Kaimuki Theater

3660 Wai'alae Avenue,
Honolulu, HI 96816

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thisisjohnbook
thisisjohnbook on January 17, 2013 at 8:33 am

This was a theater that was of my parent’s time, and as my mom lived in Kaimuki, she still remembers going to see the Saturday morning cartoons as part of what was called the “Porky Pig Club”. They’d also show movie shorts and have talent shows as well. Some of the memories I’ve seen online from people who were kids during this time have some great stories to share.

In my case, I saw a great surf movie in the late 70’s called “Hot Lips & Inner Tubes”, referring to the lip (edge) and inside curl of a wave. I went with my dad and uncle, and it was great to be in a crowd where everyone cheered surfers on when they rode a successful wave.

ilind
ilind on May 30, 2011 at 9:48 am

Here’s a corrected link to photos of the Kaimuki Theater demolition. http://ilind.net/gallery_old/kaimukigallery/

We were very sorry to see it go.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 17, 2010 at 11:52 am

Sounds like the Booth in the TV show,“THE POPCORN KID”.that operator climbed a Ladder to get in that booth and i thought that was silly,but one really existed ?

LowellAngell
LowellAngell on April 15, 2010 at 1:20 pm

A delayed answer to a question above.

The organ chambers were in a basement under the stage and spoke through grills under the stage apron. Not very desirable to say the least!

I’m certain the theatre interior was never remodeled or gutten/rebuilt.

I worked there briefly back in the mid-60s in my first teenage summer job (as vacation relief), and even then was a theatre (and organ) buff. My uncle also played the organ there on occasion back in the 30s (but he was not a professional musician). I recall that the basement area, which also had some dressing rooms, was cramped with low headroom, filthy and had rats running around, probably because the popcorn supply was stored backstage.

tomdelay
tomdelay on May 16, 2008 at 9:38 am

It is known that the organ was a B & B. According to Junchen Vol. I the organ was a 3/14. The ATOS Journal in the early 1970s claimed the organ was a 3/10 “Duke’s Mixture” in an article that was full of errors. That is a known given. What is not known is where in the theatre the instrument was installed. A 14-rank unit organ takes up a bit of space. The demolition photos do not show any organ screens or chambers. Either the chambers were scooped out in a remodel, the organ was installed in a place other than the usual side chambers (over the stage or under the stage), or like so many theatres from the ‘20s, the original interior was scooped out and a 1930s or '40s interior put in the original’s place. Hopefully Scott B. can answer the question.

The organ was supposedly broken up for parts after serving time in a local church.

tomdelay
tomdelay on May 16, 2008 at 9:38 am

It is known that the organ was a B & B. According to Junchen Vol. I the organ was a 3/14. The ATOS Journal in the early 1970s claimed the organ was a 3/10 “Duke’s Mixture” in an article that was full of errors. That is a known given. What is not known is where in the theatre the instrument was installed. A 14-rank unit organ takes up a bit of space. The demolition photos do not show any organ screens or chambers. Either the chambers were scooped out in a remodel, the organ was installed in a place other than the usual side chambers (over the stage or under the stage), or like so many theatres from the ‘20s, the original interior was scooped out and a 1930s or '40s interior put in the original’s place. Hopefully Scott B. can answer the question.

The organ was supposedly broken up for parts after serving time in a local church.

tomdelay
tomdelay on May 16, 2008 at 5:46 am

Does anyone know where in the theatre the organ was installed? From the demolition photos, it looks like balcony exits were cut through the “normal” chamber locations to exit out behind the stage. Were the chambers scooped out in a remodel? I have seen the photo of John DeMello at the organ that was once in this theatre.

Enfield476
Enfield476 on May 15, 2008 at 7:51 pm

I grew up in Hawaii during the 50’s and early 60’s (Coast Guard Brat). I was just talking to my wife about those many, many happy Saturdays at The Kaimuki Theater. You can only imagine my sadness when I googled it later…finding that the poor old thing had been destroyed. I downloaded the first picture only…couldn’t take the rest.

