Lakewood Theatre

4501 Lakewood Boulevard,
Long Beach, CA 90808

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Lakewood Theatre exterior

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According to Maggie Valentine’s book “The Show Starts On The Sidewalk” the Lakewood Theatre was originally a theatre and town hall in Quincy, a town in California, which architect S. Charles Lee had designed. Due to a wartime restriction on building materials, in 1945 Lee had the wood sections of the building dismantled and moved to Long Beach and reassembled with brick and steel to construct a building seating 1,124. Movie listings show that for more than 30 years it was and independent theater.

The more controversial history of the Lakewood Theatre began when it became a Pussycat Theatre in 1977. Newspaper articles on file at the Long Beach Public Library show that in late December of 1977 the police raided the Pussycat Theatre, citing a zoning law. The battle between the community and the Pussycat Theatre over pornographic movies at the Lakewood would go on for 11 years in various courts with the Pussycat always jumping through legal loopholes.

In 1980 the Supreme Court backed the city but in 1985 reversed their decision and let stand a lower court decision that had defined an adult theater as one that shows a “preponderance” of pornographic movies. One loophole was that the Lakewood had been twinned in the middle 1970’s and was showing porno movies on only one screen. The city finally prevailed in 1988 and the Lakewood reverted to family films but by this time adult theaters were fading in popularity anyway.

The Lakewood Theatre was later demolished and in 1991 an office building was built on the site. The Lakewood Theatre should not be confused with the Lakewood Center Theatre, which was built in the nearby new city of Lakewood in 1952.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

dennis906
dennis906 on December 9, 2006 at 7:11 am

I remember seeing this double bill at the Lakewood theatre in 1970 before it was twinned, The Sterile Cuckoo (Liza Minneli) and Dirty Dingus Magee (Frank Sinatra). Years later as I was attending LBCC nearby in 1985 I saw this double bill, Airport ‘75 and The Dove at the Lakewood Twin.

danwhitehead1
danwhitehead1 on April 1, 2007 at 5:40 pm

This was another one of Walnut Properties/Pussycat Theatres houses in which I maintained all of the projection equipment. The manager at the time, a Mrs. Ada Johnson, was a relative of the president of the company, Mr. Vincent Miranda. She was a great lady.

JayAllenSanford
JayAllenSanford on June 21, 2007 at 10:25 pm

There’s a cover article in today’s San Diego Reader, detailing the histories of all the downtown theaters once run by Vince Miranda, at one time co-owner of California’s Pussycat Theatre chain. This is one of the theaters chronicled in the piece, which is built from a series of email interviews with Cinema Treasures contribs Dan Whitehead and Tim David (David is Miranda’s godson). Unfortunately, the online version doesn’t have any of the great photos and graphics seen in the printed version – I wrote the piece and will probably put scans of the graphics on my own webpage before much longer, after the next issue comes out. Here’s a link to the article on the Reader site:

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This is our second major feature on southern CA theaters in about a year (the other, “Field Of Screens,” is just on San Diego drive-ins and can be found on the Reader site with the search bar). If anyone here likes the article(s) and would like to encourage the publisher to greenlight more, feel free to leave your thoughts about the piece in the comment section after article. The paper really pays attention to reader comments!
http://www.sdreader.com/ed/cover/

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 7, 2007 at 3:24 pm

The LA Times reported at length on the Lakewood on 10/27/85. Manager Jose Duarte and Pussycat President were quoted on the battle to keep the theater open. On that day, about twenty people were watching adult films on one screen while an R-rated film on the second screen drew zero patrons.

JayAllenSanford
JayAllenSanford on August 8, 2008 at 4:28 am

New book-length Pussycat Theatre history from the San Diego Reader:
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longbeachbigscreen
longbeachbigscreen on October 29, 2008 at 4:32 pm

i worked here with my friend corey i remember the big leather type doors to the theatres theatre 2 was small – i remember watching williow and phantasm 2 here. this was late 80’s

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 28, 2009 at 4:14 pm

The theater address needs to be corrected. The actual address is 4501 E. Carson Street. There are several articles in the LA Times starting in 1977 and continuing through the late 1980s which confirm this. There should also be an aka of Pussycat Theater.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 28, 2009 at 4:26 pm

I think this might be the only Pussycat that doesn’t have an aka. There might be one other but I can’t think of it at the moment.

MJuggler
MJuggler on November 4, 2009 at 10:21 am

The Address listed is all wrong but since it’s gone I guess it doesn’t matter. It was at the corner of Carson and Nores Way, Lakewood CA.
http://www.yesterdayla.com/Graphics/lakewood2.jpg
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(I can see my house in that last one)
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and what they wanted it to look like (which would have been nicer):
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