Pantages Theatre

A point of interest on the Lost Souls of Hollywood Boulevard GPS-guided audio walking tour.

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Audio Transcript

The Hollywood Pantages Theatre is often referred to as the last true movie palace. It was the last theatre built by Alexander Pantages, a vaudeville impresario, who built, owned and operated 84 theatres in the United States and Canada in the early 1900s.

Largely touted as one of the most beautiful theatres in the world, the Hollywood Pantages Theatre is glamorous in all it’s Art Deco glory. It first opened its doors on June 30, 1930, and pulled double-duty—alternating between films and vaudeville acts throughout the day—but this lasted a mere two years. The Great Depression did a number on it’s books and, like other theatres around America, it was forced to economize meaning it largely operated as a movie theatre, though live entertainment made the occasional appearance.

The theatre was sold a few years after it’s opening due to the fact that owner Alexander Pantages faced crippling publicity after being accused, convicted then subsequently acquitted of a crime. He sold his chain of theatres to RKO, a competing theatre chain, for significantly less than what he’d paid to build them.

In 1949, Howard Hughes—American business magnet and producer of films like 1930’s Hell’s Angels and 1943’s The Outlaw, which he also directed—took over RKO Studios. He loved the Hollywood Pantages Theatre so much that this is where he chose to set up his plushy office. And he apparently, he loved it so much that he decided to return after his death.

A young, tall, lanky version of Hughes is sometimes seen coming around the corner to the executive offices where he frightens workers by disappearing into a wall. Workers say that they can tell he’s on his way when the room starts to smell as cigarette smoke, despite the fact that he wasn’t a fan.

But Hughes isn’t the only dead patron of the arts that roams the theatre. In 1932, an unnamed female patron died in the mezzanine during a show. Some employees of the theatre suspect that she was an aspiring singer because now-a-days when the auditorium is dark you can sometimes hear the voice of a woman singing. She lives out her days performing for no one in the dark theatre—though one time audio engineers did pick up a female voice of someone who wasn’t visible on stage during a live performance.

Perhaps if you visit the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, you’ll get a private, ghostly show. It’s also said that Alexander Pantages himself haunts the theatre as well, so you might cross paths with him as well.

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Lost Souls of Hollywood

This POI is featured on the Lost Souls of Hollywood Audio Walking Tour, part of the Tripvia Tours mobile app available for Android & Apple.

All audio walking tours are self-guided and include fully narrated commentary.

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