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History Summaries
Palms, Los Angeles 90034

The Palms Theater
Los Angeles, CA

3751 Motor Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 90034

by Vaughn Aubuchon

Mom used to go to the Palms Theater as a young girl - in the 1920's and 1930's, she lived four blocks away at 3345 Mentone Ave.
I went during the early 1950's.







Theater Location

Movies I Saw There

History Comments


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Click on Photo for larger image
Palms Theater, Motor Ave. Los Angeles - 1928
Image from "I forget where".
Online LA County Library, possibly ?

Palms Theater, 1928
Motor Ave, Los Angeles

Too bad this is a double exposure.
The MGM silent feature film "
Love" was playing, with John Gilbert and Greta Garbo, who had a real-life "thing" going on at the time (1927).
Later, Greta got cold feet, and dumped him at the altar. Good move. He was a dipsomaniac. He died at age 38, in 1936.

In the other exposure, I can make out
Olsen and Johnson, and also Jay C. Flippen, and maybe I, Iago.

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My mom graduated from Hamilton High.
In 1960, I spent 10th grade there on Robertson Blvd.

Click on Photo for larger image
Palms Theater in 1938 - Motor Ave, Los Angeles
Image from Don McCuaig

"Buchaneer" and
"52nd Street"
were playing.


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Click on Photo for larger image
Jim Allen and Merritt Stone at Palms Theater in 1954 - Motor Ave, Los Angeles
Image from Don McCuaig

"Garden of Evil" and
"Khyber Patrol"
were playing.

The men in the photo are Jim Allen and
Merritt Stone.

Jim Allen and Merritt Stone
Jim Allen and Merritt Stone

I just saw a 1970s photo of the old Meralta Theater.
There is a sign between the 2 marquees that says,
"A Stone & Allen Theater"
Apparently, Jim and Merritt took over the Meralta in 1968, according to "the projectionist" at
Cinema Treasures.


Click on Photo for
larger updated image with far more detail.

alley between Mentone Ave. and Motor ave.
Old Palms Theater Seating, Los Angeles
3751 Motor Ave., Los Angeles 34, Calif.
Theater Seating Chart


(This is my best recollection - may not be quite right.)
The orange seat is where I usually sat.
Isle access was the way to go. Still is.

"EllaJade" at
Cinema Treasures comments says -
"I can't recall anything about the inside of the theater except the neon clock over the exit, just to the left of the screen."
Was it, maybe, something like this?
Belfast Sparkling Water neon theater clock

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Click on Photo for larger image
Palms Theater, Motor Ave., Palms, CA in 1960
Image from

"Psycho" and
"Crack in the Mirror"
were playing.

There was a renovation in 1960, before this photo.
1. One change
was that the front doors were moved toward Motor Ave. 10 feet or so, which enveloped the ticket booth inside the theater.

2. Another change was that a new smooth facade was added of vertical bars, covering up the lower windows which had been visible for over 30 years. The 3-step Spanish architecture facade had been removed, reducing the overall height of the front of the building by about 10 feet.

3. Another apparent change
was that a balcony was added, since Farrah Fawcett is shown walking up the "stairs to the balcony", in the photo shown at
Cinema Treasures. The Farrah photos were taken in Jan. 1977, while filming the "Charlie's Angels" episode "The Big Tap-Out".

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1962 or 1963

"There was a big fire at the theater in '62-'63, and it was closed for awhile. When it reopened, it had a new, solid-gold curtain."

from "nightfly" at comments at Cinema Treasures.

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Click on Photo for larger imagePalms Theater, Motor Ave., Palms, CA in 1985 - Don Nakagiri
Image from

Palms theater manager Don Nakagiri, from 1985.
Check out the new Caddy.

"Police Acamemy 2" and
"The Breakfast Club"
were playing.

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Palms Theater Location


shown in yellow
on a 1939 WPA Map
Click on Photo for larger image
1939 WPA map Showing Palms Theater
Scale: 1 inch = 300 feet = 1 football field

The Works Progress Administration was created by the Franklin Roosevelt presidency, to get people back to work during the depression.
Not only did they build dams and reservoirs all over the place, but they also MADE MAPS! Such as this one. There are thousands of them in large local libraries.

Proximity to MGM's MAIN LOT

The huge
MGM Studios main lot (now Sony) is just 2 blocks south of here, on Washington Blvd. in Culver City, where they have always been. Just walk across Venice Blvd., turn left on Washington Blvd. and walk down about 400 feet, and you are at the MGM Front Gate colonnade.

