Pan-Pacific Auditorium
Los Angeles, CA


The Pan-Pacific Auditorium - 1956

Photo by Dick Whittington Studio courtesy USC Libraries Digital Archive

In the early 1930's the L.A. Chamber of Commerce had planned for a "Pan-Pacific Exposition" in Elysian Park, much like the ones held in San Francisco in 1915 and San Diego in 1916 which would include a Fine Arts Acropolis and pavilions for the various industries and nations. The exposition though was never held.1


Home show at the Pan-Pacific - May 18, 1935
Photo by Skinner Photo Arts courtesy L.A. Public Library

The Pan-Pacific Auditorium was built by Clifford W. Henderson and his brother Phillip in the Fairfax District at 7600 West Beverly Boulevard. It stood on the southeast corner of Beverly and Fairfax Avenue and the Farmers Market on the northeast corner of Third Street and Fairfax. Built in just fifty-six days, it opened on May 18, 1935 to a fanfare of Boy Scout bugles as “the largest of its sort in the West and one of the three largest in the nation.” The 500-member Tenth Olympiad Chorus sang at the dedication ceremonies that Saturday night. Designed by Walter Wurdeman and Welton Becket, of the architectural firm of Plummer, Wurdeman & Becket, it initially served to host the National Housing Exposition’s sixteen-day model home show.2


The Pan-Pacific Auditorium in 1937
Photo courtesy L.A. Public Library

Industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes was reported to have been a consultant on the building's design in 1934. They had designed one of Los Angeles’s most iconic landmarks in the Depression years and what would soon become an archetype of the Streamline Moderne style. Streamline Moderne was America's volley back in the 30s against the European Art Deco movement of the 20s.  The 228 feet long green and white facade faced west and had four stylized towers that resembled aircraft fins or something out of Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers comic strip.2


Setup for international bike race - April 1937
Photo by Skinner Photo Arts courtesy  L.A. Public Library

Initially intended as a temporary structure, the more modest massive wood-frame, stucco-covered auditorium was 400 feet by 250 feet, had 110,000 square feet of floor space, could seat up to 6,000 patrons and was the centerpiece of the twelve-and-a-half-acre exposition grounds.2


end stage view of a musical performance setup at the Pan-Pacific
Photo by Skinner Photo Arts courtesy L.A. Public Library


Boleslawowicz Stanislaw Antoni Stokowski conducts a rehearsal
Photo by Gjon Mili/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

In April of 1936 famed conductor Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra played two concerts in the Pan-Pacific Auditorium to thousands. His program included  Brahms's First Symphony, "The Engulfed Cathedral" by Debussy and Stravinsky's "Fire Bird." 3 Born Leopold Anthony Stokowski in 1882, his transcriptions of the music of Bach are considered to have made America Bach-conscious.


Interior Dining Area of a small cafe in Pan-Pacific
Photo by Dick Whittington Studio courtesy L.A. Public Library


Ice Skating rink concession area at the Pan-Pacific - c. 1936
Photo courtesy L.A. Public Library

In 1937 Errett Lobban Cord sold the Cord Corporation, retired to Los Angeles and bought the Pan-Pacific Auditorium.  He had founded the Cord Corporation in 1929 as a holding company for over 150 companies he controlled.  This included the Auburn Automobile Company, which built the Auburn Automobile and the Cord Automobile; Lycoming Engines; Duesenberg Inc.; New York Shipbuilding; Checker Cab; Stinson Aircraft Company; and American Airways (later American Airlines), amongst other holdings.2


L.A. Autoshow at Pan-Pacific - Oct 1939
Photo courtesy Department of Special Collections at UCLA


Skating at the Pan-Pacific - c. 1941
Los Angeles Times file photo courtesy LA Times Blog


Tennis event at Pan-Pacific - c.1945
Photo by Otto Rothschild courtesy L.A. Public Library

In the 1940s, the Pan-Pacific became a permanent full-service auditorium. The concrete slab floor was claimed to be the “world's largest indoor ice rink.” Along with the Grand Olympic and Shrine auditoriums, the Pan-Pacific became one of Southern California’s major indoor sports facilities. At its height, most major indoor events in Los Angeles were held at the Pan-Pacific ranging from auto, boat and home shows, concerts, horse shows, roller derbies, to sporting events like hockey games, professional tennis, car shows, political rallies and circuses. It served as home to the Los Angeles Monarchs of the Pacific Coast Hockey League along with UCLA hockey. It was also used for audience-attended national radio broadcasts.2


Crowd waiting to enter - c 1945
Photo by Otto Rothschild courtesy L.A. Public Library


Americans All booth at Pan-Pacific Industrial Exposition - Sept. 6, 1945
Photo by Hikaru Iwasaki courtesy The Bancroft Library University of California, Berkeley

At the Pan-Pacific Industrial Exposition in September of 1945 was an "Americans All" booth sponsored by Friends of the American Way, Council for Civic Unity, Fair Play Committee, War Relocation Authority (WRA) and other organizations interested in returnees and in combating racism.  At the time American immigration law did not allow Japanese aliens resident in the United States to become American citizens.


