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E. Freeman, speaking of the Palms, reminded me that the fresh flowers always present in the lobby were donated by Norman’s Nursery. W.H. and Isabel Norman were best friends with my grandparents (Isabel was known as Aunt Isabel to me). They lived in north Phoenix and traveled extensively. Both are gone now, as are my grandparents. The Palms was unique among theaters in Phoenix, with no refreshments and in pristine condition from the first time I went to the last, when we criminals snuck into “Bridge on the River Kwai.” Of all the theaters that existed when I was a kid, only the Orpheum (once the Paramount) still stands.
The Roxy in the late ‘40s and early '50s was a programmer, showing two or three films for three days, then changing the program with three new films. For a kid, it was 15c. Run down and a bit smelly, for a kid at the beach it was the perfect cocoon to while away the hours while recovering from a sunburn. I would go to the Pike (amusement park on the beach) on Mondays, the Roxy on a Tuesday, go to the beach Wednesday and the Palace up Pine on Thursday. Friday, unless we were going on a trip to L.A. or San Francisco, I would return to the Roxy for three more films. I’d average nine or ten movies a week, not counting the Fox West Coast or the State with my grandparents to see first-run films on the weekend. I have a log of many of the movies I saw…including “Green Hell” with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Bennett and Alan Hale…“Keep 'Em Flying” and “Africa Screams” with Abbott & Costello,“ and a bunch of film noir pictures that bored me. Most of the film fare was old B pictures from the late '30s and early '40s. I got a good education in film form, even from the most infantile films, which served me well in later years when I worked on "The X-Files.”
I’m an editor, photographer and art director. I have many photos of theater marquees I’ve taken across the U.S. Let me know if you need assistance, or if I’m too late to participate.
The La Paloma has been open almost continuously since its grand opening in 1928. Mary Pickford rode her bike to the premiere, all the way from Rancho Santa Fe where she lived with Douglas Fairbanks. Fairbanks Ranch south of Rancho is a ritzy, private community of oversized homes filled with oversized egos and bank accounts. The La Paloma closed in 1967 for several years of declining attendance and a conversion to Mexican films two nights a week. Two brothers reopened the theater in the heady days of 1968 and took out the seats and installed “beds” which were sort of two-person chaise lounges with a top that held your drinks and snacks. They finally gave it up and it closed again…only to re-open with regular theater seats. Last night my wife and I saw “Mrs. Henderson Presents” at the La-P, and can report that the sound system has at last been upgraded, so we can actually hear the dialogue. I started going to the La-P in 1955 and continued all through high school. Live acts seen there were Bo Diddley, The Tubes, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mtn. Boys and Dougie McLean from Ireland. It’s one of only two remaining single-screen theaters in San Diego County, a real tragedy as more go under the wrecking ball.
I see Ennis' question was from 11/3/05…so this will be either old news or on deaf ears if he doesn’t return to the site. The Vista was on south Central near the Adams Hotel, now both gone. It was’t “very close” to the Palms, which was at Central near Virginia. The Fox was on Washington or Van Buren—I don’t remember which, east of Central Avenue. About 30 blocks southeast of The Palms, which was my neighborhood theater as a kid. It wasn’t until around 1953 that the Palms began selling candy and popcorn. Prior to that, it was pristine, clean and elegant place. When they did open a concession counter, we would take our candy wrappers, cups and popcorn boxes to the trash can in the lobby. I saw some great films there—the last being “Bridge on the River Kwai” one Xmas when I was visiting my grandparents in Phx. I had moved to Encinitas, California by then. Several friends and I went to the 8:00 show and paid for one kid to get in, as the rest of us waited at the exit for him to open the door once the show began. He did, we crawled in and to our consternation found that the show was nearly sold out! We scattered to seats all over the theater and enjoyed the film. Fortunately, the statute of limitations have run out on our larceny.