Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about College Theatre on Jul 14, 2006 at 4:18 pm

ken: It’s another case of a mislabeled photo. The view is west along Eighth Street from Broadway, and the theatre is Bard’s Eighth Street, later called the Olympic. stevebob already posted a link to this photo there in a comment on November 30th, 2005 (about halfway down the page.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about RKO Hillstreet Theatre on Jul 13, 2006 at 5:12 pm

ken mc: This is the first time I’ve seen the 1928 pictures to which you linked on December 3rd. The auditorium looks pretty much the same as it did in the theatre’s last years, except I recall the decoration being less noticeable due to it having been repainted mostly in a single shade of off-white (or maybe it was white after the 1947 renovation and it had just accumulated a coat of grime by the early 1960’s.)

The interesting photo to me is the one of the mezzanine area that gave access to the balcony. It was the longest such room in any downtown L.A. theatre, and the only one I recall that followed the curve of the auditorium back wall, and the total effect was very impressive. The renovation in the 1940’s had stripped the ceiling of its elaborate decoration and I believe the wainscoting was removed as well, and the whole space seemed even longer in the streamlined style it then received.

My memory of the details is dim after 40+ years, but I think the lighting had been changed too. I don’t remember those ornate chandeliers being there, and I think there had been some modern indirect cove lighting installed. I hope someday to come across a picture of this room as it looked after the 1940’s renovation.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ratto Theatre on Jul 13, 2006 at 2:45 am

A small photo of the Ratto Theatre as it appeared in the 1930’s can be seen on this page.

The Ratto Theatre in Sutter Creek is listed at Cinema Treasures under it’s current name, the Sutter Creek Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Amador Theatre on Jul 11, 2006 at 12:38 pm

According to this page, “About the Sutter Creek Theatre”, there were four Ratto Theaters in Amador County, owned by John F. Ratto, a Sutter Creek businessman. They were in Plymouth, Ione, Jackson and Sutter Creek. The only former Ratto Theater known to be still standing is the one which is now the Sutter Creek Theater, built in 1919. The page says that the Jackson Ratto building was destroyed by a fire in 1998.

The Jackson Ratto Theater was located at 149 Main Street (this from a 2006 report on pollution hazards which lists its location as having a leaking underground storage tank.) A small photo of the Jackson Ratto in the 1930’s appears on this page. The building in the photo does not resemble the Amador Theatre in the photo to which ken mc linked just above.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Venice Theatre on Jul 8, 2006 at 12:38 pm

A comment I made here a few days ago has either gone missing or didn’t post to begin with. Luckily, I saved a copy of it elsewhere:

The Regional History section of the California Index at the L.A. Public Library web site contains a card referencing an article in the July 1, 1920 issue of The Venice Vanguard which names a Mr. Melvin P. Ogden as the “Opening manager of the new California Theater at Venice.”

Additionally, the same index contains cards indicating that the California was designed by David D. Smith. A card referencing Southwest Builder & Contractor issue of 1/23/1920 says that “D.D. Smith, Venice, has a contract… for the erection of a brick theater building… corner of Ocean Front Walk at Zepher Avenue (sic)….” Zephyr Court appears on the oldest map I have of the area as running eastward from Ocean Front, just north of Windward. Owners of the theater are named as C.G. Parkhurst and George J. Cleveland.

Southwest Builder & Contractor issue of 2/27/1920 says “D.D. Smith has prepared plans and will superintend the construction of a theater and store building on the site of the scenic railway on Ocean Front Walk…the building will be 106 by 175 feet… and will seat 1500… cost about $50,000….” The exaggerated seating capacity was characteristic of construction announcements in the era, but the timing is good and the location accurate for the un-named theatre in question to be the California.

