Tower Theatre for the Performing Arts

815 E. Olive Avenue,
Fresno, CA 93728

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Showing 21 comments

dansdriveintheater on November 29, 2018 at 10:44 pm

went here to see a miss nelson is missing play s a class field trip in second grade. then after that whenever we would drive by it at night i would marvel at the neon most importantly it’s neon sparkle ball!

dansdriveintheater on November 22, 2018 at 1:36 pm

do they still show films here. such a classics like the fox theater in visalia. just curious.

William on May 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm

-DB, Don’t forget the Academy Theatre in Inglewood, CA also has a neon sparkle ball too.

TLSLOEWS on May 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Very nice looks great all lit up a night.

TLSLOEWS on May 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Very nice looks great all lit up a night.

drb on May 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm

The tower, especially the sparkle-y ball on top, looks a great deal like another S. Charles Lee marquee, the Alex Theatre in Glendale, which was added to that theater a year after this one was built.

kencmcintyre on November 29, 2007 at 7:51 pm

If you have an extra 4.2 million lying around, it’s yours:

moviedream on July 19, 2007 at 12:38 pm

Back in the earlyh 1980s I was the operator/manager of the Tower Theater. It was a fantastic experience. We called it “McHatton’s Tower Theater” at that time. We were a “calendar house” because we published a calendar/newspaper every six to eight weeks with listings and articles and cool graphics about our upcoming films. We changed films two, three, sometimes four times a week. We did midnight shows on Friday and Saturday nights. We did Three Stooges Marathons and lots of Rock n Roll movies. I especially remember the “Curly look and sound a like” contests. We showed old classic movies like the re-release of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” and “Vertigo.” We showed lots of foreign films and art films. We showed Armenian films, Japanese films, and even Gay films sometimes. Our goal was to bring people back into the movie theater and help them enjoy the experience of watching a film like it was meant to be seen—on the BIG screen. We used real butter on our popcorn and we went out of our way to make sure your feet did not stick to the floors. We showed many old classics like Ben Hur. One of my favorite events was when I started bringing in famous filmmakers to do film festivals or tributes. I was fortunate to spend two days with filmmaker Frank Capra who came out for a charity film festival. I also enjoyed meeting Robert Towne and I will never forget meeting director Russ Meyer. I realized Russ was a true independent filmmaker when he popped the trunk of his car and inside their was a full blown 35mm movie camera. I also really enjoyed putting on live concerts at the Tower. We had a terrific Tower Blues Festival where I got to spend some time with John Lee Hooker. And then I will never forget when I went partners with Budd Friedmann to bring live comedy to the Tower Theater. We really had a great time bringing in comics Paul Rodriguez, Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGeneres, and even Jim Carrey before he became famous. I am very appreciative to all the great movie fans and terrific people in Fresno. I recently went to Fresno for my 30th High School reunion and I made sure to drive by the Tower Theater. I will always hold a special place in my heart for the Tower and all the incredible people I met during my special time as the owner/operator of the Tower Theater.

themarla on February 17, 2007 at 10:03 pm

All of my family’s photographs of Fresno, including the Tower Dist., were “removed” from the premises – 4 generations. We had filing cabinets filled. That seems to be a common occurence – there are very few photographs remaining. That has prevented the mass hysteria that would otherwise result if the public realized what has been done right under our noses. It is tragic.

donthx1378 on February 17, 2007 at 9:38 pm

I wish there was some more intformation on the history of the theater besides when it opened and when they did the restoration. I know that somewhere around the mid to late 70’s the theater stopped showing first run films and started showing indie/second run/ and re-releases. They also ran midnight movies along with the old radio station KKDJ for a couple of years before Rocky Horror took over after it’s run ended over at the Northgate Theater. My Grandmother was the bank manager for First Interstate Bank which was a little down the street it’s now a Blockbuster video and she doesn’t have any photos that she knows of the theater from around this time. I know that Jeff over at the Movies video store has a flyer up on this wall from the theater that must have been mailed out or came with the Fresno Bee promoting what was going to be showing at the theater for the week.

themarla on January 11, 2007 at 10:29 am

I was born and raised in the Tower Dist. 52 yrs. There used to be magnificent photographs everywhere. All of a sudden, it seemed they vanished. I would love to see some from the 60s, 70s, or 80s.

kencmcintyre on October 28, 2006 at 10:27 am

Here is an excerpt from the Fresno Bee re the grand opening:

The Tower Theater, newest local amusement enterprise and
Fresno’s first large neighborhood motion picture house, will be
formally opened to the public at 1:30 o'clock tomorrow afternoon
at Olive and Wishon Avenues.
Construction work on the building, which also embraces
eight retail store premises in addition to the theater proper, has
Ijeen underway since Spring when long term leasing arrangements,
representing an eventual rental outlay of more than $200,000, were negotiated by the Fox West Coast Theaters, Inc.