Americans All booth at Pan-Pacific Industrial Exposition - Sept. 6, 1945
Photo by Hikaru Iwasaki courtesy The Bancroft Library University of California, Berkeley

The WRA was established in March of 1942 as a result of the war with Japan, “to provide for the removal from designated areas of persons whose removal is necessary in the interests of national security….” It was also to provide for evacuees’ relocation and their needs, to supervise their activities, and to provide for their useful employment. (Families had to abandon their homes and property. Because they couldn’t bring their belongings with them, they were often forced to sell them to speculators at reduced prices.)  Milton S. Eisenhower, the brother of General Dwight D. Eisenhower was named the first director of the WRA. By the end of 1944, about 30,000 evacuees had been "relocated".  In 1952, the McCarran-Walter Act removed the ethnic and racial bars to immigration and naturalization.4


Patrons departing Pan-Pacific Auditorium - 1948
Photo by Dick Whittington Studios courtesy L.A. Public Library


Ice Capades at the Pan-Pacific
Photo by Skinner Photo Arts courtesy  L.A. Public Library


Automobile show at Pan-Pacific Auditorium, 1952
Photo courtesy USC Libraries Digital Archive


appearance by presidential nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower, Oct. 9. 1952
Photograph by Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times courtesy LA Times Blog

In October of 1952, while campaigning, General Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke to a beyond-capacity crowd at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium a month before being elected President of the United States.  It was the largest crowd ever to converge on the auditorium. Ten thousand wildly cheering "I Like Ike" folks were jammed inside, and 20,000 inundated the areas around the place. Those outside waited for two hours until Ike--after he finished his nationwide radio and TV address--came out and also spoke to them.


The Pan-Pacific Auditorium - 1956

Photo by Dick Whittington Studio courtesy USC Libraries Digital Archive

In October of 1957 while on a short three city tour, Elvis, Scotty and Bill made two consecutive appearances at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. Though it was not their first appearances in LA, having played at the Shrine Auditorium in LA and in Long Beach just outside of the city over a year earlier in June of 1956, the press appeared oblivious to that in spite of the notoriety generated by their appearance on the Milton Berle show around the same time.  In the weeks prior, the newspapers announced:

First Presley L.A. Gigs, Oct. 28-29 At Pan-Pacific
Elvis Presley will play his first L.A. dates Oct. 28-29 in a two-night performance at Pan-Pacific Auditorium.
Concerts are being promoted by Lee Gordon, who previously had booked Presley through a series of mid-western stands after an agreement for Presley to trek to Australia had fallen through because of other commitments.
Presley will solo for the second half of the show. His manager, Col. Tom Parker, now is setting acts for the first half of the bill. House will be scaled from $2.75 to $3.75, with all seats reserved.
Meanwhile, Metro will world-premiere its Elvis Presley starrer, Jailhouse Rock in rock ‘n' rollers hometown, Memphis, next Thursday.
5

Presley To Head Variety Revue
Elvis Presley, the guitar playing idol of the rock 'n' roll set, will appear at the head of an all-star variety show at Pan-Pacific Auditorium on Monday and Tuesday nights, Oct 28 and 29. Elvis, according to present plans, will be heard in several of his hit tunes, including "Houn Dog," "Too Much," "All Shook Up," "Loving You," "Teddy Bear" and "Jailhouse Rock."
6

Elvis-to Sing at Pan-Pacific
Elvis Presley,` hip-swinging singing idol, will appear in person at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium on Monday and , Tuesday evenings, Oct. 28-29, headlining a variety show.
He will perform many of his record hits. Tickets are on sale at the box office, Southern California Music Co. and ticket agencies.
7


Ads an Antique Show and for Tickets for Elvis at the Pan-Pacific
L.A. Times Display Ads pg. C8 - October 18, 1957

The tour that October included three cities in four nights and started in San Francisco on the 26th.  It was Scotty and Bill's first time performing again with Elvis after quitting the organization the previous September though they actually only missed one date where Elvis performed without them in Tupelo.  They had left primarily for economic reasons and each of the parties apparently swallowed their pride some and they agreed to return now paid on a per-show basis of $250 a performance as opposed to their original weekly salaries of $200 when working.  They would earn $1000 each for this tour though paid their own expenses. 8

