It's bizarre –
The Million Dollar was the first movie house built by entrepreneur Sid Grauman. Grauman was later responsible for Grauman's Egyptian Theatre and Grauman's Chinese Theater, both on Hollywood Boulevard, and was partly responsible for the entertainment district shifting from downtown Los Angeles to Hollywood in the mid-1920s. Sculptor Joseph Mora did the elaborate and surprising exterior ornament, including bursts of lavish Churrigueresque decoration, multiple statues, longhorn skulls and other odd features. The auditorium architect was William L. Woollett, and the designer of the twelve-story tower was Los Angeles architect Albert C. Martin, Sr. The office building long housed the original headquarters of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
It was built in 1917 at 307 South Broadway in downtown Los Angeles – when films were silent – and was the first of the real movie palaces. But when Hollywood became the center of everything it was abandoned, then served as the home of a Spanish-speaking church for a few years, and then shut down. But the office building above it was recently renovated and converted to residential space – it went condo. And the theater wouldn't die. In February 2008, the Million Dollar was re-opened, showing live Spanish theater, and now there are plans to begin screening major motion picture premieres here.
The exterior ornamentation is the thing, the work of Joseph Jacinto "Jo" Mora (1876-1947), who famously lived with the Hopi for two years and has been called the "Renaissance Man of the West." The exterior of the Million Dollar appeared prominently in the film Blade Runner – they needed bizarre. And as for the Hopi stuff, you might remember Aldous Huxley – the British guy who wrote Brave New World and so on. He lived in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963, up here in the Hollywood Hills. He was also big on the Hopi – see his Doors of Perception (1954), detailing his experiences when taking mescaline and being all Hopi. This exterior may be the visual result of mescaline.
And of course Jim Morrison was a bug Huxley fan, quoting him all the time, and naming his group The Doors. It all comes together somehow. And people still stop dead in their tracks on South Broadway and mutter, "Far out, man!"