Surf Theatre

121 5th Street,
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

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ToddRobbins on February 13, 2014 at 3:02 pm

My grandfather, Lowell Robbins, owned the Surf during the late 1920s. He always called it the Surf and he sold it before 1941 when it was supposedly renamed. Unfortunately, he died thirty years ago, so I can’t clear it up as to when this theater changed its name.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on May 29, 2013 at 5:22 am

SurfTheatre..have any pictures to share?

SurfTheatre on May 29, 2013 at 1:28 am

PS: The Surf should be listed as ‘demolished’, and the seat capacity was more like- 356. My Dad had taken rows of chairs out so there was more leg room between isles, and reconstructed the stage area in front of the screen. The 600+ number is incorrect. Tracy Thomas Morehead, daughter of owner.

SurfTheatre on May 29, 2013 at 1:22 am

WoW! It’s great to read all the comments about The Surf! My name is Tracy Thomas, my father owned & operated The Surf Theatre from 1961 until it was demolished 1989, for the “new” downtown re-vamping. It’s fun to visit old memories which include; Saturday Pal-Club matinees, March of Dimes fundraisers, surf & ski movies- which showed 2x a nite, (7:30 & 9:30 with lines around the building!). The shenanigans I participated in by letting the ‘locals’ in free. Eating at; Mazzotti’s, Whimpy’s, The DogFather and of course, The Sugar Shack. Great Memories! My Dad passed away suddenly on August 4, 2007- he was 66 yrs old.

mikechase1 on March 29, 2013 at 10:25 am

I grew up in HB during the 60’s and visited the Suff Theater many times as a kid. In those days the Surf had a PAL Club you could join where you would get admission, popcorn and a grab bag of goodies for about $.50 on Saturday, if I recall correctly. You also got in free on your birthday!

The Surf played a double-feature kids movies on Saturday – I saw everything that Disney produced and my parents were grateful that kids had a safe place to go while they got a break! Between shows there was entertainment and Surf owners would toss prizes and snacks to the kids in the audience. It was great fun. After the shows we would often walk down to the pier and have ‘strips’ from beach vendors.

I lived in HB between 1960 and 1976 and have a lot of find memories growing up in ‘old’ Huntington Beach!

thephaneufs on May 28, 2012 at 8:26 am

Dear mw8. I was there in the 50’s and 60’s as well. LOVED IT! It was a wonderful part of my childhood! I loved the intermission and the fun and games. Don’t forget the talent shows! Kids would get up on stage and mostly sing, but other talents would jump up from the audience as well. I remember a friend got up and sang a song. I was so proud of her. I remember Wait’s Main Drug – AND the ice cream. Yes, Huntington Beach was a wonderful place to grow up! I moved away in 1972 and have dreamed of the beach just about every day. Will be taking a trip to see it in September.

mw8 on October 6, 2010 at 9:26 am

I grew up in HB during the 50’s ad 60’s. We used to go to the Surf Theater every Saturday to watch westerns, Abbott and Costello movies, godzilla, and every B movie that hollywood made. The owner would play games with us inbetween movies. Throw candy, frizbees etc out to the audience. We had a blast. Afterwards we would go over to my dad’s drug store, Waite’s Main Drug and have hamburgers and ice cream at the counter. Hb was a great place to grow up. Lived at the beach during our teen years and now paying for it with my dermatoligists.

kencmcintyre on September 26, 2009 at 9:28 am

Here is a 1983 photo. The city is misidentified.

kencmcintyre on December 26, 2008 at 12:58 pm

The entire stretch of Fifth Street from the beach to the 200 block is now part of some megadevelopment.

kencmcintyre on December 26, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Here is an item from Boxoffice magazine, January 1938:

Having recently acquired Scott’s Theater, Huntington Beach, Mason Siler has changed its name to the Roxie. The house has been closed for several weeks getting a new marquee, seats, drapes, carpets and other equipment.

surfcity2 on April 16, 2008 at 8:43 am

We are paying tribute to the Surf Theater with an exhibit opening April 20th, this Sunday at the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum.