In a letter from Tom Diskin along with their contracts they were told that they could travel from Memphis to California with D. J. in Elvis’s limousine at no extra charge, but then added—with a characteristic Parker jab-—“Should you decide to travel by some other method that would be of course at your own expense.” Scotty and Bill took the limo. The drive took a day and a half. They met Elvis at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium and he acted as if nothing had happened. "Nothing was said that I can remember," says Scotty. “We laughed and went on and did the show like we used to do. There weren't any hard feelings visible with anyone. We didn't go there with a chip on our shoulder. I don't think it was even brought up.” 8


Hollywood Knickerbocker Apartment Hotel at 1714 Ivar Avenue - 1938
Photo by Mushnet Photography courtesy  L.A. Public Library

From San Francisco, they went across the bay to Oakland for a concert the second night, then it was on to Los Angeles, where they were booked for two nights at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. Elvis and his entourage checked into the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Scotty and Bill checked into the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel, where they got rooms for seven dollars a night. 8

The Knickerbocker Hotel is where the whole band and entourage originally used to stay when in California before the Colonel encouraged the band's disassociation with Elvis when not performing. The eleven story Spanish Colonial style building was built in 1923 by E. M. Frasier as a luxury apartment building before becoming a hotel. It was home to many stars throughout the years and its slogan was "Your home for a year or a day." 1


Elvis at Press Conference - Oct 28, 1957
Mirror-News Photo

The first show at the Pan-Pacific was preceded by a press conference backstage, as was almost the norm. The most favorable review the day after the first show was by Wally George of the L.A. Times.  He wrote: The screams were fairly audible two blocks away from the Pan-Pacific Auditorium last night. They were anticipating Elvis Presley, who hadn‘t left his hotel room at that moment. However, even a mental - suggestion of his name seemed to wring a sustained, almost frightening screech from the 9000 teenagers who had jammed the hall to hear their idol.  In fact, the impression upon walking through the audience was that of being at the edge of a volcano from which emitted an ominously growing cloud of smoke. At any moment you felt you might be overrun by the eruption.9


Elvis at Press Conference - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy FECC/LittleSister

One hour before he was to go before this pulsing mob of an audience, Elvis was whisked into a hot back room of the auditorium for a press conference.  'What‘s your emotional power over women?' demanded one obviously influenced female reporter.

'Gosh . . .' replied Elvis, whispering something inaudible into a mike provided for the occasion.

'Read this!' snapped another reporter, shoving a magazine article into Elvis` hands. It was an article supposedly by Frank Sinatra attacking the institution of rock 'n' roll music.9

"Rock ’n’ roll smells phony and false," declared Frank Sinatra in the story's text. "It is sung, played, and written for the most part by cretinous goons and by means of its almost imbecilic reiteration, and sly, lewd, in plain fact, dirty lyrics . . . it manages to be the martial music of every sideburned delinquent on the face of the earth .... [It] is the most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear."10


Lamar Fike, Elvis, Gene Smith and George Klein at Press Conference - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy FECC/Riley

'I admire the man, he has a right to his own opinions,' carefully replied the black-shirted Elvis.

"That's all you have to say'?'
‘You can't knock success,' said Elvis.

Other personal questions followed: Is he considering marriage? No, he's enjoying playing the field too much. How long does he intend to wear his two inch sideburns? Until Uncle Sam makes him shave them off, perhaps soon -- he's 1A.  How much money is he making? Over a million a year, he's not sure of the exact figures.9


Cliff Gleeves, Elvis, Gordon Stoker and Hugh Jarret backstage - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy FECC/khoots

All in all, he was a pleasant, mild mannered person who might have been any other 22·year-old young man, were it not for the high gleaming pompadour, the rhinestone belt, the gold evening jacket. He was quiet, polite, somewhat shy and made sure to sprinkle in plenty of 'sirs' when he answered newsmen. Perhaps it was rehearsed that way, who can say for sure.9


Scotty, Elvis, DJ and Bill at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy FECC/LittleSister

However, when he went on stage, all was changed. He smiled and the crowd screamed. He nodded his head and they made as if to overrun the stage. The musical group behind him struck a chord and Elvis opened his mouth as if to sing-nothing was heard. The pan-pacific reverberated to the shrillness of 9000 adoringly strained vocal cords.9


Gordon Stoker, Elvis and Scotty at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy FECC/LittleSister

He sang for 50 minutes, offering 18 of his biggest hits, from ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ to ‘Jailhouse Rock` and no one could have possibly understood a word. Partly it was the constant shriek, partly the frightfully poor audio system. Musically speaking, it was not the music that sold them. It was his hips. They wiggled, they bumped, they twisted.9


Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy David English

'I don‘t sing,` he had said earlier, 'I yell.' Last night, he yelled and his army of faithful yelled back. With the flashbulbs and spotlights it was exactly like a battlefield.

