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My Husband and I went to the Victoria when it was called the Follies in the 60’s to see Tempest Storm. The burlesque was fantastic, beautiful costumes, very talented women with great singing and dancing acts. There was a full orchestra in the pit and a great time was had by all. A few years later in the early 70’s we went another time, and noticed that the signage was changed to the 16th Street Follies. It wasn’t the same, the acts weren’t as good and they stripped totally nude which they didn’t do before. Burlesque was gone. They also showed hardcore movies, I remember how awful the movie was and my husband didn’t even like it. The above posting by Joe Vogel mentions the Princess Theater. I do remember the Princess Theater, for the life of me I cant remember the name of the street it was on, but it was across town. The building looked exactly like the Victoria, and it was a church and torn down in the 70’s. Next to the Princess was another theater, which looked exactly the princess, but the inside was a dance hall, I believe it was called the Eddy.
Mikerogers, the theater in the movie Laughing Policeman was the Victoria on 16th Street. Back then, it was a burlesque house. The Palace was a nice theater, the last movie I saw there was a chinese horror film called The Chinese Ghost Story. The inside of the Palace reminded me of the Noe Theater, the lobby, phone booth, and the womens lounge were all in the same spots, looked the same, except the murals were different. There was this huge gong on the right of the stage, and before the movie started, this cute elderly lady that worked the snack bar, walked on stage and hit the gong. Then the drapes opened and the movie started.
I was in the Noe once, the inside reminded me of the Palace in North Beach. The ladies room were in the exactly the same area, and looked the same except the drawings on the walls. Even back then parking was hard to find and we were a few minutes late for the movie. It was so cold in there, and hardly anyone was in it. We went to sit upstairs and was greeted by an usher who escorted us to our seats, we were the only ones up there.
Going though some old stuff in the basement, I found a copy of the Berkeley Barb newspaper, dated June 1969. The back of the paper had an advertising section, mostly sexual related but what I found was a page of movie theaters open and what they were showing. The Fox had a ad, with a picture of a cartoon fox with its tongue hanging out. Underneath it said, “Now showing Adult movies starting at 9:00 a.m., we do hope that you come” and underneath that was a picture of a man waist down with an erection. When I saw this I laughed so hard, I didn’t know that the Fox showed those. Alongside of that was a ad from the Fox Oakland, showing “All the loving couples” with a bare breasted woman, and alongside of that, a ad for the T&D showing a movie called “Love Triangle” with 3 women bare chested. Amazing! I wish I could post these somehow for all to see, but the explicit photos may offend some.
They called the El Rey “The Grand Dame” and it was. We used to have to drive through Manteca to get to Escalon. The water pump gave out in the car downtown and it must have been at least 103 degrees outside it was hot! I met Bill Peters that day he managed the El Rey, he helped us push the car into the El Rey parking lot. He called his mechanic to come over and fix it. He even let me and the kids come in for free and watch a movie while the car was being fixed. It was air conditioned and so nice to sit in, the cushions on the seats in the loge were so plush and comfortable. The stage had beautiful red velvet curtains with gold trim and tassles on the sides. Beautiful murals and what caught my eye were the light fixtures on the ceiling, very unusual looking but very elegant. I never forgot Bill Peters kindness, and I used to mail him my homemade fudge. He sent me a couple of passes, but unfortunately I never got to use them (i still have them) because about a year later, it caught fire. I will always remember that day at the El Rey. Even my kids mention it still.
when the theater opened as the Theater 70, I wondered if the theater would survive. It was very plush inside, with red velvet walls, thick carpeting. It had a elegance, that was unusual for the neighborhood. I’d say about 6 to 7 blocks away, the neighborhood was rough, with drug dealing and prostitution. It hit the news in the early 70’s that the crime was so bad that extra patrols were being added. By the time it changed to the Cinema 1, crime finally reached the theater area and the shopping mall, to the point that no one even wanted to go to the neighborhood. Cars were being stolen, broken into.
Went and saw a movie there late evening once and never went there again. Halfway during the movie it went off focus and after 5 minutes, I went to the lobby and no one was around. The snack bar was closed, the door to the projection booth was open, so i went in there and went upstairs and the projectionist was asleep. I woke the guy up and he fixed the picture back. Then later, this couple sat in the last row and got on their cell phones and started talking to people. I got up and walked up to them and told them to take it out to the lobby, turned out they were employees working there! I immediately asked for the manager, I really went off on him. I demanded a refund and got it. I wrote a letter of complaint to United Artists, and they never responded to me. No wonder that theater closed.
