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erin: I can’t find any references to a Howard Sheehan in connection with Fox-West Coast Theatres, but there was a producer of that name working at 20th Century-Fox studios in 1947. There was also a Howard Sheehan mentioned in connection with the Vogue theatre in Hollywood in 1935. See comments by CT user vokoban on October 6, 2006 on the Vogue Theatre page.
The El Rey has a web site:
The web site’s history section reveals that the El Rey was built in 1941, was owned by Luigi Puccini, who was a cousin of Italian composer Giacomo Puccini, and the theatre was designed by architect Joseph B. Burwinkle.
My first visit to the Rialto was in 1972, when it was still being operated by Mann’s as a first run house. I don’t recall if this was before or after the fire which destroyed the left organ chamber. I do remember the building being a bit down at the heels, though. It must have been only shortly after this that the Rialto was taken over by Landmark, because I remember that on my next visit to the theatre it had become a revival house with an admission price of one dollar.
Over the next several years I went to the Rialto more often than to any other theatre. Though by 1986, the last time I was there, the price had been upped to three dollars, it remained one of the best entertainment bargains around. The program would change twice a week, and there were often triple features, with the fare running from classic American and foreign movies all the way to “X” rated films such as the science fiction parody “Flesh Gordon”. I also attended one of the midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with its lively audience participation.
In all that time I don’t think the theatre received any more maintenance than was absolutely necessary to keep it from collapsing into a pile of rubble or being shut down as hazardous by either the city or the board of health. The balcony was always closed, as that was where they had moved all the big, leather-upholstered loges from the main floor, because the place almost had been shut down by the fire department due to the loge seats not being fire resistant. It was cheaper for the theatre’s operators to change them out for the balcony’s regular seats than to have them rebuilt with modern, fire-resistant stuffing.
Somewhere in a box in my garage I still have a couple of the monthly calendars published by the Rialto during the Landmark years, listing all the programs to be presented for the month. If I ever get a decent scanner, I’ll scan one of them, post it somewhere and link to it from this page.
ken mc: I’ve only just found it out myself, when I ran across that picture. I’ve been up and down that block at least a hundred times and never had a clue. Its hard to believe they were able to cram all this into that space though.
ken mc: When I compare these photos from the 1970s with the 1913 pictures I linked to on October 13th, the Optic looks much the same size in all of them to me. In the 1970’s pictures you can even still make out the outline of the old entrance arch, which has been partly enclosed above the added marquee. The theatre’s cornice line looks as though it’s in the same place relative to the taller building next door in all these pictures.
I just checked the pictures you linked to on October 4th, and the Optic building doesn’t show at all in the second of them. All we can see is the first three letters of its blade sign, which was attached to the building next door to the theatre. The low building in the first of those photos is probably not the Optic building at all, but a lower building demolished to make way for the theatre. The cornice line of the Optic was always about mid-level of the second floor windows of its next door neighbor to the north.
The Library of Congress web site has 18 photos of the Beach theater from about the time of its opening. Use the theater and city name in the search box on this page.
From You-are-here.com, a recent photo of 551 S. Broadway, the Metropolitan Annex which was the location of the Broadway entrance to Grauman’s Metropolitan in the 1920s. This is the last remaining part of a once great theatre.
Adam: it’s quite possible that the 1927 version of the Norwalk Theatre was destroyed in the 1933 earthquake, and the building rebuilt in 1935. Damage in the area was severe.
Bway: The particular Tally’s Broadway across from the Orpheum and near the Majestic is listed at Cinema Treasures. Its location is now occupied by a 1929 addition to the former May Company department store.
And, from the L.A. Public Library, a dramatic night shot taken when it was still called the Vine Street Theater.
TYPO ABOVE: of course I meant; Do a Google search on “Valuskis Theater” to find the cached page.
Ken: not only the Majestic but, a couple of doors farther up, Tally’s Broadway Theatre was still in operation as can be seen by the blade signs above either side of its entrance.
It’s almost certain that this was the first theatre to be called a Nickelodeon, but even more certain is that it was not the first theatre in the world devoted exclusively to the exhibition of motion pictures. It’s even possible that there were such theatres operating earlier than 1902 when Thomas Tally opened his Electric Theatre on Main Street in Los Angeles, widely believed to have been the first permanent theatre built specifically for the exhibition of movies.
The California Index quotes Southwest Builder & Contractor issue of 4/15/1927 announcing plans for the Norwalk Theatre. It was to cost $30,000, to seat about 600, and was to be built for a company called Principal Theaters. The name of the architect is not mentioned.
Ace: I can’t recall for certain, and I don’t have access to my books right now so I can’t check, but I think there was a period photo of Manhattan’s Bunny Theatre in David Naylor’s “American Picture Palaces.” Maybe somebody reading this who has the book at hand can check it and respond. I do know I’ve seen a photo of this theatre in one book or another, and Naylor’s book is the most likely.
The Alpha Theatre was featured in the Better Theatres section of Motion Picture Herald, 5/28/1938. The architect is named there as S. Charles Lee.
Interestingly, Southwest Builder and Contractor of 10/15/1937 carried the announcement that S. Charles Lee was preparing the plans for a complete remodeling of the Maybell Theatre in Bell for Fox West Coast Theatres. I wonder if the Alpha could have been the remodeled Maybell?
Oh, rats! I probably have at least sixty USC links scattered about this site alone. It’s going to take ages to track them down and update them. I notice that the archive isn’t supporting the zoom feature anymore either. I’m going to miss that.
Here’s the new location for the picture I linked to in my comment of March 1, 2006, way up there near the top of the page. Unfortunately, without the zoom feature it’s just about impossible to make out the “Strand” name on the back wall of the theatre.
While I’m at it, here is the picture in vokoban’s first link of March 4th, and also the picture in his second link of that day, showing the “Clune’s Grand Ave. Theatre” sign painted on the side wall of the building. I can’t find the new location of the picture he linked to on March 5th.
A web site devoted to the Los Angeles Fire Department contains an archive which includes this collection of pictures of a 1913 fire in the Brennan Hotel building which was immediately north of the Optic (and to which the Optic’s blade sign was attached.) Several of the shots show the front of the Optic quite clearly, and a couple show the facade of the theatre to the north of the hotel, that theatre of many names which is discussed in several comments above.
To get this page back on its subject, here is a 1939 picture of a fire which destroyed the Gray Building, a few doors south of the Cozy. (The file is huge, and not recommended for those on dial-up connections.) At the far left of the picture, though they are blurry and much obscured by smoke, it’s possible to make out the marquees of two theatres which must have been the Cozy and its neighbor the Central.
A 1930 picture of Whittier Boulevard showing the Golden Gate Theatre. You can also see, farther down the street, a Van De Kamp’s Bakery with its windmill.
A larger photograph of the Laughlin, from the USC digital archives.
Here, from the USC digital archives, is a 1930’s photo of Vine Street showing this theatre when it was called the Studio.
Not demolished, but functioning as a church.
From the USC digital archives, a 1951 photograph of the Valuskis Theatre.
scottfavareille’s 2004 link to the interesting (if somewhat lurid) OC Weekly article about the 1951 kidnapping and murder related to this theatre no longer works, but if you want to read it it’s available from Google’s cache. Do a Google search on “Velaskis Theater” and the link to the cached article “Live Noir” will be among the handful of results.