Whittwood Theatre

10125 Whittwood Drive,
Whittier, CA 90603

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LawMann
LawMann on June 6, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Hi, my name is Dennis Pierce and I ran films at the Whittwood from May 1976 to March 1983. When I started Gene Keene was the manager. I just want to say hi to all the employees I knew when I was there, Denise Ramirez, Marilyn Westbrook, Jean Harman (whom I later married), Aileen Kennedy, Ladonna, Alfonso, Rose, Sonia, Karen and husband Leroy, Rosemary, Richard Webber and many others I remember their faces but I don’t remember their names, it’s been so long ago.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 10, 2012 at 6:43 pm

The building occupied by Fitness Active now has the address 10125 Whittwood Drive, so that must be just about where the theater was located. The March 15, 1965, Boxoffice article about the Whittwood Theatre can be seen at this link. An additional photo of the auditorium is on the subsequent page of the magazine.

Whittwoo
Whittwoo on February 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I worked there till the day that theater closed. I have the no smoking sign from the balcony and a half sheet picture frame that hung in the lobby. I watched the tear everything out of that building. A sad day..

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 20, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Rich37: The Whittwood didn’t have a traditional marquee. Jutting out at a right angle from the front of the building was a two-sided attraction board of the sort that were used at drive-ins. There’s a photo of it in the March 15, 1965, issue of Boxoffice Magazine.

richjr37
richjr37 on February 20, 2009 at 8:20 am

Being a fan of old-school marquees,does anyone have any pics from this one. I loved Farrels. There was one near where i used to live in Downey.(i grew up,partially,in Cudahy but went to Downey all the time)

GaryED46
GaryED46 on February 20, 2009 at 7:07 am

That’s true. If you were facing the mall area from Whittier blvd the theater was in the back right corner. There was actually quite some distance between it and Farrell’s

Gary

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 19, 2009 at 6:50 pm

I finally found the exact address for this theater. The Whittwood was listed in a 1968 L.A. Times Independent Theatres guide at 10125 Whittwood Drive. Google Maps places its marker symbol for this address farther from Whittier Boulevard than I remember the theater actually being, but it’s been so long since I was there that I don’t know if it’s Google or my memory that’s off by a few hundred feet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 27, 2008 at 3:31 pm

The Whittwood Theatre opened in 1964. It was among the theatres on which construction had begun during 1963, as listed in Boxoffice Magazine’s annual review of new and remodeled theaters. An exterior photo appeared in a Boxoffice feature on October 25, 1964, and a closeup shot of its entrance appeared on the front page of the magazine’s The Modern Theatre section of December 7 that year. It was the subject of an entire article in the Boxoffice issue of March 15, 1965.

The Whittwood was built for Bruen’s Whittier Theatres. It had 960 seats, a fifty-foot curved screen, and the auditorium walls were paneled with a gold damask fabric to match the stage drapes. The building was designed by Whitter architect Ray W. Johnson, and the Los Angeles office of the B.F. Shearer Co. handled the interior layout, design, and equipment.

A photo of the auditorium in the 1965 Boxoffice article showed a feature I had forgotten from my one visit to the Whittwood. Unlike stadium sections in older theaters I had been in, that at the Whittwood was elevated several feet above the main floor, so patrons had to climb a fairly long staircase leading from the cross-aisle to get into it, and would be several rows back by the time they reached the seats. Then they would have to descend stepped side-aisles to reach seats in the first few rows. I suppose this design was adopted to make more room for the lobby and restrooms, which were tucked under the stadium section.

GaryED46
GaryED46 on December 27, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Hi Alma

Sorry but that was the only one, for some reason I never took more :(

Gary

calchick
calchick on December 27, 2008 at 2:49 pm

That’s a great pic Gary! Any more??

Alma

GaryED46
GaryED46 on December 27, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Hi all

Here is a pic from 1981

View link

Gary

stevebob
stevebob on May 11, 2008 at 7:00 am

The first paragraph of the introduction should be edited to remove the reference to a “big balcony,” as there was no such thing. Rather, there was a modest-sized elevated loge section in back, stadium-style.

KJB2012
KJB2012 on April 29, 2008 at 9:34 am

Does anyone have pictures of this theatre?