I remember seeing The Godfather there when it was called the Cinema 1 & 2. It was nice inside and the cinemas were a good size. The screen looked like a huge bordered pictureframe. During the intermission the screen and border turned a pleasant light blue. I never went to it when more cinemas were added, I was curious if they took the original two and split those.
I forgot to mention, in the website, it shows the theater to be in Oakland, and that is not correct.
The only theater I remember in Oakley was the Oakley Theater, located right on the highway. It used to show spanish movies. It was a long and skinny theater, when you first saw it, it looked like a warehouse of some kind. The name of the Oakley was clearly painted on back of the building. There is a photo of it on the American Classic Images site. Was this theater the same as the Empire?
We found this theater by accident, doing some used car shopping in the lot across the street. It was playing Tora Tora Tora. We went to go see it but the theater was closed because of flooding (it was raining horribly that day) and we were told to go to the State in South City to see it. After reading TooTall’s post, I wonder if this was a regular occurence there? What was funny was that in the box office there was a mannequin sitting in the seat with a sign around it’s neck saying closed for today.
Went to go see Tora Tora Tora at the El Camino, but it was closed due to flooding and the guy there said it was also playing at the State. We got directions and went there. I’m surprised that when they built this theater it wasn’t on the main street (I think it was Grand Ave but I don’t remember) the theater was around the corner if it wasn’t for the marquee we wouldn’t have found it. What a beautiful theater! It had a splendid lobby, the inside was very ornate. A few years later we were passing though the area and went by the State, and it was showing movies in Spanish. It must have been a popular movie because there was a line going down the street.
I went to the Pix a few times, they were showing a movie called “So Young, So Bad” with Anne Francis. The Star Theater was showing the same movie, but promoted Rosarita Moreno (Rita Moreno) instead of Anne, probably because the Star was showing hispanic movies. The Pix was a nice theater. A previous poster said that as the Plaza there were no curtains, they must have removed them because as the Pix there were gold curtains that closed and opened. I mostly remember the Pix because they served cream soda and it was clear in your cup just like water, it was delicious.
My aunt took me there once when I was a little girl. If Bette Davis went in there she would have said what a dump. It was full of people that kinda looked hard on their luck. We were both itching terribly afterwards and when I got home I had little bumps on my neck and my mother was furious. She called and raised hell and they told her that the exterminator was coming in, and offered her a couple of free passes. She yelled at him to save his passes and take the money and spray the damn place. Never went there again.
We called it “The Cap” and it was a beautiful theater. The marquee flashed in beautiful colors and the sign would spell out the letters of the theater one by one. A tall big guy named Dan Mcclean ran the place. He was always dressed in a tuxedo and top hat, greeting you as you came in. I remember his huge black handlebar moustache, my mom thought he was a cutie pie and he would flirt with her. There was a powderroom upstairs and my mom had to powder her nose one more time before we left, and she flirted with him on the way out. What I remember about the Cap, were those beautiful curtains on the stage, there were two of them. When the curtains opened there was another one right behind it that started to open and went straight up. The previews would start and on the screen it would say, “Coming Soon…..To YOUR El Capitan” it made you feel like you owned it.
Went there just once to see A View to a Kill. The Goonies was playing in the other theater, There were only 3 other people there besides us. The people that ran the place was really friendly. Inside the auditorium reminded me of a airplane hanger, the ceiling was all white and looked like either steel beams or wooden ones holding the roof up. It was really clean inside.
I went to the Rio theater once back in the late 60’s to see The Sons of Chaplain, a great rock group. Jerry Garcia was onstage with them, it was a good concert. It was a small theater the stage had pretty red draperies and gold tassles hanging down on the sides. I remember when Larry Singleton was paroled to Rodeo, the residents stirred up a furor, and the news showed the Rio marquee and it said “get out”
Friday was my 70th birthday, and I wanted to see the Fox. My kids took me there. I haven’t been inside the Fox Oakland for 50 years. amd it was just absolutely stunning inside. There were a lot of things missing, like the chandeliers in the ceiling and a mural of the bay bridge, treasure island and the bay when you first walked in. The staff and security was incredible, they were everywhere, and very friendly. The music was very good, a band called OMD, but the acoustics in the theater were terrible. The sounds bounced off the walls like echoing thuds, and it gave me a headache (age I guess), so I went to the mezzanine to relax for a bit. I was sitting there for less than 10 minutes and two different times, staff asked to see my ticket. The security was checking everyones tickets to make sure they were in the section they were supposed to be in. After being asked twice to see my ticket, I got irritated, and they didn’t ask me anymore. I don’t see how these kids can afford the high priced drinks in there, My son got a screwdriver and it was over vodka’d. It was so good to be in there again, it brought back a lot of memories. The audience was good mannered and everyone was having a great time. The staff and security were just wonderful, just pesty and doing their job. I asked if they could get the statues to spew smoke again someday, they didn’t know that it the statues did that. Aside from the terrible sound system, it is just beautiful inside. I sure miss Capwells, Milens Jewelers, and the Newberry’s. But the area sure looks nice and its bustling again.
