Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Historic El Capitan Theatre Tour @elcapitanthtre #MyDayInLA

Interior of  El Capitan Theatre Hollywood 

Beginning October 10th the historic El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Blvd is providing Disney Movie Palace & Backstage tours, including front of house, back stage and even below stage. These great old movie houses have so many amazing stories to tell. This is a great addition to our LA tours.

El Capitan Theatre door frame at entrance. Now that's a door JAM
The tour begins giving you details about the original theatre which ran plays. Location, location, location, was the mantra of actors who worked at the El Capitan in those days, as the Masonic Temple members next door often attended plays and their roles included Louis B Mayer and other big wigs in Hollywood. Landing a part in a play at The El Capitan could be your first step to a studio contract. Legendary stars Clark Gable, Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, Joan Fontaine, Henry Fonda and Will Rogers have all graced the El Capitan stage.

El Capitan Theatre ceiling decoration

Built in 1926 by Charles Toberman and Sid Grauman, the second of their three exotically themed theatres the others being Graumans (now TCL) Chinese Theatre and The Egypatian, all on Hollywood Blvd. Toberman often called "The Father of Hollywood" played a role in developing over 30 buildings in the heart of Hollywood, including the Roosevelt Hotel and the Hollywood Masonic Temple (now the El Capitan Entertainment Centre, home to ABC's late night talk show, JimmyKimmel Live!).

El Capitan Theatre Wall of Fame
The theatre continued running plays until 1941 when Orson Wells was looking for an independent theatre to have the premiere for Citizen Kane. After the premiere they decided to switch to film and after a 9 month renovation reopen in 1942 as the Hollywood Paramount. The theatre owners had boarded over the original East Indian inspired decor and replace it with Art Modern, which is more or less how it stayed as it changed hands multiple times over the next 45+ years.

El Capitan Theatre Replica Light Fixtures

In 1989 Walt Disney Company and Pacific Theatres launched a major renovation, returning the theatre to it's original glory. They were able to restore much of the original interior that still existed behind the boarding, everything else they reconstructed from photographs. They were able to match paint colors exactly by scraping the existing paint and matching it with microscopes! After 2 years the El Capitan reopened in 1991 with the premiere of The Rocketeer.

El Capitan Theatre Down Stairs Lounge all original. Used for displays and after parties
Times and Prices

30 minute tour is $15 and begins at 8:30am. This includes a history of Hollywood and the El Capitan, full access behind-the-scenes of the theatre, including the Sherman Brothers Star Dressing Room, named for the composers of such Disney songs as “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “It’s a Small World,” an opportunity to take a photo with the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, and a full viewing of the curtain show.
15 minute express tour runs throughout the day and is $5. This includes the history of the theatre, a visit to the Wall of Fame, and a tour of the lobby areas.

For more information, details and options, visit the El Capitan Theatre Box Office, call 1-800-Disney6, or check the El Capitan Tour Website.

El Capitan Theatre organ

I believe the El Capitan Theatre is the only theatre on Hollywood Blvd with an organ. This one was original to a 1920s Fox theatre in San Francisco. It is the top of the line with all the bells and whistles as they say. It rises from the floor before screenings and is played beautifully. I hope to one day see a silent film in the El Capitan Theatre accompanied by it.

El Capitan Theatre organ's original Fox seal

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