LOS ANGELES – The Million Dollar Theater is one of the gems of Broadway’s Theater District, and while not officially known to be haunted, it contains over 100 years of LA stories that tell us about the past. .
What would you like to know
- The Million Dollar Theater is one of the gems of the Broadway Theater District, built by showman Sid Grauman and opened in 1918
- The theater was both a concert hall and a movie theater and, over the years, has hosted the biggest stars of the world and has become a popular venue for musical acts in the Spanish language.
- The theater is now a location for the Secret Movie Club, which shows classic 35mm films
- The Secret Movie Club hosts a month-long Halloween-focused movie program, culminating in an all-day Halloween-a-thon
In recent years, the theater has also become one of the venues for the Secret Movie Club, which has helped revive the space and has attracted volunteer historians like Steve Gerdes, who comes to the screenings to share some of his knowledge.
Gerdes carries a book filled with historic photos of the Million Dollar Theater which he shows visitors while explaining the theater’s rich history. He explains, for example, that over the years many of the world’s greatest music, stage and screen performers have made Million Dollar appearances.
“A lot of great bands have played here,” said Gerdes. “Artie Shaw, Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday performed here, and they would be showing a movie in addition to the live music.”
Charlie Chaplin also appeared. Gerdes showed off a photo of Chaplin playing the theater pipe organ with Sid Grauman, who built the theater, as well as the famous Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
Although the heyday of the theater has passed, its former glory is constantly remembered. Backstage are the boxes that would have hosted some of the biggest stars of the stage and cinema, now dark and dilapidated, chilling reminders of the golden age of theater.
Gerdes pointed out that many decorative architectural elements in the theater, including some animals, also give the space an air of mystery.
“A lot of the characters are taken from a children’s story that was very popular during the construction of this place called ‘the king of the river of gold’,” said Gerdes, pointing his flashlight at a brooding figure. ‘a dog above the stage. proscenium. The dog is a character in the story, which revolves around two brothers and has supernatural elements.
“[In the story] because the two brothers were such wicked people, the southwest wind blew through the valley and destroyed everything, ”Gerdes said.
Gerdes always brings a flashlight to the theater so he can point out details to visitors, like the golden eagles flanking the balcony. They were once gilded but were repainted many years ago when the theater ceased to function regularly and was mainly used as a location for filming.
Throughout the month of October, moviegoers have come to the Secret Movie Club’s Halloween series to see classic horror films released on 35mm. Secret Movie Club founder Craig Hamill has said Halloween is one of the best times to screen movies.
“October is like our Christmas,” Hammill said. “When you show horror movies, everyone comes out. So in a strange way, this is what we consider to be the start of our year. You go through stresses and fears that you have to go through but in a safe space, and you know everyone else is experiencing it with you. “
The Secret Movie Club’s Halloween-a-thon includes everything from Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” to John Carpenter’s original “Halloween”, but Gerdes said he doesn’t care too much about horror movies. It enriches the cinematographic experience with a lived story.
“The [Broadway] theaters are so special because they are just one of a kind place, ”said Gerdes.