Please contact Jodi at with any information or photos.


kencmcintyre on January 13, 2008 at 8:38 am

So much for 1940. Of course, the caption says the theater came down in the seventies, which also appears to be incorrect.

LahainaRen on October 11, 2006 at 8:16 pm

My Grandfather, H. Larry Thomas, owned The Surf Theatre. I believe he was the current owner when the theater was demolished. IT was built in 1922 and showed movies such as Pacific Vibrations, 5 Summer Stories and Standing Room Only. At one point there were plans that included my Grandpa and his brother for construction of a new theatre, and there was a website which unfortunately is no longer working. I dont have any photos, but I do have about a hundred or so postcards my Grandpa gave me that were made in an attempt to ‘stir up memories’ of the theatre and surfing history in Huntington Beach. At the moment I do not have a scanner, but I will try and post it ASAP.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 29, 2005 at 7:47 pm

Southwest Builder and Contractor of December 3rd, 1937, contains a notice that Loyal H. King and H.J. Siler had purchased the Scott Theatre at Huntington Beach and would do extensive remodeling and upgrading.

An earlier issue of Southwest Builder and Contractor, from July 25th, 1924, contains a notice that Huntington Beach city authorities had been presented with plans to remodel the former City Hall on 5th Street into a theater. The exact address of the building is not given, but it seems possible that the notice refers to the theater which eventually became the Surf.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 27, 2005 at 7:46 am

The 1941 edition of Film Daily Yearbook has the only theatre listed in Huntington Beach as the Roxy Theatre with 639 seats. By the 1943 edition of F.D.Y. it had been re-named Surf Theatre.

ocdude on April 26, 2005 at 8:46 pm

I live in Orange County and have a great color photo of the Surf Theater from 1971. If anyone is interested in seeing it, please email me at: Enjoy!

Manwithnoname on January 25, 2005 at 3:28 pm

…and Huntington Beach calls itself “Surf City”? More like “Wipe Out!”

bkazmer on January 25, 2005 at 2:10 pm

Did anyone ever get a photo of this theater? I would love to see a copy…my email can be reached by clicking on teoslola!
I also saw “Endless Summer” here a few times!

markldana on October 13, 2004 at 8:56 am

It is a shame it is gone, I miss it and the old Main Street as well. Does anyone know where I might find old photos of Main St. and the Surf Theatre before the “renovation”?

geovhill on February 9, 2004 at 9:00 am

Yea, this was a great place in the 1960’s.
We should never have let a place like this go.
Today, it is a lot.
George Vreeland Hill.

artpartment on February 9, 2004 at 12:38 am

After finding this amazing web site, I decided to look up some of the theaters I had been to when I was younger living in Orange County. I was happy to find the Surf Theater listed. My brother and I came here to watch surf and skateboarder movies in it’s final years. As Gary Parks said above, the Surf was still standing in 1986 and surprisingly, I happened to have taken photos of the closed theater that same year (see photo above). It was really in poor shape and a shame that in a city (H.B.) built around surfing, nothing or no one could save it from becoming a City parking lot.

DanMorse on March 12, 2003 at 9:03 pm

I am a long time resident of Huntington Beach. I hate to tell you this but the Surf Theater is now a city parking lot. It played mostly surf and ski pictures from independent film makers.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long on November 21, 2002 at 9:52 pm

In the 1960s the Surf Theater was the “In” place to go if you were a surfer. This was where all the first-run surfer movies were shown in Orange County, made by Bruce Brown. I went to the premiere of “The Endless Summer” there in 1964, with Bruce Brown as special guest, giving a speech about making a surf movie, and he brought along championship surfer Corky Carroll with him. They signed autographs later.

GaryParks on October 12, 2002 at 4:44 pm

The Surf was still standing, summer 1986.

By about 1994, when I next visited Huntington Beach, it was gone.