Ivar Theatre

(1960s)^ - A look at the Ivar as a legit house running "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off." Location: 1605 N. Ivar  


Historical Notes

Built by restaurant owner Yegishe Harout in 1951, the Ivar Theatre presented stage plays until the 1970s. Plays produced here include, “The Barrett’s of Wimpole Street”, “The Glass Menagerie”, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “The Pajama Game”. In the 1970s it began showing adult films along with burlesque performances. Seating was provided for 350 in orchestra and balcony levels.




(1971)^ – View looking north on Ivar Ave as seen from Selma Ave showing the Ivar Theatre.  The show playing is “Godspell.” It opened December 21, 1971 after a sold out run at the Taper Forum. To the north of the theatre is the Hollywood Branch Library (destroyed by fire in 1982).  

Historical Notes

"The Fantasticks" had it's first L.A. run at the theatre beginning in November 1961 with Bill Bixby as the boy and Jack Betts as El Gallo. "Under the Yum Yum Tree" with Bixby, Richard Erdman and Regina Gleason (and then a string of other male leads) had an engagement of nearly two years beginning in May 1962 and running until March 1964. The Grateful Dead performed at the Ivar in 1966. "Tiny Alice" also was part of the 1966 season.*




(ca. 1980)^ – Ivar Theatre with 'Live Midnite Show', located at 1605 N. Ivar Avenue in Hollywood. Sign reads: "Burlesk - Live Girls Totaly Nude on Stage". - "You'd be Crazy to Miss it".  


Historical Notes

In the 1970s, the Ivar began showing adult films along with burlesque performances.

"It's cold out there. Colder than a ticket taker's smile at the Ivar Theatre on Saturday night"  -- Tom Waits, "Nighthawks at the Diner" - 1975.

At the rear section of the building, behind the stage, was a club named ‘The Sewers of Paris’, later by 1977 it was a gay bar named ‘Gaslight’, and in 1996 it was renamed ‘The Opium Den’. It became used as a green room for the theatre and for receptions.*




(1981)^ – Close-up view of the Ivar Theatre after it became a burlesque venue and X-rated movie house. Sign at right reads: Amateur Night Thursday 10 pm; Camera Night Every Sun & Tues.  


Historical Notes

The Ivar was lewd and notorious in its day. It was described by its patrons as 'a chamber of desperation, a mausoleum for souls -- on and off the runway.' Ross MacLean, one time stage manager and spotlight operator for two years, says 'It's difficult to convey how bizarrely un-sexy and un-romantic the place was. A lot of the girls just danced around in street clothes, and took them off with about as much charm as someone undressing in a locker room.' *




(1985)* – Ivar Theatre with the construction of the new Hollywood Branch Library, the Frances Howard Goldwyn/Hollywood Regional Library, designed by Frank Gehry. The previous library burned down in 1982.  


Historical Notes

Sunday and Tuesday evenings were camera nights, where for the cover charge the customers could take as many pictures as they liked. If a customer put a dollar on the catwalk, the performer would give him an up-close and very personal view of her body.*




(1987)** – Only in Hollywood! - Ivar Theatre burlesque house with Hollywood branch of Los Angeles Public Library next door.  


Historical Notes

A new Frank Gehry-design library was built just north of the theatre in 1986. The formal symmetry of the new library was a departure from the famous architect's typical body of work. A massive central tower is flanked by two smaller ones, each with north-facing skylights. This new design did not get the most positive reviews when the library opened. Click HERE to see more on the Hollywood Branch Library.




(2005)^.^– Ivar Theatre as it appeared after its 2002 facelift. Photo courtesy of Ken McIntyre  


Historical Notes

In 1989 the Inner City Cultural Center purchased the building and did both their own shows as well as rentals. In 1996 the building went into foreclosure following the death of the ICCC founder, C. Bernard Jackson. After a 2002 renovation, it emerged as the home of the California Youth Theatre. That group moved to another venue in the middle of the decade. Following their exit there were several seasons of music and plays. At various times the venue has been advertised as the New Ivar Theatre.




(ca. 2018)** - Nighttime view of the Ivar Theatre, now being operated by the Los Angeles Film School, 1605 N. Ivar Ave.  


Historical Notes

Since 2012, the Ivar Theater has been operated by the Los Angeles Film School as an active classroom space.



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