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Here is a page of memories of the Covina Twin Drive-In.
I’ve been unable to find any listing for a Magnolia Drive-In in Riverside in either 1971 or 1986, the years for which I have copies of the Los Angeles Times theatre listings.
Also, there is no Magnolia Boulevard in Riverside, which is why the Google map link gives an error page. The correct street name would be Magnolia Avenue.
I believe that the address for this theatre should read; “605 Freeway at South Street” which was its actual location.
The name by which this theatre appeared in the United Artists Theatres listings in the Los Angeles Times of August 24, 1986, was the Tyler Mall. It was one of two multiplexes being operated by UA in Riverside at the time.
In the August 24, 1986 Los Angeles Times, the United Artist’s Theatres listings show this to have been a six-screen multiplex, not a four-screen.
I find this theatre listed in the Los Angeles Times as a Pacific Drive-In, in August of 1986, but it is not listed as a twin at that time. Pacific was also listing a three-screen drive-in called the Rosecrans in the city of Paramount in that year. The Rosecrans was located on Lakewood Boulevard at Rosecrans.
The Wescove triplex was located on West Covina Parkway at Sunset Avenue. I believe it opened as a single screen theatre called the Wescove Theatre in the early 1960’s, or maybe in the late 1950’s, and the two smaller auditoriums were added on to the building about 1970. I’m not positive about the dates as I seldom got that far east in those days.
1500 seats does seem excessive, but 700 is too few. I count 31 seats across the auditorium in most of the last eleven rows (the loge section), and there are probably three more seats in most of the 18 or 19 rows (it’s difficult to count the most distant rows, the picture being too small) beyond the loge section. So there are a bit over 900 seats visible on the orchestra floor, and the picture appears to have been taken from the lower part of another section of seating (perhaps stadium style) at the rear of the house. There could be perhaps another three hundred or so seats, unseen behind the camera’s position. The ceiling doesn’t look high enough for a true balcony to be back there, so it’s probably just a few rows of seats on risers. I doubt that the total could have been much over 1200 seats, though.
Throughout its entire 43 year history, this theatre was operated by the Edwards Theatre Circuit or its successor, Edwards Cinemas.
With regard to the comments above by JustOldBob (AKA kleig light), the “original” Temple Theatre to which he refers is the theatre in Alhambra which is posted at Cinema Treasures under its final name, El Rey. It’s actual address was 333 W. Main Street. It was never converted to retail use, but remained a theatre from its opening in 1921 until the day it was irreparably damaged by the Whittier Narrows earthquake in 1987.
I’ve tried to figure out what building in the 600 block of west Main Street Bob could have seen that he mistook for this theatre. It might have been the old bowling alley, which was converted into some sort of auto repair facility in the late 1960’s. Later, a fine 1920’s Spanish Revival style garage building next door to the east was added to the auto repair operation, and (an act of vandalism) covered in the same rough, gray facing that had been placed on the former bowling alley. That might be the expansion to which Bob referred.
However, I’m wondering about the “Temple” name plate Bob saw above the door after the building was damaged by the Northridge earthquake. The Temple/El Rey was gone by then,having been destroyed after the Whittier Narrows earthquake, but I can attest that the Temple/El Rey did have such a name plate, as I saw it in the early 1960’s when Edwards remodeled the theatre’s facade, and the plate was exposed when the old marquee was removed. Perhaps it was re-exposed again after the Whittier Narrows earthquake, and Bob just misremembered which earthquake it was that damaged the building, and the building’s exact location.
Or, maybe there is another building with a Temple name plate, which Bob saw in the 600 block of Main Street, and maybe it was a theatre at one time, before the Temple/El Rey was built. The building which had been a bowling alley had a streamline moderne facade, probably form the 1930’s or 1940’s, but that could have been the result of a remodeling of an older building. It’s an interesting puzzle. If I were still in the area, I’d like to root around in the material at the Alhambra Historical Society and see what I could turn up about it.
ken mc: Your photo link of November 30th actually shows the original Temple Theatre, which was demolished to make way for this (now doomed) 1983 fourplex.
