Wilshire Theatre

201 W. Wilshire Avenue,
Fullerton, CA 92832

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Dean_Warrior on April 18, 2014 at 5:59 pm

I loved the offbeat movies played at the Wilshire. In 1970 I was a student at Troy High School. My friends and I went to see Reefer Madness, and smuggled come cheap champaign in. As they were checking for contraband at the door, I shoved it down my Levi’s, upside down. As I climbed to stairs to the balcony in the dark, the cork blew, shot down my leg and the champaign soaked my Levi’s. But… I was able to pull it out before it fully drained. We drank the half bottle remaining.


thedaltongangtoo on February 12, 2014 at 10:45 pm

A bunch of us used to get together to go to the midnight shows back in the 1970’s. We’d sit in the balcony and watch all the great counter-culture films like Clockwork Orange, 2001:A Space Odyssey,and Reefer Madness. Actually, the screen wasn’t the only place where reefer madness was going on! We loved going to see the artsy, more obscure films. Not too long ago I drove down to Fullerton and looked for the old theater and was so sad not finding it and seeing how much had changed down there. It’s too bad it was torn down.

Stereocyclops on November 12, 2013 at 3:45 pm

It seems like everyone is missing the period when I remember the Wishire best, the 1980’s. A classic theater that showed groundbreaking surf films like “Five Summer Stories”, as well as midnight showings of “Rocky Horror”, and even 3D porno films. Mike Ness of Social Distortion fame worked there, and pretty much all of the first gen O.C. punks hung out there. Good memories

rshipley1941 on November 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm

BAck one more time… From 1956 to 1958, I worked at Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland. Still went to the Wilshire Theater as often as I could. Even got to sit in thne Balconý once or twice. Remember they were on both side — upper and lower balcony — which was not real good at seeing the movie at an angle unless you sat towards the back of them. ALSO, there was a “private” screen room just off the ‘projection room’ where we could sit and watch the movie in more privacy. This was only when we worked as ushers, were off duty, before changing the Marqueee, on those 3 nights. August 1958, at 17 years of age, I joined the Navy, and went off to ‘see the world’. Sadly, I never returned to see a movie at The Wilshire again. Some wonderful memories though…for an ‘old man’ of 70. Thank you ronnie

rshipley1941 on November 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Remembering my youth! First time remembering my attending the Wilshire Theater I was 8 years old. We’d just moved back to Fullerton, from Abbeville, Louisiana. The ticket price(s): $.14 = under 13; the price then ‘skyrocketed’ to $.50 until turning 18. And WOW, adults paid a whopping $.50!!! At 14, I went to work – with Kenny Blair – as an usher. Kenny and myself chagned the Marquee 3 times a week; Sunday – Tuesday, English, Wednesday was Spanish movie night, Thursday – Saturday back to English. (Our movies – usually the same ones – the “IT” theater, The Fox, were 6 months behind, because they recieved the ‘first run’ movies.) From 8 years of age my memories of the “search-light” shining out in front of The Fox are still, at 70 years of age, very very vivid. We could see them from my house which was 2 miles away… My best memory tells me that The Fox cost $.50! (maybe someone can verify/correct this) Only went one time and it still is so real. Plush “red"carpets, upstairs balconey (cost extra), expensive [for me] popcorn and coke. AND, I kissed my first girl there – as a Freshman – at Fullerton Union High School. [Back to The Wilshire]. At 8, Saturday matinee we had; 2 full movies, 3 cartoon’s, 1 ‘weekly’ Flash Gordon or ??? Cereal, and usually a Fox or Universal News highlights. Yep! All that for 14 cents. Our Mom gave my each brother and myself 25 cents which got us a movie ticket, and 2 out of three; popcorn, candy bar or soda, for just 10 cents! That left us one penny – which our Mom wanted back :)… All of this happened during the time period: 1949 – 1956… in Fullerton, California!

janetwhy99 on August 26, 2011 at 11:29 am

I worked at Hughes Aircraft in Fullerton (not the big one on the hill) from 1959-1960 and I stayed at the Malden Arms Hotel at the corner of Malden and Wilshire. At that time the Wilshire Theater did not exist. Only the hotel, restaurant and barber shop. I paid $15 a week for an efficiency apartment and thought I had it made. I was 18 years old at the time. Checked Google Earth and do not recognize anything in that area. I can honestly say; ‘Those were the days".