'It's doggone crazy,' said Elvis, 'but it's worth it. After all, you can‘t knock success.' 9


Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy Now Dig This

Entertainment Editor Dick Williams' review from the Mirror-News was not as favorable, and was quite likely the prime inspiration for future ridiculous allegations of inappropriate behavior. He wrote: Sexhibitionist Elvis Presley has come at last in person to a visibly palpitating, adolescent female Los Angeles to give all the little girls' libidos the jolt of their lives.

Six thousand kids, predominantly feminine by a ratio of 10 to 1, jammed Pan-Pacific Auditorium to the rafters last night. They screamed their lungs out without letup as Elvis shook, bumped and did the grinds from one end of the stage to the other until he was a quivering heap on the floor 35 minutes later.
11


Scotty, DJ, Bill and Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy D.J. Fontana

With anyone else, the police would have closed the show 10 minutes after it started. But not Elvis, our new national teenage hero.

If any further proof were needed that what Elvis offers is not basically music but a sex show, it was provided last night. Pandemonium took over from the time he swaggered triumphantly on stage like some ancient Caesar, resplendent in gold lame tux jacket with rhinestone lapels, until he weaved off at the end of his stint.
11


The Jordonaires and Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

It was almost impossible to hear the music despite a turned-up public address system. A cloud of thumping drums, whining guitars and Elvis' hoarse shouts rose like some lascivious steaming brew from the bare stage (except for a banner plugging his next picture, "Jailhouse Rock") and filled the auditorium.

The only way I knew what Elvis was singing was by asking the youths sitting next to me. They somehow recognized every number. It started with "Heartbreak Hotel" and wound its way through all his popular record hits from "Hound Dog" to "Don't Be Cruel." There is but scant difference in any of them. Only the wild abandon varies.
11


Scotty, Elvis, DJ and Bill at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

Hundreds of little girls brought their flash cameras although what they expected to get sitting far back in this vast barn of a place I don't know. Constantly, amidst the high, sustained screaming, the thumping, clapping and wild shouts, innumerable flashes kept going off so that the darkness was intermittently lit as if by lightning.

The whole panorama, from the frenzy on stage to the far reaches of the jammed bleachers which seemed a mile back at the rear, looked like one of those screeching, uninhibited party rallies which the Nazis used to hold for Hitler.
11


The Jordanaires, Elvis, Scotty, Bill and DJ at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy FECC/theFool

Scores of police circled the auditorium and at the slightest hint of trouble plunged in ominous pairs up the aisles toward the offenders. There have been too many Elvis "concerts" which ended in riots in the past to risk any trouble.

Elvis worked with two guitarists, a drummer and a pianist plus the Jordinaires, a quartet of young harmonists who were lost in the hubbub.
11


Scotty, Elvis, DJ and Bill at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

He attempted almost no talking after his initial muttered, "Friends, I want to introduce yuh to the members of muh gang." Most of the time he was weaving over the stage like a horse with the blind staggers.

He wiggled, bounced, shook and ground in the style which stripteasers of the opposite sex have been using at stag shows since grandpa was a boy.
11


Bill, Elvis and "Nipper" at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

He used frequent contrived sensual gestures such as constantly hitching up his pants, fooling with his belt buckle and yanking down his coat to elicit further wild screams from his audience.

He played up to the mike stand like it was a girl in a gesture which is expressly forbidden by the police department in every burlesque show in Los Angeles County.
11


Bill, Elvis and "Nipper" at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

The wilder Elvis got in his pelvic gyrations, the more frenzied his audience became. Inevitably, he announced midway, sweat pouring down his face, that he was "all shook up."

The madness reached its peak at the finish with "Hound Dog." Elvis writhed in complete abandon, hair hanging down over his face. He got down on the floor with a huge replica of the RCA singing dog and made love to it as if it were a girl. Slowly, he rolled over and over on the floor.
11


Bill, Elvis and "Nipper" at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

The little brunette of maybe 15 sitting in front of me bent her head and covered her eyes, whether with embarrassment, fright, sickness or excitement, I know not.

I do know this is corruption of the innocent on a scale such as I have never witnessed before. For these are children to whom Elvis appeals, preconditioned, curious adolescents, who are artificially and unhealthfully stimulated. Their reactions would shock many a parent if he or she could see this display. They are not adults who can take his crudities and laugh or shrug them off.
11


Elvis and "Nipper" finish with Hound Dog at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

The boy next to me, bent forward on his seat taking it all in, turned briefly to me between numbers. "He's great," he enthused. "He's simply great, isn't he?"

