New Fruitvale Theater

3720 International Boulevard,
Oakland, CA 94601

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Demolition of the New Fruitvale Theater, January 24, 1979

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This neighborhood theater opened in 1925, and was easily recognizable by its New Fruitvale roof sign.

The interior decoration was in a Venetian Gothic style.

The theater was closed by fire in December 1968 and remained boarded up until it was finally and sadly demolished in 1979.

Contributed by Garrett Murphy

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

mcooley
mcooley on February 24, 2007 at 6:02 am

I don’t I have my cousins' memories of the theatre. Perhaps my father didn’t
take us often. All I remember is sitting outside the theatre in the car
while my grandfather came out to visit. I was in the back, on the passenger
side, when he asked me to roll down the window. He then reached in and
pulled the hair on my arm. He and dad thought it was very funny.

I just found a photo of the theatre at another website. Cinema Treasures
isn’t accepting uploads right now so I put it on the website I have for
Grandpa Cooley: http://ancestraldata.com/ahnentafel/4/ along with a couple
of obituaries.

mcooley
mcooley on February 24, 2007 at 6:06 am

I might as well post a copy of his obit here since it talks about his theater
work. – Michael Cooley

Theater Man Dies En Route To Home

McCabe Cooley, 59, manager of the Fruitvale Theater, died of heart attack early today as he attempted to question a man he apparently believed to be loitering near his home.

The cause of Cooley’s death was determined by a corner’s [sic] autopsy this morning as police sought a mystery man who roared away in a car immediately after Cooley collapsed on a lawn in front of 2417 Montana St.

For a time, police thought Cooley might have been the victim of a robbery attack that caused a fatal heart seizure. Cooley had a long history of heart trouble.

The license number of the mystery man’s car was supplied by Mrs. Dora Dana, 45, of the Montana St. address, who told police she saw that what she believed to be a fight between Cooley and the attacker.

The car’s owner, however, a 28-year-old teamster, told officers that Cooley approached him as he parked his car near his home and seemed to say something and then collapsed. The teamster told officers he grabbed Cooley and helped him to the lawn and then fled in panic, because he had been drinking. He was released.

Six youths seized at the scene when they cruised by acting suspiciously were still being held for questioning today, since a loaded .22 caliber pistol was found in the possession of one of them.

Cooley, who lived at 3321 Flagg St., was employed by the firm which owns Fruitvale Theater for almost 20 years. He is survived by his wife, Lilas.

Cooley’s fatal heart attack occurred as he was returning home after locking up the theater shortly after midnight.

terrywade
terrywade on August 5, 2007 at 5:49 pm

The New Fruitvale was run by Golden State Theatres (United California Thetares) then UA My friend Ed Jacklich was the last manager at the Fruitvale. He also managed the Fairfax and many other east bay theates. He has some great storis he tells me about these cinemas in the 1960’s. Late at night he got a call from the Oakland Fire Dept. They told him the Fruitvale was on fire. He rushed over and phoned his head people at Golden State. They told him at least now they got rid of the dump! They near the end didn’t spend a dime on the Fruitvale. Ed had to beg for new seat covers. At one time each row had a few white covers with bad seats. I saw my first 3-D film at the Fruitvale Fox’s ‘Inferno’ Ed tells me when they played the TAMI SHOW film they had a riot in the theatre and the cops came.He also tells me they used the heavy metal marquee letters, one day one blew off and came within 3 inches of someone waiting to buy a ticket. Before he was manager he had to go up on a wooden ladder to change the letters with no help. In those days the managers carried the money to the local bank in a big bag every week. Can you imagine that going on today. After the boxoffice at the Fruitvale got robbed many times the neighborhood went downhill. It was a great house. Played films that the Fox West Coast theatres did'nt play, our second run. Golden State (United CA Theatres) had most local neighborhood theatres in Oakland. Many are still around today but as churches or other use building. One great thing about the Golden State circuit they loved the kids, they new about candy sales on Saturdays. Each Oakland theatre had great kiddie shows in the 1950' and 60’s. With a big Cartoon-O-Scope special from time to time. Old Elmer the last projectionist at the Fruitvale just projected flat prints and showed with a cinemascope lens. Didnt look to bad. Just before the Fruitvale closed my friend tells me how bad the theatre got. He was beat up a few times in the lobby. The Golden State people didn’t care, didn’t even want to hire a private cop.They told Ed just to open and close the doors each day. What is so strange after the fire the theatre sat boarded up for many years. At least the Laurel, Fairfax, Palace, and Elmhurst Theatres are still around.

Rosealle
Rosealle on May 3, 2008 at 2:32 pm

I would drive my grandmother, all the way from San francisco, to the New Fruitvale. In the early 60’s the Fruitvale was the only theatre to show Portuguese Movies, and they showed them on Wednesday nights. We sat in the loge section, and had to pay extra to sit there. I remember how cold it was in there, I don’t think they turned on the heat. While you were sitting, when the usher walked new customers to their seats, the loge would shake a bit. Saw “The Tingler” in there, and the scene where the Tingler was in the movie theatre when Vincent Price yelled to scream your guts out, they turned all the lights out in the auditorium, it was pitch black and everyone screamed it was great.

bago1
bago1 on May 20, 2008 at 8:37 pm

i grew up in the fruitvale district but Unfortunately this theater was torn down when i was only 2 years old my mom told me a little bit about this theater it sounds like it was a great treasure tobad i never got to know it . i know where it once stood on the corner of 37th ave and e14th st now internatonal blvd it,s a housing appartment for low income people and also a shell gas station ..

gsmurph
gsmurph on August 12, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Actually the Shell gas station was adjacent to the New Fruitvale; it was there when the theatre was. Only the housing project replaced it.

gsmurph
gsmurph on August 16, 2008 at 5:41 pm

…meaning (in other words), the housing replaced the New Fruitvale; the gas station itselfs was adjacent to the theatre for years.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 26, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Here is a May 1965 ad from the Oakland Tribune:
http://tinyurl.com/a94bff

bago1
bago1 on April 29, 2009 at 4:05 am

heres a 1944 picture of the new fruitvale theater ..

View link

celaniasdawn
celaniasdawn on March 7, 2011 at 6:51 am

The Fruitvale had this man working there that would stand in the lobby, hands behind his back, walking around like a gestapo officer, yelling at the kids, watching the people working the candy counter like a hawk. The minute I set eyes on him I knew there was going to be a problem. During the day, the afternoon sun would hit right in the front of the theater, and when people opened the door to step into the auditorium, sunlight would briefly flood the right part of the screen and the wall. I went downstairs and asked this guy if he could close the inner doors in the lobby to keep the sun out, and he said very curtly “no”. When I asked him why, he said to come during the evening if the sun was a problem. That made me mad so I went back up the stairs to go to my seat, and he yelled at me to slow down. I went to the usher of the loge, and asked who I could complain to, she even admitted he was a jerk, and she gave me a phone number to call. So I went to the phone booth, and called in to complain. I don’t know what happened, but the sun didn’t shine in anymore that day, and on my way out, he glared at me, and I called him an asshole. Went there many times after that, but never saw him since. Saw all the Elvis movies there and we would walk to the Percolator Coffee Shop for something to eat afterwards. Try walking that distance there now at night!

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