The Venice Theatre mentioned in the time-line to which I linked in my previous comment must have been a different building, though it was undoubtedly nearby.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Follies Theatre on Jul 3, 2006 at 12:08 pm

ken mc: My guess would be that the Belasco photo you linked to on September 19 is the one that the library mis-dated. It looks earlier than 1920. For one thing, everything looks too tidy for Main Street in 1920.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Venice Theatre on Jun 30, 2006 at 5:26 pm

The three story building with arched portico and Venetian detailing which appears in most of the linked pictures above is the St. Mark Hotel, which was on the northeast corner of Windward Avenue and Ocean Front Walk. So, the theatre was on the beach side of Ocean Front Walk a little way north of Windward. The entrance to the original Venice Pier (demolished in 1946) was at the end of Windward Avenue.

There is a reference to a Venice Theatre in the year 1908 on this time-line of Venice' history.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Jun 26, 2006 at 1:16 pm

ken mc: I don’t recall ever having seen a picture with the Music Hall sign on the Tower.

Looking at that picture, I suddenly realized that almost all the buildings in it were then less than thirty years old. Everything looks so shiny! A lot of the buildings in the Bunker Hill project are now older than most of the buildings on that stretch of Broadway were in 1946. I wish I had a clearer memory of seeing downtown at that time, but I was only a rug rat, and about the only thing I remember clearly from the late 1940’s is those old two-color traffic signals with the “stop” and “go” arms that would pop up, accompanied by the ringing of a bell.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Info on Casino Theatre in Los Angeles? on Jun 23, 2006 at 4:40 am

IH- This is interesting: A Google image search turned up a single small photo of a Bill Robinson Theater, though it’s only a night shot of the marquee. I don’t know which Bill Robinson Theater it is, but when I right-clicked on the image to save it, the file name displayed was “BillRobinsonTheaterLAll”, which suggests that it is probably the second of that name in L.A., in which case (if my surmise is correct) the picture probably does depict the Casino.

The picture is on this page of the web site of the Western States Black Research and Educational Center.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Trans-Lux Inflight Twin Cinemas on Jun 21, 2006 at 2:04 am

Muskogee’s Trans-Lux Inflight Cine Theatre (its original name) was designed by architect John J. McNamara. He also designed a Trans-Lux Inflight Cine Twin Theatre in South Daytona, Florida.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on Jun 21, 2006 at 1:43 am

I do remember the name Continental, but I was pretty sure that no theatre with that name was on Santa Monica Boulevard. But I also have a vague memory, from way back in the early 1960’s, of a theatre called the Continental which was on the north side of either Melrose or Beverly. The Encore was on the south side of Melrose.

In any case, if this entry actually pertains to the Encore Theatre after it was renamed, then it’s a duplicate entry and needs to be removed. Eventually, I’m going to come across that 1963 issue of the L.A. Times Sunday Calendar section I have somewhere, and see if the earlier Continental Theatre is listed in it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Elgin Theatre on Jun 19, 2006 at 5:31 pm

The Wikipedia article to which Lost Memory links above is in error when it says that the Elgin was the first twin cinema in North America. The Alhambra Theatre in Alhambra, California was given a second auditorium in 1941.

The Wikipedia article is also apparently wrong when it gives a date of 1957 for the addition of a second auditorium to the Elgin Theatre. According to this article in the Canadian Magazine “Take One”, Nat Taylor created his first twin cinema in 1948.

The 2004 obituary of Nat Taylor in the University of Manitoba’s newspaper says that Taylor was operating a twin cinema in Ottawa “by 1948”. While the Elgin is not specifically named in either of these articles, it does seem likely that it is the theatre to which they refer.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Savoy Theatre on Jun 10, 2006 at 3:11 am

In the section titled “The Lincoln Theatre” on this page about historic entertainment venues in the Central Avenue district of Los Angeles, the Savoy Theatre is mentioned, but its address is given as 5326 Central Avenue. The source is cited as “The Central Avenue District Directory” (no date of publication given.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bill Robinson Theatre on Jun 10, 2006 at 2:41 am

This theatre would have been near or adjacent to the historic Dunbar Hotel, located at 4225 S. Central Avenue. In the days when the major Los Angeles hotels were segregated, the Dunbar was the place where most African-American celebrities and entertainers stayed when making appearances in the city. Central Avenue was the location of many night clubs and restaurants, as well as several movie theatres. The Dunbar Hotel building survives, having been renovated and converted to residential apartments a number of years ago.

