In 1982, when Ezat Delijani bought his first endangered movie palace in downtown Los Angeles, it was an act of faith. Now, it's a given that places like the Orpheum and the Million Dollar Theatre should be preserved for posterity. Delijani, an Iran-born philanthropist, died Saturday. He was 83.
For decades, the movie palaces that line Broadway were the gems of downtown Los Angeles. Even into the 1980s, they were still well attended, used to show Spanish-language films.
But in 1982, the Los Angeles Theater was threatened with demolition, and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley asked Ezat Delijani, newly arrived from Iran, to step in.
Delijani did so literally. As Delijani's son Shahram Delijani told the LA Times, "When he first walked in, he was literally blown away by the beauty and knew he had to save the theater."
Los Angeles Theatre, 1979. Credit: LA Public Library/William Reagh
So he bought the Los Angeles Theater. Then came the Tower, and the Palace...
The Palace, 1972. Credit: LAPL online photo collection.
... and the State.
Loew's State Theater, 1938. Credit: LAPL online photo collection.
Linda Dishman of the LA Conservancy says the elder Delijani "grew up in an historic house in Tehran, and really appreciated the history that was imbued in that house." But – a lesson for us – she also says "when you come to a place, you appreciate historic resources more than people who have lived with them their whole lives."