Entire Block Included
The property includes the entire block bounded by Olive, Wishon,
•Linden and Fern Avenues, and includes a large, newly paved parking
lot adjoining the building which was erected at a cost approximating
$80,000, exclusive of the large amount of fixtures, equipment and
Formerly the site of the Wishon Playground, the land and new
building are owned by A. Emory Wishon, formerly associated with
his father, the late A. G. Wishon, in the management of the San Joaquin,now a division of the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, of which Wishon was a vice president.
Many Notables Present
In Fresno for the opening of the theater are a number of figures
widely known in the Pacific Coast and the national amusement field,
among them Charles Skouras, presidentof the Fox West Coast concern;
Charles Buckley, vice president and general counsel; A. M
Bowles, Northern California division manager, and Nick O. Turner,
district manager.
The opening bill, with the performance starting at 2 P. M tomorrow,
will feature two pictures, Dancing Coed, in which Artie
Shaw, Lana Turner and Ann Rutherford are starred; and Henry Goes to
Arizona, with Virginia Weidler and Frank Morgan in the lead roles.
Rare woods from the tropics, gold beaten to the thinness of a hair,
and silver flattened to paper thickness went into making the intenor
of the Tower Theater one of the most beautiful on the West Coast.
Tiger wood, cut to a veneer and mounted on canvas, is used to decorate the lobby columns and to set off the walls which are paneled in a special variety of birch. Tropical woods go toward making up the lobby decorations. But it is in the theater decorations
itself that the work of the gold and silver beaters is apparent.
Several thousand square feet of ceiling and wall space is covered
with silver foil, and the interior columns, decorations on the
doors and rails and other fixtures are covered with gold leaf.
The gold and silver used in the decorations are estimated to have
cost several thousands of dollars.

themarla on July 10, 2006 at 5:20 pm

My point, exactly.

themarla on May 16, 2006 at 8:41 am

How about the current historic Tower District “revitalization?” With most of the old timers gone, no one realizes what has taken place right under our noses. With all of the store-front shops, how was Olive Ave. widened? Most likely in 2000 when the road was closed for 1 entire year for the $12 million sewer upgrade. Take a good look at these buildings, including the perimeters. Not caused by “normal aging.” Look at all the nearby homes. Windows/doors/moldings switched; lawns excavated and replaced with the same bright green; unique alcoves/ornate bay windows flattened on sides; walls taken down and set back 1-3 ft. Extended eaves prevent aerial views from exposing the ongoing sewer vandalism being carried out for what is to come. All pictures of the Tower Dist. from 1970-1999 seem to have vanished from the face of the earth; books no longer available, leaving us nothing to compare the current condition/appearance to. All of my family’s old photos were either stolen or scanned and altered.
Operation: Misguided Focus. The City of Fresno now has us paying for “repairs” while refusing to address the issue of all the fraud, missing persons, and forged legal documents linked to this.

reflectionscs on December 3, 2004 at 1:45 pm

How vividly I remember spending many hours in the darkness of the Tower Theater in Fresno, during the 1950s and 1960s. I spent the evening of my twelfth birthday at this theater. At my request, my parents took me there to see “Psycho.”

This is the theater where the risque Brigitte Bardot of the 50s and 60s played. Also some of the more prominent art films. I remember seeing Julie Christie in “Darling” there. Also Marilyn Monroe in “Let’s Make Love”.

Would love to hear from anyone else who remember the Tower during this time.

FloydPerryJr on December 10, 2001 at 4:30 pm

Though this is a nice looking theatre, It pales in comparison to the much larger,much older,more historical WARNOR THEATRE in Downtown Fresno.