Fox Wilshire Theatre (Saban Theatre)

 
(1930)* – View showing the Fox Wilshire Theatre under construction on the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Hamilton Drive in Beverly Hills. Built 1928 - 1930.  

 

Historical Notes

At the eastern edge of Beverly Hills sits the elaborate Spanish Art Deco style Fox Wilshire Theatre. Designed by noted theatre architect Simeon Charles Lee, this was his 3rd theatre design, after the Tower Theatre and the Los Angeles Theatre, both in downtown Los Angeles. The Fox Wilshire Theatre was also the first of many he designed in an Art Deco style. It was built for and operated by the Fox West Coast Theatres circuit, and opened on September 19, 1930, with seating for 2,296 in orchestra and balcony levels.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)** – Closer view showing the Fox Wilshire Theatre located on the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Hamilton Drive. A gas station is seen across the street at lower-right. Click HERE to see contemporary view.  

 

Historical Notes

Dominating the exterior of the Fox Wilshire building was a 6-story corner tower, containing luxurious apartments on the top two floors. It was originally topped by a huge rotating sky sign spelling out the name ‘FOX’ in large vertically placed letters. The exterior of the building was originally painted in a buff color and had black vertical stripes running up the tower and Deco style decorations painted in silver. ^

 

 

 

 
(1930)^*# – View looking southwest showing the Fox Wilshire Theatre as seen from the north side of Wilshire Boulevard.  Banners hang from the side of the theatre building and from the streetlight posts in preparation for the grand opening.  

 

Historical Notes

The Fox Wilshire was designed in what is now known as the Art Deco style but was then often described simply as “modern.” This style features strong geometric designs, stylized plant and animal motifs, and an accent on vertical forms.

Very contemporary in 1930, the design was complemented by a bold color scheme of silver, black, and coral along with plush pink carpets, which created a luxurious environment.*

 

 

 

 
(1930)^*# - Spotlights sweep across the front of Fox Wilshire Theatre during its Grand Opening night.  

 

Historical Notes

Built for the Fox West Coast Theatres circuit, the Fox Wilshire hosted premieres of many important Fox films in the 1930s and ’40s, beginning opening night, which featured the Marx Brothers in Animal Crackers. The theatre’s wide proscenium allowed for an extra large screen, which later made it a natural for long runs of widescreen films such as The Sound of Music (1965).*

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)* - The Fox Wilshire on opening night illuminated by spotlights and draped with bunting. The exterior design was a much simplified version of Lee's many concepts. The Fox sign became the most prominent attribute of the tower at night.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1930)^ - View of the proscenium and organ screen of the Fox Wilshire Theater in Beverly Hills. Built 1928-30. Architect: S. Charles Lee.  

 

Historical Notes

The Fox Wilshire was designed in what is now known as the Art Deco style but was then often described simply as “modern.” This style features strong geometric designs, stylized plant and animal motifs, and an accent on vertical forms.

Very contemporary in 1930, the design was complemented by a bold color scheme of silver, black, and coral along with plush pink carpets, which created a luxurious environment.*

 

 

 

 
(1930)^ - View of the lobby from the balcony; looking towards the main entrance of the Fox Wilshire Theatre.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1932)^ – View of box office and foyer with a 1932 Packard 'Eight Deluxe' parked under the marquee of the Fox Wilshire Theater (today the Saban Theatre).  

 

Historical Notes

During the early years in the 1930’s, the Fox Wilshire was a popular meeting place for lunchtime foyer concerts and occasional midnight matinees which would be attended by film stars who lived in the locality of Beverley Hills. The open lobby on the street front was modernized over the years, losing its street ticket booth and gaining a new marquee, while the exterior of the building was painted plain white, which diminishes the original Spanish Art Deco style of the building. ^

 

 

 

 
(1956)+# – View showing the world premiere of "Trapeze" at the Fox Wilshire Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd. The super bright searchlight trained directly on the entrance must have been blinding, and that shaft of light reaching straight up into the night sky would have been visible for miles around.  

 

Historical Notes

The theatre was always a premier first run venue for Fox West Coast Theatres and its successor National General. Later it was operated by Mann Theatres after they took over the remnants of the Fox Circuit on the west coast. For the second film released in Cinemascope, "How to Marry a Millionaire," 20th Century Fox took it to the Fox Wilshire.

 

 

 

 
(1953)^^+ - “How to Marry a Millionaire” starring Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, and Lauren Bacall,  plays the Fox Wilshire Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, November 4, 1953  

 

Historical Notes

The theatre was converted to a stage venue in 1980. To better accommodate audiences during intermissions, the lobby was enlarged to include space that had formerly been rear orchestra seating. By that time, original silver-and-black stenciled designs that had completely covered the walls and ceiling had been replaced with a muted palette of contemporary colors..^

 

 

 

 
(2014)* – View showing front entrance to the Saban Theatre (previously Fox Wilshire).  Upcoming shows include:  Marianne Williamson, Stas Mikhailov, and Engelbert Humperdinck.  

 

Historical Notes

In 2005, Temple Shalom for the Arts purchased the building and subsequently began work on restoring the theatre back to its original grandeur. Renamed the Saban Theatre in 2009, it is now used as a rental space for theatre, concerts, film shoots, and special events, as well as for religious services.

In 2012, the theatre was listed in the National Register for Historic Places. On May 8, 2013, the theatre was declared landmark #12 on the Beverly Hills Register of Historic Properties.

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

 

Historical Early Views

 

 

Newest Additions

 

 

Early LA Buildings and City Views

 

 

History of Water and Electricity in Los Angeles

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

< Back