Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empire Theater on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:08 pm

The Empire Theatre was located within the walls of the Rex Theatre, which was gutted by fire in 1943. Due to wartime restrictions on construction, rebuilding was delayed until permission was granted by the War Production Board. The February 17, 1945, issue of Boxoffice Magazine reported that the board had authorized rebuilding to continue. A spring, 1945 opening was expected.

After the Empire was closed, the theater was converted to retail space for three shops, and the former stage was used for storage until it was converted into a dance studio, which it remains today.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Isle Theatre on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:47 pm

The Isle Theatre is open again, showing movies, and here is their web site. The site says the house was built in 1921, when it opened as the Zim Zim Theatre. It was remodeled in 1935 and renamed the Isle Theatre. It was closed in 1997 and restored recently. A sports bar has been added to the back of the building.

The March 24, 1951, issue of Boxoffice Magazine told of an earlier remodeling of the the Isle Theatre, saying that it was virtually a new theater, everything having been torn out and replaced and the interior and entrance rebuilt.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Queen Theater on Apr 30, 2009 at 7:24 pm

The Queen is mentioned in a Boxoffice Magazine item about L.J. Mason published in the August 7, 1948, issue. It says: “Mason opened his first theatre, the Star, in 1924 at Harlingen…. He opened the Queen in McAllen a few years later with John D. Jones as his partner.”

The Queen was still in operation in 1957, when the August 10 issue said that it was being managed by Lew Bray Jr., whose father had bought the house in 1952.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Heights Theatre on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Judging from the Art Moderne facade and the somewhat grungy looking side walls seen in those photos, I’d say the theater was probably just gutted by the 1969 fire rather than “burned to the ground” as the Times article had it.

The July 14, 1969, issue of Boxoffice Magazine reported on the fire investigation and said that the fire had definitely been set by an arsonist. The Boxoffice article said that the fire had “…destroyed the $90,000 theatre….” That vertical sign must be from the early 1950s at the latest, though.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Vigilante Theater on Apr 29, 2009 at 9:14 pm

The Rio became the Vigilante in 1947. A small photo showing the new name on the marquee appeared in the June 14 issue of Boxoffice Magazine that year. The caption said: “SIX GUN ATMOSPHERE— Having donned a strictly western dress, Helena’s Rio Theatre has changed its name to the Vigilante and now caters to those who like their westerns rough and ready, all at reduced prices.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about California Theatre on Apr 29, 2009 at 8:59 pm

There was an earlier California Theatre in Kerman, and a Kerman Theatre too. It looks as though neither of them operated for very long.

Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of June 10, 1944, said: “The Kerman Theatre, located in the Kerman Mercantile Bldg., Kerman, Calif., opened last week….” The item said that the theatre was “sponsored by” Mr. and Mrs. F.J. Robertson of Kerman and by Mr. and Mrs. Roy Kolp of Sterling, Colorado, who intended to move to Kerman after disposing of their Colorado business. This was apparently Kerman’s first movie house. The town incorporated in 1946, with a population of 1050.

That’s the only mention of the Kerman Theatre I’ve found in Boxoffice (though various later items misname the California Theatre as the Kerman Theatre.) But there are frequent mentions of the two California Theatres. The October 20, 1949, issue of Boxoffice said: “Portuguese Hall here was acquired by Jack Rahl and William Brown for remodeling into a motion picture theatre, known as the California. It seats 400.” After serving as a theater, the venue went back to being Portuguese Hall. There are recent photos of it here. The June 29, 1946 issue of Boxoffice said that, following the last show, the motion picture equipment was removed to make way for a Portuguese celebration.

Under the headline “Plans Second at Kerman” the March 9, 1946, issue of Boxoffice said: “Jack Rahl will build a theatre on a site he purchased recently at the corner of Madera Avenue and F St.. He recently bought out the interest of his former partner, William Brown, in the California Theatre here.”

Mr. Rahl soon took on his son-in-law as his new partner. The September 14, 1946, issue of Boxoffice said that Jim Hanson, part owner of the new California Theatre, had dropped leaflets from a plane to advertise the opening of the new house. Rahl and Hanson operated the California until 1950, when the April 11 issue of Boxoffice reported that they had sold the house to J. Boyd, former operator of the Brisbane Theatre in Brisbane.

The June 23, 1951, issue of Boxoffice said that the California had taken on a new look, the box office and foyer having been remodeled. Joseph H. Boyd sold the California to Robert V. Deck of Fresno in 1956, according to the September 26 issue of Boxoffice that year. That’s the last mention of the California I’ve found.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about American Theatre on Apr 29, 2009 at 6:56 pm

From Southwest Builder & Contractor, February 17, 1922, quoted on a card in the L.A. Library’s California Index: “Kingsburg— Anton Johnson has prepared plans and will build a $35,000 motion picture theater on Draper Street for C.J. Nelson.”

