Rio Theatre

11239 S. Western Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90047

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The Rio Theatre was opened in 1948, and was one of many neighborhood theaters that stood along the streets of Los Angeles. The last major chain to run the Rio Theatre was Statewide Theatres.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

kencmcintyre on October 24, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Advertised in the LA Times independent theater guide on 7/7/71. No features listed-“call theater for program”. Phone number was 757-9237.

kencmcintyre on February 13, 2009 at 4:01 pm

The Rio is listed in this independent theater guide in the LA Times in March 1968. Click on the guide to expand the view.

kencmcintyre on March 31, 2009 at 5:48 pm

If you enter the address on this site you can see the Rio in the 1980, 1972 and 1952 photos. Just south of the theater in the 1952 photo is what apppears to be a drive-in restaurant. The theater appears to be a sizable building.
View link

kencmcintyre on April 29, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Here is a December 1958 ad for some horror movies at the Rio:

Clarkus on July 4, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Thanks for the link Ken. Joe, I guess my memory wasn’t so bad after all. The 1952 aerial image of Western and Imperial avenues show the Rio very near the northwest corner of the intersection as well as Scrivner’s drive-in on the southwest corner. It looks just exactly as I remember it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 5, 2009 at 4:53 pm

The building on the northwest corner of Western and Imperial was a gas station. In the 1952 aerial photo the roofs over the pump islands are attached to the main building, but in 1972 the islands are free-standing. The gasoline companies were always rebuilding their stations, and they built duller buildings each time.

The early announcement of plans for the Rio published in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of August 21, 1948, said that the theater would be at Western and Imperial, and would include a commercial building on the corner containing seven stores. That part of the project never got built.

The Rio as built was similar to the Southside Theatre, having the same basic configuration, but was somewhat smaller at about 1100 seats to the Southside’s nearly 1500. Both houses were built for the Southside Theatres chain, the Rio in 1948 and the Southside in 1949.

kencmcintyre on November 19, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Here is part of a review in the LA Times in August 1971:

Sandwiched in between screenings of “Vanishing Point” and “Shaft”, the Rio Theater at Western Ave. and Imperial Highway is presenting members of the Watts Writers’ Workshop in a live production of Elizabeth Leigh-Taylor’s “Cinderella Brown”. If this first experience of mixing the media is any indication of trends, the concept has about as much future as the Titanic.

Sad to report, this black parable on the Cinderella story seems desperately out of place in such a cavernous monument to Technicolor-Vistavision such as the Rio. But, sadder yet, there is an excellent chance it may be out of place anywhere. Since parts of it were inaudible due to echoing acoustics, we’ll have to give the play the benefit of the doubt. But not much.

“Cinderella Brown” will continue its ham-on-celluloid run through Sept. 16.

MrWillM on March 10, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Saw quite a few movies at the Rio living in South L.A. early and mid-60s. Used to get my haircut at a barber shop just to the North.

Interestingly, that Dec ‘58 ad tells me where I was during that week since I saw “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Ritz in Inglewood.

ArmandV101 on March 29, 2011 at 9:29 am

A friend advised that today’s the 50th anniversary of the release of “Gorgo” in 1961. I saw a double-bill of “Gorgo” with “Babes In Toyland” in 1961.

ArmandV101 on March 29, 2011 at 9:30 am

Hit the submit button before I was finished. Saw “Gorgo” and “Babes In Toyland” at the Rio Theater.

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