Monday, May 26, 2008

Visionary or Fool

The new manager of the Million Dollar Theatre, Robert Voskanian, a tall and skeletal Armenian immigrant has dabbled in moviemaking and spent years running two big downtown discos before taking on the theater's renovation. The man is either a visionary or a fool, betting on the chance of restoring the Million Dollar to even a quarter of its past glory. Voskanian has spent the legendary theater's title sum to restore it as a multicultural venue.

Located at Broadway and 3rd Street, the Million Dollar was once considered the grande dame of the marvelous movie palaces that line L.A.'s historic theater district. It was Sid Grauman's first movie house in town, designed by noted architect Albert C. Martin Sr. and hailed as one of the finest in the world when it opened on Feb. 1, 1918, to a crowd of celebrities including Charlie Chaplin and Cecil B. DeMille. For decades, it would serve as the site of glitzy Hollywood premieres, often preceded by live vaudeville shows featuring the likes of Buster Keaton and Gloria Swanson.

In recent decades, the theater has fallen on hard times. It had served most recently as a church before the faithful also abandoned it five years ago, leaving its once-gilded interior inexplicably whitewashed. Then, it just sat empty, but soon that will all change.

No comments: