Fox Theatre

514 Center Street,
Taft, CA 93268

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm

The only item I’ve found about this theater in the trade publications so far is this one from the December 6, 1930, issue of Exhibitors Herald-World:

“Carnival, Night Football Fails to Stop This Manager; He Has a Midnight Show

“When Taft, Cal., an oil town, celebrated its twentieth anniversary recently, so many evening attractions popped up that it appeared the town’s theatre was doomed to "slim pickings.” A tent show came in for the occasion, and a night football game was on the program.

“Did Manager James Gleason of the Fox Hippodrome call it Black Friday and quit? Nothing like that. He merely figured that the night would be young after the football game and the tent show.

“So he went ahead with plans for a midnight show. The city’s anniversary committee worked with him, sold tickets for the show, did extra advertising to plug the picture and supplied stage talent for a share of the receipts. The committee received a neat sum for its efforts. The theatre earned $70 more than its average evening receipts.”

As the article refers to the Fox as “the town’s theatre,” the other houses in Taft must all have closed by that time. I’ve found references to a Olympia Theatre, renamed Photoplay Theatre in 1914; a Star Theatre, renamed Optic Theatre in 1916; and a Rex Theatre, operating in 1917. Given the time spread, these might have all been the same theater operating under five different names.

I still haven’t been able to discover if the original Hippodrome Theatre, built in 1917-18, was entirely demolished to make way for the West Coast Hippodrome in 1925, or if part of the original structure was incorporated into the new house. However, this item from the November 16, 1917, issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor is probably about the original Hippodrome:

“Taft—A permit has been issued for the erection of a moving picture theater on three lots on Center street, which have been leased for ten years by Turner & Dahnken of San Francisco. The building will be 78x118 ft., two stories in front, brick construction. An air cooling plant will be installed. The estimated cost of the building is $10,000.”

Kent_C
Kent_C on November 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Correct number of seats: 729

Correct phone number: 661 765-7469

Correct web site: www.taftfox.com

Kent_C
Kent_C on November 1, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to covert to digital projection

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/405978513/taft-fox-theater-digital-projection-upgrade

Digital Conversion is completed

http://www.taftmidwaydriller.com/article/20131025/NEWS/131029775

Kent
Kent on February 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Opening weekend went well. There are some photos in this issue of the Taft Independent

http://issuu.com/taftindependent/docs/ti_2-24-12_all

Senorsock
Senorsock on February 18, 2012 at 1:16 am

Reopening is here! http://taftindependent.com/foxy-lady-opens-once-again-p246-90.htm

Kent
Kent on January 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Reopening planned for 2012.

http://www.taftmidwaydriller.com/features/x1015652602/Back-by-popular-demand-The-Fox-Theater

http://taftindependent.com/taft-fox-theater-reopening-soon-p227-90.htm

ib_tamilee
ib_tamilee on June 4, 2011 at 9:20 am

Great news, the Fox Theater is opening back up. Marty Stuart is performing for the theater Friday, June 10, 2011.

Twistr54
Twistr54 on January 31, 2011 at 9:25 am

Such an awesome marquee, it should be saved and the neon restored, they are not made like this anymore,,,, move it to a new theatre and restore it.. It appears to be similar to the PIX that was on Hollywood Blvd,(Now Henry Fonda Theatre, they should of kept the neon marquee) huge flashing neon colors, just beautiful !!

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on January 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm

The theater has been closed and the most recent operator has begun to remove equipment: View link

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on November 12, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Apparently the immediate threat to the Fox has been relieved: View link

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on November 10, 2010 at 12:37 am

This theater is in danger of foreclosure and closing: http://www.turnto23.com/news/25690759/detail.html

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 25, 2010 at 3:37 am

Here is an early photo of the Hippodrome. The movie on the poster leaning against the building is “The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin”, a film released in 1918. Even if the photo comes from a later year, the style of the building is characteristic of the 1910s, at the latest. I’m sure it isn’t the house that became the Fox, but an earlier theater.

The Fox is undoubtedly the building that is mentioned in two Southwest Builder & Contractor items (July 17 and October 2, 1925) that are cited in the California Index at the Los Angeles Public Library. This project was designed for West Coast Theatres by architect Lewis A. Smith. The Fox building, despite the later alterations which stripped it of its original decor and moved its entrance to the stage house end of the theater, is in its form typical of Smith’s 1920s designs.

The opening must have taken place in either late 1925 or early 1926. The new theater was built partly on the Hippodrome’s site, but is considerably larger than the old Hippodrome. A postcard dated July 4, 1926, (unlinked, as it is at an unstable auction site url) shows the new theater in place. The furniture store seen in Don Lewis’s photo of theold Hippodrome (comment of Sep 4, 210) is also seen. Another postcard (also at an auction site, but probably more stable) is very pale, but shows the new, theater with Hippodrome on its vertical sign.