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 13, 2007 at 1:39 pm

Featured on 7/16/69 – “Peter Pan” and “Alaskan Eskimo”. Phone number was 943-8312. Address was 10125 Whitwood.

WhittwoodJanice
WhittwoodJanice on March 2, 2007 at 5:49 am

I used to work at the Whittwood Theatre during the early 1970’s. I have a lot of fond memories! The manager and employees were just a fantastic group of people to work with!

The Whittwood Theatre specialized in Disney films. The ticket lines would stretch around the theatre for some of the films. We had ‘Herbie the Love Bug’ drive all around Whittier. A doorman dressed up as a lion for ‘Napoleon and Samantha’. We had the western look for the ‘Apple Dumpling Gang’, complete with a play on the stage before the movie. One of our favorites was ‘One Little Indian’. In the lobby, we had Indian crafts and dress on display and had Indian dancing outside.

I have access to a lot of information on the building of the Whittwood Theatre, the design, layout, equipment, etc. I will post as much of that as I can at a later date. Someone out there might find it interesting.

If there are any former employees out there or any patrons that would like to respond with fond memories, please do. I would love to hear from you.

What a great time we had!

WhittwoodJanice
WhittwoodJanice on March 2, 2007 at 5:49 am

I used to work at the Whittwood Theatre during the early 1970’s. I have a lot of fond memories! The manager and employees were just a fantastic group of people to work with!

The Whittwood Theatre specialized in Disney films. The ticket lines would stretch around the theatre for some of the films. We had ‘Herbie the Love Bug’ drive all around Whittier. A doorman dressed up as a lion for ‘Napoleon and Samantha’. We had the western look for the ‘Apple Dumpling Gang’, complete with a play on the stage before the movie. One of our favorites was ‘One Little Indian’. In the lobby, we had Indian crafts and dress on display and had Indian dancing outside.

I have access to a lot of information on the building of the Whittwood Theatre, the design, layout, equipment, etc. I will post as much of that as I can at a later date. Someone out there might find it interesting.

If there are any former employees out there or any patrons that would like to respond with fond memories, please do. I would love to hear from you.

What a great time we had!

calchick
calchick on July 17, 2005 at 9:31 pm

Dennis,

Ah, so YOU were the one running those Disney films I used to see:)

If you could find those pics of the Whittwood that you took and post them here that would be great!!

DennisPierce
DennisPierce on July 17, 2005 at 2:52 am

The Whittwood was my first real regular projectionist job when I won the bid back in May 1976 at the age of 23. Up to then the union had sent me to theatres all over Los Angeles. The Whittwood still had carbon arc lamps (Ashcraft Corelight) and were still on two thousand foot reels when I got there and when I left in March ‘83. The projector heads were old Century C’s and the sound heads were Simplex. Amplification came from an Ampex sound rack. The booth was small and designed by the BF Shearer Company which had designed many similar booths. The Whittwood was a Disney house and I must have ran the entire Disney film library when I was there. The auditorium was stadium style similar to the old Stadium theatre in Torrance which later became a Pussycat theatre. The Whittwood had a lodge level about two-thirds back, similar to the Cinerama Dome’s (but smaller) which I later worked for nearly 11 years. I took some pictures of the Whittwood’s booth, auditorium, lobby, entrance and outside marquee back in '76 and '77 and if I ever find them I will post a good one here.

One more historical note. Ralph Kemp sent a projectionist on a night that I took off from the Whittwood back in 1979. We were running a movie called Saturday Night Fever. When I came to work the next day I was confronted by the manager who had a complaint about the projectionist. It seems that as the Saturday Night Fever credits were rolling on the screen the projectionist was switching the stage lights on and off to the beat of the Bee Gees “Staying Alive”. Needless to say there were plenty of noise and sparks flying from the breaker switch panel that was next to the managers office. There were also plenty of sparks flying from the manager when he told me that the projectionist who was playing with the stage lights was none other than Jim Childs.

Such great memories.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 29, 2004 at 3:35 am

I attended the Whittwood only once, in the mid-1980s. The theatre did indeed have a stadium-type seating section at the back of the auditorium. This was a feature it shared in common with only a few theatres in the Los Angles area, among which were the 1917 Rialto on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, the 1924 Monterey in Monterey Park, and the more recent Loyola in the Westchester district of Los Angeles, and Crest in Long Beach.