Though I went to the old Temple Theatre many times, I only saw one movie at this fourplex. It was Superman II, so it was in the one of the two larger auditoriums which had the 70mm projection. I was surprised to find that this room was not too much smaller than the old Temple Theatre had been. The old theatre had more seats, but the seats in the new house were a bit larger, and there was more leg room.
The new screen was almost wall-to-wall, so it was actually a bit bigger than the old theatre’s screen had been, even though the new room was a few feet narrower. The new lobby and restrooms were much larger, too, but the new building didn’t have anywhere near the character of the old one, which had an open loggia entrance and a high, beamed ceiling in the auditorium.
Tim- I recognize that picture as being an aerial view of the north end of Burbank, with the San Val Drive-In in the foreground. The wide, busy surface street across the lower part of the picture is San Fernando Road, and the empty highway just beyond that is the Golden State Freeway, which looks as though it is just about complete. That stretch of freeway opened sometime in the mid-1960’s as I recall, so that’s probably when the picture was taken.
vokoban, I don’t know if Oliver Morosco ever got his theatre on the east side of Broadway between 6th and 7th, but three theatres are listed as having been there: The Palace, of course, built for the Orpheum Circuit, and then the two rather mysterious theatres, The Symphony, at 614 S., and The Palace of Pictures, at 642 S. Broadway.
Perhaps Oliver Morosco had something to do with one or the other of those. Virtually nothing is known about either of them. However, Mososco did eventually build a theatre in the next block down Broadway, The Globe (opened 1913 as The Morosco.)
EdSolero: It’s been a couple of months since you asked about roadshow souvenir programs, but here’s what I know about them:
They were usually about nine by twelve inches or larger, contained 32 pages or more, were printed on heavy, glossy paper, with a slightly heavier paper cover. They contained pictures of the stars, stills from the movie, behind-the-scenes photos, text about the movie, the actors, the director and producer, the composer of the score, etc. There was no advertising in them, unlike the free playbills given out at legitimate theatres. The roadshow programs were not free. I only ever bought one of them, myself, at the roadshow of the original release of Lawrence of Arabia, at the Warner Theatre in Beverly Hills. I think it cost a dollar. (My balcony ticket for a Wednesday matinee was only a dollar fifty, if I recall correctly. The booklets would have been too costly to give away, with some ticket prices being that low.)
These souvenir programs are sometimes available in the movie memorabilia section of eBay, though the sellers' photographs of them don’t give a very good idea of what they are really like. I would suppose that retail shops specializing in movie memorabilia would also sometimes have them for sale, so if there is such a shop in your area, you might be able to get a close look at an example.
ken: What you have found may be a picture of Susanville’s Orpheum Bowling Alley. Although the name Orpheum is most closely associated with theaters, there have been (and are) other businesses that use the name. I know of at least one music store (an appropriate enterprise, given that Orpheus was a musician), and there are a few bars called the Orpheum here and there.
Given the date of 1946, it seems certain that your photograph depicts the Orpheum Bowling Alley, though. That’s not to say that the bowling alley was not perhaps located in the former quarters of a theatre, of course, and kept the name to save on the cost of a new sign. It does seem a very odd choice of names for a bowling alley.
I think that one of those remaining buildings was for a long time the location of a cafe and bakery called La Esperanza. I used to go there once in a while. They made a very good pan dulce. I think it moved or went out of business in the ‘70s, though. The place was spacious and had high ceilings, so there’s a possibility that, in earlier days, it could have housed theater of decent size.
Once a theater has been posted, additional information about it can be added to the top section only by one of the mods. They watch new comments and make the changes as information comes in (though they sometimes miss it, especially if the site is busy.) Alternately, you can e-mail them the new information, though I’ve seldom found that necessary.
