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Born Oliver Mitchell in Logan, Utah, to John Leslie Mitchell and Esmah Badure Montrose. The Mitchells divorced, and Esmah Mitchell took her two sons to California, eventually arriving in San Francisco. At the age of six, Oliver and his brother Leslie, three years his elder, were hired by Walter M. Morosco (1846-1901) to perform in his acrobatic troup, the Royal Russian Circus, then a regular attraction at Woodward's Gardens, a popular San Francisco amusement park.
In 1899, Oliver Morosco moved to Los Angeles to begin his independent career as a theatrical impresario. He took over the lease on the troubled Burbank Theatre and soon made it a success with a series of stock companies and shows featuring the popular actors of the day. Such stars as Wilton Lackaye, Richard Bennett, Edgar Selwyn, and Margaret Illington appeared at the Burbank Theatre. A number of original plays were first mounted at the Burbank and later performed in New York City. These included "The Rose of the Rancho" by Richard Walton Tully, and actor-playwright Edgar Selwyn's "The Country Boy" and "The Arab."
In 1908, Morosco became the lessee of the new Majestic Theatre on Broadway in Los Angeles, and in 1911 took over the former Los Angeles Theatre on Spring Street which had for several years been the Los Angeles home of the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit, renaming it the Lyceum Theatre. He also entered into a partnership with the Belasco-Meyer interests of San Francisco to take over management of their theaters on the west coast, including the Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles, the Burbank's chief rival as a stock house. In 1913, he opened the Morosco Theatre on Broadway, the most luxurious theater yet built in Los Angeles.
In 1926 the once successful Morosco filed for bankruptcy, his fortune lost in part due to a large speculative purchase of land in California where he planned to create a development called "Morosco Town".
At the age of 69, Morosco was struck and killed by a streetcar in Hollywood. He had been married four times and was the father of Walter Morosco the film producer.
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