It’s possible that the original Hippodrome had a different name earlier in its history. The California Index includes cards referencing theaters in Taft called the Optic (having a cooling system installed, according to Southwest Builder & Contractor, February 16, 1916) and White’s Savoy Theatre (opening announcement, The Rounder, September 2, 1911.) The name Hippodrome is not mentioned in the Index in connection with any Taft theater.

There is a possibility that another theater had been built in Taft in 1924. Southwest Builder & Contractor of August 1 that year said that the contract had been awarded to erect a theater and store building at the corner of 4th and North streets in Taft, for the Valley Investment Company. There is currently a building which might have been a theater, on the southwest corner of that intersection, which now houses an automobile agency.

Another theater project, a 1600-seat house for National Theatres which was proposed for the corner of 4th and North streets in 1925 probably didn’t get built, but the southwest corner of that intersection is now a parking lot large enough to have accommodated a theater of that size.

Not theater related, but interesting, is the information on this web page from the Kern County Museum. It says that before it was renamed Taft in 1909, the town was called Moron. I’ll politely refrain from further comment.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on October 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm

The theater’s future appear uncertain: View link

DonLewis
DonLewis on September 4, 2010 at 6:56 pm

From the early 1900s a postcard view of the Hippodrome Theatre (before it became the Fox) in Taft.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on August 9, 2010 at 2:56 pm

The current owner of the theater building want to sell the operation of the theater: View link

hondo59
hondo59 on May 28, 2009 at 7:45 am

I believe this is the theater seen in the Kurt Russell film “ Best of Times” during the parade scene.

wade1015
wade1015 on November 6, 2008 at 11:07 pm

Yes. The correct number of screens for the Taft Fox Theatre is three. My family owned the theatre and I was the general manager of the theatre when the two additional screens were added.

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on September 5, 2007 at 9:37 pm

theater for sale loopnet ……..

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 9, 2007 at 10:55 am

The fire was on 2/22/50:

Fire Razes $500,000 Theater at Taft

TAFT, Feb. 22. The Hippodrome Theater, valued at $500,000, was destroyed by fire today along with five stores housed in the theater building. Flames were first discovered in the balcony at 2:40 a.m. and investigators theorized that a cigarette may have caused the fire. The 1800-seat theater was built 20 years ago.

William
William on March 29, 2006 at 12:48 pm

The New Fox Taft Theatre reopened on May 1st, 1951.

tomdelay
tomdelay on August 17, 2005 at 7:40 pm

Arthur Crowell was the name of the organist for the Hippodrome Theatre. He was just 17 or 18 at the time. He had been suggested for the job by Fox/West Coast staff organist Frank Lanterman.

In checking with the source of the above story, the previous organist had NOT been shot, but was regularly clobbered with flying debris tossed by the rowdies.

Sorry about the crappy editing above—it should read:

When the Hippodrome, this theatre contained a 2 manual 10 rank style 216 Wurlitzer. This was a very rare style of instrument built only for the Fox/West Coast chain, mostly in Southern California.

I was told the story of an organist for the Hippodrome who was shot and killed one evening while at the organ. It seems the audience tended to consist of rowdy oil riggers. This rowdiness was made worse if someone was “in-the-tank”. It seems the organ was so loud, it would drown-out the “conversations” prior to the show and thus the poor organist was shot.

A fellow took his place from southern CA and merely draped horse balnkets over the swell shutters and “tamed” the organ—and did not follow in the footsteps of the previous Hippodrome organist.

While the console was destroyed, parts of the organ survived the fire and can be found in composite organs in Hanford and Bakersfield, CA.

tomdelay
tomdelay on August 16, 2005 at 4:16 pm

When the Hippodrome, this theatre contained a 2 manual 10 rank style 216 Wurlitzer. This was a very rare style of instrument built only for the Fox/West Coast chain, mostly in Southern California.

I was told the story of an organist for the Hippodrome who was shot and killed one evening while at the organ. It seems the audience tended to consist of rowdy oil riggers. This rowdiness was made worse if someone was “in-the-tank”. It seems the organ was so loud, it would drown-out the “conversations” prior to the show and thus the poor organist was shot.

While the consoel was destroyed, parts of the organ survived the fire and can be found in composite organs in Hanford and Bakersfield, CA.

A fellow took his place from southern CA and merely draped horse balnkets over the swell shutters and “tamed” the organ—and did not follow in the footsteps of the previous Hippodrome organist. As soon as I find out the name of the organist who did not get shot, I will post it.

Nickybkrsfld
Nickybkrsfld on August 16, 2005 at 1:14 pm

Can someone provide contact details for the theatre and where I can find “what’s on”?

Thanks
Nickybkrsfld

moktay0000
moktay0000 on May 20, 2005 at 4:28 am

theater was reopen on 19 May.