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Unlike most Fox theaters of the postwar period, which were designed by in-house architects such as Mel Glatz or Carl G. Moeller, the Palos Verdes Fox was the work of Carver L. Baker, coordinating architect and planning consultant for the development company that managed almost 7000 acres of the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Great Lakes Carbon Company, which had acquired title to the land in 1953.
An item about the opening of the Fox Theatre appeared in Boxoffice, August 12, 1963, a few days after the house opened. It includes a photo. The caption says that this was the fifth theater opened by National General Theatres, and brought the circuit to 225 theaters in 27 states.
Most of the information about National General Theatres available on the Internet is a bit confusing. The company was incorporated as National Theatres in 1952, but at that time had already operated under that name for many years, having been formed in a 1934 reorganization of Fox West Coast Theatres, which had gone into receivership the previous year, part of the collapse of William Fox’s various enterprises. 20th Century Fox owned a minority interest in National Theatres for a number of years, then acquired a majority interest in the 1940s. The 1952 incorporation was the result of a reorganization of the company stemming from the anti-trust decrees that required movie studios to divest their theater operations.
The various claims that National General took over Fox Theatres in the 1960s are thus misleading, as the company and its predecessor National Theatres had by then been running Fox Theatres for about three decades. The name change to National General in 1962 was a belated reflection of the fact that the National Theatres Corporation incorporated in 1952 had been from the beginning a diversified conglomerate, with movie exhibition only one facet of its operations. A majority of the company’s revenues came from publishing and insurance.
Boxoffice says that the Fox Conejo Theatre was in the Conejo Village Shopping Center, but I’ve been unable to track down an address for it. The shopping center’s name has apparently been changed. The theater opened in 1963.
There was a 750-seat Melody Theatre in Thousand Oaks, opened on October 13, 1965. It was mentioned in several issues of Boxoffice. The Melody was originally operated by Jack Grossman’s Holiday Theatres. It was in the Park Oaks Shopping Center, at Moorpark and Janss Road. I think it must be one of the theaters Knatcal remembers.
It turns out that S. Charles Lee’s 1938 design for the Sierra Theatre was not carried out. The theater as opened in 1946 was designed by Vincent G. Raney. There are a couple of small photos from the time of the opening in Boxoffice of November 2, 1946.
Boxoffice of April 5, 1971, said that a new facade was being built at the Delano Theatre. It was the final step in a multi-year renovation project which had brought the theater new seats, wider aisles, a new sound system and projection equipment, and an new air conditioning system.
I also suspect an opening year of 1924 for the Delano Theatre. Southwest Builder & Contractor of February 29, 1924, said a theater was being planned at Delano as part of the proposed Grower’s Security Bank building, then being designed by Bakersfield architect Charles H. Bigger. An ad for Paramount Pictures in Boxoffice of September 7, 1940, includes tiny photos of the Delano Theatre and the Wasco Theatre along with a photo of operator Frank Panero.
The photo of the pre-remodel Delano shows a building with arched windows characteristic of the 1920s but pretty much out of style by 1930. There is also a letter from Frank Panero indicating that he had been in the theater business for 25 years. The circuit having been headquartered in Delano suggests that the Delano could have been the Panero’s first theater, as its likely opening date of 1925-1925 would have been about the time they got their start.
An article about the new Eastown Theatre was published in Boxoffice of December 12, 1936. There are several photos. The Art Moderne design of the 1,000-seat house was by Grand Rapids architect Harry L. Colton. The Eastown was built for B&J Theatres (Butterfield & Johnson.)
A photo of the recently remodeled facade of the Denis Theatre appeared in this article in Boxoffice of October 15, 1938. The architect for the remodeling was Victor A. Rigaumont.
The Vogue opened in 1938. It was a rebuild of a 1923 theater called the Michigan, which had been closed for ten years according to one Boxoffice item about the project. Before and after photos appeared in this article in Boxoffice of October 15, 1938. I can’t find the name of the architect who designed the remodeling, though architects are named for the other two remodeling projects featured in the article.
This house was mentioned in passing in an item datelined Toronto in Boxoffice of January 3, 1948, which referred to the “…newly-opened Glendale Theatre here….”
I’ve found a couple of references to “William” Overpeck on the Internet, but the architect’s actual first name was Warren. He has been a member of the Architectural Review Board of the Bel Air Association, and a document published by the association indicates why the confusion arose:[quote]“Warren Frazier Overpeck- Bill, as he is called by his friends, graduated from the USC School of Architecture. After graduation he joined the A. Quincy Jones, F.A.I.A. Architectural firm. Two years later he opened his own office in Pacific Palisades, designing custom residences. Later, in
partnership with Bob Kite, their firm designed the John Thomas Dye School after the Bel-Air fire. In 1969 he associated with a major architectural firm to develop Marina City and the Marina City Club”[/quote]The “identical” theater opened by Lippert the same year as the Buena Park was apparently the Corbin Theatre in Tarzana. Presumably it too was designed by Overpeck. The only major difference I can see between the Buena Park as pictured in this Boxoffice feature from 1959 and this 1984 photo of the Corbin is that the Corbin had a traditional marquee, probably added later as it is mounted on columns rather than on the building itself.
