THS Traveler: John Lelecas in Los Angeles

THS member JOHN LELECAS of Florida kindly shares his reflections on a recent trip to Los Angeles. 


I just returned from an exciting visit to Los Angeles to partake of this year’s “Last Remaining Seats” program in downtown L.A.

The kickoff event was at the wonderful Los Angeles Theatre on Broadway. Robert Morse and Michele Lee were on stage to introduce their 1967 film “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying”. Hosting a sellout crowd, the old Los Angeles Theatre looked more tired than ever. Most of the lighting was by floods, the traveler curtain apparently had finally refused to operate, but the crowd loved every minute of the evening.

The next Wednesday event was at the wonderful Million Dollar Theatre, Sid Grauman’s 1918 movie palace, and sporting a new paint job, the theatre looked remarkably beautiful. The movie was the 1951 Alfred Hitchcock thriller “Strangers on a Train” starring Farley Granger and Robert Walker. The audience was treated to two curtains and lovely red atmospheric lighting. Unfortunately the sound was barely audible at the upper balcony level, and the picture was less than perfect. Luckily those of us who have seen the film a gazillion times knew the dialogue anyway, and the younger crowd was awestruck by the destruction of the carousel. Suffice it to say, the sellout crowd was plenty pleased.

I also took time to visit the newly renovated Wilshire Theatre (Saban) and was given a nice tour by Box Office Manager Brayan Santillan.  All of the dark paint has been removed, and the art deco interior sparkled in silver and gold. The proscenium arch with its zigzag decorations and the surrounding fretwork design are dazzling. I also met with Sherry Appleby, executive director of the temple. Both of my hosts were most gracious and wanting very much to share their theatre and make people aware of what lies beyond the entrance doors.

I am hoping perhaps the Los Angeles Conservancy might be able to help with events. The movie screen remains in place, but projectors have been removed. I know in Florida that has not stopped the showing of movies in theatres in Miami and Miami Beach. It will be gratifying to see success at the Saban. It is too wonderful a theatre to lie dark.

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