The same lesson in pornography will be repeated tonight, barring an interruption by the Police Department, which is unlikely, in view of the fact that they might have a riot on their hands.
11


Fans at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 28, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

Elvis had often ended shows rolling on the floor of the stage, this time though he did it with a statue of "Nipper" the RCA Records trademark. According to Scotty, It was like old times. Elvis was at his best when he let the child in him come out and play. Scotty and Bill were among the few people in Elvis’s life who knew that child.8  According to Peter Guralnick, longtime critic Jack O’Brian of the New York Journal-American declared the rolling around "far too indecent to mention in every detail".10  O'Brian, who had been a staunch supporter of Joe McCarthy, worked out of New York and wasn't even at the show.

L.A. Police Order Presley 'Clean Up' His Pan-Pac Show
"Clean it up and tone it down."  That was the crisp order issued by L.A. police last night prior to the second and last Elvis Presley performance at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. [This] came on the heels of the opening night performance which provided a chilling picture of Presley's impact on adolescent minds. Many sources flatly labeled the show "lewd," police reported. Others described it as the "most disgusting and most frightening" show they had seen.
However, city officials said that while the show was in "questionable taste," it did not violate any obscenity laws and no action was planned. But Deputy Chief Richard Simmons ordered his vice squad to give Presley strict orders that the alleged sexy stuff be cut.
12


Ticket stub for the second night's show - Oct 29, 1957
Photo © Amanda Ashley

Guralnick also wrote, the result was that the Los Angeles Vice Squad contacted the Colonel, who told Elvis that he would have to cut out some of the dancing and in general tone down his act. What was Elvis' reaction? the Colonel was asked. "This isn't the first time," said the Colonel. "You know, they done it a couple of times before." Did Elvis complain about not being able to dance? "Naw, he didn’t complain .... He just said, (Well, if I don't dance tonight, maybe I don’t have to take a shower tonight.' " "Colonel Parker said that?" declared Elvis incredulously. "He couldn't have! You see," Elvis explained, genuinely upset, "I take a shower every night, whether I dance or just sing." 10


Billboard Ad for the show - Oct 29, 1957
Photo © Amanda Ashley

When the police showed up with movie cameras on the second night, the show was considerably toned down, and the only person to object was Yul Brynner, "whose bleeding heart," wrote Jack O’Brian, "led him to protest [the censorship] as if it were an invasion of someone's privacy." Brynner, declared O’Brian olympianly, was "ridiculous." 10

O'Brian, had basically contributed to the controversy and propaganda about the performance based on the reports of others.  Like O'Brian, Brynner was also not at the show and was responding to press reports when he voiced his complaints to Hedda Hopper several days later.


Bill and Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

Even after the toned down show on the next night, columnist Hopper was still harping about the first night in her column on the 31st when she wrote: When Elvis Presley first hove into sight like a Kansas tornado on Milton Berle's show, I decided to have none of him. I’ve neither seen nor met him. I’ve been appalled by the whole Presley disease. But when I learned he was appearing at our Pan-Pacific, I asked Col. Tom Parker for a couple of tickets and went; it was a shattering experience. Now I understand why 9000 people lost their minds over him. He’s a split personality, young, likable, wanting to please: but when he went into his act, it was very like a neighbor of mine in Altoona who had fits, fell down and writhed on the sidewalk.13


Bill and Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

Elvis rolled over and over on the floor still clutching the mike, but his performance isn’t sickness. He knew what he was doing and the effect it was having on 9000 screaming people. The screams came in a sort of rhythm like a great storm at sea so you couldn’t hear a word he was singing. But you felt he was mentally winking and saying to himself, "Do you know an easier way of making a million a year?" 13


Bill and Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

It wasn't an audience of just kids; whole families were there, nice people. Dozens of policemen surrounded the stage but turned their backs on Elvis to watch the audience and see that no one moved. They were told if they got up or walked down the aisle toward Elvis the show would be over. In former days police would have been looking at the performance. I’ve seen performers dragged of to jail for less. But Elvis' audience got the emotional workout of their lives and screamed their undying love for the greatest phenomenon I’ve seen in this century.13


DJ and Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

At least Wally George seemed to put things in proper perspective and, in fairness, retorted to his colleagues. Elvis Presley’s appearance this week was received with mixed emotions-as usual. He enraptured his fans and-enraged the critics. It's the usual score for the course and one he's resigned to.  What seemed foolish to us was-the way some observers went into a tantrum of holiness at his antics.14


DJ and Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

Gee, fellas, he‘s only been wiggling his way around the country for two or three years now. Not to mention movies and television. So now he comes to L.A. for his first local personal appearance and we find he’s different.14


Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

Granted, his style may not appeal to all. But since when is this an excuse for viciousness? And some of the remarks penned his way were nothing more than that.14