On page 14 of the same issue of Boxoffice linked above is an article about Robert Lippert’s twin Riviera and Capri Theatres in Los Angeles, and that project was attributed to architect John P. Edwards with W. F. Overpeck associated. As Lippert had Overpeck work on three projects in a short period, it’s possible that he also designed others of the theaters Lippert was building during the brief time when Overpeck had an individual practice- from about 1958 to 1961, as near as I’ve been able to determine.
A July 12, 1941, Boxoffice item about Walter Noa, manager of the Olson Brothers' Gaylord Theatre, said that he had managed the Gaylord Theatre’s predecessor since 1931. I also found a 1938 item mentioning James Olson of Gaylord, but the name of the earlier theater was not mentioned. Maybe it was called the Gaylord, too.
The Corbin was built for Robert Lippert Theatres and was opened in 1959. It was a near twin to the Buena Park Theatre opened the same year and which was the subject of this Boxoffice feature of October 19 that year. You can see the resemblance to the 1984 photo, though it looks like the Corbin had a traditional marquee added later, judging from the way it’s mounted on columns rather than attached to the building itself. The Corbin was probably designed by the architect of the Buena Park, Warren F. Overpeck.
The Roger Sherman Theatre reopened on December 23, 1961, following a major remodeling designed by architect Drew Eberson. The house was then the Stanley Warner circuit’s zone flagship, according to the item in Boxoffice of January 1, 1962, which also said: “The interior was completely stripped for the extensive wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling renovation program.” The opening movie was Disney’s “Babes In Toyland.”
A rendering of the new front of the Roger Sherman was published in Boxoffice of December 18, 1961. This item said that the remodeled house would feature continental seating, and that total capacity would be reduced by 350 seats.
Boxoffice of July 9, 1938, ran an item saying that construction on the new Crystal Theatre was scheduled begin on August 15, and that operator Ben Cohen anticipated opening the house some time around Thanksgiving Day.
The item also said that this Crystal was a replacement for an older theater of the same name, across the street from the site of the new house, which had been demolished for the widening of Michigan Avenue.
The opening of the new Crystal was delayed. Boxoffice of December 17 said the house “…bows the latter part of the month.”
The 1982 photo depicts the last Music Box Theatre in Portland, located on Broadway next door to the Fox Theatre. Gary Lacher and Steve Stone’s book “Theaters of Portland” says that there were six Portland theaters called the Music Box. I don’t think it has a page at Cinema Treasures yet.
The Hill Theatre was not a quonset hut, but a site-built theater using laminated wood arches that formed both walls and roof. They came to a slight peak, giving the auditorium a somewhat Gothic look, though the style of the building was California Modern, a regional variant of the Midcentury style, but which favored the use of natural materials such as redwood and stone along with the glass walls more characteristic of the modern mode. This sometimes gave the California Modern a rather rustic look, as was the case with this theater.
A double-page spread about the Hill Theatre was published in Boxoffice of October 19, 1959, though this was several years after the theater had opened. This article gives the seating capacity of the Hill as 303.
Construction of this theater was to begin in 30 days, according to an item in Boxoffice of July 1, 1950. The backers of the project had arranged for the theater to be operated under lease by R.B. Read and Paul Clark, both of Carmel Point. The as-yet unnamed theater was to show “foreign and domestic films of prestige quality.”
Early in 1956 the Hill Theatre was taken over by a partnership of Maury Schwarz and John Parsons, San Francisco exhibitors. Parsons operated a circuit of several houses in the Bay Area and in the Central Valley. He also operated the Golden Bough Theatre in Monterey from about 1955. Many of his theaters were art houses. After Parsons and Schwarz acquired the house, R.B. Read was to continue as manager of the Hill and take over management of the Golden Bough as well, according to Boxoffice of February 18, 1956.
The start of construction on the Coronet Theatre was announced in Boxoffice of February 11, 1963. It was to be the first unit in a six acre commercial project planned by Comstock Developers. It was to be a first-run house, and would be operated under lease by A.J. Longtin, operator of theaters at Madera, Coalinga, and Willows, and former operator of the Guild and Encore theaters in Sacramento.
One of the partners in Comstock Developers was architect Herbert E. Goodpastor, designer of the Coronet. Goodpastor also designed the Manor and Colonial theaters in Sacramento.
A photo of the auditorium of the Cameo Theatre was featured in an ad for the American Seating Company in Boxoffice of January 3, 1953. The architects of the theater were Ginnocchio and Cromwell.
The Crane Theatre became the Fox Theatre in 1955, replacing Fox Midwest’s Tiger Theatre which had burned the previous year. The building was extensively altered and given a Midcentury Modern style by architect Samuel W. Bihr, Jr. Before and after photos are on display in this article in Boxoffice of October 22, 1955. Many additional photos appear on the three subsequent pages.
Boxoffice of March 5, 1949, said that the Coral Way Drive-In had been opened. Wometco took over operation in 1954. In 1955 the circuit had the drive-in rebuilt to plans by architect A. Herbert Mathes. His design was the subject of this article in Boxoffice of October 22, 1955.