Another interesting tidbit about the theatre: a biographical sketch of actor and singer Herb Jeffries (“The Bronze Buckaroo”) mentions that in 1938 he was one of the performers featured in an all-black radio show which originated from the Bill Robinson Theatre on Central Avenue and was broadcast over station KFOX.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Info on Casino Theatre in Los Angeles? on Jun 8, 2006 at 5:05 am

TYPO in my comment above: The date of construction for the second Casino Theatre should read 1924, of course. I still haven’t found the Casino listed at Cinema Treasures under any name. I think it might not be here yet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Hollywood on Jun 8, 2006 at 3:38 am

The architecture firm responsible for designing the 14 screens which now accompany Welton Beckett & Associates' original Cinerama Dome are Gensler Architects, a massive diversified global company with offices in 28 cities and over 2000 employees and an equal number of clients.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Royal Theatre on Jun 7, 2006 at 7:07 pm

Are we certain that the photograph accompanying this listing is of the Santa Monica Boulevard Tivoli? I’m just trying to recall when that area was first developed. The building pictured is in a style characteristic of the late teens-early twenties, and I’m wondering if maybe it isn’t a picture of the -other- Tivoli Theatre, built in 1921, located on Central Avenue and later known as the Bill Robinson theatre. My memory of the Royal is terribly vague, but in the back of my mind I picture it having been in a one-story building, and its neighborhood having been of more recent vintage.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Info on Casino Theatre in Los Angeles? on Jun 7, 2006 at 6:18 pm

This is quite a puzzler.

I find references to two theatres in Los Angeles called the Casino (from the California Index of the regional history section at the L.A. library web site.) The first was built in 1903, designed by architect Albert H. Edelman. No location is given. If it is listed at Cinema Treasures, it must be under some other name, but it may not be listed at all.

The photograph you mentioned shows an auditorium with columns supporting the balcony. This makes it very likely that the photo depicts this 1903 Casino Theater. The second Casino Theatre was built in 1944, at 43rd and Central, designed by L.A. Smith. If you have an organ installed in 1924, this is probably the Casino Theatre from which it came.

I haven’t been able to find the second Casino Theatre listed at Cinema Treasures, but I believe it may have later been known as the Bill Robinson Theatre. There is a Cinema Treasures listing for the Bill Robinson Theatre, but it is located at 42nd and Central, in a 1921 theatre (also a Smith design) which opened as the Tivoli. If you read the comment posted on that page by KenRoe on Dec. 4, 2004, and my subsequent comment of the same date, you’ll see why I think that the Casino might have become the second theatre to be named the Bill Robinson.

When I get more time, I’ll try looking through the Cinema Treasures listings for theatres in Los Angeles to find if the 43rd and Central Casino is listed under another name. (Unfortunately, it isn’t among the theatres listed as having been designed by L.A. Smith, so I can’t find it that way.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Villa Theatre on Jun 3, 2006 at 3:41 am

I’m not seeing what other viewers are describing in the recent pictures of the rug store. It looks to me as though the auditorium is largely intact. The ceiling’s coved lighting is obviously still there. The display walls look as though they are built out from the original walls, meaning there is no evidence that the murals have been painted over. More likely they are concealed and protected by the false walls now used for displaying rugs.

The original stairs in the stadium section are still there. The seating risers have been partly covered by new work, probably of standard wood frame, and are undoubtedly intact under it. Essentially, the auditorium has been concealed behind the new construction rather than destroyed by it.

I can’t find the current pictures of the exterior (mentioned in a comment above) on that site, so I can’t comment on any changes there. As for the seats having been sold, it isn’t as though theatre seats last forever anyway, or as though nobody is going to manufacture new (and better) seats in the future. If they were the original seats, they were over 50 years old, and probably ought to have been replaced anyway.

