Tracy Theatre

219 E. Seaside Way,
Long Beach, CA 90802

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Showing 1 - 25 of 53 comments

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 27, 2010 at 9:08 pm

The photo is probably from 1939. The movie “Missing Daughters” was released that year. The “Jack London Hit” on the marquee could have been “Mutiny on the Elsinore” which was made in 1937 but not released in the U.S. until February, 1939, according to IMDb. Another London tale called “Torture Ship” hit the screen in October, 1939. The marquee looks brand new in that photo.

I don’t know who Norvell was, though, and the Internet isn’t helping, but the name rings a vague bell. Was he a mentalist? An illusionist? Probably something of that sort if he was doing a stage act that was not part of a larger vaudeville show.

GaryParks
GaryParks on October 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm

The Long Beach Library photo two posts above can’t be from 1932. Someone must have mislabeled it. The swing-out sign mounted on the theatre’s facade would have been of that vintage, or a little earlier, but the marquee is of 40s vintage. Trapezoidal and wedge-shaped marquees did not appear until 1935-‘36. The marquee shown in the photo was still on the theatre in 1973, when my adopted grandmother Mary Tolson snapped a picture (which I still have) of me standing under it. At the time, I was fascinated by the Tracy—though I never went inside. It’s boarded-up entrance and broken second story windows and terra cotta masks had me hooked the way many children get spooked and fascinated by old abandoned mansions. I remember even at that age noticing that the neon “crest” on the vetical sign was similar (though simpler) to that on the Belmont Theatre in Belmont Shores, which was still very much in operation at that time, and which we occasionally attended.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on May 7, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Very good vintage photo ken mc.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 7, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Here is a 1932 photo from the Long Beach Library:
http://tinyurl.com/2bqhpn8

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on February 4, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Great pictures too bad its is gone now!

AliceK
AliceK on April 10, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Very excited to find the great information on the Tracy Theater. As a young girl I attend the theater many times with my close friend Catherine Tracy whose father owned the Theater.

Catherine and I were school mates and best friends during the late 1930’s. I lost touch with the family and would be very happy to hear from anyone in the Tracy family. Catherine’s married name was Cobb.

If you have information about her or her family members please contact me at Thank You. Alice K

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 21, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Here is an expanded version of the photo at the top of the page, along with another photo, both from the LA library:
http://jpg2.lapl.org/theater1/00014907.jpg
http://jpg2.lapl.org/theater1/00014906.jpg

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 21, 2009 at 6:40 pm

The Tracy was finally demolished over the course of a few days in late March, 1974.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 21, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Here is a condensed version of the article:

If you shut your eyes tightly, close your mind to all else and listen attentively, you just might be able to hear the distant echo of soprano Jacqueline McFadden singing, “How Are Things in Gloccamorra?”
And if the nostalgia of the moment, the plaintive air of the song, does anything to stir your body chemistry â€" you’d better keep your eyes closed, your mind a blank. For, to capture this mystical memory, you’d have to be standing in the once-proud theater where Miss McFadden’s rendition of the song from “Finian’s Rainbow” was among the last performances ever staged, back in 1959.

And a sight of your surroundings, the recollection of what used to be, would shatter your reverie forever. You’d see crumbling walls, rotting stage curtains, theater seats ripped out, the ugly scars of a bonfire, the shattered remains of a fallen chandelier, electrical fixtures dangling from ripped cords, pigeon excrement peppering the whole floor. You’d see a theater interior smothered in a delapidation, matched in ugliness only by the building’s exterior affronting 219 E. Seaside Way, under the sign: “Tracy’s.” Of course, you wouldn’t be able to walk into the theater now. The boarded up windows and doors, the trash littering its sidewalks, its smashed window panes, would tell you that this building across from the Municipal Auditorium does not welcome the legitimate visitor.

But beyond the barriers, the empty wine bottles, the cache of stolen credit cards in a pipe, are tipoffs to the clientele it now accommodates. And like an orphan, disowned by the city, neglected by its owners, forgotten by the community, it apparently will remain in this state for the foreseeable future. But no matter how gloomy its future, inglorious its present, there are many in the city who’ll long recall its splendid past.

Tracy’s was built in 1924 at a reputed cost of $225,000, as a legitimate theater with 1,200 seats. In its early years it played host to legions of international stars and earned a reputation as one of the finest acoustical and aesthetic theaters around. In addition to the theater proper, there was an attached three-story building which included six stores on the ground floor, a 4,000-square-foot balcony and cafeteria on the second, and two penthouse apartments with a private elevator from the ground floor street entrance.

