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Alex Theatre Redesigned

September 01, 1985

Re: Retrospect--L.A., Aug. 18: While the Alexander Theatre on Brand Boulevard in Glendale was, in fact, designed by Arthur Lindley and Charles Selkirk in 1925, the "dramatic central pylon" seen in Bruce Boehner's photograph has "dominated the thoroughfare" only since 1940, when the theater was remodeled by noted theater architect S. Charles Lee, and renamed the Alex.

Lee is well known for his dramatic and flamboyant theaters, including the Los Angeles, Fox Wilshire, Academy, and LaReina, but his office also specialized in remodeling existing theaters during the Depression. Lee emphasized the entry, making the building a form of self-advertisement to pedestrian and automobile traffic.

In the Alex Theater, this was accomplished by widening the entrance and adding a tower outlined in neon. The snazzy, streamlined ticket booth, colorful terrazzo pattern on the sidewalk, bold, three-dimensional marquee and recessed lighting underneath the marquee all lead the customer past sleek poster cases to the auditorium, which was set back from the sidewalk, and was previously virtually invisible.

Although Lee is no longer a practicing architect, the hundreds of theaters, commercial buildings, and residences he designed in the '20s, '30s, and '40s constitute an important body of work in shaping the city's skyline.

MAGGIE VALENTINE

Pasadena

Ms. Valentine is archivist for the S. Charles Lee Collection at UCLA.

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