In the Madonna film Desperately Seeking Susan, there are several shots of the theater, including a interior scene of the auditorium. I don’t know if the interior was the actual theater, but from what you could see, it looked very old, with very plain walls.
I meant Loew’s not Lowes sorry
There was a movie made a long time ago with Marlo Thomas called Thieves (if I remember right) and she would say in the movie how she used to go to the Lowes Delancey. There is a brief shot of the interior of the theater, showing the stage and the asbestos fire curtain down halfway, the curtain had Lowes Delancey on it.
The Granada was a nice theater, but it was in a “getting rough” neighborhood. It was so pretty inside, it was kind of like going to the Fruitvale, but the Granada was more lavish I thought, because of those beautiful lights on the ceiling, and the thick carpeting in the lobby, you could feel your feet sinking in. One letter on the roof sign was burnt out on the side facing San Leandro and it said GRA ADA. My mom would say sometimes “Lets go to the graada tonight”. The last time we ever went there was so see a movie called Kronos. It was about this black box that came out of the ocean, growing legs, and walking around zapping all the electricity off the earth. We were sitting upstairs, and a massive fight broke out on the floor below, newspapers reporting later that it was because of a racial remark of the color of the box. Everyone got up and went to the edge to look down and see, and there was popcorn flying everywhere, obscene language, fist fighting, lots of women screaming. People were just scrambling to get out of the way. Then these guys went close to the stage and threw their drinks on the screen. It was like within seconds, the lights came on and the police came. I was terrified.
My aunt took me there as a kid once. All I remember was that it had a big lobby and the palm trees on the walls inside. It was changed into a Vic Tanny studio, and before it did, the marquee letters said “closing to get fit”. The draperies that closed over the screen were pretty, it was a beautiful purple velvet with gold circles on the bottom trim. We were told to stay away from the theater as kids because of the “riff raff” that went there.
While vacationing in the 70’s we passed by this theater and it was showing a movie called The Other Side of Joey. My friend who was with me just divorced her husband named Joey and I joked with her that maybe it was him. She laughs and says lets find out! So we had the taxi turn around and drop us off there. I never saw a all male film before, and the guy that sold us the tickets warned us of it. What an experience it was. The movie stopped like two different times, the screen would show colors all running into one another for a few minutes, then the movie started back up. I had to use the bathroom, and one of the employees took me to the restroom and had me wait while he went inside, kicking out about 5 guys that were in there. The door had a sign on it saying “closed” but I guess it was being used for other things. The bathroom was filthy and I couldn’t use it, after seeing wads of tissue all over the floor and other things. When we walked out afterwards, we bumped into a couple of police officers walking by, and they took us to lunch at a vendomat, and the first thing I did was use the restroom and it was clean.
The Fruitvale had this man working there that would stand in the lobby, hands behind his back, walking around like a gestapo officer, yelling at the kids, watching the people working the candy counter like a hawk. The minute I set eyes on him I knew there was going to be a problem. During the day, the afternoon sun would hit right in the front of the theater, and when people opened the door to step into the auditorium, sunlight would briefly flood the right part of the screen and the wall. I went downstairs and asked this guy if he could close the inner doors in the lobby to keep the sun out, and he said very curtly “no”. When I asked him why, he said to come during the evening if the sun was a problem. That made me mad so I went back up the stairs to go to my seat, and he yelled at me to slow down. I went to the usher of the loge, and asked who I could complain to, she even admitted he was a jerk, and she gave me a phone number to call. So I went to the phone booth, and called in to complain. I don’t know what happened, but the sun didn’t shine in anymore that day, and on my way out, he glared at me, and I called him an asshole. Went there many times after that, but never saw him since. Saw all the Elvis movies there and we would walk to the Percolator Coffee Shop for something to eat afterwards. Try walking that distance there now at night!