Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Starlite Drive-In on Apr 12, 2009 at 7:05 pm

The Starlite Drive-In, then under construction, was expected to be open by Thanksgiving Day, 1963, according to the November 25 issue of Boxoffice Magazine that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Music Box Theatre on Apr 12, 2009 at 5:11 pm

The aka should be Alder Theatre, like the tree the street was probably named after, not Adler.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empire Arts Center on Apr 12, 2009 at 4:55 pm

The list is on-line, but the UM web site is oddly set up so I can’t find the page the full list is on, only the introductory page. I’ve only seen the actual list in the Google cache of the page, which is a bunch of dismantled text, difficult to decipher. I’m not sure which theaters are already listed at Cinema Treasures, perhaps under later names, and which are missing. Four theaters on the list don’t even have names given. I’m still trying to puzzle it all out. Maybe somebody else will have more luck with it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sage Theatre on Apr 11, 2009 at 11:49 pm

The American Theatre in Winnemucca is mentioned in the May 3, 1947, issue of Boxoffice, and in earlier issues. The Sage Theatre in Wnnemucca is mentioned in the November 26, 1949, issue and in later issues. If they had the same address, then the house was called the American first and renamed the Sage sometime between 1947 and 1949.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Brawley Theatre on Apr 11, 2009 at 10:40 pm

I’ve dug up information on three theaters in Brawley other than the Brawley itself. There was a Eureka Theatre, in operation by 1937, owned by Ben Aranda. There was an Azteca (or Aztec- it appears under both names in different issues of Boxoffice) opened by Aranda in 1937. Then there was another theater opened in 1937 called the Circle, which, like the Brawley, was operated by Fox West Coast. I don’t have addresses for any of them though.

The Brawley itself got a renovation in 1976, and reopened on May 26 with “Cabaret” as the first attraction, according to June 11 issue of Boxoffice that year. By then it was operated by Great Western Theatres, seating had been reduced to 650, and it was apparently the only house still open in Brawley.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Azteca Theatre on Apr 11, 2009 at 8:33 pm

The September 4, 1937, issue of Boxoffice Magazine had this item: “The Azteca Film Corp. has a theatre under construction in Calexico which will be ready for business in about six weeks. Frank Ullman, El Centro exhibitor, will operate the house.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Valley Theatre on Apr 11, 2009 at 8:11 pm

The Valley Theatre was a Fox West Coast operation in 1940, when it suffered an estimated $5,000 damages from an earthquake that also damaged several other Imperial Valley houses, according to an item in the May 25, 1940, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. By 1945, Boxoffice was saying that the Valley Theatre was operated by independent exhibitor Frank Ullman.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Torrance Theater on Apr 11, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Ken, I think the 1983 photos must depict the Grand Theatre. A comment by K on October 15, 2005, says that it was the Grand that became the Torrance Community Theatre. The original Torrance Theatre was gone by the 1980s.

Various issues of Boxoffice Magazine from the 1930s and 1940s mention Harry Milstein and Albert Mellinkoff as the operators of the Torrance Theatre. The February 19, 1955, issue of Boxoffice reported that Harry Milstein had sold the Torrance Theatre to California Bank, which intended to convert the building into a branch office. Judging from the Google Street View, the bank put up an entirely new building instead.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theater on Apr 11, 2009 at 1:06 am

From Boxoffice Magazine, March 1, 1952: “The Oregon premier of ‘Quo Vadis’ this week also marked the reopening as a first-run house of John Hamrick’s Liberty. The theatre is now known as the New Liberty.”

Deborah Kerr was among the guests appearing at the opening, which was broadcast on local radio.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cinemaland Theater on Apr 11, 2009 at 12:54 am

The May 23, 1942, issue of Boxoffice magazine said: “Jimmy Edwards opened his new Santa Anita, near Arcadia, May 14. The 743-seater charges 40 cents admission and boasts a crying room and a parking lot accommodating 450 cars. The Edwards circuit, with this addition, numbers 20 houses.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empire Arts Center on Apr 10, 2009 at 11:04 pm

According to the finding aid for the Buechner & Orth papers at the University of Minnesota, the firm designed over a dozen theaters. So far, Cinema Treasures attributes only three of these, with separate listings for Charles Buechner and Henry Orth.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Music Box Theatre on Apr 10, 2009 at 10:33 pm

There probably was supposed to be a comma between the names, but the addition of “Street” appears to have been an error as well.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Apr 10, 2009 at 10:12 pm

The Grand makes a few appearances in various issues of Boxoffice Magazine from 1938 to 1944. First, in the June 25, 1938, issue there is this brief item: “Hyman ‘Doc’ Barsky has assumed ownership and will reopen two dark houses —the Placentia, a 300-seater at Placentia, and the Grand, in Anaheim, a 600-seater —with both scheduled for renovation.” The item also mentions that Fox West Coast had been the lessee of the Grand.

