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I forgot to mention a Wendy Reeves interview which was published in the Free Venice Beachhead newspaper while our company was still operating the Fox Venice – enjoy it at
My name is Rol Murrow and I was the president of Cumberland Mountain Theatres during the theater’s glory days of the 70’s! Our company turned the Fox Venice Theater into what we called a repertory cinema in 1973. We changed the program almost every day and ran films from the entire history of film, premiered many experimental and alternative films, and ran a program of live music and plays, until we sold the business to Landmark Theaters in 1979.
I also had a film production facility above the theater starting in 1969 and housed our celebrated light show called The Single Wing Turquoise Bird in the studio. There is a scene in Jim Bridges “The Babymaker” with Barbara Hershey, which was filmed in the studio, with sequences from the light show’s work.
Pat Harman has a site called Virtual Venice and I contributed to an article she wrote about the Fox Venice Theater. It is a good read! Enjoy it at
For the record – the Fox Venice theater opened in 1951. A prior theater called the Venice Theater was located on the boardwalk as part of the pier complex, later to be known as Pacific Ocean Pier. I believe that theater burned down, which was why the Fox Venice was built.
Landmark ran the Fox Venice theater for a couple of years after us but ran into financial trouble and sold it to Rafigh Pooya, who played mostly foreign films.
In 1988 inspectors discovered that the acoustical treatment in the theater contained asbestos and summarily closed it. No one could come up with the funding to do the cleanup and restore the building as a theater. A contractor made a deal to do the cleanup and convert it into what you see as a “department store” or “swap meet.” It is basically an indoor version of the vendors' booths you see on the Venice boardwalk.
I hope you enjoy the write-up on the Virtual Venice site above. And there are many, many more wonderful stories about the fox Venice. Google them!
If anyone has questions feel free to contact me -
rol at murrow dot info
I have very mixed feelings about the conversion of the Capitol. When I moved to the area in 1971 the theatre was in basically sound condition but many furnishings had been removed and there was some water damage.
The interior was lovely, though. It had an unusually wide aspect and a fabulous balcony with grand marble staircases. A very large stage grid system and basement dressing rooms gave promise of a wide variety of events capable of being presented some day.
Later a town committee was charged with restoring the theatre. Instead of that happening, Eastconn – a powerful regional educational organization – commandeered the process and changed the plan to the current one, which ruined the magnificent theatre in order to build the arts magnet school.
As a UCLA theatre arts graduate myself I welcome the school and think it provides a wonderful opportunity for youth in the area. But it should have been built in one of the several empty office buildings nearby and the theatre renovated as a community asset as well as a showcase for the students. That would have been a real win-win.
Instead we have a very nice magnet school but have lost the sole remaining grand classic theatre left of the four that once graced this charming little mill town. My comment at the time this was proposed was “Must we destroy the Capitol Theatre in order to save it?”
Dear Fox Venice Fans,
I have been enjoying reading your comments regarding the Fox Venice!
As President of Cumberland Mountain Theaters, Inc. during the heyday of theatrics at the Fox – 1973-1979 – I had the great joy of working with our large crew of film lovers and showfolks who worked so hard to develop the daily-change repertory cinema format in Los Angeles.
I will not try to provide corrections or a chronology here, but will direct you to several web pages with a lot of information.
First do visit the Virtual Venice site at http://www.virtualvenice.info/and explore it for a number of mentions of the Fox Venice and the history of Venice Beach.
A very nice article there on the history of the Fox is at http://www.virtualvenice.info/media/fvt.htm
A related story from a 1978 Free Venice Beachhead is at http://www.virtualvenice.info/media/tale.htm
Some of you may know that some of the Single Wing Turquiose Bird light show folks were very involved, and we have a site for it at http://www.swtb.info – be sure to see the link there to the pOoterLand article about the SWTB, which discusses the Fox.
Reading your comments took me right back to a magic time quite a number of years ago! May the best of those vibes resonate forever!