My Grandmother would send me off with a buck in my pocket, and I was good for the whole damned day. Watch a movie, then some cartoons, then a couple of serials, some more cartoons, then a feature short, then some more cartoons, then a second feature. After, I’d walk down the block a bit and find the hobby shop, and yet another 29-cent model airplane kit. I’d then go up in the opposite direction, find the news-stand and buy a Sergeant Rock comic book. And I’d come home with change in my pocket…saved for next Saturday’s visit to the Kaimuki Theater. I’d eventually have enough left-over from my thrift to by a 48th-scale Aurora model kit. They made the neatest WWI model planes.

But the main thing that sticks into my memory is that the first time I kissed a girl was in The Kaimuki Theater. I was nine…she was eleven…yeah, I had a thing for the older, more mature types. We were watching Forbidden Planet. And though I have seen that film again and again over all these long years…I’ll never see it without remembering that first kiss in the flickering dark of that theater.

Vito
Vito on November 19, 2006 at 1:33 am

Hey Scott, great hearing from you! You are right, my friend, it was indead the Kapahulu that had the ladder. I can remember sitting in a seat just outside the booth door at the Kaimuki to escape the small booth. I did the same at the Hawaii and OMG the Rex! You of course worked EVERYWHERE, doing that vacation relief schedule which kept you very busy. We sure had a lot of great times working the theatres in Hawaii. I still keep in touch with a few of the guys, mainly Artie Wheeler who is now retired, I hope Westly is doing well. Remember the time I sent you on that job running that 3 strip show, was it Napoleon? I remember thinking “who in the world am I going to trust to run that”? Then I thought, well Scott B of course. I had heard you were back in Hawaii working at the beloved Palace in Hilo. I sure hope you got thru the earthquake ok and that the Palace suffered no damage.

ScottBosch
ScottBosch on November 19, 2006 at 12:20 am

Hi Vito…I’m still here lurking in the shadows.

I think that’s where personnel started all of us, me included. You’re thinking of the old (now gone) Kapahulu theatre as the place with the ladder up the wall. That one was no fun for sure.

The Kaimuki Theatre actually had a small balcony with a relatively civilized staircase. The booth was smaller than the Kapahulu with more stuff in it. Made it miserable to get around or work in.

ilind
ilind on September 25, 2005 at 1:32 pm

A lot of folks my age remember the pleasures of Saturday mornings and the “Porky Pig Club” at the Kaimuki Theater in the 1950s.

And after my wife and I graduated from college in 1969 and returned to Honolulu, we were back at the Kaimuki Theater for samurai movies and other fine fare at low prices. If I recall correctly, we paid 50 cents or a dollar at that time, still a steal.

It was sad to see those red velvet curtains among the debris when they took the theater down.

Vito
Vito on August 17, 2005 at 1:41 am

Ugh, THAT PLACE!!!! One of the first projection jobs I had when I first started working for Consoladated in the early 70s was as a relief projectionist, I worked just about every theatre on Oahu.
The Kaimuki was the one and only theatre I hated working in. The booth access was a straight ladder leading up from the lobby, once you reached the top you had to then hoist yourself up thru a kind of roof hatch, carring what ever you had with you in your mouth. Once inside you were usually greeted by the resident flying roaches who tried to steal your lunch. The booth was a filthy, uncomfortable
place to work. Any other projectionists, managers remember this place? Scott B are you out there?

tomdelay
tomdelay on August 16, 2005 at 1:34 pm

This theatre had a 3 manual roughly 10 rank organ. I cannot recall the entire name of the company in the east US who built the organ; Buhl and ???? (Something like Blashfield??? Sorry)

This company built few theatre organs and how one of their instruments got out to the islands is a mystery. The organ was played by the late Johnny DeMello (in addition to his playing at other theatre organs in Honolulu, Waikiki, and Hilo). Photos exist of John DeMello at the Kaimuki console.

As I recall, the organ was parted out and some of it went to a local Methodist church ages ago.