Elvis and Bill at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

We could easily compile a list of personalities who draw as heavily upon their peculiar assets or talents as does Elvis. Yet Elvis continues to be the whipping boy. At times we wonder what the views of the critics would be, for instance, if it had been Jayne Mansfield.14


Elvis and Bill at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

Well, we don’t particularly like his style either. But after observing him closely at a press conference we feel that, as a person, he’s not too bad a kid. For instance, said Elvis when asked if he intended to change his presentation due to national ' criticism: "I can’t -- it’s all I can do." 14


Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

That statement was illustrative of quite a lot in this 22-year-old phenomenon’s make-up. We might even go so far as to say he’s not the ghoul that you've been told.14


Elvis and the Jordanaires at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

Other Elvis-isms:
Question- When will you write more songs?
Answer - That’s all a hoax, I can't even read music. 
Q. - What about your guitar?.
A. - Can't play it—use it as a brace.
Q.- What do you think of rock ’n roll?
A.- It’s the greatest ever, mainly because it’s all I can I do!
14


Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

See? That boys almost human. At least as human as anyone can be who's earning more than $1,000,000 a year...14


Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo by Ernest Reshovsky © Mark Reshovsky courtesy MPTV.net

Even the readers responded with letters to the reviews and attitudes of the press.  A Mrs. H. V. Bossche of Los Angeles wrote: Congratulations for Wally Georges stand on Elvis Presley's Los Angeles appearance. Maybe some of the viciousness against Elvis is inspired by a little jealousy that the gals are getting thrilled by a male performer, in a way, that the male population (and their female performers) have had an exclusive on since "grandpa was a boy!"
'Thanks for being fair — instead of grabbing a whip and joining the (r)aging male critics who believe female personalities are the only ones whose wiggle is appealing.
15


Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

Patricia A. Flores of Covina wrote: It happens I am one of Elvis' married fans who was present with my husband at the performance in Pan-Pacific Auditorium. We thoroughly enjoyed the show--and we even think his voice is terrific- although it was barely audible during his appearance on stage.
I certainly appreciate Wally Georges fairness to Elvis, especially since George is not fond of that style himself.
I’m sure he's not mistaken in his personal judgment of Elvis.
15


Elvis at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

And one who only identified herself as "Middle-Aged Housewife" wrote: With the sound turned down, I can bear rock and roll, but am not exactly devoted to it. However, Wally Georges column of Nov. 2 struck a harmonious note to which I listened with enthusiasm. When I first saw Elvis Presley on television I was astonished, then slightly repelled. But the critics have placed me firmly on Elvis' side. From their lofty heights wouldn't it be better to just avoid mention of Elvis? 15


Elvis and Scotty at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

Days later, Hedda Hopper wrote, I’ve rarely seen a madder man than Yul Brynner when I saw him on the "Buccaneer" set, all because the police had photographed Elvis Presley's performance at Pan-Pacific. "I hold no brief for Presley; I've never seen him," said he. "But when police are allowed to set up cameras and be judge, that's an invasion of an artist's rights and should be looked into mighty carefully by every artist and actors agency in our business." 15


DJ, Elvis and Bill at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium - Oct. 29, 1957
Photo courtesy Robert Gordon's "The King on the Road"

In spite of the reviews of the shows and the censorship, Elvis, Peter Guralnick wrote, felt good about it. He had done what he did best in front of a town in which he was only beginning to feel comfortable —and it had caused just as much of a stir as it would have in Memphis or Saskatchewan. The single of "Jailhouse Rock" was currently at number one, the film had just had its world premiere in Memphis at the same theater where Elvis had ushered as a teenager and was scheduled to open in theaters throughout the country the following week, and the Colonel had estimated that, with the deal they had with MGM, Elvis was likely to make more than two million dollars when it did.10


Fans leaving the Pan-Pacific Auditorium after the show - Oct 29, 1957
Photo © Amanda Ashley


A wrapper from an Elvis candy bar sold at the show  - Oct 29, 1957
courtesy Amanda Ashley

For Scotty and Bill though, this was almost the end of the road. A few days after they returned to Memphis, they received a contract from Diskin for two days of concerts in Hawaii, at the Honolulu Stadium and the Conroy Bowl.  Unknown to them at the time, the shows in Hawaii would be the last time they all performed live together.  Elvis would soon get his draft notice in December and enter the Army after completion of King Creole, which they in addition to DJ would appear and record for.


Basketball at the Pan-Pacific
Photo by Otto Rothschild courtesy L.A. Public Library


Basketball -- Southern California versus Idaho - 1958
Photo courtesy USC Libraries Digital Archive

In the 1950s, the Pan-Pacific was also used for televised professional wrestling shows. Besides supporting college and two pro hockey teams, the Pan saw its share of home UCLA basketball games. It was also the home court of the USC men’s basketball team from 1949 through 1959.