And the screen being gone isn’t a disaster. Theatres do replace old screens. Same for the old projection equipment. And while the loss of the original concession stand might be lamentable, it was a fairly simple design that could be duplicated easily enough.

As far as I can see from the photos, it looks as though this building could be returned to use as a theatre, still remarkably little changed from its original appearance, for considerably less than the cost of a new theatre of similar quality.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theatre on Jun 1, 2006 at 6:52 pm

Or you could sell it. Some bits of theatrical memorabilia can be quite valuable. If any of the letters are from people whose names would be recognized by theatre buffs today, or if the photos are of historically significant actors (especially if the photos are hand autographed), a good sized collection could be worth quite a bit. Donating it to an institution is nice, but if you do that, be sure to get an appraisal of its value so you can deduct the donation from your income tax.

If you sell it, the collection will most likely end up being donated to an institution eventually anyway, as that’s what most serious collectors of memorabilia do. For example, look at this long list of performing arts memorabilia collections now in the possession of the Library of Congress, many of them assembled by collectors over many years from disparate sources such as Ms. Devereaux’s scrapbook.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tower Theatre on May 27, 2006 at 3:55 am

Rod: I believe the photo on this page is from the collection at the L.A. Public Library, like the photo which ken mc linked to in his comment above. If you go to the library web site and click on the “Photo Collection” link, a search for “Pasadena” will bring up a sizable number of pictures. They are from quite a few different periods, and only a few are of the section of Colorado which you are modeling, but you might find something useful there.

In case you don’t know of it, the USC Digital Archive also has quite a few old photos of Pasadena.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Academy Cinemas on May 27, 2006 at 2:54 am

A 1931 photograph of the Fox Colorado Theatre, from the L.A. Public Library collection.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tower Theatre on May 27, 2006 at 2:39 am

rduff: I remember hearing older Pasadenans tell about the effect the passing trains had on the Tower. Unfortunately, the theatre was gone by the time I became familiar with Pasadena, so I never got to experience it firsthand.

I never got to see the Academy before its original Egyptian style was covered over in the 1957 remodeling. Cinema Treasures has a page for the Academy. (In fact, you can click the “Pasadena” link in the line just above the Tower Theatre name on this page, and it will open a page with a list of all the Pasadena theatres listed on the site so far.)

The Crest in Monrovia is listed at Cinema Treasures under its original name, the Lyric Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Obispo Theatre on May 26, 2006 at 2:15 pm

Pat OD:

The Jazz Singer opened on October 6th, 1927 at the Warner Theatre in New York. The Jazz Singer was only partly sound, and was not the first movie with sound, but it was the first that made a big impression on the public, even though many theatres around the country ran an entirely silent version of the film. For the next couple of years, as theatres around the country were gradually wired for sound, they frequently ran the sound version of The Jazz Singer as their first presentation.

Wiring the nation’s thousands of theatres for sound was costly. Some of the big chains faced financial crisis, and many independent theatres simply went out of business at that time and closed forever. The situation was complicated by the fact that there were two competing systems in the early years of talkies- Fox’s Movietone sound-on-film system, and Warner’s Vitaphone sound-on-disk. Many theatres didn’t run either Vitaphone or Movietone films exclusively and had to install equipment for both. Eventually, the sound-on-film approach won out, of course.

The rebuilding of the El Monterey for Mrs. Martin in 1928 must have left a considerable official paper trail, and such a project was undoubtedly the subject of articles in local newspapers. Also, there must have been a newspaper advertisement for the re-opening of the theatre. I don’t know the condition of San Luis Obispo’s public archives, or if any of its newspapers' morgues from the era have been preserved, but it’s possible that something survives somewhere.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Elmo Theatre on May 26, 2006 at 2:04 am

There now seems to be some question as to whether or not the Elmo was in fact the El Monterey. See Pat OD’s comment of May 25, 2006, on the Obispo Theatre page.