Saban Theatre, 2006
|Address||8440 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, California
|Owner||Temple of the Arts|
|Current use||Live entertainment venue|
|Opened||September 19, 1930|
|Architect||S. Charles Lee|
Fox Wilshire Theatre
|Area||0.6 acres (0.24 ha)|
|Architectural style||Art Deco|
|NRHP Reference #||12000164|
|Added to NRHP||April 3, 2012|
The Saban Theatre (pronunciation: // sə-BAHN) is an historic theatre in Beverly Hills, California, formerly known as the Fox Wilshire Theater. It is an Art Deco structure at the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Hamilton Drive designed by architect S. Charles Lee and is considered a classic Los Angeles landmark. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 3, 2012.
Located on Wilshire Boulevard, the exterior of the building with its simple Art Deco ornamentation is one of the first buildings seen by pedestrians and drivers entering the eastern boundary of the city of Beverly Hills.
The Saban Theatre has been both a significant cultural and architectural landmark for Los Angeles and Beverly Hills since its opening as the Fox Wilshire Theatre on September 19, 1930. It was originally designed with 2500 seats by noted theatre architect S. Charles Lee to be a major film presentation house, even including a stage for Vaudeville acts before the films.
Over its 85-year history, the Saban has been the site of numerous film premieres, exclusive first-run film engagements, live concerts and touring Broadway shows. Despite several renovations, the interior remains mostly intact with its columned two-story rotunda lobby, spacious orchestra and balcony level seating for 2,000, and its silver, gold and black proscenium and organ screens. The connection with architect S. Charles Lee, a long-time resident of the city of Beverly Hills, makes the Saban significant also as an example of Lee’s transition from the French Regency style of the Tower Theatre and other Los Angeles Theatres to the nascent Art Deco style that would come to dominate movie palace architecture in the 1930s.
The Saban Theatre opened as the Fox Wilshire Theatre and for several decades was one of 20th Century Fox's premiere theaters, serving as a movie palace until a 1981 renovation converted it into a stage venue. It was operated by the Nederlander Organization from 1981 to 1989. It is now regularly used as a live performance venue for comedy, music, television, film shoots, screenings, and community intercultural events such as PaleyFest. Temple of the Arts has owned and operated the theatre since 2005.
In March 2009, owners announced that the Wilshire would be renamed the Saban Theatre in recognition of a $5 million grant from Haim and Cheryl Saban. The funds have been used to further restoration efforts on the orchestra, proscenium and marquee. It also houses programs by Temple of the Arts, which aims to integrate the arts and Judaism.
Beverly Hills Performing Arts Center led the movement to have the city of Beverly Hills create a Historic Preservation Ordinance passing the Mills Act, which supports historic theatres. BHPAC secured placement of the venue on The Federal and State Registry of Historic Places and designation of the theatre as a Beverly Hills landmark.
BHPAC'S mission was summarized as “Awakening a Sleeping Beauty," engaging design firm Evergreene Architectural Arts, which specializes in historic theatre restoration. Past evergreen projects include Radio City Music Hall, The Metropolitan Opera, Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre, Hollywood’s Pantages and Santa Barbara’s Granada Theatre. They guided the restoration of the theatre orchestra and proscenium with the help of the archives of renowned theatre architect S. Charles Lee at the UCLA School of Architecture.
In conjunction with Canyon Productions, management began an extensive update of the stage, lighting, and sound systems so that performances of Broadway shows and live concerts could be enhanced. State of the art robotic cameras were also installed to capture live performance in high quality.
The Steve Tisch Cinema Center
To reawaken the storied film history of the theatre, philanthropist film producer Steve Tisch gifted the naming rights for the Steve Tisch Cinema Center. This endowment enabled the installation of a state of the art film projection system as the theatre continues to host opening nights for major film festivals and special screenings.
Notable premieres and events at the Saban have included
- How to Marry a Millionaire starring Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall (November 1953)
- Stevie Nicks's "White Winged Dove" tour (1981), filmed for an HBO special
- Los Angeles premiere of Paramount Pictures's Dreamgirls (December 11, 2006)
- Taping of the Season 1 finale episode "Journey" of the TV series Glee
In May 1944, thirteen-year-old Patsy Ruth Brown disappeared after leaving producer Jack Schwarz's Fox Wilshire Building penthouse. Schwarz told juvenile officers that Patsy had spent the afternoon in his apartment. That evening he gave her three dollars for a taxi. According to Schwarz, Patsy left in the company of an older girl named O'Hara, whom Patsy had brought with her. Schwarz said that Patsy had begged him numerous times for a role in one of his films. Her only film appearance (uncredited) was in Nearly Eighteen (1943). A taxi driver who took Patsy to Union Station told the police that Patsy said she was going to San Bernardino to visit her father, an employee of a Barstow, California rock company. However, the taxi driver's tip failed to help police trace the missing girl.
- "Weekly list of actions taken on properties: 4/02/12 through 4/06/12". National Park Service. April 13, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
- National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Fox Wilshire Theatre, Beverly Hills, California, National Register #12000164.
- "Google Maps Sabal Theatre Location". April 13, 2015. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
- "History". Saban Theatre. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- Drake, Sylvie (28 September 1989). "Why the Nederlanders Are Out at Wilshire". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- "PaleyFest 2010". Paley Center for Media. 9 March 2010. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- Pfefferman, Naomi (28 February 2008). "Rabbi-impresario brings Broadway to Beverly Hills". Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles (jewishjournal.com). Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- Clark, Laura (6 March 2009). "Wilshire theater nabs new name". Variety. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- "BHPAC". Variety. 6 March 2014.
- King, Susan (6 March 2014). "Steve Tisch Cinema Center opens May 1 at Saban Theatre". Variety.
- "Paramount Pictures' Premiere Of "Dreamgirls"". Zimbio. 11 December 2006. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- "Search Pushed for Girl Seeking Movie Career". Los Angeles Times. 21 May 1944. p. 10.
- "Taxi Driver's Tip Fails to Trace Girl". Los Angeles Times. 25 May 1944. p. 12.