Pomona Valley Auditorium

235 W. 3rd Street,
Pomona, CA 91766

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Gartley on April 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I began my theatre career at United Artists Pomona in 1966, where I met my wife, Sherry, who was a cashier for Mr. Walcott, the manager. Since I was hanging around the theatre so much, Mr. Walcott put me to work as the marquee boy to replace Rusty, who went to Vietnam. Mr. Walcott had a prosthetic leg and would have to carry the film upstairs one reel at a time. He was an old time performer who would entertain the staff during slow times by actually hypnotizing some of the employees. When Mr. Walcott became ill, he was replaced by Charles McCann, who managed for a few years longer. Elderly Mr. McCann would bring his equally elderly wife to work with him, and she would sew the torn masking and drapes in the building. He was dismayed that the company (UA) did not show enough appreciation for his wife’s efforts. We fondly remember some of the employees from those times — Mr. and Mrs. Deem, Carol Deem, and Linda Marshall. The projectors were carbon arc and there were a series of ancient dressing rooms under the stage which were definitely haunted. I’m 65 now and my wife and I are still, happily, in the theatre business.

BillCounter on March 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Also in Pomona:

American Theatre — 470 W. 2nd
It’s in the 1919/20 and 1923/24 city directories. In the classified section for 1923/24 it’s listed as an Ontario address, but obviously a mistake. There’s no listing for 1926.

BillCounter on March 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Several Pomona theatres I don’t see listings for:

La Pictoria 478 W. 2nd St.
— in the 1912/13 and 1914 city directories

Lyric Theatre 366 W. 2nd St., Pomona
— in the 1912/13 through 1926 city directories

Fraternal Aid Opera House ne corner Gordon & 3rd, Pomona
— in the 1912/13 and 1914 city directories

I see Sammie Girl was asking about the Lyric in 2008.

kencmcintyre on January 18, 2010 at 10:33 pm

I think this was a church when I was out there a while ago.

kencmcintyre on January 18, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Here is a March 1970 ad from the Pomona Progress-Bulletin:

kencmcintyre on December 11, 2008 at 6:38 pm

Here is an item in Boxoffice magazine, April 1950:

POMONA, CALIF-Bob Helm has been appointed manager of the United Artists Theater, replacing Gordon Goodloe, who was transferred to the Loew’s State Theater in Los Angeles. Mr. Goodloe served three years with Fox West Coast theaters prior to his war service. He came to Pomona after his discharge in 1946, and was the first manager of the Sunkist, later the State and finally the California Theater, which was taken over by the United Artists chain, remodeled and named the United Artists. Helm had been the manager of the Capitol Theater in Glendale until his promotion.

sameegrl on July 26, 2008 at 9:46 pm

Pics of flyers from PVA shows:
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sameegrl on July 26, 2008 at 9:39 pm

Oh, heck, this was the Pomona Valley Auditorium?? Been there soooo many times to see concerts…lol, didn’t know that the California Theater and the PVA were one and the same.

sameegrl on July 26, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Does anyone have any info on the Lyric or American Theaters in Pomona? Cinema Tour has them both listed simply as closed, but no other info on them.

sameegrl on July 26, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Cinetour had the California listed as the California Fox and also known as the United Artists Theater on 3rd in Pomona…same place?
Pomona Public Library has these pics:
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sameegrl on July 26, 2008 at 8:15 pm

Pomona Public Library had this photo listed as California Theater in Pomona
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kencmcintyre on April 7, 2008 at 5:40 pm

I think we agree that the status is closed as opposed to closed/demolished.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 7, 2008 at 3:54 pm

I’ve only ever seen the end exits on the fronts of those few older theatres that had stadium sections, such as the Rialto on Broadway and the Monterey (nee Mission) in Monterey Park. It’s possible that some theatres with ordinary balconies also had such exits from the balcony to the front of the building, but I’ve never seen one. My guess would be that the “balcony” advertised in LoopNet’s listing of Bowling Green’s State Theatre is more likely a stadium section.