The Pan-Pacific abandoned, boarded and deteriorating in the '70s
Photo from L.A. Public Library courtesy Floyd B. Bariscale

Vice-president Richard Nixon addressed a national audience from the Pan-Pacific on November 5, 1960.  By 1959, the air-conditioned L.A. Memorial Sports Arena had opened and the slow death knell began for the Pan. The building carried on as Los Angeles' primary indoor venue until the 1972 opening of the much larger Los Angeles Convention Center. The Pan-Pacific Auditorium dwindled in use, and, after some small expos in the spring, finally shut its doors for good. Cord still owned the land, however, and made no move to relinquish the property. In fact, by making no plans to unload the real estate, Cord wound up initiating what would end up being almost two decades of dispute and drama for the Auditorium when he died on January 2, 1974, and his will entered into probate in Reno courts.2



As NBC Studios in "Funny Lady" - 1975
captures courtesy Youtube

In 1975 the Pan-Pacific made a brief appearance as the entrance to the NBC Studios in New York for the movie Funny Lady. In 1978 the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was both declared a city landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which rekindled interest in the building. The county purchased the property in 1979, and as LA looked for a home for a museum of contemporary art, many favored the Auditorium, but it was "so broken down it would cost over $6 million to bring it up to standards" and more to keep it running.2


Gene Kelly as "Danny McGuire" in Xanadu in front of the Pan-Pacific
Photo courtesy web


Some Special Effects magic from the film Xanadu
Photo courtesy web

The 1980 movie musical Xanadu starring Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly and Michael Beck used the auditorium's facade to portray a dilapidated building which became a sparkling, brightly lit disco roller rink. The film used only the exterior of the Pan-Pacific, all interiors were done on soundstages elsewhere in the city.


The Facade at the Pan-Pacific - 1980
Photo © Larry Gassan


Burned in a fire blamed on fireworks - July 4, 1982
L.A. Times Photo by Boris Yaro courtesy L.A. Times Blog

The auditorium continued to deteriorate throughout the 1980s, mostly owing to a lack of security. A large loading door on the southeast corner was often forced open, allowing free access to anyone. A fire in May 1983 damaged the northern end. The Pan-Pacific continued to be a draw for vandals and vagrants. Lots of small fires happened, and lots of damage occurred to the structure at the hands of people hanging out on the lot.2


Pan-Pacific Auditorium, awaiting probable demolition - Apr. 7, 1986
L.A. Times Photo by Ellen Jaskol courtesy L.A. Times Blog


Kids playing baseball in Pan-Pacific Park  - Apr. 24, 1986
L.A. Times Photo © UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections

In April 1988, the county of L.A. unveiled plans to incorporate the auditorium into a 116,700-square-foot retail and entertainment complex. However, a year later, on May 24, 1989 (six days after the fifty-fourth anniversary of its opening), a little after 7:00 p.m., the dilapidated wooden Pan-Pacific Auditorium burnt to the ground, the work of an arsonist.2


The Pan-Pacific burns - May 24, 1989
Photo courtesy L.A. Fire historical Archives

More than 200 firefighters battled the blaze, the smoke from which was visible throughout the Los Angeles basin. The wooden structure went up fast, with the last of the four fin-shaped towers falling a little after 10:00 p.m. Officials arrested a 42-year-old transient who, despite confessing to starting the fire, was released by the end of the month due to lack of evidence.2


Entrance to Disney MGM Studios in Florida
Photo courtesy web

A nearly full-scale, stylized replica of the facade opened as the main entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios (then called Disney's MGM Studios) theme park in Florida on May 1, 1989, only three weeks before the Pan-Pacific was destroyed by fire.2


Entrance to Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida - 2008
Photo courtesy web

In 2007 Disney announced a name change for 2008 to the park in Florida to "Disney's Hollywood Studio" and also announced a five-year plan to expand and retheme Disney's California Adventure: Among the proposals was a plan to re-theme the entrance plaza in the style of the Pan-Pacific's facade.2


Disney's California Adventure Expansion Preview
Disney 2009 courtesy About.com

The remains of the façade stood until May 1992 when they were cleared away for the new elements to Pan-Pacific Park. Debris from the demolished Pan-Pacific had mixed into the soil, making it an unsuitable foundation for the new building. Construction also disturbed soil contaminated by oil, pushing back the new Pan-Pacific’s opening date several months. The parks department spent almost $1 million to remove the soil.17


Pan-Pacific Park Recreation Center at 7600 Beverly Boulevard - 2008
Photo courtesy Floyd B. Bariscale

