North Hollywood in Los Angeles County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
El Portal Theatre
Hollywood Comes North
The community of North Hollywood was still a year away from being given that official name when a jewel box of a theatre called the "El Portal" opened in October of 1926.
The world was still a year away from "talkies," when the El Portal opened with a first run, silent melodrama starring Ralph Graves called Blarney, a now-lost film about an Irish prizefighter who immigrates to the United States and becomes involved with two New York girls.
The Spanish Renaissance Revival building by celebrated theatre architect Lewis A. Smith is now a mix of eras. Like so many Valley buildings, the El Portal was ravaged by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, but it was brought back to become what it is now — a grand community landmark instantly recognizable from the vivid neon Art Deco marquee. The luxurious carpeting was taken from the Shubert Theatre in Century City, home to 20th Century Fox studios. The bas relief artwork in the lobby dates from the 1930s. It is the handiwork of WPA artists, and illustrates moments in California history, from the Gold Rush to citrus harvests.
Meet The Beatles — Onscreen
Over the years, the 1400-seat theatre has been used for community fundraisers, “fright night” horror films and, in the days before cable TV, showing films of championship boxing matches. In 1959, such actors as Karl Malden, Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Stephen Boyd and Jill St. John showed up at the El Portal for a benefit premiere of the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth.
In August 1964, more than a thousand excited teenagers lined up outside the El Portal to see the new Beatles movie, A Hard Day’s Night. At the same time, about a dozen high school students began picketing nearby, carrying signs pleading for "Silence at Beatles Golden Performance," begging their fellow fans to quiet down once they got inside so everyone could hear the film and its music.
A Landmark Takes A Bow
A few years after the El Portal opened, a toddler named Donald O'Connor performed there in his family's vaudeville act. He would later make his way to Hollywood permanently, co-starring in Singin' in the Rain with Debbie Reynolds, a woman who, as a teenager, rode her bike to El Portal to catch movies.
In 1999, about 70 years after his first appearance at the El Portal, O'Connor returned to the renovated theatre to receive a lifetime achievement award
The refurbished theatre officially reopened a few months later, in January 2000. Within its walls are three theatres: the 95-seat Forum Theatre, the 42-seat Studio Theatre, and the 360-seat Main Stage, and the Judith Kaufman Art Gallery.
Erected by City of Los Angeles.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Architecture • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment • Industry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Art Deco, and the The Beatles 🎶 series lists.
Location. 34° 10.014′ N, 118° 22.558′ W. Marker is in North Hollywood, California, in Los Angeles County. Marker is at the intersection of Lankershim Boulevard and Weddington Street, on the right when traveling south on Lankershim Boulevard. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5269 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood CA 91601, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Weddington Family (within shouting distance of this marker); Harry Chandler (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lankershim Train Depot (about 600 feet away); Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fire Station No. 60North Hollywood Park (approx. 0.2 miles away); Amelia Earhart (approx. ¼ mile away); El Camino Real Mission Bell (approx. 1½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in North Hollywood.
Also see . . .
1. El Portal Theatre. (Submitted on May 3, 2019.)
2. Angels Walk L.A. Self-guided walking tours of historic neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The El Portal Theatre marker is part of the NoHo walk. (Submitted on May 3, 2019.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 22, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 3, 2019, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 119 times since then and 2 times this year. Last updated on February 21, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 3, 2019, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. 6. submitted on August 12, 2019, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.