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Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach – A Look Back

Courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society

In 1920, a group of local thespians banded together to form what they called the Community Clubhouse at 319 Ocean. They called themselves the Laguna Players and the birth of our local theater was complete. 

This circa 1920s photo shows the rich ivy and beautiful cursive font used fashionably in that era.

Laguna Beach A Look Back 12 3 19 A

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Laguna’s original Playhouse

The Playhouse survived fire and flood, not to mention the Great Depression. It was seen as an adjunct to the Pageant of the Masters, and attracted many Hollywood celebrities.

In the late 30s Douglas Fairbanks would bring his entourage down on his yacht, take in a play, and then camp on the sand at Emerald Bay, where he had wood planked tents set up in advance.

During the 40s local resident Bette Davis was a regular, encouraged to attend by her sister Barbara Berry, who had a job working backstage.

Fifteen years before appearing as Hans Solo, actor Harrison Ford appeared in a Playhouse production. M*A*S*H medic Mike Farrell was also “discovered” onstage at the Playhouse.

In the late 1960s the Ocean Street location was demolished when the city put up a parking lot. It moved to its current location on Broadway, named after Nellie Gale Moulton, who had donated $100,000 toward its construction. 

Laguna Beach A Look Back 12 3 19 B

Click on photo for a larger image

Callboard near location of the original Playhouse

Today the city leaves a callboard near the location of the original Playhouse, as shown here. May it always serve as a reminder of the vision of the Laguna Players who founded what is now the oldest continually running theater on the West Coast. 

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Laguna Beach Historical Society is located at 278 Ocean Ave. They are open Friday - Sunday from 1 - 4 p.m. For more information, call (949) 497-6834 or visit


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