Cinema Theatre

892 Dana Street,
Mountain View, CA

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nperry
nperry on June 30, 2004 at 2:35 am

Joseph Perez, Mountain View’s first Mexican-American mayor and a former employee of this theatre (known as Blanco’s Cinema or the Cinema Theatre) said the following in a 1977 city oral history project interview:

“There were quite a few Mexican stars who were quite popular. They were an attraction when their movies played in Mountain View. I think we used to go see them whether they were good movies, or not. The Cinema Theatre was kind of a social center. We not only went to see the movies, but when I went, it was a chance to meet my wife, who was my girlfriend then. That was the magnet for me and I used to enjoy the movies.

The Cinema Theatre was located on the corner of Dana and Bryant Streets. It is a parking lot now, unfortunately. The theatre was quite popular with the Mexican Community, but for some reason it started to go downhill and the attendance started to dwindle. That was in the mid-fifties sometime.

All through the late thirties and through the forties, it was a popular meeting place, not only for the local people who lived in Mountain View, but for some who lived in Sunnyvale and a few who lived in Palo Alto. During the harvest season, all of the harvest people would come in."

Hortencia Butler said the following:

“I remember when they closed the (Cinema) theatre, I talked to (Manuel) Herrero [the theatre’s manager]. I asked his name and asked, "Why are you closing this theatre? This is the only Spanish theatre.” He said, “Well, the orchards are going and we really have it open for the farm workers to come here. Once the farm workers are gone, we have no more people.” I remember saying to him, “What do you mean, you have no more people? There are people like me. I’m not a farm worker and I love to come. All of these old-timers, the Spaniards; all of these people are not farm workers.” “Well,” he said, “We just can’t afford them. After all, who wants to see Mexican movies?” I’ll have to tell him that now. It really hurt me to hear that: “Who wants to see Mexican movies, except farm workers from Mexico?”

The Cinema had a lot of good-name movie stars come there. I remember Pedro Infante. They had a Mexican actress who committed suicide, a blond gal. Right after she left here, about six months later, she committed suicide. Her name was Miroslava. Then I think there was Perez Mesa. He still sings. He is a ranchero singer."


Both Mrs. Butler and Mr. Perez were friends of my grandparents. At the time of their interviews, Mountain View, ironically, had an even larger Spanish speaking population then when the theatre closed in the 1950s. Hence Mrs. Butler’s frustration with Manuel Herrero’s assertation that the loss of the orchards would result in the departure of the city’s Mexicans. To this day Latinos make up about 20% of the city’s population.