Fox Palos Verdes Theatre

735 Silver Spur Road,
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90274

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honigtime on March 21, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Does anyone have photos of this cinema? I’m a huge movie buff that grew up in PV during the 90s..would love to see what this piece of lost Palos Verdes history looked like!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 23, 2010 at 6:37 am

Unlike most Fox theaters of the postwar period, which were designed by in-house architects such as Mel Glatz or Carl G. Moeller, the Palos Verdes Fox was the work of Carver L. Baker, coordinating architect and planning consultant for the development company that managed almost 7000 acres of the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Great Lakes Carbon Company, which had acquired title to the land in 1953.

An item about the opening of the Fox Theatre appeared in Boxoffice, August 12, 1963, a few days after the house opened. It includes a photo. The caption says that this was the fifth theater opened by National General Theatres, and brought the circuit to 225 theaters in 27 states.

Most of the information about National General Theatres available on the Internet is a bit confusing. The company was incorporated as National Theatres in 1952, but at that time had already operated under that name for many years, having been formed in a 1934 reorganization of Fox West Coast Theatres, which had gone into receivership the previous year, part of the collapse of William Fox’s various enterprises. 20th Century Fox owned a minority interest in National Theatres for a number of years, then acquired a majority interest in the 1940s. The 1952 incorporation was the result of a reorganization of the company stemming from the anti-trust decrees that required movie studios to divest their theater operations.

The various claims that National General took over Fox Theatres in the 1960s are thus misleading, as the company and its predecessor National Theatres had by then been running Fox Theatres for about three decades. The name change to National General in 1962 was a belated reflection of the fact that the National Theatres Corporation incorporated in 1952 had been from the beginning a diversified conglomerate, with movie exhibition only one facet of its operations. A majority of the company’s revenues came from publishing and insurance.

Manwithnoname on September 27, 2007 at 9:54 am

Great pic, Ken. It’s sad to note that almost all (if not all) of the theaters listed as playing that show are gone. Also, the FOX, The UA Del Amo and the Torrance DI were all very close to each other. I worked at the UA when that double bill played. Hard to believe it’s been 25 years!

Ken, I don’t remember a triplex there but in Redondo the Marina 3 (formerly the Strand/Surf) was at the corner of Catalina and Torrance Blvd. This WAS just West of PCH. Condos are there now. The UA had the UA Torrance at PCH/Crenshaw and the UA Del Amo but Redondo never had a UA house that I can recall.

kencmcintyre on September 26, 2007 at 9:37 am

This classic was playing at the Fox in July 1972:

kencmcintyre on August 5, 2007 at 4:21 pm

Does anyone remember a triplex on Palos Verdes Boulevard just west of PCH in Redondo Beach? I seem to recall a UA theater there years ago. I walked by that area yesterday but forgot to look if there was any semblance of a theater there.

Manwithnoname on July 30, 2007 at 7:23 pm

Ken, no the theater was a free standing building on Silver Spur. You are probably thinking of the Ice Capades Chalet which is in the mall.

kencmcintyre on July 30, 2007 at 4:52 pm

I know there’s a skating rink in one of the shopping malls on Silver Spur. I was there last Christmas. Is that the theater?

alohajoe007 on March 22, 2007 at 8:52 am

Thank you DASL'R and of course our unofficial historian Bruce Berns, and all the rest of you for sharing. There just has to be a movie in all this. Just as the classic Cinema Paradisio captured a time and place that no longer exists in Italy we too share the movie experience of times gone by. We have witnessed the best and the worst of times for the movie houses. And soon there will be no “projectors” of old. With digital replacing the remnants of the age of film. Bruce Berns write a screenplay please, and do you recall ANY pictures of the old projection booths? I currently live in Estes Park, Co. where we have “the oldest running movie theater west of the Misssisssippi”. And it smells that way. This theater is OLD and not grand like our beloved Fox or the magnificent San Pedro Grand it resembles an old barn which it may well have been. It’s so old that the projection room walls are covered with sheet metal in case of fire from old nitrate prints. The ancient carbon tetrachloride bulbs hanging from the ceiling still held by thin wire with a lead bond that melts in low heat and drops the bulbs releasing the fire retardent. The theater also sports an empty wood tower as a symbol of the owners empty heart after being left at the alter. I’m not making that up. Since we had our very first film fest here I’m sure the producers obtained pics and I’ll see if I can post them. View link

I hope to continue to find new posts of experiences of the days gone by in the South Bay.

