Ann Dvorak’s Los Angeles Pt 1 – Orpheum/Palace Theatre, 630 S. Broadway

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 236

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

The summer is winding down and the kids are back at school (at least in L.A. they are). But, before it’s gone I thought we could take a road trip around this fair city that Ann Dvorak called home for a good deal of her life and where I have spent all my days.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with Los Angeles, though the love usually wins out. One of the main reasons I have always appreciated living here is because so much of Hollywood’s history is still tangible. Where else can you find a self storage that was once a Mack Sennett sound stage, drive past the studio that Chaplin built, our wander down the same alley that Buster Keaton did?

There are also many sites connected with Ann Dvorak that I thought we could explore. When I first conceived of doing this months ago, I envisioned driving around the city with my SLR camera and documenting all these places. Then reality set in – I have a full-time job, an awesome but exhausting toddler, and there’s this thing called Google Street View, so I am making life easy on myself.

So, sit back and enjoy some posts exploring Ann Dvorak’s Los Angeles.


Our first location is in the Historic Broadway Theatre district Downtown. It was in the spring of 1914 that Anna Lehr performed on the stage of the Orpheum Theatre in a vaudeville show called “Little California.” Lehr had been travelling all around the Orpheum circuit with her daughter Ann, who was only two at the time. When the show came to L.A. in March, there is no doubt that little Anna McKim was set up in a crib backstage while her mother performed.

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Fortunately, the theater, located at 630 S. Broadway is still standing though it ceased being an Orpheum venue in 1926 when a snazzy new building was constructed a few blocks south. Now known as the Palace, it’s still gorgeous and I was fortunate enough to see a screening of Sunset Blvd. in 2011 and it really is a magnificent movie palace. Fingers crossed that this minor Ann Dvorak “landmark” will be open to the public on a more regular basis soon.


  1. Scott August 24, 2013

    An ‘Ann Dvorak Reality Tour’! What a fabulous idea.

    Hey, look at the rest of those acts on the bill with Anna — Doctor Carl Herman “The Electrical Wizard” … “Golman’s Animals” (cats, dogs and birds!) … the “Maxine Brothers and Bobby” (for comedy) … and last, but certainly not least, Willa Holt Wakefield, ‘The Lady at the piano’. Not to mention minstrels and a symphony orchestra. And all for one little dollar! Who, I ask you, would ever want to leave the Orpheum after that?

    I can’t wait for future installments.

  2. admin August 24, 2013

    If that bill was playing at the Orpheum now, I would be there in a second!

  3. Mike August 24, 2013

    Is the Palace where the TCM segment with Ben Mankiewicz was shot?

  4. admin August 24, 2013

    The segment I shot was filmed at the Million Dollar Theatre at 3rd & Broadway. There’s a handful of movie palaces Downtown that are still intact. I used to give tours of them and they are stunning.

  5. Mike August 24, 2013

    Can you share with us how that TCM feature which “co-stars” you came about? Apologies if you’ve already covered this.

    Most old movie fans are fascinated with all things pertaining to LA/Hollywood; I think more so for us who only know about it thru film/pictures/literature. No doubt a strong reason for my affection of writers like Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Ellroy, Michael Connolly……………

    Keep the tour coming.

  6. admin August 25, 2013

    I actually don’t think I have covered it before! Back when the segment was shot in 2008, I was a very active volunteer with the Los Angeles Conservancy. I was a docent for their Broadway Theaters Walking Tour and was heavily entrenched in the planning of Last Remaining Seats. When TCM went to the Conservancy staff and asked for interview names, they threw mine out. Unfortunately, between getting a major promotion a work, having a baby, and writing a book which you may be aware of, I had to give up my work with the Conservancy. Fortunately, I work around the corner from them, so I still keep in touch with the staff.

    From a very young age, I knew I was lucky to live in Los Angeles, specifically because of old Hollywood. Few things gave me a greater thrill as a youngster than seeing that Hollywood sign from the freeway.

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