CA -- Los Angeles -- Million Dollar Theater:
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- MILL$_090801_01.JPG: The Million Dollar Theatre, across from the Bradbury Building
- Wikipedia Description: Million Dollar Theater
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Million Dollar Theater on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles is one of the first movie palaces built in the United States. It opened in February 1918. It is the northernmost of the collection of historical movie palaces in the Broadway Theater District and stands directly across from the landmark Bradbury Building.
The Million Dollar was the first movie house built by entrepreneur Sid Grauman. Grauman was later responsible for Grauman's Egyptian Theatre and Grauman's Chinese Theater, both on Hollywood Boulevard, and was partly responsible for the entertainment district shifting from downtown Los Angeles to Hollywood in the mid-1920s. Sculptor Joseph Mora did the elaborate and surprising exterior ornament, including bursts of lavish Churrigueresque decoration, multiple statues, longhorn skulls and other odd features. The auditorium architect was William L. Woollett, and the designer of the twelve-story tower was Los Angeles architect Albert C. Martin, Sr.. The office building long housed the original headquarters of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
In the 1940s the theater was the second run house of the famous Orpheum circuit. Acts such as the Nat King Cole Trio, and Joe Liggins and The Honey Drippers performed on its stage. In 1949 the Million Dollar was taken over by Frank Fouce, a local Spanish language theater owner and film distributor. The Million Dollar Theater became the mecca of Spanish language, in particular Mexican, entertainment in the United States. Dolores Del Rio, Maria Felix, Augustin Lara, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Jose Feliciano, Juan Gabriel, Vicente Fernandez, and Celia Cruz are but a few of the artists that worked for Empresa Fouce. The well known mariachi Los Camperos were founded to accompany the many Ranchero performers when working the Million Dollar. It was also the first venue where the late Mexican film star Antonio Aguilar worked with his rodeo horses on stage. This is where he conceived the idea for his large arena rodeo productions.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s the theater's owner, Frank Fouce, went on to found Spanish International Communications Corp., named after his Spanish International Theater Company (which included the Million Dollar Theater and the Mayan Theater, also located in downtown Los Angeles). This company comprised the first group of Spanish language and UHF television stations in the United States; KMEX Channel 34 in Los Angeles can trace its roots to the Million Dollar Theater. The Million Dollar Theater and the Fouce Family were pioneers in the then unheard of Spanish entertainment industry.
For their efforts Frank Fouce was awarded La Aguila Azteca, Mexico's highest civilian award, by President Miguel Aleman. The theater and Frank Fouce were also honored by the Mexican actors union ANDA for their contributions to the Mexican film, recording, and entertainment industry. In addition to its very successful stage productions, the theater was also the most prominent Spanish language cinema in the United States. Every major Mexican motion picture premiered at the Million Dollar. The most well known of these films were those of the world famous Mario Moreno ("Cantinflas").
After serving as the home of a Spanish-speaking church for some years, as of 2006 the Million Dollar theater is empty, although the office building was recently renovated and converted to residential space.
In February 2008, the Million Dollar theater was re-opened, once again showing live Spanish theatre. It continues to draw large crowds with plans to begin screening major motion picture premieres.
The exterior of the theater also appeared prominently in the science fiction film Blade Runner.
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