Vista Theatre (Originally Bard's Hollywood Theatre)

(1923)* – View showing the opening of Bard’s Hollywood Theatre (later Vista Theatre), located at 4473 Sunset Drive in East Hollywood. Featuring Baby Peggy in "Tips".  


Historical Notes

Bard’s Hollywood Theatre opened on October 16, 1923 with Baby Peggy in “Tips” plus vaudeville acts on stage.

After the famous impresario Sid Grauman opened the Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in 1922, there appeared several movie palaces done in the Egyptian Revival Style in Los Angeles, Bard's Hollywood being one of the first; this wave of interest in Egyptian antiquities corresponded with the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamen in November 1922 by Howard Carter and the Earl of Carnarvon in the Valley of the Tombs near Luxor; their expedition electrified the world having recovered over 5000 relics, many composed of gold and alabaster; the theatre's exterior, done in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style, clashed notably with its Egyptian interior. *

Architect: Lewis A. Smith




(ca. 1938)* - Nighttime view of the Vista Theatre (previously Bard's Hollywood Theatre) with its new neon marquee.  


Historical Notes

By the late 1920s, Bard's Hollywood Theatre became known as the "Vista." A new neon marquee was erected in 1938 for $1,000. *

The Vista also features a variety of hand and foot prints in cement that commemorate some of the cast and crew members of films screened at the theatre. 




(1930)* – View looking east showing the junction of Hollywood and Sunset. The marquee of the Vista Theater is visible at top center.  





(1951)* - View showing the Vista Theatre in East Hollywood, 4473 Sunset Drive. Note the architectural design details (Spanish Colonial Revival Style) on the face of the building. Architect: Lewis A. Smith.  


Historical Notes

Alongside its elegant facade, the interior with its Egyptian designs is the true stunner at this old single screen palace. The original seating capacity in the auditorium held space for 838 seats. The owners later removed every other row to allow for increased legroom, reducing the number of seats to 400.^




(1955)* - A shot of the Vista Theatre from inside Stan's Drive-in Restaurant seen in "The Crooked Web" (Columbia, 1955). Thanks to Jonathan Raines for the screenshot.  


Historical Notes

The Vista appears on the cover of Suicidal Tendencies' album Lights...Camera...Revolution! (1990). It also appears in the nighttime portions of the music video for Pharrell Williams's 2013 song "Happy", from the film Despicable Me 2.

The theatre appears in the film True Romance (1993), as the place where Christian Slater's and Patricia Arquette's characters first meet. It also appears in the film The Crooked Web (1955), while the 'Walls of Babylon' scenes from D. W. Griffith's film Intolerance (1916) were filmed on the site before the theater was constructed. The Vista also appears in the made-for-television film Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt (2003).^




(1970s)* - View of the front of Egyptian revival style Vista Theater taken at night. Stores to the side are dark except for a lighted window to the right and the front of the theater which is lit up. A sign high above is also lit and reads: Vista, East Hollywood. Film on marquee is The Haunting. Photo by Tom LaBonge.   


Historical Notes

Until its refurbishment by Thomas Theaters in 1980, the theatre showed softcore pornography, then moved to hardcore porn and finally gay porn for 20 years. It also showed gay-oriented non-pornographic films, including the local premiere of The Times of Harvey Milk (1984).^




(1980s)* - View showing a lone bicycle rider passing by the Vista Theatre. Now Playing: Postman and Body Heat.  


Historical Notes

The Vista got a new screen in the early 1980s during the time it was owned by Landmark Theatres; at this time the theatre reverted to showing revival films. Landmark dropped the lease on the Vista in 1985.*




(1983)* – Vista Theatre double feature: Romeo and Juliet & West Side Story  





(1980)* - A crowd of people stand at the entranceway awaiting the grand reopening of the Egyptian revival style Vista Theater, featuring the 1934 version of "Cleopatra." Silent-film star Mary MacLaren (1896-1985) helped re-open the Vista. Baby Peggy came back: In 1923 she opened the theater.  


Historical Notes

In a manner reminiscent of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the theater's forecourt features cement handprints and footprints of notable film figures. However, the handprints and footprints at the Vista Theatre tend to include more icons of independent and cult films such as Spike Jonze, John C. Reilly and Martin Landau, among many others.^

In July 2021, director Quentin Tarantino revealed that he had purchased the theater. Tarantino has stated that the Vista will remain a first-run theater, and wherever possible, they will be screening 35mm prints.  

Click HERE for contemporary view of the Vista Theatre.


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