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Glorious Past, Gloomy Future

June 12, 1988|JOAN A. DEKTAR | Joan Dektar is a North Hollywood free-lance writer

"Movies Are Your Best Entertainment!"

As America began to come out of the Depression in the 1930s, the motion picture industry aggressively campaigned for theater customers with give-aways, such as free dishes and bingo.

It was the pinnacle period of the great movie palaces of Los Angeles, such as the Million Dollar and the Los Angeles, downtown; Grauman's Chinese and Egyptian in Hollywood; the Bruin and Village in Westwood, as well as other neighborhood theaters, such as the Fox Ritz at Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, the Golden Gate in East Los Angeles and the Dome in Venice.

Many of these fine theaters are but memories. Warner's downtown is a jewelry exchange, RKO Downtown, a parking garage. The Wiltern was saved as a legitimate house as was the Pantages in Hollywood.

Survived by Conversion

Some were saved and divided into multiplexes, like the Fairfax, and others have survived by conversion to other purposes.

The Stadium on West Pico is a synagogue; the Fox Beverly was converted to office and retail complexes, and the Loyola in Westchester, a professional building. The La Reina in Sherman Oaks survives only as the facade of a new shopping mall.

The future is dim for the old theaters as the day of the multiplex cinema, with its automated projection and hi-fi sound systems, has arrived. Many others will face the wrecking ball or conversion to other uses.

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