The Lark must have been knocked down fairly early, as the Central Building (from which Mr. Tierney leaped) had become the Continental Trailways Bus Depot by the 1950’s at the latest. (Continental Trailways was formed in the mid-1930’s.) The buildings to the south of the Central Building were demolished to make way for the bus loading zone and a parking lot.
If the building in which the Estella Theater was located still exists (its address places it just a few doors south of the historic Plaza Church), it would be part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. Two buildings do still exist on that block, separated from the Plaza Church to the north by a single vacant lot, with a parking lot to their south.
Vertical signs shaped like actual knife blades, with a curve at the top, did only become popular with the arrival of art deco and (even more) art moderne, but any vertical name sign can be called a blade— for example, this one, on San Jose’s California Theatre.
Exact opening and closing dates! Excellent! The newspaper report got the theatre’s address wrong, though. 317 would have placed it on the north side of the street. It was definitely on the south side. Also, by zooming in on the picture from the USC archives, I see that the Palace used the spelling “Theatre” on its blade sign, rather than the “Theater” spelling which I used (and which I got from an abstract of a period L.A. Times article) when I originally added it.
Oh, and the good images at terraserver are the Urban Areas images, usually from 2004. Not much can be determined from the earlier (mostly from 1994) black and white Aerial Photo images. The topo maps, of course, are useless for hunting down buildings.
I was not aware of its later names, but the theatre at 121 West First Street was Fischer’s Theater, which was open as early as 1908. It was probably demolished by 1927, when the entire block was cleared to make way for the new city hall.
The building at 6107 Main Street is probably gone, too. One way to check for the possible existence of a building is to search for the address at Microsoft’s Terraserver (there’s another Terraserver web site, at terraserver.com, but it doesn’t provide the close aerial images that the Microsoft site does.) The little red dot that is supposed to mark the exact location of the address is always a little bit off, though not as badly off as the marker usually is at the inferior Google Maps.
Searching on 6107 S. Main, I found the dot in front of a building on the corner, but that building is rather narrow, appears to have skylights, and its shadow indicates a two story structure, so I suspect that it’s just a typical corner commercial building. The theatre was probably on the wider lot to the south, which is now (the photo is from 2004) a parking lot.
vokoban: I am thinking now that the building in which the Estrella was located might still exist. The address of the Plaza Church is 535 N. Main, and I believe there are some very old buildings just south of the church, where the Estrella’s address of 515 N. Main would put it. It might have been a small, storefront theatre in one of those commercial buildings.
The Gem on Washington is already listed here under its later name, the Maynard Theatre.
I’m not sure about the Gayety on Central Avenue. It might be here under another name, but I haven’t had time to check.
The “glass screen” may have referred to a screen covered in glass beads. Various types of movie screens are described on this page at “How Stuff Works”. Still, a ton and a half seems pretty heavy. Maybe there was a bit of publicity hype involved.
As you have found the address of Miller’s Theatre, you might as well go ahead and add it to the Cinema Treasures database, along with the other four Main Street theatres (Estrella, Lark, Novelty and Principal) you’ve discovered, as well. I’m sure that the last four have all been demolished, but there’s a possibility that the building in which Miller’s Theatre was located still exists. I’m pretty sure the building was still there in the 1980’s. I crossed Main on Ninth Street several times in that period, on my way to and from the garment district, and I have a vague memory of an old, three-story building on that part of the block, but at the time I had no idea that there had ever been a theatre in that location.
The only evidence of the existence of Miller’s Theatre I’ve found is in photos at the USC digital archive. It appears in this 1917 bird’s eye view of the intersection of Main and Spring. The theatre’s marquee is at the lower right, and there is a rooftop sign above it. There is also a painted add for the theatre on the wall of the tall building at the far end of the triangular block on the left. It includes the words “WE SHOW WM. FOX PHOTOPLAYS.”