Avalon Hollywood

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Avalon Hollywood
Former namesThe Hollywood Playhouse, The WPA Federal Theater, El Capitan Theatre, The Jerry Lewis Theatre, The Hollywood Palace, The Palace
Address1735 N. Vine Street
LocationHollywood, California, U.S.
Coordinates34°06′10″N 118°19′37″W / 34.1027°N 118.3270°W / 34.1027; -118.3270Coordinates: 34°06′10″N 118°19′37″W / 34.1027°N 118.3270°W / 34.1027; -118.3270
OwnerHollywood Entertainment Partners
TypeConcert hall, nightclub, afterhours, lounge, restaurant, bar
Genre(s)Big band, rock and roll, pop, electronic dance
Seating typeStanding room only, dance floor
OpenedJanuary 24, 1927

Avalon (or Avalon Hollywood) is a historic nightclub in Hollywood, California, located near the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, at 1735 N. Vine Street. It has previously been known as The Hollywood Playhouse, The WPA Federal Theatre, El Capitan Theatre, The Jerry Lewis Theatre, The Hollywood Palace and The Palace. It has a capacity of 1,500, and is located across the street from the Capitol Records Building.


The Hollywood Playhouse[edit]

Originally known as The Hollywood Playhouse, the theater at 1735 N. Vine opened for the first time on January 24, 1927.[1] It was designed in the Spanish Baroque style by the architectural team of Henry L. Gogerty (1894–1990) and Carl Jules Weyl (1890–1948) in 1926–1927.[2]

Federal Theatre Project[edit]

1937 poster for the Federal Theatre Project production of George Bernard Shaw's Captain Brassbound's Conversion at the Hollywood Playhouse

During the Great Depression, the Hollywood Theatre operated under the Federal Theatre Project of the Works Progress Administration, and was a venue for government-sponsored theatrical events.[1]

The El Capitan Theatre[edit]

Later, the theatre hosted numerous CBS Radio Network programs, including Fanny Brice's Baby Snooks show and Lucille Ball's My Favorite Husband program.

In the 1940s, the theatre was renamed The El Capitan Theatre, and was used for a long-running live burlesque variety show called Ken Murray's Blackouts.[3]

In the 1950s, still under the name of El Capitan, the theatre became a television studio, and it was from a set on its stage that Richard Nixon delivered his famous "Checkers speech" on September 23, 1952. This event is often mistakenly said (especially on the Internet) to have taken place at the El Capitan Theatre, nearby on Hollywood Boulevard, though that theater was never a television studio, and in 1952 was operating as a movie house called the Paramount Theatre.

The theatre was also home to The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Lawrence Welk Show, and This is Your Life.[3]

The Jerry Lewis Theatre[edit]

American Broadcasting Company (ABC) television renovated the building spending $400,000. Jerry Lewis used the theater/radio studio for his weekly Saturday night television program (September–December 1963)[1], and appropriately renamed the theater The Jerry Lewis Theatre. The stage had an existing rope counterweight fly system. The backstage second floor fly weights are located stage right. Located stage left is the double-load in doors that the stage alley connected and leads to and from Vine Street. All stage scenery was moved in and out of the stage load-in entrance.

Opposite this stage load-in door was the "star dressing room" which was completely rebuilt for Jerry Lewis. The first floor dressing room had a small front bar with a mirrored back bar, an upright piano, and a sofa lounge area. A circular spiral metal stairway lead to the second floor, a make-up mirrored counter desk, with a Hollywood bed/couch. The adjacent toilet suite was equipped with a wall mounted telephone for Lewis to conduct business while using the facilities and his make-up area. The front stage apron, in front of the proscenium was extended by filling (pouring concrete) into the original orchestra pit. A stage centered 4' wide concrete camera ramp connected the stage apron with a 6' deep camera aisle against the auditorium back wall. The "level" concrete ramp and stage apron supported the Chapman Crane required for video taping talent and performers.

