Showing 26 - 48 of 48 comments
The Tearoom Theatre was previously known as the Aquarius Theatre from 1970 to 1977 when it ran small independent films. I think its history as a movie theatre qualifies it to be listed here.
In the mid-1960s the theatre was known as the Burl (after redwood burl I’d imagine) and showed a fare of sub-run films changed twice a week. It was a family-run operation at the time. Admission was 80 cents (first-run in the area was about $1.50 at the time).
Alan Michaan did his best to preserve the theatre and keep it going. He’s spent all kinds of money trying to make these old theatres work. I remember when he redid the Palace in SF many years back. He restored that place into the beauty it once was, but couldn’t make the thing work.
Sometimes we just have to face facts: Single screen theatres just don’t work anymore, with only a few exceptions such as SF’s Castro Theatre.
I’m curious about the photos of the Valencia Theater and the remodel which made it into the Annunciation Cathedral. The theatre doesn’t look at all like the Annunciation did, even given the benefit of a large amount of remodeling, HOWEVER, it does look very much like a theatre down on Valencia and 25th, which is now the Templo de la Fe church. I note that the newspaper article about the opening of the Valencia theatre does not have any photos in it.
Could it be that the photos (which appear to be the same as in the archives of the SF Public Library) are really of the one on Valencia and 25th?
Does anyone have photos of any of the Hayward theatres during their heydays?
It’s doing well, but not as a strip club. It houses everything from plays to concerts to animation festivals. It’s also home to the nation’s only transgender film festival, which I think is now in its 6th or 7th year.
John Stefanelli. That’s his name. He had what must have been the very best slogan ever for a movie theatre: “Where dreams are played.” I didn’t go to it much as a porn house, though I do remember seeing two Fred Halstead porn masterpieces “Sex Garage” and “LA Plays Itself” there. These stylistic films were recently purchased as part of the permanent collection of the NY Museum of Modern Art.
But what I most remember were the old musicals and the elderly fans who used to turn out to see them, along with those of us who really appreciated seeing the old movies in the old theatre that must have played them shortly after they came out the first time.
Few movie theatres do I miss as much as the Powell.
I’m in error; it was replaced by a Goodwill store, not St. Vincent de Paul. But it was the late 1980s, as evidenced by the architecture of the building that replaced it. The name was changed (somewhat) from Haight to Straight in 1967, but I’m not sure how official it was.
This doesn’t compute. I have not been to Hayward in 6 months, but the former State theatre would have been across the street from the parking structure (the east side of Mission). Add 22000 to the address to get its present address. Thus, 626 Castro Street becomes 22626 Mission Boulevard.
A little searching shows that this would be between Russell City Tattoo at 22622 and Ace Loans pawn shop at 22646 Mission. I’ll have to go over there and see if I can identify the spot. I doubt the building was demolished as the current structure dates to probably the 1920s.
It is the oldest continually operating theatre in SF. One look at the front reveals that little has been done with the facade since its construction in 1908. It has one of my favorite exteriors, even though it’s just a workingman’s kind of theatre, not a palace.
The seats for the Roxie came from the Surf Theatre when it was demolished. These much newer seats (circa 1975) replaced the original circa 1915 seats, which were prone to collapse.
The Roxie has turned the corner and between the regular Roxie and the Little Roxie two doors away (the Dalva bar doorway is between them), and with the success of Roxie Releasing (which releases interesting movies abandoned by other distributors), the Roxie appears to be on firm footing for the first time in the 28 years it’s been a revival/independent cinema house. And it was the fundraising by interested filmgoers and neighbors in 2002 that saved the Roxie.
The Stage Door was called the Stage Door Canteen during World War II, one of 6 such theatres named after the Stage Door Canteen in New York. Entertainers such as Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, Burns & Allen, and others performed there for the troops, as San Francisco was a big military town during that war.
In the 1980s it was revived as the San Francisco Experience, a multimedia multiprojection show owned by Bing Grosby Productions.
