Americana Theater

8700 Van Nuys Boulevard,
Panorama City, CA 91402

Unfavorite 7 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 27 comments

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on July 18, 2013 at 10:29 pm

I don’t know about Mann/Pacific but in an August 1991 edition of Boxoffice, it was cited that CinemaCal Entperises operated the theatre at that time.

BRADE48
BRADE48 on March 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Mann never operated this theatre, Pacific Theatres did.

bigdgib
bigdgib on March 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm

@Cate – Yes it was I (Dave Wilson) who did the recordings for Stan. I really had fun doing them. I remember having a lot of fun with the titles. Though I must admit it would get frustrating when I would trip on a word at the end of the long recording and have to do the the whole darn thing over again! Remember Ernie Lyle? He’s the one who hired me. dvd dot wlsn at yahoo dot com

CTBIII
CTBIII on September 2, 2012 at 5:06 am

Cate,

Hadn’t seen your comment when I first posted. I was nostalgic for days gone by and was tracking down some landmarks from college years. Most are gone now of course. I was sad to see what the Americana Building looks like now. I remember Phil Ahn’s restaraunt next door, and the vacant lot where they set up a Santa’s Village every year.

I was an usher when it opened and then asst manager when Gary(?-it’s been a while) left. It was a good job to have for a college student.

I have a memory that’s been with me all this time. I stood in the lobby and took tickets sometimes. When they built the theatre, they didn’t put a clock in the lobby. On Saturday matinees, I could tell when a child wanted to know what time it was when they came into the lobby. I would sneak a glance at my watch, and then when they asked me, look up a the tall wall behind the candy counter, and then say 4:15. The kid would look at the wall but couldn’t see a clock, then walk away puzzled.

Cheers,

Charles ctbishop at earthlink dot net

CTBIII
CTBIII on September 2, 2012 at 4:55 am

I worked at the Americana from before it opened-got hired to be an usher, but worked getting the theatre ready for its opening. I worked there for a couple of years while I was in college. It was a great job.

Charles

rivest266
rivest266 on August 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm

September 18th, 1970 grand opening ad uploaded here. it was opened by Robert Lippert.

secretpuppy
secretpuppy on December 22, 2011 at 2:17 am

TO BIGDGIB: I think I remember you making the recordings for my dad. Not by your name, but by who he thought had the best voice Its been 40 years, wow. Wish I had your e-mail addresswould like to talk to ya.

secretpuppy
secretpuppy on December 22, 2011 at 2:11 am

Hi! My name is Cate Livingston. My father was Stanley Livingston and managed the Americana theater in the 70s. I want to thank all of you for the nice things you said about my mom and dad and yes they did move here to Las Vegas but are now sadly gone. To Richard Stellar, thank you for your patronage, sorry you lost your bike:( but that’s karma. You snuck in. My mom and dad were the most generous giving people. They would let people in their theatres for free and would buy you a cold drink if you were thirsty or if you were down on your luck, he would always give a few bucks out here and there. We went on the own the Peppertree theatres in the late 70s and early 80s. Were I worked for my dad as a Mgr. but sold it in the Mid 80s to move to Las vegas. Robert Lippert was a magnificent person and I remember flying to San Francisco with my dad to meet him. But my brother is gone too. He worked for my dad too as a projectionist for the Peppertree Theatre in Northridge, Ca.

holland53
holland53 on October 31, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Thanks a million Rivest266! Wonderful article and pictures. Great reading the comments. Originally come from Panorama City. These were never as “chic” as Panorama Theater—remembering the “crying room”. But they had the best films then. Before that it was Uncle Ben’s fair on a dirt lot except at Christmas with the live reindeer.

rivest266
rivest266 on August 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm

http://www.boxofficemagazine.com/the_vault/issue_page?issue_id=1970-4-20&page_no=62#page_start has pictures of the theatre from Boxoffice in 1970.

LarryDickman
LarryDickman on January 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Swell post, Michael. Fittingly, my first exposure to the Americana was in the summer of ‘75, while on a family drive up Van Nuys Blvd. Seeing the long lines of people waiting to catch “Jaws,” I had no idea that two years later this would become one of my favorite exploitation venues, well worth the commute from West L.A. The first double bill I saw here was the terrific pairing of Cronenberg’s “Rabid” and “They Came from Within.” (The beckoning one-sheets outside included “End of the World,” “Hollywood Meatcleaver Massacre” and “Mansion of the Doomed”!) Next came the Nazi-zombie classic, “Shock Waves.” That Christmas vacation I sat in one of the smaller screens with an enthusiastic crowd for “The Choirboys” and “Death Wish.” Holiday entertainment at its finest! In the years that followed my eyeballs were fried by fare like “The Evil” and “Piranha,” “Humanoids from the Deep” and “The Brood,” Laura Gemser in “Women’s Prison Massacre” with “Armed Response,” and Fulci’s “Zombie.” Non-grindhouse viewings included the Irwin Allen clunker “When Time Ran Out” with James Caan’s “Hide in Plain Sight,” and Eastwood’s “Honkytonk Man.” My last visit was in 1989, for William Lustig’s “Hit List.” By then the theatre had really devolved into a depressing state; that afternoon the lobby was dimly lit, the popcorn machine looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in days (weeks?) and there were very few folks in the complex. Sadly, the Americana’s days of packed houses and blockbusters were long gone, and it was a shame to see a favorite psychotronic screening room go out on a low note.

