Comments from tomdelay

Showing 201 - 225 of 271 comments

tomdelay commented about Mainzer Cinema II on Sep 18, 2005 at 12:55 pm

I have no idea who the architect was who planned the redecoration of the interior of this theatre after the 1931 (or so) fire. However, the interior looks very much like it could have been from the drafting table of S. Charles Lee.

tomdelay commented about Orpheum Theater Center on Sep 18, 2005 at 12:49 pm

The Marshalltown Capitol Theatre (paragraph 1 above) once contained a Robert Morton pipe organ that went to a radio station. Eventually, the organ was purchased by the late Hollywood musican Edwin Lemar “Buddy” Cole as his first residence/studio recording organ. Years later this organ was added to the Wurlitzer from the Los Angeles United Artists Theatre as an even large recording studio instrument.

tomdelay commented about Rialto Theatre on Sep 16, 2005 at 7:34 pm

As to the Wurlitzer organ in the Rialto, Ken Roe’s information is almost correct. The remains of the organ were removed by the Villemin Pipe Organ Company of Porterville, CA in 1972. What remained, the entire right chamber, console, and blower were removed and sold as parts. Pipes were not tossed onto the seats as junk, unless it was what remained from the burned-out left chamber. The organ remains were purchased by the late Gary Baumann in San Francisco. Upon his death, the parts were sold to a collector in the Clear Lake region of Northern California, where it all remains.

The fire “only” damaged the left chamber. The grill to this chamber was partially cut out when the fire dept. shot copious amounts of water into the burning chamber. The grill on the right side was intact and remained so for many years. When we were in the Rialto circa 1983, the right grill was absolutely intact.

This organ was installed with the Solo chamber on the left and the Main on the right—the exact opposite of the usual Wurlitzer practices. Of course, it was the Solo Chamber that burned.

The series of concerts George Wright gave at the Rialto during the 1960s and early 1970s were legendary. Gaylord Carter and Bill Thompson also gave programs on this wonderful instrument.

This organ was a Wurlitzer Style 216 which was designed by So. Cal theatre organist Frank Lantermann. later a California politician.
With one exception in Oakland, CA, all style 216 organs were installed in Southern California West Coast Theatres.

The American Theatre Organ Society 50th Annual Convention held a program at the Rialto this summer when a digital electronic organ was hauled in for the event.

The Rialto does not look like it has had a lick of maintenance or repair since the Wurlitzer burned in 1972. The theatre smelled, was filthy, and decaying. Yet, this magnificent theatre is otherwise largely intact and crying to be restored. With some vision, it was easy to see what the Rialto could again become.

We all need to encourage the South Pas city govt. to faithfully restore the Rialto and not let it become cobbled up into retail, dinner theatre, or worse. Looking at the Rialto, it is easy to see it as a community performing arts center.

tomdelay commented about Orland Theater on Aug 25, 2005 at 8:29 pm

Orland was also the birthplace of the legendary theatre organist George Wright in August 1920.

tomdelay commented about Fox State Theatre on Aug 25, 2005 at 8:25 pm

The 2 manual 7 rank Wurlitzer organ was removed to the new Fox Theatre in Tucson circa 1931.

tomdelay on Aug 25, 2005 at 8:20 pm

This theatre has again reopened and is showing Bollywood Indian films. The theatre is to soon be gutted for retail purposes.

tomdelay commented about Westlake Theatre on Aug 25, 2005 at 8:18 pm

The Westlake had a rare Style 216 2 manual 10 rank Wurlitzer. The organ was removed from the Westlake and went to a private home in Taft, California (this 216 is NOT to be confused with the style 216 that was originally installed in the Taft, CA Hippodrome/Fox Theatre). The private home suffered a fire and the organ was removed and reinstalled in First Christian Church in Porterville, CA.

