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I was the projectionist at the Bay Theatre in Pacific Palisades when this theatre opened in March,1970 – naturally National General, the operators, hadn’t completed everything, so many of us were pressed into service helping Jerry Knowles, whom they transferred from the Village, to complete the installation. We made it. The opening picture was “The Boys in the Band”. If they’re not renewing the lease there are only two reasons for that – the rent is too high and/or the theatre is no longer profitable.
Sad, these changing times.
This is one of the first theatres I worked at as a projectionist in 1962-63 – it was run by a fellow named Bob Scott and was only open on Fri, Sat, & Sun – I was here the Fri nite JFK was assassinated on 11/22/63 – it burned down in the Watts Riots of ‘65.
Bill Kallay – no it had 35mm Simplex X-L projectors, RCA 9030 sound heads, and originally had Ashcraft arclamps before LP Xenon lamphouses and a Christie platter was installed in the Laemmle years – though they kept two projectors so you had the option of running reel-to-reel same as at the Music Hall. When the company sold the property to Checchi-Gori in 1994 I stayed at the Music Hall until 1996 (the Music Hall/ Fine Arts had been “shared” jobs since 1987) I never was in the remodel, so I don’t know what they did.
Louie was rarely at the theatre until it was time to close and collect the money! The manager was Milton Kaiser who sold the tickets and candy. The Oriental and Sunset were run by the Lefton family who also had the Pan Pacific – the Sunset later becoming a Pussycat Theatre.
This theatre dated from the mid-30’s. In 1951 it was taken over from the projectionist Ralph Hines aby Merrit Stone and James Allen. The first picture they played was “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Over the years they built it up into the highest-grossing independent on the westside – remodling it in 1960 with one of the first indoor/lobby box offices. They also had one of the first recorded phone messages (VE 7-7171). Ralph stayed on as projectionist until he retired in 1962 when Bob Lumpkin came in – leaving in 1969 when Mike Schleiger came in and stayed until 1974 when Merrit and Jim gave it up and leased it to Great Western, they, running it into the ground until Stone and Allen sold the theatre and surrounding property to the post office in 1980. They took over the Meralta Theatre in 1968 where I was their projectionist that summer and fall before moving on.
This theatre opened in spring 1941. It was built and leased along with the other property by Joe DeBell who was a general contractor who built the theatre, stores, and upstairs apartments for investment income. As a kid I used to go here in the early 50’s (along with the Picwood, Stadium, Lido, Palms, Culver, & Meralta – all of which I worked when I became a projectionist in the early 60’s.) This is the theatre where I was trained in ‘59-'60 by George L. Roth (1905-1978). It had a checkered operational history with several independent operators until Statewide Theatres (Fred Stein)got it in 1963 – later selling it to Loew’s who was the last chain operator. Again resuming independent operators until it died a sad death in 1979 – becoming Albert’s appliances until it was torched in the 1992 riots as described above.
Louis Federici (1912-2005) reopened the old Melvan in 1963 with the intention of running retro which was not all that popular at that time. Always in a friendly rivalry with Max Laemmle, Louie was offered a picture that Max turned down, “Mondo Cane” and he made a bundle! Next he brought in other pictures like “Phaedra”, “Black Orpheus”, and “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” – alternating with his original plans things like “King Kong”, “The Mask of Fu Manchu”, et al. I was his projectionist from 1975-1978 – at the beginning of 1978 he sublet to a group called Film Generations who brought in daily changes of double features – many time inviting the filmakers like Richard Brooks, Lewis Allen and many others to screenings and discussions of their pictures. They did great business, but by the end of the year Louie had lost the theatre in a dispute with the landlords – who got it, Max Laemmle! He operated for a couple a years until the entire block was bought by Raleigh Studios, and now the Encore serves as their main theatre.
In thelate 50’s through the 60’s,70’s,80’s up until about 1989 it was operated by Laemmle Theatres and was considered their flagship for many years. It was triplexed after they lost the lease.
This theatre had the biggest projection room I have ever seen – booth nothing, it was a county seat!
Laemmle owned the property and ran the theatre until 1994 when it was sold. I was the projectionist here and at the Music Hall – shared jobs – from 1986-1994. The old guy who was aced-out when the sharing policy was put into effect was Chalie Hawthorn (1905-1995), a real nice guy who really didn’t mind at age 82 to have to give it up. He worked a lot of theatres including the Carthay Circle, Fairfax, and RKO Hillstreet in their heydays and had some great stories to tell.
I was the projectioinist here from 1969-1970 – it was still in very good condition and did pretty good business. I remember we ran “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” for THREE WEEKS! very rare for a neighborhood theatre that changed programs (Double Features) once a week. The booth was a standard booth with Simplex E-7’s, SH1000 soundheads, and magnarc (Peerless) lamps. The original proscenium was behind the screen and still had the original curtains up. Last time I went by there it was a hardware store – oh well.
I worked here through the summer of 1967 with the regular operator whose name was M.T. “Morrie"Gilruth – the reason I got the job is he didn’t want to work matinees, he wanted to play golf in the valley! At that time this was a real nice area and theatre. The manager was a real character named Sam Fradkoff (the best). The Local sent me out there for the last time in January 1986 – by then they had built a multiplex on the vacant lot nrxt door and twinned the original – what a NIGHTMARE! Sometimes these places are better left to memory.
The projectionist at this theatre from the day it opened in 1923 as Grauman’s Metropolitan until the day it closed was Earl C. Hamilton (1887-1989) It’s not a lot of guys that you’ll meet who can say they were too old for both WW1 and WW2!
This theatre was owned and operated by Louis Federici (1912-2005) from the early 1950’s until he sold the property to the current church in the late 70’s. I was one of his projectionists for a time along with Bob Evans (1921-2004). Around 1964 Louie hired a manager named Mike Getz who introduced a series on Saturday nights called “movies ‘Round midnight” (offbeat stuff) and it was very successful. The booth was equiped with RCA/Brenkert BX 100’s, Simplex 9030 soundheads and Peerless magnarc arclamps – also an RCA 16mm projector customized by Bob (he has a number around town).