Then from Boxoffice of January 21, 1939, comes this breaking news: “Closed for the last 12 years, the Grand Theatre will be reopened February 1 by Doc Barsky and Bob Sproul on a lease relinquished by Fox West Coast. Sproul, who operates the Brentwood Theatre in Santa Monica, will be the active manager at the Grand.”

It sounds as though Fox West Coast had been leasing the house for years only to keep it closed. But maybe the copy writer at Boxoffice mistakenly wrote “12 years” in place of “12 months.” Does anybody know if the Grand vanished from theater listings from 1927 through 1939?

Then, the July 29, 1939, issue of Boxoffice announces a shakeup at the Grand: “H.H. Barsky has purchased the Grand Theatre from Bob Sproul and has closed it temporarily for alterations and redecorating. He will open the house at a 15-cent admission scale.”

As the earlier reports suggest that Barsky and Sproul were in a partnership, this item must have meant that Barsky had bought Sproul’s share of the business. Perhaps they’d had a tiff.

But it looks as though Mr. Barsky soon had buyer’s remorse. The April 6, 1940, issue of Boxoffice reveals the next turn of events in the Grand saga: “J.E. Trott has purchased the Grand, a 950-seater, from H.H. Barsky.”

As the reported seating capacity had increased from 600 in 1938, Barsky and/or Sproul must have done extensive remodeling- or crammed in a lot of really small seats.

The Grand soon found itself with yet another new owner, and then another. The June 17, 1944, issue of Boxoffice reported that Morris Rabwin had purchased the Grand from A. Blanco. Meanwhile, according to the same report, A. Blanco had lately been palling round in Tijuana with none other than “Doc” Barsky. Boxoffice fails to provide further details about their relationship. I guess Bob Sproul was entirely out of the picture by then.

With its sale to Mr. Rabwin, the Grand vanishes from the pages of Boxoffice, as far as I’ve been able to discover. I can find no mentions of it as the Garden, either. Sic transit gloria.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Avenue Theatre on Apr 10, 2009 at 7:46 pm

The name change from Downey Theatre to Avenue Theatre took place in 1949. The April 16 issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the Cummings circuit would spend $200,000 on remodeling its Victory and Meralta Theatres, and that the Victory would be renamed the Avenue.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Theatre at the Ace Hotel on Apr 10, 2009 at 7:05 pm

With regard to ken mc’s posts of January this year, I do recall the United Artists being called the Alameda for a while around 1961-1962. I think it was after it closed again that the Alameda name was moved to the United Artists in East Los Angeles. I guess UA wanted to get their money’s worth from that expensive signage.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Optic Theatre on Apr 10, 2009 at 6:54 pm

My USC links have all changed again, too, so here’s the current link to the wide view of the original Optic Theatre on Broadway (located at lower right of the photo.) There is also this cropped version with the Optic in close-up.

Note that just up the street the Broadway Central Building, later to become the location of the Broadway Theatre, is under construction.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Anaheim Theatre on Apr 10, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Fox West Coast reopened this house as the New Anaheim Theatre on Thursday, July 8, 1937, according to Boxoffice Magazine of July 10 that year. The item said that the house had “…been closed for several months, undergoing extensive remodeling.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theater on Apr 9, 2009 at 9:54 pm

The PSTOS page about the Liberty Theatre appears to contain errors and certainly omits some early information about the house. The organization itself has another web page with two vintage postcard views of the Liberty when it was the the Orpheum Theatre, clearly identifiable as the same building in the 1946 photo of the Liberty linked by Lost Memory immediately above this comment.

I don’t know where PSTOS got the information that the theater had been built in 1916 for T&D, but that circuit, based in San Francisco, was indeed operating vaudeville houses in California during that period. Perhaps they had some sort of arrangement with the Orpheum circuit to present Orpheum vaudeville and use the Orpheum name.

In any case, the Liberty was taken over by Jensen and Von Herberg by 1917, and was operated in later years by the Evergreen-Hamrick combine, and then by John Hamrick Theatres. Hamrick had the house extensively remodeled in 1952.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Broadway Theatre on Apr 9, 2009 at 9:12 pm

The Broadway Theatre, at Broadway and Stark, that was the subject of the 1917 L.A. Times article ken mc quoted from on Nov 16, 2008, must have been the original Portland Orpheum, pictured in photos on this PSTOS page. It is recently listed at Cinema Treasures (but without its Orpheum and Broadway aka’s) under its later name, the Liberty Theatre.

