Fox Venice Theater

620 Lincoln Boulevard,
Venice, CA 90291

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melk100
melk100 on August 29, 2011 at 9:46 am

In reading the New York Times article about the website, the first theater mentioned, the Fox Venice, brought back a flood of memories. My father was a district manager for Fox West Coast (the theater arm of Fox before antitrust laws required the studios to divest themselves of their theater chains)in the late 40’s through the end of the 50’s. His district included Venice and the overseeing of the new Fox Venice theater. We were so excited when the theater opened to great fanfare with a weekend filled with events to mark this opening: searchlights out in front for the first evening movies being shown, a Saturday western double bill with an in person visit by Monty Montana a B western movie “star” at the time. The theater was state of the art with a baby “crying room” available for parents, a loge section with cushier seats that required a more expensive ticket, a huge screen and for the time a good sound system. In the days before digital, the films were delivered to the theater by motorcycle riders called taggers who carried the prints from one theater to the next and I remember one time there was great concern that the films hadn’t arrived in time so my father had to go on stage to announce the delay just as the tagger was running in the front door. These theaters had projection rooms with guys (always guys) who ran them that always looked a little strange, usually smoked prodigiously but I remember one in particular that used to let me sit with him while the movie ran while he showed me how it all worked and how he timed the changing of the reels. During one particularly bad rainstorm, the theater lobby flooded in spite of the sandbags at the doors which necessitated all of the fairly new, expensive carpeting having to be replaced. Many more thoughts too numerous to recount about his many adventures managing the other Fox theaters in Santa Monica, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach but the opening of the Venice was the highlight. When I drive by I just remember what it was and not what it has become.

RMurrow
RMurrow on July 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm

PS –

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

http://www.virtualvenice.info/media/tale.htm

  • Rol
RMurrow
RMurrow on July 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm

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

http://www.virtualvenice.info/media/fvt.htm

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

clevelandphil
clevelandphil on July 3, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Messiah of Evil was filmed here. The scene is available on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2ayfmkeJGc

rmr48
rmr48 on June 27, 2011 at 9:30 am

I was the print inspector and sometimes (inept) projectionist during the theater’s final years. Shows what the place was, that they hired someone to check the prints, repair sprockets, demand a better print if one was no good. There was an editing bay upstairs where documentarians worked on their films.

Let’s not forget the amazing live shows the FV presented — David Bromberg and his big band, Toni Basil with an amazing dance/video/singing show that predates Madonna and Gaga by decades, etc. etc.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on April 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm

The opening paragraph should be removed then, as it is misleading. Thanks!

William
William on April 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Don S, the above description mixes some of the facts of these two neighborhood houses. The original Venice Theatre is listed on this site as the California Theatre. Which looks like it closed in the late 40’s. One picture shows around a 1949 date that it was still open on the boardwalk in Venice. I just got a opening night program, that on the cover says “The curtain rises… on the New Fox Theatre , Venice. Gala premiere Fri. Eve Aug 17th., 1951”. So in the Film Daily 1943 that would be the old Venice Theatre and not in the 1941 edition it might be the old California Theatre listed. So my 1951 date would fall into line as a replacement theatre for the area.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on April 29, 2011 at 10:46 am

William, are you saying that Venice Theater should be listed as an alternative name? From the description above, it sounds like it opened as the Venice around 43, then became the Fox Venice in 51…

William
William on April 29, 2011 at 8:31 am

Fox West Coast Theatres opened the Fox Venice Theatre on Aug. 17th, 1951. The opening feature that night was the 20th. Century-Fox film “Meet Me After the Show”.

anLD
anLD on February 8, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I was the Head Projectionist & Technical Director for the Fox Venice in 70’s 80’s During the Cumberland Mountain Theater days threw the Landmark operation & the Fox International !

When the Ash Grove closed (‘73) some of the action from that club joined the Fox scene – later I was involved with the reincarnation of the Ash Grove Club at the Santa Monica Pier.

As the Fox was winding down I was also involved with the Club in Santa Monica called “At My Place” – during those last days of the Fox, I also Lived in the Loft above the Lobby (for 7 years – until the landlord was forced to remove us – long story). Landlord always wanted it to remain a theater, liked us, and wanted us to stay in the loft at least until the theater was leased again …
BUT …
… So,
Lets reincarnate; The Fabulous Fox, At My Place, Ash Grove – Dinner Theater – Movies & Music !
– Been some buzz on FB about a “At My Place reunion” …

  • remember the Fox' Blues Night Series: a Blues Movie –(opening act for) a Live Blues Concert !!!
lwmulder
lwmulder on June 22, 2010 at 8:30 am

JohnnyVegas, was your brother Claude and your mother Shirley? I am researching Langley history – my grandfather was CL Langley, West Coast Theaters. I will be in CA in Sept and would like to tour any remaining theaters CL Langley owned/built. I have been in contact with the Alex in Glendale, which was named after my father, Claude Alexander Langley. Any and all information is greatly appreciated!

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on May 17, 2010 at 9:40 am

You say art house, they say revival… let’s call the whole thing off!

TiaNoi
TiaNoi on May 17, 2010 at 1:44 am

I must make a correction to the info provided here: The Fox Theater was an Art House during the 70s. I know because I worked there during 1973 – 74. It was run by a collective of people, mostly film school grads, or people with other related interests. It was a wonderful place to work, a unique environment and showing new wave, vintage and experimental film at a good price.

I remember taking breaks on the roof where the gigantic stars from the old sign were strewn about like fallen comets.

lwmulder
lwmulder on March 12, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Johnny Vegas – was the Fox Venice also a CL Langley theater?

RestoreFoxVenice
RestoreFoxVenice on January 5, 2010 at 11:54 am

hey folks, check out my Facebook cause page, “Restore the Fox Venice Theater” View link -S

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 10, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Here is a 1982 photo. The city is misidentified:
http://tinyurl.com/p3txvv

mweston
mweston on July 13, 2009 at 1:20 am

This was a great theater! I remember this place doing great business too as a revival theater for Landmark! I don’t know why they closed this place, as it was always popular, and for good reason! I loved this place.. Much better than the Nuart in EVERY WAY!

lisasutton
lisasutton on December 30, 2008 at 10:04 pm

I have a couple year’s worth of Fox Venice programs from the late 70s. I don’t know exactly what possessed me to keep them, but I’m glad I did. Spent many hours there from around 76-82. I think I went to see Rocky Horror there every month, sometimes sat thru both showings.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 15, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Here is a new addition from the LA Library. The photo is dated 1983:
http://jpg3.lapl.org/pics53/00076437.jpg

GaryParks
GaryParks on July 28, 2008 at 10:12 am

Apologies: In the first sentence of my above post, the non-word “resused” is supposed to be the word REUSED.

GaryParks
GaryParks on July 28, 2008 at 10:10 am

To respond to the May 2007 comment by brett421 a few posts above: On the marquee of the multiplex at Universal Citywalk, there is a salvaged and resused neon plume which looks exactly like the one which once graced the middle of the Fox Venice marquee. I believe it is the original from the Fox. I saw it at Citywalk in 1998. As that complex contains numerous vintage pieces of neon from the Museum of Neon Art, I suspect this to be the case.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 18, 2008 at 4:59 pm

This is an S. Charles Lee sketch that the LAPL labeled as “unidentified theater”. It resembles the Fox Venice to some extent, but there’s been no mention of Lee as the architect. The sketch could have been for a project that was never built.
http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics46/00042583.jpg