kencmcintyre on March 24, 2010 at 2:52 pm

This looks to be an interior photo shortly before the demolition:

jeffdonaldson on December 25, 2008 at 12:19 am

I went to the Wilshire from 1966 to 1968 when I moved away from Fullerton. I was a student at the time and it was all new to me. They offered something different from the standard Hollywood fare. Foreign films, independent films, the kind of films I had never seen before and I loved it. It was easy to go a lot because, as I recall, admission was only a dollar or so. Also, they offered free coffee. When I later heard that they were showing Spanish language films and then adult films, I felt terrible because it was obvious that the programming changed because I moved away and abandoned the theatre.

SusieCruisie on September 23, 2008 at 8:04 am

I spent many a Saturday night at the Wilshire Fullerton, throwing rice and toast and doing the Time Warp. Great fun! The place was pretty well trashed so the owners (at the time, two Fullerton College film students) were pretty lenient about letting us make a mess, especially since the regulars stayed after to help sweep up. I remember the depth number marks still painted on the walls from when the place was a swimming pool. In addition to Rocky Horror every Saturday at midnight, the Wilshire was a great place to catch older and arthouse-type pics. I was first introduced to Lena Wertmuller and Federico Fellini there. They had a great frequent-users club called Celluloid Junkies Anonymous; I still have my old card somewhere, although that was over 30 years ago.

kencmcintyre on June 13, 2007 at 3:50 pm

On 9/15/72, the Mayan was advertising “The Vice Girls” plus “Secret Infidelity”, both rated X. The ad also promises free popcorn, which I thought was a nice touch. Other theaters showing the same program (but without the free popcorn, I guess) were the Fine Arts in San Bernardino, the Ritz in Ontario, Savoy in San Diego, Roxy in Long Beach and Wilshire in Fullerton.

Hume on June 27, 2006 at 3:29 pm

I was a student at Cal State Fullerton from 1974 to 1979. While living in the area, I went to the Wilshire Theater often. During this time, it was a revival house or art house movie theater. While it did show films such as “Pink Flamingos” and “Reefer Madness,” it also exhibited many foreign films and classic American films from the 1930s through the 1960s. On weekends, in the mid-1970s, local college students and teachers packed the place for a double-bill of great cinema. On weeknights, the place was always at least half full. It was a successful enterprise from 1974 to 1978.

In mid-1978, the original purveyors of the Wilshire as an art house sold the business to another owner. This new owner was one who had several such theaters around the Los Angeles metropolitan area. They remodeled the lobby and raised the admission prices. When it re-opened in late 1978, the schedule was more traditional Hollywood classic cinema such as “Bringing Up Baby” or “Casablanca.” Foreign films were scarce, and there were no more John Waters' flicks or midnight showings of offbeat cult films. It was around this time, when I graduated from CSUF, that I lost interest in the Wilshire. I also moved away.

When I came back in the mid-1980s, I visited the site. In 1986, the Wilshire was a Spanish-language theater. I took some photographs of it at that time, which was late ‘86 or early '87. I think that it did close for good shortly thereafter. Mind you, the theater itself was in a building that also had upstairs apartments, a bar, and a beauty salon.. Yes, inside the theater, there were the remnants of a community pool that had been converted into the theater. The balconies on each side were quite cozy and isolated. We even got away with smoking up there for a while before the fire marshal warned the management to put an end to it. I had a lot of good times in the Wilshire, although, yes, it was not a clean as it could have been. Yet, when I was in my twenties, such stuff did not bother me as much as it does now.

It does not surprise me to read that the place was torn down. Oh well, time marches on. With the advent of home video technology, the art house cinema business went bust. It is too bad. Films need to be seen on a big screen, but the convenience of a DVD and a five-pack of film noir classics cannot be beat either. So it goes. I never knew at the time I was attending pictures at the Wilshire that I was participating in a unique moment in American cultural history, that of the art house cinema. Now that I do know, I will cherish the memories for as long as I live.