Coate
Coate on June 29, 2010 at 10:58 pm

As I pointed out in my 35th anniversary JAWS retrospective, this was a six-screener by the summer of 1975.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 13, 2010 at 12:51 pm

The Americana began as a single-screen theater, and a four-screen addition was opened in 1970. Here is an article about it in Boxoffice of April 20, 1970. The architect for the expansion was Gale Santocono. Most likely he did the original theater as well, since he designed so many of Robert Lippert’s theaters.

richardstellar
richardstellar on October 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm

I remember Stanley Livingston and he was a great, great guy. Always wore a tie. I grew up blocks away from the Americana. I remember Phil Ahn’s Moongate next door because that’s where my Bar Mitzvah reception was at. Hell, that was like 1968. I once snuck into the Americana to see “What Do You Say to a Naked Lady” only to find my Schwinn 10 Speed bike stolen. This was a great theater.

William
William on July 22, 2008 at 10:33 pm

When this theatre was part of the Pacific Theatre chain the seating was as follows: 595, 238, 168, 238, 595.

dirtysanchezzz
dirtysanchezzz on June 22, 2008 at 8:03 am

ha i remember seeing Selena there.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 21, 2007 at 5:00 am

Here is a March 1970 ad from the LA Times:
http://tinyurl.com/2ocl82

bigdgib
bigdgib on November 7, 2007 at 8:35 pm

I was assistant manager and manager in the mid 70’s. When I started there as an usher I had been hired by Asst. Manager Ernie Lyle and Stan was the manager. They taught me the art of the theatre business. The Americana did have five screens, but the big theatre was split into two thus becoming the Americana Six Cinemas (I did the recordings for years). Unfortunately, the screens were so small that it was like watching a “postage stamp.” The theatres were shut down and replaced with bigger screens. I helped Dennis Livingston open the Peppertree theatres. Before that he would sometimes be the projectionist at the Americana. I did the Marquee at the Peppertree out front by the street. Daring times since there was no railing and the Marquee was about 40 feet high and only a narrow platform to stand on. Quite a challenge! Stan and his wife Dolly loved to take trips to Vegas. I believe they actually moved there eventually.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 9, 2007 at 3:01 am

It still had five screens in September 1974.

gnorm44
gnorm44 on June 29, 2006 at 8:36 am

I remember seeing Clash of the Titans here. Classic valley theater in a not so classic neighborhood. It actually became the “hood” and I’m sure that contributed to it’s demise.

renegade
renegade on April 12, 2006 at 1:22 am

I started as an usher at the Americana in 1964 when it opened with Michael Shirar as manager. The phone recording was, “you have reached the Americana Theatre, the Valley’s newest and most unique motion picture show case.” Yes, Morrie Gilruth was the projectionist and didn’t work matinees as posted above because he would come in right after to work the second shift as it paid overtime! I also dated his daughter Sandy. I went to assistant manager under Bob Cartier and Del Lesser and then manager in 1965 before going to the Embassy Theatre at 331 Western Ave. in L.A. I became friends with Phil Ahn, owner of the Moongate next door and hired his sister’s daughter as cashier. On one ocassion we “film tagged” with the Panorama Theatre and ole Morrie sure knew what he was doing. Then there was the bowling alley and the Red Barn across the street – those were the days. I wouldn’t go by there now…

theprojectionist
theprojectionist on August 6, 2005 at 2:58 pm

I worked here through the summer of 1967 with the regular operator whose name was M.T. “Morrie"Gilruth – the reason I got the job is he didn’t want to work matinees, he wanted to play golf in the valley! At that time this was a real nice area and theatre. The manager was a real character named Sam Fradkoff (the best). The Local sent me out there for the last time in January 1986 – by then they had built a multiplex on the vacant lot nrxt door and twinned the original – what a NIGHTMARE! Sometimes these places are better left to memory.

dennislivingston11
dennislivingston11 on March 7, 2005 at 7:23 am

MY NAME IS DENNIS LIVINGSTON II. MY GRANDFATHER STANLEY LIVINGSTON WAS THE MANAGER OF THE AMERICANA FOR MANY YEARS. HE WAS A VERY KIND GENTLEMAN AND HAD A LOT OF GREAT FRIENDS. HE SOON LEFT THE AMERICANA TO BECOME JOINT OWNERS WITH MY FATHER AT THE PEPPERTREE 3 CINEMAS. IF YOU KNEW MY GRANDFATHER OR FATHER AND SHARE ANY MEMORIES WITH THEM I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU.

email: