The Pantages is considered one of the most beautiful theaters in the world. It is a legitimate theater now, but when it opened in 1930, it was a movie palace. It is a landmark of Art Deco styling.
American Art Deco stylists in the 1920's drew inspiration from many sources, from 20th century technology to ancient Egypt and pre-Columbian America. In furniture, jewelry, clothing, graphic arts, and architecture Art Deco used geometrical stylized shapes from delicate lines to sunbursts and rich metallic colors.
The Pantages was the first Art Deco movie palace in the United States. The concrete exterior has an ersatz stonework pattern, is partially faced with black marble pulsating up the pilasters, Egyptian lotus patterns highlight the second story, and the first story windows are outlined by metal zigzag window frames. The interior retains its former elegance: the ladies room, drinking fountains, chandeliers, and alcove statuary are great Art Deco artifacts.
Alexander Pantages began his career by staging dance hall shows for gold miners in Alaska, then moved to Seattle and entered vaudeville. In 1949 Howard Hughes bought the theater and renamed it the RKO Pantages. From 1949 - 1959 the Academy Awards were held here. It opened in 1930 with Marion Davies in "Floradora", Al Jolson was the M.C.