daslr71 on July 16, 2006 at 12:46 pm

Memories of the FOX-Palos Verdes {735 Silver Spur Road, RHE, CA 90274) include seeing many CLASSIC MOVIES … Parent Trap {with then rising star Haley Mills} Freaky Friday, Shaggy Dog and the last movie I saw there “Snowfire”. It was the FOX from 195?-till approximately 1980 when it closed and was converted to Rolling Wheels Roller Skating Rink. I remember spending alot of time and loving Rolling Wheels and my friends and I were waiting for our rides on those stairs in the front that come up from the Silver Spur Road sidewalk. I also remember how they used both auditoriums to support the skating rink and the teal green floor over the sticky FOX theatre floor. I also remember looking up at the walls where the screens were and you could see that they were covered behind the wall of that thick teal soundproof foam and I wondered which screen was the last one that I saw SNOWFIRE the last movie I saw at the FOX Palos Verdes. Ironically I remember the same ticket window they used for the Fox Theatre they used for the skating rink admission and the snack bar remained in the same place for both the movie theatre and the rink. They converted it a little bit but obviously didn’t have to change much. I also received my first kiss at the Rolling Wheels Roller Rink after slow skating with an attreactive older woman. Then in late 1984 or EARLY 1985 it closed due to the competition placed on by then ICE CAPADES CHALET in the Courtyard Mall now the Avenue of the Peninsula. I grew up in Palos Verdes and have fond memories of this theatre but it has changed as after it went from Rolling Wheels it turned into a gymnasium, owned and operated by good friend and high school supervisor Jim Mitchell. He was the gymnastics coach at the CLASSIC PALOS VERDES HIGH SCHOOL. He owned and operated this property from when he bought it from Rolling Wheels and then changed the name to STUDIO WEST Gymnasium. He owned and operated SW from approximately 1986-1994 and then it sat idle until its current use now as a Christian Church group. The building still remains at 735 Silver Spur Road and picture of the outside can be taken but if anyone has a picture of when it was either FOX Theatre, Rolling Wheels, Or Studio West , would love to see that picture on this site. If you read this and remember and want to reminisce old times, please e-mail by clicking the hyperlink. Thanks for reading.

dennis906 on April 3, 2006 at 8:11 am

No disrespect to Ed who was a good man and became one of my best friends after I first met him in the Fall of ‘73. Ed helped me join Local 150 and taught me all he knew about the booth with his countless years of experience. Ed was one of a kind and I miss him dearly.

dennis906 on April 2, 2006 at 4:59 pm

The image was almost always not focused because Ed Blahay (projectionist) had bad eyesight but never admitted it but I eventually caught on to this. After starting a show Ed would ask me if the picture looked alright meaning “is it in focus”? or he would ask me to do the focusing for him. Another thing, the small house was on platters and the big house on 6000 ft reels which caused images to go in and out of focus as the next reel ran but Ed would be sitting in his easy chair taking catnaps as this was happening.

Manwithnoname on August 17, 2005 at 4:29 am

Damn, I was hoping Mikey’s link would have a pic of the building.

Manwithnoname on August 17, 2005 at 4:24 am

After the twinning the theater was known as the Fox Twin.

moviebluedog on August 16, 2005 at 10:43 pm

According to the Los Angeles Times, July 24, 1963, this theatre was “Equipped with the latest projection equipment including Ampex stereo four-track sound and a giant 30x60 screen” and 874-seats.

mikeytown2 on July 17, 2005 at 1:22 am

The property is now owned by a church called Every Nation. The in sides of the building have been completely redone. It seats around 250.

Manwithnoname on March 14, 2005 at 9:34 pm

I remember pissing Chuck Norris off one night. He came to see his own film, “Breaker, Breaker”, and I didn’t pass his entourage in. He didn’t ask but I didn’t offer although it was obvious we recognized him. His film was playing in the small house. At that point in time I believe he still had his martial arts studio up there. When he came in he handed me his ticket and when I took hold of then end he tore his end off himself. Oooooo…I’m still shivering. :–)

BruceBerns on January 28, 2005 at 12:13 am

I don’t think the Fox Palos Verdes was managed by a single person from opening to closing. Mr. K was not the first manager. The first manager was a young blond fellow with a flat-top. He was husky and, at best, was in his twenty’s. I’m sorry I can’t remember his name.

In 1964, while I was working at the Fox Redondo, I transferred temporarily to PV to be the Assistant Manager for a short time to learn the management routines so the manager could take a vacation some weeks later. I also worked during the grand opening of the theater where, below the kleig lights, Charlton Heston made a personal appearance that night. He was not happy being there, was rude, and he sped off as quickly as he could, refusing to give autographs. I was angry at him for years after that.

It was that year that the chain’s bookers suffered the consequences of their bid for “Goldfinger” to play at the Fox PV for 10 weeks. That was the longest I had ever heard of a movie playing at the same theater in the South Bay. I think part of the deal was to only keep five percent of the box office for the first seven weeks or so. The movie had a huge opening, but there were weeks and weeks of an empty auditorium. It was truly boring working there during the “Goldfinger” run.