Eventually, the early 1980s, the church tossed the organ and bought a plug-in organ of some sort. The organ was used for parts with the Solo division becoming part of the George Wright home studio organ in the Hollywood Hills. The Main division was installed and remains in the Fox Theatre in Hanford, CA combined with a composite Wurlitzer “Solo” division.

tomdelay commented about Sun Theatre on Aug 25, 2005 at 8:04 pm

Legendary theatre organist Gaylord Carter got his start in the 1920s as an organist for a Sun Theatre in Los Angeles.

tomdelay commented about Wilson Theatre on Aug 25, 2005 at 7:42 pm

Prior to the 3/11 Wurlitzer going to Australia, the organ spent several years in Organ Power pizza in Kearny Mesa near San Diego.
This was the first of three such restaurants opened in the San Diego area and was also the last survivor.

At the 1994 convention of the American Theatre Organ Society, we rented the Wilson for a concert on a plug-in organ hauled in for the evening’s event. At that time, the Wilson was painted a garish purple and gold. Cornerstone Church has done a great deal to bring the Wilson back to what it had been.

Apparently, the Wilson organ (removed in 1973) was a very average sounding organ and was played fairly regularly once it was restored in the early 1960s. “The” theatre organ in Fresno has always been and will always be the 4-manual 14-rank Robert-Morton in the Warnors Theatre across and south on Fulton from the Wilson.

tomdelay commented about Fulton Theatre on Aug 17, 2005 at 7:44 pm

This is probably the theatre that still had part of the stage and auditorium above a false ceiling in what had been a Perry Boy’s Smorgie 30ish years ago.

tomdelay commented about Fox Theatre on Aug 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 commented about Corcoran Theatre on Aug 17, 2005 at 7:28 pm

At one time, there were three theatre operating in Corcoran: The Harvester (silent era), the Lake, and the Corcoran.

Some years ago, my late friend and theatre nut, Ron Musselman and I gained entrance into the remains of the Harvester Theatre. The building was a wreck. The rood had been leaking for years and a year or two after we were in there, the roof collapsed and the building was demolished. We were investigating the rumor that the theatre might have had some sort of theatre organ at one time. More than likely, the theatre either had a player piano or photoplayer.

The Harvester was in a building owned by the Masonic Lodge. The Masons took care of their part of the building, but not the theatre.
The former Harvester Theatre lobby acted as the entrance to the Masonic Lodge upstairs.

The Harvester had been converted to a bowling alley at some point.
We took gobs of photos, figuring this was the one and only time we would ever be allowed in the building.

The original, painted, silent picture sheet was still on the rear wall of the stage. The footlights were all still in-place. A large blue and gold keystone centered the top of the square proscenium arch. Small, flat, arched screens were on the stage right and left of the proscenium opening. Shreds of the drapes were even still there.

It is possible a small Wicks or Morton organ might have been in the Harvester, but there was not any evidence of places where windlines would have been run, thus our supposition that the theatre contained
a player piano or photoplayer. Ron Musselman’s father grew up in Corcoran and remembered the Harvester Theatre as a kid and attending silent films in the theatre. He recalled hearing a piano accompanying the silent films, but was not sure about a pipe organ. He might have had the pipe organ confused with the organ then in the Hanford Theatre in nearby Hanford, CA.

tomdelay commented about Kaimuki Theater on Aug 16, 2005 at 4:34 pm

This theatre had a 3 manual roughly 10 rank organ. I cannot recall the entire name of the company in the east US who built the organ; Buhl and ???? (Something like Blashfield??? Sorry)

This company built few theatre organs and how one of their instruments got out to the islands is a mystery. The organ was played by the late Johnny DeMello (in addition to his playing at other theatre organs in Honolulu, Waikiki, and Hilo). Photos exist of John DeMello at the Kaimuki console.

As I recall, the organ was parted out and some of it went to a local Methodist church ages ago.

tomdelay commented about Fox Theatre on Aug 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.

tomdelay commented about Crystal Theater on Jul 29, 2005 at 5:44 pm

The Crystal Theatre facade was to have been retained in the new building. The facsimile of the Crystal facade is on the north side of the new Maya Cinemas building. The facade is much-scaled back from the original. There is absolutely no doubt in looking at the facade that the original facade is long gone.