For a long time I’ve had a vague memory of having attended a movie at a twin theater on Beverly Boulevard in the early 1960s, and of having read an article about the opening of said theater in the Los Angeles Times some time before that.
I was pretty sure it was the theater that became the New Beverly, but nobody posting on this page ever mentioned anything about such a twin here, and the theater’s web site said nothing, so I didn’t comment (for several years I also had a very vivid memory, which turned out to be false, of there having been an Admiral Theatre on Main Street in downtown Los Angeles, so that embarrassing experience made me a bit gun shy.)
Now, I have found confirmation of the existence of this twin! Boxoffice of October 19, 1959, has an article with pictures of the very theater I remember, and it was indeed this one. Capri and Riviera were not sequential names for this theater, but the names of the two auditoriums of the twin opened at this address by Robert Lippert in the late 1950s.
The Capri and Riviera Theatres had to have been the first twin opened in the city of Los Angeles, and the first in Southern California after Jimmy Edwards opened the Annex at his Alhambra Theatre in suburban Alhambra in 1941.
I don’t recall the year in which I attended the Riviera, but it was probably no earlier than 1961. Boxoffice of September 16, 1963, tells me it couldn’t have been later than 1963, as that’s when the house was restored to a single-screen configuration, reopening as the New Yorker on Friday, September 13.
Both articles give the name of the “legitimate playhouse” (Boxoffice’s term) that had previously occupied the building as the Dahl Theatre. I’ve been unable to find out any details about it. The Los Angeles County Assessor’s office gives the date of construction of the building at 7165 Beverly as 1929, with an effective construction date of 1942. At least two sources say that Slapsie Maxie’s opened here in 1943, which would match well with the 1942 rebuilding.
An article in a 2004 issue of The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles (PDF here) says that after Slapsie Maxie’s closed, the building became the New Globe Theatre, a venue for Yiddish plays. It was operating under that name in 1951.
The impression I got from the Boxoffice items about the Capri and Rivera was that the building had housed the Dahl Theatre immediately before Lippert converted it into a cinema. I haven’t had much luck with confirming this, but a Google search turned up a theater memorabilia site advertising a “VINTAGE PLAYGOER FROM DAHL THEATRE~LA~ 1958” for seven bucks. I couldn’t find the item on the site, and the Google results also said “No Image Available” in any case.
As for the many sources saying this was once a vaudeville theater, I’m skeptical. For one thing, the footprint was quite small. After allowing space for a stage house, even a theater with a balcony on this lot could scarcely have held five hundred patrons. For another, when Lippert converted the building the ceiling was so low that a special arrangement of mirrors had to be installed to allow the projector beam to reach the screen.
Finally, for anyone to have built a vaudeville theater in this location in 1929 would have been folly. It was not yet very densely populated, there were no streetcar lines on either Beverly or La Brea, and it would have been much easier for locals to leave the neighborhood to reach the large theaters of Hollywood, Carthay Center, and Beverly Hills than it would have been for any significant number of potential audience members to reach this location.
I suspect that, before becoming Slapsie Maxie’s, the building was most likely ordinary retail space, with a vanishingly small chance that it was a neighborhood movie house.
The Palm Springs Theatre was featured in an article in Boxoffice of October 21, 1963. There are a few photos.
The full professional name of the architect of the Palm Springs Theatre was A. Herbert Mathes. He designed many theaters for Wometco during this period, and was also a well-known Miami hotel architect.
Though the Byron Carlyle Theatre was opened in 1968, it got an article in Boxoffice on October 19, 1970. The Byron had 590 seats and the Carlyle seated 993. Oddly, the larger house had only 35mm projection while the smaller was equipped with Century 70/35s.
The Boxoffice article said that the architect of the project, A. Herbert Mathes, was “…the architect responsible for many Wometco theatres….”
This theater opened as the Park East and Park West in 1965. Total seating at opening was 1,500, divided 600 and 900. It was operated by Wometco. A rendering of the proposed house, by architect A. Herbert Mathes, appeared in Boxoffice, December 31, 1964.
Though they placed it in nearby Dover, Delaware, Boxoffice did report the opening of the Smyrna Theatre in its issue of April 10, 1948. It said the house had opened “last week.”
A decade earlier, Boxoffice of February 26, 1938, said that the Roxy Theatre at Smyrna had escaped damage when a car parked in front of it caught fire.
Also, Commerce Street runs east and west. The building was still standing at 106 W. Commerce when the Google street view truck last went through town. It has lost its marquee to one of those absurd shingled mansardettes that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. It must have closed by then.
The building appears to be vacant in street view, but Internet directory sites list it as the location of Slaughter’s Plumbing & Heating. It’s a wholesale outfit so maybe it looks empty because they just don’t have window displays.
Boxoffice indicates a late 1941 or early 1942 opening for the Main Theatre. The issue of January 31, 1942, has this item datelined Coldwater, Michigan: “The new Main, owned by Robert H. Moore and William J. Schulte, has opened here. The old Crystal, owned and managed by Moore, has been closed. Moore will manage the new house.”