A Comprehensive History of the New Beverly Cinema

Quentin Tarantino opens the latest chapter in an 85 year saga
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When Quentin Tarantino reopened the New Beverly Cinema earlier this month there were concerns that things would change at the venerable revival house. The Torgan family, who had operated the theater since 1978, was out and longtime employee Julia Marchese resigned in protest. Reviews have been generally positive for the latest incarnation, and as long as Tarantino stands by his pledge that “As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm” the show will go on. Marchese recently released a documentary about the New Beverly called Out of Print, but the feature-length film spends only two minutes explaining the history of the storied address, so I decided to present this timeline explaining how a candy factory became a celebrity night spot, a home for Yiddish drama, a rumba club, and a porno theater as well as one of L.A.’s earliest art cinemas. Grab a bucket of popcorn and enjoy this ride through the history of the New Beverly.

1929
A simple Spanish-style building goes up at 7165 Beverly Blvd. First tenant is likely a candymaker.

December 26, 1930
“Chocolate Dippers Wanted” ad appears in the Los Angeles Times.

1933
Bonnie Jean Candy Company appears at this address in a state agricultural guide.

October 21, 1934
At the end of their lease, the contents of Gene Colvin’s candy factory and beer parlor are put up for auction. The repeal of prohibition probably helped buoy the business, but the Great Depression was still in full swing.

1935
The Ice Cream Trade Journal reports that Phil Rivkin has “established a plant for the manufacture of ice cream” at 7165 Beverly Blvd.

August 2, 1936
California Republican Assembly headquarters is the temporary tenant of the closed factory.

November 7, 1937
Slapsy Maxie’s nightclub opens at 7165 Beverly and becomes a celebrity hotspot.

Photograph courtesy Jim Heimann

January 14, 1943
Performance permits denied by police commission. Officers testify that “show skits went beyond the limits of decency.”

November 3, 1943
Slapsy Maxie’s opens at their new location, the former Wilshire Bowl nightclub at 5665 Wilshire Blvd. It is at this larger location that Jackie Gleason and Spike Jones performed, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis make their L.A. debut. The club closed around 1950 and became a Van de Kamp’s coffee shop. Today the location is an Office Depot.

November 21, 1945
La Lafayette French restaurant offers Thanksgiving dinner in the former Beverly Blvd. nightclub building. Entertainment is by Gaston and his continental orchestra.

May 11, 1947
Los Paisanos Pan-American club, for those “interested in Latin America,” meets at The Blackhawk club. Rumba nights are offered.

February 21, 1948
The Blackhawk is now known as Cully Richards’ Blackhawk.

October 6, 1948
Impressionist Jackie Green is the Master of Ceremonies at his namesake club, offering up tap dancers and Decca singing star Bob Carroll for a fourth engagement this evening. A newspaper columnist named “Sugar” reports that Jimmy’s “200-odd pounds beats himself into a cool sweat to rock the house to laughter.”

June 5, 1949
Auction of the contents of Jackie Green’s Café includes circle booths, pedestal tables, 80 cocktail tables, a baby grand piano, and the club’s liquor license.

January 24, 1950
The Century theater, “Los Angeles’ newest legitimate showhouse” opens.

April 12, 1950
The New Globe theater opens The Banker’s Daughter, “a musical comedy hit.” Shows presented by Beverly-Fairfax Jewish Community Center. The group came under fire later that year for a scheduled screening of Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus to benefit a communist organization.

February 25, 1951
The New Globe theater, hailed as “a center of Yiddish drama in Los Angeles,” begins a program of Children’s Repertory Theater.

February 14, 1952
Herman Melville’s Billy Budd makes its West Coast premiere at the New Ben Bard Playhouse two months after opening on Broadway.

February 13, 1955
Finian’s Rainbow is staged by the Hollywood Repertory Theater.

October 10, 1957
The Playgoers Company launches a season of four plays beginning with Waiting For Godot. On Mondays and Wednesday nights, the theater hosts the Professional Actors Workshop.

December 1, 1957
Actors from the Pasadena Playhouse appear in Hollywood Repertory shows in the renamed Dahl Theater.

May 18, 1958
William Saroyan’s Cave Dwellers opens at the Dahl Theater. Director Monte Hellman recruits Roger Corman and Jack Nicholson as part of his operation.

October 23, 1958
Low-budget film producer Robert Lippert (The Fly, Last Man on Earth) divides the space into two luxurious but intimate theaters (100 and 200 seats) modeled on studio screening rooms. The Riviera-Capri begins an ambitious schedule of classic, foreign, and art house fare.

March 10, 1961
Dr. Seuss’s The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T opens at the Riviera-Capri as the theater expands its lineup of children’s films. “Supervised film parties” are offered, and a summer film series includes Nanook of the North and The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.

September 30, 1962
Revival fare continues with a screening of Mr. Arkadin (1955) by Orson Welles.

Download Summer 1962 Calendar

September 13, 1963
The New Yorker Theater, the city’s “latest specialty motion picture house,” is opened by a group of exhibitors and executives with the French comedy Monkey In Winter.

June 21, 1964
Ballet of Othello, a feature-length Soviet dance film based on the Shakespeare play, opens at the Europa theater. Works by Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky are seen through 1966.

January 15, 1967
Asian films take center stage at Frank Lee’s Europa. The Golden Buddha opens a special show celebrating Chinese New Year.

1968
Film producer Howard Ziehm purchases the theater property.

February 23, 1968
The first Russ Meyer festival is held at the theater with a triple bill including The Immoral Mr. Teas, whose title is misspelled “Immortal” in the newspaper ads, perhaps testing the waters for the fare to come.

April 12, 1968
Raw Emotions and Love Rupture at the Europa.

July 26, 1968
Assorted “Samurai Classics” play the theater.

August 9, 1969
An “Educational Documentary” called Man and Wife holds a “world premiere” at the Europa. Admission is limited to adults over 21 who must also present their marriage certificate.

September 28, 1969
The theater adopts an “exciting new policy” showing exclusively experimental adult films produced by Alex de Renzy of San Francisco.

March 11, 1970
“Denmark and Hollywood’s finest adult films” begin at 10am daily at the newly renamed Eros theater.

February 5, 1971
“Thanks to victories in San Francisco’s recent pornography trials” the Eros opens a double feature of The Confiscated and Adultery for Fun and Profit.

May, 1972
Ads for X-Rated films continue at what is now called the Beverly theater. Free candy, popcorn, and soft drinks are offered for a screening of Sex and the Working Girl.

August, 1977
Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler takes a $1 million dollar loss and bans all ads for adult theaters in the newspaper.

May 5, 1978
Losing customers without advertising, Ziehm leases the theater to Sherman Torgan and his partners, who take over operations of the New Beverly. Their first double feature is A Streetcar Named Desire and Last Tango in Paris.

July 18, 2007
Sherman Torgan dies while bicycling in Santa Monica. His son Michael takes over operations.

February 18, 2010
“As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich,” Tarantino told the Hollywood Reporter shortly after purchasing the property. “The New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm.”

October 1, 2014
Tarantino takes over operations at the New Beverly.

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