The TV engineer control booth was situated on the left rear auditorium side facing the stage (which would be camera left). Behind the control booth was the video tape control room where Ampex video tape machines were located. A Vine Street access door provided entry and load-in for equipment. In the auditoriums' right side (camera right) the concrete level floor, connecting the apron, was filled in to the back auditorium wall. This became the orchestra/band area. William "Bill" Morris III was the show's art director. He positioned a host platform on the left side stage, which had hydraulic lifts, during the course of Lewis conducting interviews with guests, the "home base" desk seating area could be raised 8 feet (up in the air above the stage floor).

The balcony audience could view the host and talent and the Chapman Crane Camera could be at eye level with talent. Stage center was reserved as a performance area. New audience seating was located either side of the center camera aisle. The electricians control area was balcony located. ABC completely rewired for all electrical and video and sound equipment and soundproof booths. Offices on the Vine Street front second floor were renovated for the production/Producers office complex. A staircase entrance located on the front left outdoor lobby led to the second floor offices.

The box office, on the right of the outdoor lobby, open daily for the ABC Page staff to distribute audience pass-tickets for The Jerry Lewis Show and all of ABC's Talmadge Lot TV shows, including the Lawrence Welk show and game shows, The entire building's exterior and interior were freshly finished and painted, new carpets in the main lobby, center staircase up to the cleaned up balcony floor, refurbished balcony seating.

The Hollywood Palace[edit]

Following the cancelation of the Lewis show, ABC renamed the building The Hollywood Palace. Launched in January 1964, The Hollywood Palace was a one-hour weekly variety series with a rotating roster of headliner guest hosts. Bing Crosby served as m.c. in the debut show, the series finale and more than thirty episodes in between. Other hosts included Liberace, Jimmy Durante, Ginger Rogers, Victor Borge, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Cyd Charisse & Tony Martin, Van Johnson, Betty Hutton, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Judy Garland, Alice Faye & Phil Harris, Groucho Marx and Louis Armstrong [2]. The program was a huge success and continued for more than seven years (194 episodes), concluding on February 4, 1970.

ABC continued to use the studio-building, taping replacement programming-series, and other TV broadcast programs. (ABC relocated the Lawence Welk Syndicated Show from their ABC-lot stage E back to the Palace in the mid 1970s, until the Welk Group moved the show to CBS Television City for two of its latter seasons.) The Hollywood Palace television series was an ABC-TV West Coast production inaugurated by the network to compete with the Sunday Night CBS-TV Ed Sullivan show. ABC approached Nick Vanoff and Bill Harbach, open for their suggesting a prestige variety hour format. In response to the network, Vanoff and Harbach asked Bing Crosby to be primary host for a variety-vaudeville format program, and to break up his hosting assignments with notable Hollywood movie celebrities alternating host assignments. With Vanoff/Harbach's New York based production affiliation with the Perry Como TV series, the network bought the variety concept as a high-end mid-season replacement.

Since ABC had cancelled The Jerry Lewis Show, the studio facility had been completely renovated. The Network needed something to fulfill their long-term lease for the stage-studio space. ABC-TV never wanted to be burdened with property, preferring to rent a facility. Zodiac Productions established by Vanoff and Harbach brought together their same staff that they had put together four months previously taping a Bing Crosby Color Special (Aug 1963) for CBS-TV at NBC-Burbank. Jim Trittipo, as art director, Hub Braden, as his assistant art director, Rita Scott, as associate producer, Jerry McPhie as production manager, Les Brown and his musicians as musical direction team, including a writing team and talent management team. Trittipo established the opening format for the show by designing an opening "look" setting, which, after the Host introduction and musical segment opened the program, the original set would transform—on camera—into a new stage setting for the next performer and act!