I attended Allan Michaan’s (Renaissance Rialto, Grand Lake) re-opening of the Palace in, I think, 1986. He had obviously spent some money restoring it and the place was beautiful. He was quite proud of it, and walked with several of us around the theatre to show off fixtures, restorations, etc. But his plan to show independent/rep films did not succeed and he only operated it for a short time.
The theatre was demolished and became a Safeway store in the 1960s.
The theatre with the couches was the Red Vic, originally located in the store space of the Red Victorian hotel/gift shop on Haight and Belvedere Streets and founded in 1980. The Red Vic movie theatre left the Red Victorian building in 1991 and moved to its present site on Haight Street between Cole and Shraeder Streets. Unfortunately, they didn’t bring the couches, but the current bench and cushion seating is fine.
I recall the Haight Theatre being demolished in the late 1980s when it was replaced by a giant hole, and eventually by a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store.
Jack Tilmany, of course, is being modest here. He once operated the Gateway. I spent many evenings there and at his other theatre, the Richelieu.
The Strand name survives today in the name of Strand Releasing, a company co-founded by Thomas to distribute independent films. It is based in the Los Angeles area, as he had built the Strand into a small chain of art houses in the early 1980s.
The upper floors of this building where the movie theatres are today, were once the studios and offices of KFRC and the production center for the Don Lee/Mutual radio network.
Among the people who got their start in show business there were talkshow host/crooner Merv Griffin and Bea Benaderet. Bea was the next door neighbor on the Burns & Allen show, Kate the proprietor of the Shady Rest Hotel on Petticoat Junction, and the voice of Betty Rubble on the Flintstones.
KFRC fed programs to the Mutual radio network and to its sister station in LA, KHJ. Mutual was the network most famous for the Lone Ranger radio show.
My mother (a radio actress in the 1930s at both Don Lee/Mutual and NBC) said that there was a large studio on one floor where such bands such as Benny Goodman’s performed on a regular basis.
I spent a lot of time in downtown Hayward, but don’t remember the State, nor can I think of any building that might have been large enough to have been a theatre. The block that was demolished contained a card room, a gay bar, and a number of other small businesses. Perhaps if the State was a nickelodeon rather than a fullsized theatre this would make more sense to me.
I went to the Ritz and the Hayward Theaters (we called them thee-AY-ters, of course) as a kid, where I saw Three Stooges movies (long form, not the 2-reelers), Jerry Lewis, and others. I especially remember one movie that played on a Saturday afternoon called “White Slave Ship”. This is puzzling because there’s a whipping scene in the movie and the kids in the audience are counting out the whip strokes in unison. I can’t imagine anything like that happening in today’s conservative climate.
Among the things I remember about the Ritz were that the theater was very clean, had a thick carpet, and made it feel as if we were really doing something special, even though the Ritz was built during the sparse postwar architectural period.
I also remember the big 50 cent candy bars that would take 3 of us to eat.
Both the Ritz and the Hayward were into the “continuous show” mode, where they didn’t bring up the house lights between movies, but just kept showing something. Both theatres had clocks at the ticket booth showing what time you could expect to leave if you entered at that moment. Definitely, both theatres were positioned for the go-go 50s and 60s.
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.
I attended a screening of “That’s Entertainment” (the movie about the history of MGM) at the Powell. What’s remarkable about this was that one of the dancers in a movie clip shown extensively in the movie was in the house that night and answered questions about the musicals and MGM.
I really liked the Powell and was sorry to see it closed. In its final days it had been operated by a couple guys who had also operated a gay porn theatre called the Laurel, on Polk just north of Broadway. They’d tried porn at the Powell, but it just didn’t work, so they went back to revivals. I think the Powell was my first exposure to those remarkable Busby Berkeley films.
At the end, much of the equipment had become inoperable. They didn’t even have workable house lights anymore. In order to clean the theatre they had a 150 watt bulb on a boom to light the place.
Still, I was sorry to see it go.