Aztec Theatre

665 Fifth Avenue,
San Diego, CA 92101

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Aztec Theatre (Late 1990's)

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1919 as the California Theatre. It preceeded the New California Theatre which opened in 1927. This theatre was then renamed Aztec Theatre. Both theaters were Fox Houses. In the early-1970’s it was operated by Pussycat Theatres, keeping the Aztec name.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 30 comments)

chspringer on March 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm

I’d like to make a minor clearificaton to the above statements about the poster collection in the Aztec basement. I worked at the Aztec from the fall of 1965 through the spring of 1968. The theater was run by Preferred Theaters, which also ran the Plaza, the Mission and the El Cajon. Jerry Sorenson was the manager. I stated as night manager and then became assistant day manager for the Aztec. There was indeed a vast collection of movie posters in the basement. There were 40x60s, 24x28s, 14x28s, 11x14 lobby cards as well as 8x10s and 1 sheets. Some films had a complete set of all sizes, some had only a few pieces. The Aztec front was covered with all sizes of posters for the tripple features that we would run. We would never have to buy a poster as we would archive everything that came from the other theaters.

danwhitehead1 on March 31, 2008 at 5:39 pm

When Wesley “Andy” Andrews and Charlie Smith bought the Aztec, all of those one-sheets and stills were gone. In fact, apart from a lot of old junk, the basement was pretty much empty. Andy and Charlie started their own collection when they reopened the Aztec in January of 1974. I remember Mr. Sorenson and also Preferred Theatres. Royal Fox Walker, who had been the manager of the Plaza Theatre, worked for Walnut Properties as their maintenance man for a long time.

danwhitehead1 on March 31, 2008 at 5:44 pm

P.S. When Andy and Charlie bought the Aztec, they bought it from the Russo (sp?) family. Preferred had gone out of business. I distinctly remember Mr. Walker commenting that they had done him out of his retirement when they went out of business.

JayAllenSanford on March 31, 2008 at 8:34 pm

The San Diego Reader has compiled all the Walnut articles onto one webpage, along with around 100 graphics and photos that never appeared in ANY of the published versions. Also included is a Pussycat Theatre mini-history, updates on various Walnut-related lawsuits, etc.

RE the Aztec, there’s a new addition to the article that refutes some info in the book that says Black Dahlia murder victim Betty Short saw a movie at the Aztec and stayed with an employee just before going to LA and getting killed. An old newspaper ad reproduced on the Reader page shows the ACTUAL movie Short saw, which was not the movie listed in the book – in fact, very oddly, Short saw “The Blue Dahlia” at the Aztec just before going to LA! A hitherto unknown and fascinating fact that Black Dahlia buffs will want to check into ——– the old Aztec ad was found and provided by blogger, where a BUNCH of old Aztec ads (and ads for other San Diego theaters) are scanned.

View link

kencmcintyre on April 4, 2009 at 8:14 pm

The Aztec and an adult theater next door can be seen in this 1984 photo:

kencmcintyre on April 4, 2009 at 8:19 pm

There is a photo of the current occupant on this page:

kencmcintyre on April 6, 2009 at 10:08 pm

This view of the Aztec is from 1983:

chspringer on May 21, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Nice photos, thanks.

kencmcintyre on June 14, 2009 at 2:48 am

I saw Psycho II when it was released in 1983. It was a disappointment, but what would you expect?

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