T & D Theatre

419 11th Street,
Oakland, CA 94607

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Showing 26 - 40 of 40 comments

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 10, 2005 at 1:34 am

It’s interesting that this theater had a ramp to the balcony. The only theater I’ve ever been to which had ramps instead of stairs leading to the balcony is the Raymond, in Pasadena. I had thought it was unique in having that feature.

gsmurph on January 9, 2005 at 9:32 pm

The T&D’s style was Art Nouveau, a rare architectural style for theatres.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 13, 2004 at 7:04 pm

The opening date of the T & D Theatre was 22nd November 1916 with a listed seating capacity of 2,644.

stevebob on November 29, 2004 at 4:23 pm

I was fortunate enough to visit this theater before it was demolished. It was my first trip to Oakland and I was justly fascinated by the Paramount, saddened by the overlooked Fox Oakland, and impressed by the stretch of Broadway that, at the time, included the retailers Capwell’s and I. Magnin.

I recall going down Broadway and looking up and down the side streets, seeing the T&D’s sign, and saying to myself, “What’s THAT?” The theater was still operating, though I can’t remember if it was porn or action films. The employee I talked to seemed impressed that I was interested in looking around, so I was allowed inside for free.

The most prominent feature of the lobby was an enormous carped ramp that led upwards toward the balcony. It had been crudely blocked off with plywood, through which an entrance had been cut and then padlocked. I asked if I could go up, and they unlocked it for me!

I wonder now if they even had liability insurance! It was creepy. I remember a dusty, moldering bathroom on the balcony level. The balcony itself seemed enormous; I believe it extended very far out over the orchestra.

Before I left, I took a picture of the marquee. If I can find it, I will upload it as soon as that feature becomes available again.

AndyT on October 26, 2004 at 3:32 am

It WAS cavernous —– dark with a lot of closed areas by the 1960s.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 26, 2004 at 1:20 am

The T. & D. opened in 1916, it closed in 1976. Various seating capacities have been given over the years 3,350 (on opening?), in 1941 it was 2,944 and by 1950 2,632 is given. still a very large theatre for it’s time.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 25, 2004 at 10:20 pm

I have a copy of Motion Picture News dated April 10, 1920. On the cover is a beautiful photo of the T. & D. Oakland which had just opened. There is also a full page spread of four interior photos and a full page descriptive article on the building. It was billed as the ‘largest theatre west of Chicago’ with a seating capacity of 3,611. The architects named are Cunningham and Politeo of San Francisco and construction was of concrete and steel, the only wood it contains is in the office door! An unusual feature of the building was that ‘there is not a step in the entire house, every elevation is approached by a series of ramps or gradual inclines’. A staff of 90 (including the orchestra) were employed.

davidkaye on October 25, 2004 at 9:23 pm

I saw a number of Jerry Lewis films there in the 1960s when I was a tot. I seem to remember matinees and somebody giving out prizes for costumes or something, but mmy memory is vague. I do remember being extremely impressed with the T&D’s architecture.

Oakboy on May 12, 2004 at 9:50 am

This was an incredible movie palace. I never saw it when it was running but friend of mine while in college snuck in to see the auditorium to take photographs of the interior. And much to our surprise, there wasn’t a whole lot inside. I managed to take part of the plaster frieze from inside and part of the terra cotta from the facade. I still have both pieces in my collection.

bruceanthony on February 16, 2004 at 9:40 pm

Its to bad the T&D is remembered for its down on its luck days because it was a beautiful theatre through its last major film “Lawrence of Arabia” in the early 1960’s. I would love to see pictures of the theatre during this period inside and out. It was a sad ending to a great lady.brucec

AndyT on February 16, 2004 at 1:01 pm

Ohhh this place had some bad days. In the porno era, a small section of the main floor was partitioned off for a “live” theater. The porno films in the main auditorium would suddenly stop and patrons would be pointed to the small theater for the “real” entertainment. It seated maybe 75 folks and had a runway down the middle. Of course, I’ve only “heard” about this place —– would never have attended it myself. Hehehe!

bruceanthony on January 27, 2004 at 7:16 am

The T&D was a great theatre to see a movie in the early 1960’s. I saw Come September with Rock Hudson and Gina Lollabrigida and Exodus. The last major film to play the T&D Was Lawrence of Arabia. That part of downtown had declined so badly and it killed the theatre. I have pictures of the beautiful marquee.Brucec

CaliforniaKid on December 29, 2003 at 4:25 am

I remember seeing “Jumbo” played by Jimmy Durante as a child at T and D in the early 1960’s. What fascinated me the most were the two angels standing on top of the theatre sign.

When I moved to downtown Oakland in 1977, it was still standing although it was boarded up. The reputation was so bad that people in Oakland referred “T & D” as “Tough and Dirty” because of porno movies it showed and the audience was usually the street people seeking shelter.

I watched it being demolished and it was a sad day to see a fine old building being torn down.

GaryParks on October 26, 2002 at 10:15 pm

This theatre was a real rarity in that its design incorporated many Art Nouveau elements, representing a style that was on its way out by the time the age of the movie palace was beginning.

The T&D (Turner & Dahnken being the chain) featured a large Wurlitzer pipe organ.

When the United Artists Theatre in Berkeley was built and opened in 1932, the T&D Wurlitzer was installed there. The organ is currently in private hands, in storage.

When in college, I knew a woman, Dorothy “Dottie” Parsons, who was an usherette at the T&D in 1926, and she said that they used flashlight wands to aid patrons in reaching their seats, so typical at that time. I now have a photograph given to me by Mrs. Parsons before she died, showing the ushette staff lined up behind the theatre. They wore smock-like dresses with long scarf-like ties, hats, and stockings along with shiny black shoes.

The T&D was demolished in 1978.

scottfavareille on October 6, 2002 at 6:20 pm

Notes on this theater: In the late 1950’s, when it was showing first-run films, it was the first theater to be open 24 hours a day. Also, when it went adult in the mid 1960’s, it was “twinned” (balcony was the theater #2) and the theater was then called the “T&D Follies”. Started showing hardcore in the late 1960’s. In 1975, it did attempt to show straight films again for a brief period before returning to hard porn, which continued until its close. The theater’s declining condition, mirroring the rest of downtown Oakland at the time, took its toll.