I used to go to the Monterey frequently in the 1950s, and always liked sitting in the stadium section, though nobody called it that in those days. Everybody, including the theatre manager and staff, referred to it as the balcony, even though it wasn’t a proper balcony at all. The Whittwood was a much nicer theatre than the Monterey, though. In any case, both of them are gone now, along with the Crest, and the Loyola has been converted to offices, and the Rialto sits dark and empty, its lobby used for retail shops. These theatres were ahead of their time, and now they all but forgotten by most of the world.

calchick
calchick on December 29, 2004 at 1:34 am

Re Stevebob’s question on who remembers the sun sculpture with the inscription, I think I recall that from the dusty recesses of my brain, lol!

Guess the new mall will be another generic type mall??

calchick
calchick on December 29, 2004 at 1:31 am

The Whittwood was NOT converted into Nickel Nickel…the theatre was a bit farther down, on the other side of what was once Farrell’s(which after it closed became other restaurants of which I only recall Hudson’s which is what it was circa ‘92-93).

I remember coming here with my brothers and sometimes friends many a Saturday in the Seventies to watch Disney movies like “Gus” and “Apple Dumpling Gang”. And even though it wasn’t a Disney film, I saw “The Goodbye Girl” here in ‘77.

It is too bad it is gone now. The multiplex that was built a few years later after the Whittwood closed was ok, but that is now gone. Too bad, but hey, at least Whittier has a movie theatre still(in Uptown). I remember there was a period in the Eighties when Whittier had NO theatres. The Wardman(which was a Pussycat theatre for awhile)closed, the Whittwood closed, the Sundown Drive-In had closed for awhile and then reopened later as a swap meet, etc. I don’t believe there are any other theatres near or in East Whittier, is there?? it’s only the Whittier Village Cinema for now

stevebob
stevebob on November 29, 2004 at 5:29 am

This was indeed a modern marvel when it opened. Very space age! If I’m not mistaken, the theater opened with “Zulu” in 1964. I was 8 years old and HAD to go to this new theater — it didn’t really matter what was playing.

One correction, though. There was no balcony in the sense of a shelf that projected out over the orchestra section. I would describe the design as stadium-style seating. The entrance to the auditorium from the lobby was via one of two tunnels that led to the cross-aisle at the rear of the main seating area. From here, there were stairs leading into an elevated loge area from which one had the sense of being in a balcony, even though that was not the case.

In its early years, the Whittwood Theater seemed to be a thriving addition to the Whittwood Mall, which was anchored by a very beautiful and modern Broadway department store. Does anyone remember the sun sculpture next to the mall-side entrance to the store with the inscription, “The windows of my soul I throw wide open to the sun” by John Greenleaf Whittier?

harkin
harkin on April 14, 2004 at 4:49 am

The Ushers in the early days wore gold space age uniforms that always made me think of sci-fi. The balcony was possibly the best designed ive ever seen. Very large, comfortable theatre.

I saw hundreds of movies here as I grew up a few blocks away and would be there just about every weekend with friends and during the week with either Mom, Dad or both as they are film nuts. I still remember the DOUBLE LINE around the theatre on the opening night of HELP! Somehow I made it in [the second feature was ‘A Hard Days Night’] absolute pandemonium.

My favorite memory from the Whitwood was seeing ‘The Ghost and Mr Chicken’ just about every other night during it’s run. Big screen, big sound and quality presentation were still there in 1965.

Farrell’s sucked. Long live the Jolly Roger!

whittbaby
whittbaby on January 26, 2004 at 8:41 pm

The Theater was beautiful. The owners allowed it to fall into shambles. It was dirty with splased drink stains on the screen that should of been cleaned. The Whittwood Theater was probly concered the thrid big theater in Whittier but was not treasured and was tore down. The new theater was a joke. That was another mistake made by The Lusk Co owner of the Mall property. The Farrells Ice Cream Parlor was another lost property.

MrsCaptainBlood
MrsCaptainBlood on January 1, 2004 at 1:21 am

The old theatre is gone.