By not going into a commercial break, sometimes the second act and setting would transform into a third act altered stage set transformation. This became the novelty for the variety hour. And made the audience stick with the tube by not switching channels during the normal network scheduled commercial break. Because the producers had Las Vegas and Reno showroom acts available to import for the variety acts, the producers were able to fly these performers into LA-Burbank for the show. The adjacent parking lot became an extra bonus for the show to book in high-flying wire walking and aerialist & trapeze performers, as well as animal acts which required large set-up space.

These types of acts were not possible on Ed Sullivan's CBS show. Frank Sinatra's lone visit as host paired him with jazz legend Count Basie. Sammy Davis jr. was a frequent guest performer and Dean Martin's two hosting assignments in 1964 led to his own NBC-TV variety series. Vanoff and Harbach allowed Martin to come to the studio on tape day with very little, if any, rehearsal. Never rehearsing musical segments, he sang numbers cold while the band played keep-up! Rowan and Martin, ditto! The Palace was a spring board for many personalities getting a series shot. Fred Astaire hosted four shows which opened negotiations with NBC-TV for their own Fred Astaire Emmy Winning Special. The program revived many show business careers.

The network converted the Hollywood Palace studio from a black and white camera studio into their first West Coast Color Broadcast facility during the 1965 summer lay-off. On September 18, 1965, the Palace initiated their broadcasting into all Color. The Lawrence Welk Hour TV show moved from the ABC-Talmadge lot alternating their taping schedule with the Hollywood Palace. ABC installed color cameras and renovated the Welk Stage to color during this period. The Welk show moved back to the ABC lot after their 1966–67 season of shows. Vanoff and Harbach produced the King Sisters Variety Show as a pilot in August 1967. This pilot sold and was slotted into the studio taping each week in front of the Palace's end week schedule. The studio facility was in full use.

The Palace[edit]

In 1978, ABC sold the theatre to private businessman Dennis Lidtke, who restored it and reopened it four years later with an abridged name, The Palace. The theater's audience seating area was removed. The audience raked floor was leveled to flush (same level) out from the lobby entrance area to the stage apron. Bands were located on the stage area. A double staircase was installed against the auditoriums back wall with an open arch which connected to the lobby staircase first landing, for balcony access, where tables and seating were arranged for balcony viewing of the band and dance floor below. One early production using the revamped facility was the 1983 Sheena Easton HBO concert special, Sheena Easton Live at the Palace, Hollywood. It was the venue for the performance portion of Bruce Willis' ACE nominated HBO special "The Return of Bruno," which was directed by Jim Yukich. It was written and produced by Bruce Willis, Paul Flattery and Jim Yukich.

Avalon (as The Palace) is featured prominently in the film Against All Odds.

The punk band Ramones played their 2263rd and final show here on August 6, 1996. It was recorded for billboard live for the album We're Outta Here!. The building has hosted the American Music Awards.[4]


1735 Vine was purchased by Hollywood Entertainment Partners in September 2002, and renamed Avalon. Since 2004, the venue has been open to the public on Friday's for CONTROL and Saturday's "Avaland".[5][6] "Control" is focused around dubstep, Trap and Electro, while "Avaland" brings in the bigger named DJs, mainly playing house music, trance and techno music,. Giant Club helps coordinate, run, and promote these events.[7] One of the owners, Jonathan Lyons used to own and operate the original Avalon located in Boston, Massachusetts at 15 Lansdowne Street in a historic building of its own, right behind Fenway Park. The original Avalon and its sister club Axis were closed and demolished in 2007 to make way for The House of Blues.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Avalon Hollywood: History". Archived from the original on March 7, 2008. Retrieved July 11, 2009.
  2. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: Palace Theater
  3. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-12-08. Retrieved 2007-01-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-02-11. Retrieved 2007-01-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2012-06-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2012-06-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ http://www.giantclub.com/avalon/[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "A LOOK AT BOSTON'S MUSIC VENUES THROUGH THE YEARS". mmmmaven.com. 2016-08-29. Retrieved 2018-04-11.

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