presentation.
Here you can see the fancy wood paneled projection box. Happily the Norelco AA 70MM/35mm projectors were removed and installed in the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, California.
When the Mitchell Brothers of San Francisco took over, at a rent of $48,000 per annum, it became an porno cinema for 10 years, later reverting to 3rd run releases, Indian movies, and revivals. In 1986 a restoration of 1937’s Lost Horizon was introduced by Jane Wyatt. She had attended the film’s original premiere 50 years earlier at the Four Star.
The theater eventually closed and became a church. In 1999, the church cemented over the Art Deco style bas relief figures on the facade which depicted ‘Artistry’ and ‘Unity’. The problem – nipples on the goddess in the central panel. Ugh. Los Angeles Art Deco is disappearing fast. We should pressure City Hall to protect sites of historical value, or at least their facades, particularly along the Wilshire corridor.