From the October 28, 1939, issue of Boxoffice comes this: “Sam Levin is opening the American at Kingsburg, November 2. Formerly the Kings, the house was remodeled at a cost of $10,000. Eric Wilson will do the booking.”

Business must not have been very good, as the July 29, 1944 issue of Boxoffice said that the American Theatre was being reopened after having been closed for three years.

By the 1950s, the American was being operated by San Joaquin Valley theatre magnate August Panero. The August 21, 1954, issue of Boxoffice said that Panero had temporarily closed the American Theatre at Kingsburg and the McFarland Theatre at McFarland. I can find no more mentions of it in later issues of Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Broadway Theater on Apr 28, 2009 at 11:24 pm

I found mentions of the Broadway Theatre in various issues of Boxoffice Magazine from 1941 to 1960. The earliest mention I’ve found for the Towne Theatre is 1965 (it was showing Russ Meyer’s soft-core hit “Fanny Hill” at the time.) I’ve found no mentions in Boxoffice of the Isis in Salt Lake at all.

However, the ever-popular Utah Theatres web site has a whole page on the place, with still more aka’s, and the sad but useful information that it has been demolished. There’s also a discrepancy between the closing date of 1976 at the top of their page and the text below that which says it was known as the Broadway Theatre (the third time it had used that name) from 1976 until 1984. The 1983 American Classic Images photo supports the text.

But, yes, it should be the Broadway Theatre, with aka’s of Isis Theatre, Colony Theatre, Tower Midtown Theatre, Towne Theatre, and Palace Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empire Theatre on Apr 28, 2009 at 10:40 pm

I’ve never seen any mention of an El Dorado Theatre in Placerville anywhere other than that one Boxoffice item, myself. It’s possible the El Dorado was not in Placerville itself, but in one of the smaller, unincorporated towns in El Dorado County.

Boxoffice sometimes gave the name of the nearest big town when a theater was actually in an outlying area. This was especially likely when two theaters were under the same owner. In any case, if the place never reopened after 1938, there’d be very few people around to recall it. Also, if it had only 300 seats (which might even have been an exaggerated number) it might have been only a nickelodeon-type storefront theater, not easily spotted in photos.

If it existed anywhere in El Dorado County, though, there should be ads for it in issues of the local newspaper from that period. And if it lasted more than briefly, it ought to appear in one or another issue of Film Daily Yearbook, too.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Chieftain Theatre on Apr 28, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Boxoffice Magazine’s reports of the seating capacity of the Chieftain differ. The December 22, 1951, issue said that it seated “about 730,” while the December 29 issue gave the figure as 750.

According to the April 25, 1966, issue of Boxoffice, Barton Theatres operated the Chieftain until that year, when all 18 of its houses were leased to a newly-formed company called Greater Oklahoma City Amusements, headed by Chicago exhibitor Lewis L. Ingram.

The September 9, 1974, issue of Boxoffice says that the Chieftain was being taken over by Okemah Shanbour. By 1975,it was being operated by Eldon Claybourne Christian, the one who was arrested for showing the movie “Sexual Customs in Scandinavia.”

I’ve been unable to find out when the house was twinned. The last mention of the Chieftain in Boxoffice is from 1976.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gaiety Theatre on Apr 28, 2009 at 9:35 pm

I notice that the unreadable vertical sign appears to be partly draped, as though they might have been working on it. I wonder if this was the time the Gaiety name was adopted for the house? It’s also possible they were getting ready to remove the vertical. It was certainly gone by the time Robert McVay took this 1947 photo (previously posted.)

The movies on the Optic’s marquee were both released in 1938. According to IMDb, the Dick Powell movie “Hard to Get” was released in November and “Orphans of the Street” in December. I don’t think the Optic was a first-run house any more by this time, but the latter movie appears to be a “B” picture of the sort that went to sub-run houses pretty fast, so if IMDb’s dates are right then the photo could date from late 1938 or early 1939.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empire Theatre on Apr 27, 2009 at 10:50 pm

The earliest mention of the Empire Theatre I’ve been able to find in Boxoffice Magazine is from the August 20, 1938, issue, in an item headed “Naify Brothers Acquire Duo From Mrs. Knacke.” It says:[quote]“Lee and Fred Naify, brothers of Mike Naify, manager of the T&D jr. Circuit, have acquired the two theatres in Placerville which Mrs. Ruth Knacke has been operating for some time. J.R. Saul, San Francisco theatre realty broker, handled the transaction.