After several years of use as a legitimate theater it was converted into a movie house with a projection and sound room. In the early 1950s it became the home of the Youth for Christ movement for about two years. Then in 1953 it became idle. For six years it stood dark until 1959 when the hope of a new life was fostered by the Long Beach Civic Light Opera Association.

But their dream of a future home remained only in their hearts. When the curtain rang down after a show on October 14, 1959, it closed the last performance ever staged at Tracy’s and the dream never bore wings because the necessary funds could not be raised.

Three years later, in March 1962, it appeared the shroud of darkness would be lifted at Tracy’s. Fred Anthony Miller, who owned the adjacent Wilton Hotel later renamed the Breakers International announced purchase of the Tracy building. Miller said he planned to remodel the theater and convert it into 1,200-seat convention hall. The plans never saw fruition. And the building has been empty ever since.

Current owners are listed in the city assessor’s office as Miller and Albert B. Parvin. Parvin’s firm of Parvin Dohrmann owns the Fremont Hotel and Casino, the Stardust and the Aladdin in Las Vegas. He also is the man who established the Parvin Foundation in 1961 that paid Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas $12,000 a year as president â€" dealings which have generated congressional attempts to impeach Douglas.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm

This is a photo from a 2/15/71 story in the Press-Telegram. I am posting the story separately.
http://tinyurl.com/cfzoyw

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Here is an October 1947 ad from the Long Beach Press-Telegram:
http://tinyurl.com/cpm3nh

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 6, 2008 at 11:17 pm

I looked for the May 1967 article but didn’t see it in the Press-Telegram archives. I did see an October 1948 article describing how manager Harold Simpson was bound and gagged while a bandit looted the theater safe and escaped with $7,000 in cash, bonds and jewelry. The jewelry belonged to Catherine V. Tracy, 1043 Locust Avenue, wife of Eugene V. Tracy, owner of the theater.

mjdeangelo
mjdeangelo on August 29, 2008 at 3:19 pm

This is so interesting for me. My grandfather was Joseph Tracy who ran the Tracy Theater and the Capitol at the Pike with his brother Eugene. I still have an article from the Press Telegram (5/12/67) telling about him. He then went to the Fox West Coast on Ocean Blvd. and worked there till he retired. I used to sit up in the projection room with him and watch movies. Fox West Coast gave him a silver pass for his whole family to use forever after his 25 years of service. I still have it. I wonder if I could use it now?

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 30, 2008 at 5:44 pm

The remains of the Tracy marquee can be seen in the 1974 film “Gone in 60 Seconds”:
http://tinyurl.com/3bk7nv

DennisM432
DennisM432 on March 13, 2008 at 7:44 pm

I am working on a Documentary Film about the old movie theaters in Long Beach as part of my cable TV series “I Remember Long Beach”.
I would be very interested in talking to members of the Tracy family or anyone else who has memories or pictures of the old theaters.
I was a manager at the Plaza Theater in the 70’s. I can be reached at or 562 439-3465.

patt32
patt32 on October 28, 2007 at 3:38 pm

To Tracy,

I am related to Kate that was married to Eugene. Her mother was a sister to my gr grandfather. Interested in connecting with family. Am putting the family history together.

Please contact me:

Pat

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 30, 2007 at 12:53 am

Here is a circa 1940s ad from the Press-Telegram:
http://tinyurl.com/26eysr

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 7, 2007 at 7:56 pm

I don’t think it’s listed on CT. It probably came and went in a few years.

jerry4dos
jerry4dos on July 7, 2007 at 7:20 pm

It isn’t the Tracy, which would be behind the cameraman in this photo.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 7, 2007 at 6:30 pm

There’s a “theatorium” visible in this 1910 photo. I don’t know if this is an earlier version of one of the known theaters on the Pike:
http://tinyurl.com/2rd5nk

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 2, 2007 at 12:33 pm

LA Times reported that the Ritz was close to opening on 4/26/25. Architect was Carl Boller. Seating capacity was 1500.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 3, 2007 at 8:36 pm

The Tracy is at the end of Seaside in this 1961 photo:
http://tinyurl.com/276p44

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 21, 2006 at 10:07 am

OK, I stand corrected. The Long Beach Independent had an ad on 5/13/48 for a full bill at the Tracy:

“Vigilante Returns"
"Buck Privates Come Home"
"Shoot to Kill"
plus 3 cartoons
plus "Sugarchile Robinson” – 8th Wonder of the World.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 8, 2006 at 2:19 am

ML & Ken: no, the Tracy is a different theatre from the Ritz on 7th Street, which was a small neighborhood house. The Tracy wasn’t called the Ritz for very long.