MGM was never in Hollywood, as they have LIED about at the beginning of every movie they have ever made. Tinseltown BS. Culver City, baby, not Hollywood. Not even adjacent.

If you look straight down Motor Ave. toward Venice Blvd., from the new Post Office location, the
MGM giant water tower is visible, and has been for over 95 years.

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Movies I Saw at the Palms


1951 - The Day the Earth Stood Still
1952 - High Noon (I was 8)
1953 - Abbott and Costello
        - Hopalong Cassidy Serial
        - Laurel and Hardy
Our Gang
        - Rocketman Serial
           (rocket on back, dials on chest)
        - Roy Rogers
        - Shane
        - Superman Serial
        - Tarzan
The Little Rascals
        - The Three Stooges
        - War of the Worlds
(Don McCuaig moved away)

1954 - Creature from the Black Lagoon
        - Rear Window
        - River of No Return
        - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
        - Them
1955 - Blackboard Jungle
        - Rebel Without A Cause
1956 - Giant

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Historical Comments


The Palms Movie Theater - 1954

On most Saturdays circa 1952, I used to go to the matinee at the Palms Theater with my buddy, Don McCuaig, who lived at 3401 Mentone Ave.

The Palms Theater was located
at 3751 Motor Ave. at Venice Blvd.
Inexplicably, I still remember the owners - Jim Allen and Merritt Stone.

I watched many movies here.
My favorite was the Rocket Man serial.

The old bicycle shop across the street is still there. And it's still a bicycle shop,
Palms Cycle at 3770 Motor Ave.!

Across Motor Ave., down at the corner with Venice Blvd., still stands the

Palms Post Office in 1941,
which is now The Surplus Store,
at 10341 Venice Blvd.
In the 1930's, it was a bank. There was a robbery there in 193?. I believe the culprits were arrested in Santa Monica (check online newspaper archives).


Cinema Treasures
Historical comments from a former Palms Theater
projectionist, Bill Gabel,
can be seen at
Cinema Treasures website quote -

"1951- Jim and Merritt take over from Ralph Hines
1960- Remodeled- indoor box office
first recorded phone messages (VE 7-7171)
1962- Ralph Hines retires- Bob Lumpkin projects
1969- Lumpkin leaves- Mike Schleiger projects
1974- Schleiger leaves- J and M lease to Great Western
1980- Jim and Merritt sell Palms theater to the USPO . . ."

198? - Palms Theater demolished (anybody?)
198? - New post office is completed (anybody?)

The Palms Theater at " LA Theatres" =

News from Me
Read another Palms Theater remembrance at povonline

Shalom, Bubala)
Sorry. This link no longer exists.
This info has reemerged at the

News From Me website.


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Click on Photo for larger image
Palms, CA Post Office (was Palms Theater)
USPS - Palms Station
3751 Motor Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 90034

The Palms Theater - 2006
(See me in the window reflection? Neither do I.) You saw the "Then" above - here is the "Now".
It has been the new Palms Post Office since the late 80's.
A 60-year old early Palms historical icon was obliterated for the sake of the future (TV?) - great progress. TV overtook the movies.
Where are the photos? Just in the minds of us old folks.

In the future,
all the kids of today will look back to their youth and remember ...
a post office.
It's just not the same.
But then, I didn't get to see
Will Rogers performing in a circus at the corner of Motor Ave. and Woodbine St., either, as described by Palms resident Mr. Worsfold.

Cheviot Hills History - Worsfold

It's all relative, I guess.

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Vaughn's Other
PALMS, CA 90034 Related Pages

* 3345 Mentone Ave.

3559 Veteran Ave.

Aubuchon Photos

Charnock Rd. School

Doris Stephens

Hamilton High (Robertson)

Hamilton Old Yearbooks

Old Packer Family Photos

Old Palms Theater

Old Central Palms, CA Map

Old Palms, CA Phone Books


In every case where I can find image attribution, I give it. In a few cases, I don't know where I got the image. I have been doing the Internet for over 21 years now, and I don't remember where all the photos came from.

Many thanks to Don McCuaig for finding the unfindable. He has found images that have escaped me for years. But, now I got 'em. Anyone seeking attribution should email me from my contact page, And I will be happy to give you credit. BETTER YET - if you have additional interesting photos of the old Palms Theater, send them to me, and I will display them with your name attached. ANY INTERNAL photos would also be great.


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Have A Great Day!
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This Vaughn's Palms Theater, Palms, CA history
page was last updated on 2019-01-09.