PSTOS has a Liberty Theatre page, too, but nobody there seems to have realized that the Orpheum and the Liberty were the same theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Shasta Theatre on Apr 9, 2009 at 8:15 pm

The December 15, 1945, issue of Boxoffice Magazine names among the recent visitors to Film Row in San Francisco one Lesley Pancake of the Shasta Theatre at Central Valley. Mr. Pancake is mentioned in various issues of Boxoffice as late as 1954, and then he and his theater vanish from cinema history— or at least from the pages of Boxoffice Magazine.

The former boomtown is still very much in existence, an incorporated city and thriving suburb of Redding. I’m sure the Google Maps link for the address above does not show the actual location of the theater, though. I haven’t been able to track down a modern address for the location, but I suspect it was near the center of the town of Central Valley (the largest of several small towns that were incorporated into the modern municipality of Shasta Lake.) Central Valley Street may have been the former name of Shasta Dam Boulevard, but I’ve been unable to confirm this. I believe there has been street renumbering since the days when this theater was operating, too. For now, the actual location of the Shasta Theatre remains a mystery.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pix Theatre on Apr 9, 2009 at 7:29 pm

The March 30, 1946, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the architect of Robert Lippert’s new Pix Theatre on Market Street was Vincent G. Raney.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Music Box Theatre on Apr 9, 2009 at 6:55 pm

John Hamrick had a long association with the first Music Box Theatre in Portland, and Hamrick Theatres built the new Music Box on Broadway as well. The old Music Box was operated as the Alder Theatre by Fox West Coast’s Evergreen Theatres subsidiary from at least the late 1920s, until 1935. In that year the house came under Hamrick’s management as the result of a merger which created the Evergreen-Hamrick circuit.

It was probably then that it was renamed the Music Box Theatre, after Hamrick’s earlier Music Box in Seattle. When the various Fox circuits were forced to divest themselves of many theaters in the late 1940s, the combination was dissolved and the Music Box came entirely under the control of John Hamrick Theatres.

There’s a problem with the aka’s currently listed for this house. Aside from Cinema Treasures, I can’t find any references to it ever being called the Alder Street Music Box Theatre. The PSTOS page for the Music Box gives the aka Alder Street Theatre, but their page displays a 1929 postcard view of the house, and the theater’s sign hanging above the street simply says Alder Theatre.

The only pre-Music Box reference to the house I can find in Boxoffice Magazine is from a 1943 article about a fellow named George McMurphy, which lists the Alder (not Alder Street) among the Portland theaters he had managed for Fox West Coast in the early 1930s.

Also, visitors to the PSTOS Portland Music Box page should note that another ca.1920s postcard there, captioned “Broadway, looking South from Stark,” shows a theater with a vertical sign reading “John Hamrick’s Music Box Theatre.” I don’t think it’s a photo of Portland at all, but of Seattle.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rosewood Theatre on Apr 9, 2009 at 12:05 am

The Rosewood Theatre was pictured in the July 22, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The house, then under construction, was expected to open on October 15, but was ahead of schedule. Boxoffice announced in its issue of September 16, 1950, that the Rosewood had opened. The architect was W.C. Lester.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bonham Theatre on Apr 8, 2009 at 11:11 pm

In the October 19, 1929, issue of Movie Age, among the theaters listed as having been purchased by Publix are three at Fairbury, Nebraska: The Bonham, the Majestic, and the Rex.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Drexel Theatre on Apr 8, 2009 at 10:46 pm

An item in the September 18, 1937, issue of Boxoffice Magazine announced that construction had begun on William Chesbrough’s new Drexel Theatre. The new house was expected to open around January 1.

A paragraph published under the heading “Columbus” in the February 5, 1938, issue of Boxoffice Magazine indicates the sort of promotions theaters did in those days. It says “Wm. Chesbrough’s new Drexel Theatre presented "Brownie,” the educated dog, in a free show for children. Every boy and girl was asked to leave their name, date of birth and address for a Birthday Club which is to be started soon."

I’ve been unable to discover the architect of the Drexel, but as the house was in suburban Columbus, I’m wondering if perhaps it was designed and built by the F&Y Building Services, headquartered in that city and responsible for the creation of dozens of deco-moderne theaters in the region from the late 1930s on? It certainly resembles some of F&Y’s work.