This configuration is pretty rare. I’ve only ever been to three theatres with such stadium sections, and only two of those (the Rialto and Monterey) had the end exits on the front. Both of these houses had two cross aisles- one at the top of the passages leading into the theatre, and a second across the middle of the stadium section. The stairs leading down to the front end exits were accessed from the upper cross aisle.

The third theatre with a stadium section that I attended was the Whittwood in Whittier, a post-war theatre in which there was only one cross aisle, and the stairs were entirely internal, leading up from the lobby and providing the access to both the stadium section and the orchestra floor.

kencmcintyre on April 7, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Joe, here is a loopnet photo that Lost Memory posted for the State Theater in Bowling Green. As you can see, the exits are also in the front. I was curious to know from your comment if this was an unusual architectural feature.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 5, 2008 at 11:27 pm

Wow, end exits on the front of the building. I wonder if they served a regular balcony or a stadium section? Most often, on theatres I’ve seen, such end exits indicate stadium seating at the back of the auditorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 4, 2008 at 10:33 pm

The L.A. County Assessor’s Office Parcel Viewer (not as slick as the city’s ZIMAS system, but serviceable for properties outside the City of Los Angeles) gives the following information for the building at 235 W. 3rd St. in Pomona: it is only one structure, 13,940 sq. ft., built in 1923, with the effective year built being 1963. “Effective year built” means either a major addition to or a major rehabilitation of the building dates from that year. The California is not demolished, then, but has undergone major alteration.

kencmcintyre on April 4, 2008 at 9:47 pm

I might be out there tomorrow. I will check it out.

GaryParks on February 13, 2007 at 7:18 pm

When I visited the Fox Pomona Theatre with the Theatre Historical Society in 2005, several of us walked down the street, having had the United Artists Theatre building pointed out to us. We could see the stagehouse mentioned above, and, as someone with knowledge of Egyptian architecture, I can say that indeed there are remnants of Egyptian style on the facade, albeit slight. There is what is known as a cavetto cornice running along the top, and a cylindrical torus molding along the top and down the sides. As I recall, the facade “leans” in slightly, in what in architecture is called a “battered” wall.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 28, 2007 at 1:10 am

Jeff;I have to say you ‘could’ be correct. Maybe the fire I reported was not that great. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I sourced that information from. Can someone local ask around or ask someone in the building if they remember and if it’s the same as the theatre building.

Wayne;‘the rather stark interior’ you mention could be the result of re-furbishment over the years.

cornermoose on January 27, 2007 at 8:48 pm

While I haven’t been in that neighborhood for at least two or three years, I was surprised to hear thatg the UA theater had burned down. The most forgettable movie, “Che” staring Omar Shariff and Jack Palance had its premiere there to a half-filled house. I was one of those present.
I’m surprised to hear how old that theatre was, considering how stark the interior was. Rather modern for a 20s movie palace.

jmarellano on December 25, 2005 at 7:22 am

I beleive this theatre is still there.

I drove by this block and when in the parking lot of the Washington Mutual building across the street, I noticed what looked like a stage house in the back of the building. From the front, you can tell that its not the original facade, but there is only a set of center doors to enter teh building.

I have looked at it on Google Earth, and you can see something that looks like a stage house and the roof that looks like it could angle where the seats are.

I have uploaded a pic of it here from Google Earth.:
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Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 4, 2005 at 9:29 am

Opened by West Coast Theatres as the California Theatre with a seating capacity of 1,275. The style of the theatre was described as Egyptian (somewhat) on the exterior and Assyrian (somewhat) on the interior. Eventually it came under the Fox West Coast Theatres management and was known as the Fox California Theatre.

During later years of operation it was known as the United Artists Theatre and lastly went over to Spanish language films which were not a success. It lay empty for a few years until it burnt down in late 1977.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 13, 2004 at 7:29 pm

The start of construction on this theater was announced in an article in The Los Angeles Times on August 6th, 1922.

The grand opening was covered in another Times article, published on November 27th, 1923 under the headline “Playhouse elaborate in details.”