Oaks Theatre

85 N. Fair Oaks Avenue,
Pasadena, CA 91103

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Oaks Theatre

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Fisher’s Theatre was opened prior to 1910. By the 1920’s it had been renamed Savoy Theatre. In 1925 it was remodeled by Pasadena architect Walter C. Folland and became the Fair Oaks Theatre. In the late-1940’s it was renamed Oaks Theatre. In later years it operated as an adult theatre.

The Oaks Theatre was demolished in the late-1970’s. This was one of many lost Pasadena movie houses.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

tonytony
tonytony on March 21, 2010 at 4:43 am

unbelievable the projectionist Ross was my gandfather and although i now remember him working there i dont remember the arrest

franklinwenzler
franklinwenzler on October 18, 2010 at 2:23 pm

hey i was wondering if any one had any pictures of harold eugen wenzler sr. not his son but the father

landgrant
landgrant on July 23, 2011 at 7:23 pm

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s my family often drove by the Oaks on the way to church every Sunday. Titles like “Nudie Cuties” bookmarked our Sunday mass transits. There was an attempt to “save” the Oaks from sin in 1961 with the projection of “St. Francis of Assisi” which many of us school kids were brought in to attend. Sad to say, the “Oaks” was not saved – one way or the other.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on August 26, 2012 at 3:24 am

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

marion142
marion142 on August 16, 2013 at 5:29 am

I, too, remember the Oaks as an “Adult” theater. I remember going by one day in 1960 or 1961 and seeing the title movie “Look Ma, no Bra!” playing with “Nudie Cuties”. It was quite scandalous back then, laughable now.

Linkerthinker
Linkerthinker on August 17, 2013 at 11:26 pm

In the old photo, and in the old drawing of the theater, the small cafe in the left of your computer monitor screen was owned/operated by my mom and dad from about 1949/50 until roughly 1962/63. It was called Bee Jee’s Malt Shop all that time (named after me). Mr. Wenzler was our landlord and family friend for all that time, and for the first few of those years the Oak’s ran second/third run general audience double features + cartoons + newsreels + live Keno on some weekends during some of those years. My mom and dad just ran the malt shop for bread-and-butter, but were both professional dance/drama/Music teachers and performers….as was I. For a couple of summers, we even put on a live stage show on Friday nights on the stage of the Oaks. Got to hand it to Mr. Wenzler, he tried everything possible to keep the place afloat, even running Mexican feature films for about a year, prior to going to the “art” genre'.

He was a great student of constitutional law, and fought hard for his theater.

He always dressed “To The Nines” with custom tailored suits, and great Hamburg hats. A man of great style, slightly stout, but with great posture and swag, and always the cigar….lit or not…..was with him everywhere he went. Kind of a dying breed that one saw in films of the 1940s-50s era. Loved him dearly, like an uncle, and his son Harold Jr. was a school buddy and personal friend of mine, and he lives now in Mesquite NV.

mattnhormann
mattnhormann on March 15, 2014 at 3:35 am

“The Savoy Theatre [Oaks Theatre] on North Fair Oaks was rather a small movie theater. It had a stage, which contained the screen, but it didn’t have any backstage — just enough room to put a play on. If you were a member of the cast and you wanted to get from left stage to right stage, you had to go out in the alley. If it was raining, that was just too bad.” – Arthur Raymond, Talking About Pasadena: Selections From Oral Histories, 1986

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 27, 2014 at 9:24 pm

As the quote matnhornmann cited indicates that this theater already existed and the Pasadena Playhouse took it over, we know that it probably dates from the 1910s or earlier. I’ve come across a reference to a house called Fisher’s Theatre on North Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena, operating in 1912. There is no address for it, but I wonder if it was the same house as the Oaks? The June 15, 1912 issue of Southwest Contractor & Manufacturer said this:

“ALTERATIONS—Archts. Buchanan & Brockway, 65 N. Raymond Ave., are preparing plans for remodeling Fisher’s theater on N. Fair Oaks Ave. to conform with the building ordinance. The work will consist of installing an automatic sprinkler system. fire doors, brick wall between the stage and auditorium, and changes in the wiring system. Cost about $2500.”
If Fisher’s Theatre was not the same house that later became the Oaks, then there had to have been another theater on North Fair Oaks Avenue, but I’ve never heard of any others being there.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 27, 2014 at 10:22 pm

I found a later item in Southwest Contractor & Manufacturer that gave the address of the 1912 theater project in Pasadena as 87 N. Fair Oaks. As the Oaks was at the corner of Holly Street, there wouldn’t have been room for another theater next to it, so 87 N. Fair Oaks must have been its address in 1912. Fisher’s Theatre was reported in insurance industry publications of the period as having suffered a fire on January 5, 1911, so it must have opened in 1910 at the latest.

mattnhormann
mattnhormann on May 20, 2014 at 5:20 am

Joe, your hunch is correct. Thurston’s Pasadena City Directory of 1911 lists “Fisher’s Theater” at 87 N. Fair Oaks Avenue. 1912 oddly does not list either theater, but instead a cigar shop run by a “Mr. Fisher” at 89 N. Fair Oaks. By 1913, the Savoy Theatre appears at 87 N. Fair Oaks.

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