I seriously wonder if there was ever any consideration given to retaining the original facade as that structure would have been too far forward and too wide to ever have been in balance with the new facade.

On the positive, the original Crystal sign tower has been loosely copied—right down to the steel steps in the west side of the sign
to service the neon on the original sign. Some of the 1930s art deco bas relief has been replicated in lightweight material and ads to the “feel” of what was there originally. One can still see (until the building gets painted..)the original outline of the Crystal facade (and how far it went out to the sidewalk) and compare that to the new “Crystal”.

For all my complaints about the destruction of the Crystal, the new Maya Cinemas has far more of the movie palace “look” than any other local theatre—excepting the Golden State Theatre in Monterey. (THe Salinas Fox facade could be spectacular again if that 1948 chevron pattern skin were removed to reveal the magnificent Corinthian columns and statues buried under there for all these decades. Unfortunately, the top upper 10' portion of the Fox facade was built of brick and is severely damaged.)

The Maya Cinemas building looks good all around on both the Main Street facade and the rear Monterey Street portion of the building.

I am most intrigued by the fact that the main 400 seat auditorium has a full line of “storage space” behind the screen. There is a new Yamaha player grand in the lobby. How about carrying the movie palace theme to including a theatre organ in the “storage space”. Too bad the organ in the Salinas Fox is leaving town soon heading for the Indiana Theatre in Terra Haute, Indiana.

tomdelay commented about Follies Theater on Jul 12, 2005 at 3:46 pm

The Gem Theatre installed a 2 manual 4 rank piano console Wurlitzer style 135-C shipped 3/24/1919 from the North Tonawadna, NY factory.
The organ was installed in a factory-built swell-box. It was Wurlitaer opus 213.

The organ was repo’d by Wurlitzer and rebuilt as a style RB-1 church organ with a new console, relay, 8'-4' Principal rank and chests, as well as treble extension chests. The organ is still installed and playing in San Carlos Cathedral in Monterey, CA as a 5 rank unit church organ installed in 1935 by Charles Herschmann from San Francisco.

It is probably not accurate to say the organ was entirely from the Gem Theatre as Wurlitzer used parts from other organs (Bryn Mawr Theatre)as well as the new parts added in 1935. The Vox Humana, Salicional, Concert Flute (with Redwood Bourdon), and Chimes are probably from the Gem Theatre.

tomdelay commented about Parkside Theatre on Jul 5, 2005 at 1:37 pm

This is true about the Parkside and Fairfax, however, the Monterey Golden State is in the middle of a large block north to south, and cuts through from street to street going east and west. This allowed for a large facade of three stories with office and shop space accordingly.

tomdelay commented about Aztec Theatre on Jun 15, 2005 at 7:28 pm

Does anyone know if this theatre had a small Wurlitzer pipe organ circa 1924?

I own a tiny 3 rank style 109-C Wurlitzer that had been in a San Diego theatre. The relay is stamped with “Hatta Theatre, San Diego”, while the single air regulator has, written in blue grease pencil “San Diega” (sic). The organ was repossessed and sent to an LA suberb theatre. The organ was removed by 1930 to a mortuary in Los Angeles

tomdelay commented about Cinema 1 Theatre on Jun 15, 2005 at 7:19 pm

As a kid growing up in Silliness, you had not lived until you had been kicked out of the El Rey by manager-for-life, Sy Gertz.

Sy could suddenly show up in the row right behind the noise makers, lift the offenders out of the seat and toss them out on the street.
Sy had a very long memory too! The interior of the El Rey was easily the most attractive in Silliness. The wall murals were beautiful.