It was during that time while I was the filling in for the manager, that the janitor at the Fox Palos Verdes completely lost his mind. He locked himself inside the theater, put chains and padlocks on the doors, and sported a holstered gun. Standing inside, he screamed obscenities and danced like an idiot. When I showed up to open that morning, I thought I was going to be murdered. The police managed the situation quietly, not like today, where there would have been a SWAT team and snipers involved.

Why did the janitor go nuts? Probably because of a combination of a few too many drugs, and delusions of grandeur. He was a member of a union that previously had strong mob ties. You didn’t mess around with the janitors. While he was surely unstable to begin with, he felt untouchable, and able to do anything he wanted. And what he wanted to do was to fire up the projectors and watch movies while he cleaned the theater in those early morning hours while he was alone on the job. From what I’ve heard, the projectionists' union was also a strong-armed association at the time, but for all I know, it could have been the same union. Someone who knows can help me out on that point.

During my days as assistant, while training with the manager before his vacation, I observed what led to that final day of janitorial chaos. The manager was trying to catch the janitor running the projectors, or at least gather some proof of the dirty deeds. The manager only had complaints from the projectionist that someone was running the films, and there was nobody else that could be dong it. But each time, the janitor denied the charges, mostly with four-letter words. The manager knew the janitor was lying. The janitor knew there was no proof. They cussed at each other, but that’s as far as it went. The janitor felt the union would back him up. Go ahead and just try to fire him!

The manager set a trap. He hid a clock that was plugged into a projection room outlet, which could only get power when the lights were turned on. He wanted to know how long the janitor was in the room and whether it was longer than necessary to do the normal nightly cleaning.

Thus, the game began. Each day, the manager would check and reset the clock and then smugly tell me how much time was spent in the projection room by the janitor the previous night. He kept notes, and he started charting. He was a bit obsessed. I kept out of it. He was also talking with higher management about the problem and trying to keep the projectionist from quitting or starting a war. I think he was much more worried about the projectionist walking out because someone else was messing with his machines.

During the peak of this janitor-manager feud, the manager’s vacation began, and I was left to be in charge. I wasn’t concerned about the janitor. I didn’t think about the problem. At least not until a few days later. That’s when the janitor found the hidden clock, and he suddenly figured out why the manager was not only accusing him of the misdemeanor but also telling him how long he was doing it each night.

But, of course, the manager was on vacation, and I was left to take the heat when this discovery of the clock put the janitor over the edge. I was without a clue that morning when I arrived to find the doors chained together from the inside. I could not figure out what was happening. The janitor didn’t even come to mind. I left to find a phone. I don’t remember who I called, the vacationing manager or my Fox Redondo manager. Then I drove back to the theater. This time the janitor was waiting inside, dancing a jig and singing, “You want to play games?” and “Now what are you going to do?”

Then I noticed the gun he was wearing. I moved to a safer location and waited, no doubt thinking about what other type of employment might get me through college.

I’m not going to make up the ending to this story, and the exact outcome is a lost memory to me. I do remember the police arriving in a single patrol car and even the vacationing manager showing up. I also remember a lot of yelling back and forth between the chained glass doors. But as to what else happened that day, or what became of the janitor, I can’t recall. If you were that first manager, or even the crazy janitor, I’d like to hear your side of this bizarre tale.

My name is Bruce Berns. Many of my memories have been noted as “MY LIFE AT THE FOX” on the Cinema Treasures site at the Fox Redondo page: /theaters/2128_0_2_0_C/
and I invite you to join us at there for some nostalgic memories of Redondo Beach at the Fox Redondo.

MagicLantern on September 20, 2004 at 5:19 pm

The building still stands but it’s currently being gutted and repurposed for something vaguely religious.

William on November 17, 2003 at 5:47 pm

The Fox Palos Verdes Theatre was located at 735 Silver Spur Road.

Manwithnoname on January 3, 2003 at 6:49 pm

When this theater closed Mr. K moved to the now closed South Coast Plaza theaters in Costa Mesa. At his request, I helped when he was short handed. Long drive for both of us but I was glad to do it for him.

Manwithnoname on January 3, 2003 at 6:43 pm

I worked there when “A Touch of Class” and “Breezy” played. I remember Mr. K and Ed fondly. The theater was already twinned by then.

Denny on November 30, 2002 at 8:41 pm

We used to call the manager Mr. K because his last name was hard to pronounce. This was the theatre where I first learned projection in late 1973. The late Ed Blahay the projectionist taught me everything I had to know to pass the projection license test and get my license (yes there was such a thing back then). They were showing “A Touch of Class” and “Breezy”.

Manwithnoname on March 3, 2002 at 9:08 am

I moonlighted at this theater off and on in the 70’s and 80’s. The theater caused controversy when “Last Tango in Paris” was booked into prim and proper RPV. I couldn’t stop laughing when the principal of my Jr. High School attended a showing!