More than 10 years after fire destroyed the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, the new $5.8-millio Pan-Pacific Park Recreation Center’s 45-foot-high spire recalls the auditorium’s fin-shaped towers and faces west on Beverly Boulevard at Gardner Street, just as the old building did. The 1930s style, defined by curving shapes that hint at motion and the machine age, is also integrated into the new center’s gymnasiums, stage and classroom space. Unlike in the old Pan-Pacific, the architects chose to carry the Streamline Moderne style inside the new 17,000-square-foot building, less than a fifth the size of the original. White stripes cut into the brick-red and forest-green building on the outside. Inside, the colors are reversed, with colored strips of uneven concrete blocks contrasting with smooth, white-block walls.17


Pan-Pacific Park Recreation Center at 7600 Beverly Boulevard - 2008
Photo courtesy Microsoft Earthdata


Pan-Pacific Park Recreation Center at 7600 Beverly Boulevard - 2008
Photo courtesy Microsoft Earthdata

Glass blocks allow light to illuminate the entryway and adjacent classrooms. Photo tiles in the recreation center’s entryway offer a pictorial representation of great works of architecture, including the Pan-Pacific. A double-sided stage opens into one of two gymnasiums and a classroom. Fire walls can be used to block off one side of the stage for smaller performances or left open to accommodate larger events. Outside, is a basketball court and playground equipment. The remaining area was landscaped to match the rest of Pan-Pacific Park.17


Holst: The Planets; Schoenberg: Transfigured Night Leopold Stokowski Conductor
Photo courtesy Classical Archives

In 1970 a renovation project converted the Knickerbocker hotel into housing for senior citizens and it continues in this capacity today.1  Stokowski would later work with Disney on Fantasia conducting for the Sorcerer's Apprentice. He even appeared in the film shaking hands with Mickey Mouse. He died less than a month after Elvis in 1977.  Along with Albert Einstein, an album cover photo of Stowkowski conducting in front of the Cosmos inspired the look of Christopher Lloyd's zany time traveling scientist Doc Brown character in the 1985 movie "Back to the Future"and its sequels.18


Disney's California Adventure - Jan. 2014
Photo © James V. Roy, added Mar. 9, 2014

page added June 18, 2009

1 courtesy the L.A. Public Library
2 compiled from Big Orange Landmarks" by Floyd B. Bariscale, Wikipedia and "LAistory: The Pan-Pacific Auditorium"
3 from "Stokowski Plays Again" by Isabel Morse Jones LA Times - Apr 29, 1936
4 from "The War Relocation Authority and the Incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII" courtesy Truman Library
5 from "First Presley L.A. Gigs, Oct. 28-29 At Pan-Pacific" - LA paper  Oct 17, 1957  courtesy Elvis Album
6 from "Presley To Head Variety Revue" - LA Times Oct 19, 1957 pg B2
7 "Elvis-to Sing at Pan-Pacific" - LA Times Oct 20, 1957 pg E3
8 excerpt from "That's Allright Elvis" by Scotty Moore and James Dickerson
9 from "Elvis Wriggles, Fans Scream at Pan-Pacific" by Wally George - LA Times Oct 29, 1957
10 from "Last Train To Memphis" by Peter Guralnick
11 from "6,000 Kids Cheer Elvis' Frantic Sex Show" by Dick Williams - Mirror-News Oct 29, 1957  courtesy Larry Harnisch on Dec 24, 2007
12 from "L.A. Police Order Presley 'Clean Up' His Pan-Pac Show" Oct 30, 1957 courtesy Elvis Album
13 from "Elvis' Performance Called Shattering" by Heda Hopper - LA Times Oct 31, 1957
14 from "Strictly Off The Record" by Wally George - LA Times Nov 2, 1957  pg B7
15 from "Elvis Presley Defenders" - LA Times Nov 6, 1957 pg B4
16 from column "Angy Man" by Hedda Hopper - LA Times Nov 4, 1957 pg C12
17 from "Memories of Old Pan-Pacific Resurrected in New Center" by Liz F. Kay - LA Times Apr 21, 2002
18 according to "'Back to the Future' Still His Favorite" by Matt Gouras, Associated Press June 12, 2009

 

All photos on this site (that we didn't borrow) unless otherwise indicated are the property of either Scotty Moore or James V. Roy and unauthorized use or reproduction is prohibited.

 
Home History Discography Scrapbook Guitars etc... The Studios

The Venues

In the Press Tour Dates Links Search

This site created and managed by James V. Roy for Scotty Moore with the sole intent to help promote the arts and history of American popular music and Scotty's major role in it. Every attempt was made to give credit for any images or text borrowed from the World Wide Web and we greatly appreciate the use of it. Technical difficulties or questions dealing with this Server should be addressed to the Webmaster. Copyright © 2002, 2014