Damn that home-brew, invent-a-church for painting out the murals during their faulted, misdirected “theatre purification” in the late 1980s.

tomdelay commented about Fox Theatre on Jun 15, 2005 at 7:06 pm

Much further downtown was the Park Theate. I assume this was the T & D Theatre Gary mentions above. The Park was in operation during the silent film era and contained a 2 manual 4 rank Wurlitzer style 135B. The organ was given to a local Methodist church who did nothing with it and the organ seems to have ended up as junk.

tomdelay commented about Monterey Theatre on Jun 15, 2005 at 6:59 pm

There has not been one local whom I have talked to who has remembered the Monterey Theatre and not called it “The Flea House”. Perhaps by 1962 all the fleas had died from lack of a movie product.

I vividly remember the exterior of the Monterey Theatre, but I was never allowed to go to a movie there—you got it!—my folks did not want to go to “The Flea House”. Our hotel was directly next door (Kimball Hotel built in 1849 and remodeled in 1925) and I remember well the color of this end of Alvarado Street. Perhaps the flea house name comes from the fact the former T. A. Work Opera House was built on what had been the beach of Monterey Bay. Gradually, via back-fill, the beach was pushed further out into Monterey Bay.

A curious fact of the Monterey/T.A. Work Opera House is that the northeast corner of the stage was cut at a 45 degree angle to allow
the street and railroad to pass behind the theatre.

tomdelay commented about United Artists State Theatre 4 on Jun 15, 2005 at 6:44 pm

This entry needs to be closed out as UA has long since left town and the State Theatre is back to its historic name Golden State Theatre.

Please see for more information.

tomdelay commented about Hayward Theatre on Jun 15, 2005 at 6:34 pm

The Hayward Theatre contained a 2 manual 7 rank Wurlitzer style E.
The organ was removed and installed in the Sacramento area home of the late Larry Weid. Larry sold the organ to Sierra Chapter, American Theatre Organ Society in the early 1970s. Sierra Chapter installed the organ in the Golden Bear Playhouse on the California State Fair grounds. The organ was later moved, almost doubled in size and installed in the Fair Oaks Club House in Fair Oaks. The original console from the Hayward has also been replaced with a console of Robert Morton manufacture.

tomdelay commented about Fox Hanford Theatre on Jun 15, 2005 at 6:20 pm

The only major Skouras decor was in the lobby. Thankfully, the lobby was all that “got it” during the Skouras daze. I have seen a photo of the lobby circa 1950. The Humasons are to be commended for bringing the lobby back to the “feel” of its opening days. Unlike the Fox California in Salinas and Fox Bakersfield that had their original interiors chipped away for the “Skouras-ized For Showmanship” decor, the rest of the Hanford is thankfully intact.

There is more! In the last couple of years, the Humasons have uncovered much of the original tile and concrete work under the marquee, covered during the “Skouras-ized For Showmanship” era.
The effort and workmanship has done much to bring back some of the original look of the Hanford’s entrance.

The original pipe organ in the Hanford was assembled by Louis A. Maas using the 4-rank style B Wurlitzer from the original “Hanford Theatre” (nee T & D Theatre, opus 860, and three new ranks built in his own Los Angeles shop. The organ eventually ended up, severely cobbled, in a southeast Fresno Presbyterian church. The remains of the original Hanford Fox organ were donated to a local theatre organ society in the Fresno area.

tomdelay commented about Carmel Theatre on Jun 15, 2005 at 5:47 pm

A photo I have seen of the Carmel shows a theatre that looks like it could have been designed in the late ‘20s or early '30s. The article accompanying the photo says all murals and decoration was done by Heinsbergen Studios.

A friend of mine who knows well of such things, swears he saw organ pipes scattrered about during the demolition in 1959. 1936 is far too late for the theatre to have had an original installation theatre organ, but perhaps it was moved from another theatre.

In 2005, the mission bell seat end standards are still in the now restored Golden State Theatre in Monterey. The Carmel Theatre seat end standards have also been given a new lease on life being more or less restored to their original colors.