“The houses are the 600-seat Empire, which may possibly be renovated, and the 300-seat El Dorado, which, dark for some time, is expected to continue closed under the Naify direction.”[/quote]I’ve found nothing later about the El Dorado, so perhaps it never reopened, but the Empire appears to have been operated by the Naify interests into the 1950s. Then by 1963 it was owned by an A.J. Longtin, who was planning a renovation of the house, according to Boxoffice Magazine of September 2 that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roosevelt Theatre on Apr 27, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Wait, not that one. This one, which is a drawing of the block, undated, but from the 19th century.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roosevelt Theatre on Apr 27, 2009 at 10:03 pm

The building the Roosevelt would later occupy part of was already there in 1882, if the L.A. Library has this photo dated properly.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Carthay Circle Theatre on Apr 27, 2009 at 7:09 pm

“in the picture” that should say.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Carthay Circle Theatre on Apr 27, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Oh, dear. Whoever wrote the caption for the USC photo probably just read the old street sign in the and searched Google Maps for Eulalia Boulevard in Los Angeles, and it came up with Eulalia Street in Glendale. USC needs to run their photos by some old people with memories.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Towne Theater on Apr 26, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Back on January 18, 2005, I said that the name of the architect of the Towne was Hugh Biggs. The article from which I took the information got his name wrong. I’ve lately found several references to the Towne Theatre giving his correct name, Hugh Gibbs. Gibbs was later one of the architects of the Long Beach convention Center.

A two-page illustrated article about the recently opened Towne was published in the December 7, 1946, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The house was originally operated by Cabart Theatres.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mayland Theatre on Apr 26, 2009 at 8:38 pm

The original architect of the Mayland Theatre is no longer unknown. The December 27, 1947, issue of Boxoffice Magazine announced that P.E. Essick and Howard Reif had a 1,600-seat theater under construction at Mayfield and Lander Roads. The as-yet unnamed theater was expected to open the following spring.

The Boxoffice item said: “Plans for the project were prepared by Paul Matzinger, Cleveland architect who has drawn plans for a majority of the Scoville, Essick & Reif Theatres.”

Other issues of Boxoffice indicate that, at the time the Mayland was designed, Matzinger was lead architect of the firm of Matzinger & Grosel. Matzinger was a member of Boxoffice Magazine’s Modern Theatre Planning Institute.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on Apr 26, 2009 at 5:17 pm

This page duplicates the page for the Mexico Theatre. I’ve dug up some history of the place in Boxoffice Magazine and will post it to the Mexico page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about United Artists Theatre on Apr 26, 2009 at 3:05 pm

I don’t remember ever seeing the original facade of the United Artists. The first time I saw a movie there, about 1961, it had already been clad in that aluminum skin seen in the 1980s photos. The entire house had been renovated, with new seats, carpeting, drapes, and all new fixtures in the rest rooms. It still had new theater smell.

Boxoffice Magazine ran an item about the renovated theater in its February 6, 1961, issue, which said that U.A. had spent $250,000 on the changes. Of considerable surprise to me is the news that the house had been reseated as part of the renovation, reducing capacity to 756. The last time I went to a movie there, in the 1980s, by which time I was taller than I’d been in the early 1960s, the seating had seemed very cramped to me. It must have been incredibly cramped before the renovation.

As I’d been to that part of Pasadena a few times earlier, I must have seen the U.A. before the aluminum skin was put on the facade, but I don’t remember it. As aluminum skins went, it wasn’t a bad one, but I’m still grateful that Angel’s school supply peeled it off and restored the original detailing underneath.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Oroville State Theater on Apr 26, 2009 at 2:17 pm

The City of Oroville has moved its State Theatre web page again.

This is the new location.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about El Capitan Theatre on Apr 25, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Ken, you are right and USC is wrong. Those three pictures do depict the Downtown Paramount.

This is the El Capitan’s auditorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Esquire Theatre on Apr 25, 2009 at 10:42 pm

From Southwest Builder & Contractor, March 3, 1922: “Wieland, Mazurette & Wieland have prepared plans and have the contract at $25,000 for remodeling the garage at 719 10th St into a picture theater and store building for T.F. Griffin.”

This house was called the Lyric at least as late as 1949, when it was one of George Mann’s theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Isis Theatre on Apr 25, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Boxoffice said, in its January 8, 1938, issue: “Asheville’s new $50,000 theatre, the Isis, held its formal opening December 27. The theatre was built by the Publix-Bamford Theatres and has a seating capacity of 555.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fine Arts Theatre on Apr 25, 2009 at 7:11 pm

And from Boxoffice on October 26, 1946: “Printed invitations were sent by H.B. Meiselman and Phil Berler for the opening of the new Strand Theatre at Asheville on Thursday, October 24, reported to have been a successful affair.”