201 W. Wilshire Avenue,
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Styles: Spanish Renaissance
Previous Names: New Wilshire Theatre
According to old newspaper clippings on file at the Fullerton Public Library, the building was erected on the site of an orange grove in 1927. It was designed as an eleven apartment complex, complete with indoor swimming pool and retail space, and was known as the Malden Arms Hotel. It was also a speak-easy during the depression years.
In 1946, William L. Kaye converted the swimming pool into the Wilshire Theatre. The diving boards were retained behind the screen at the ‘deep end’. When it was converted, the spectator balcony on both sides of the pool remained in the theatre.
Old movie listings show an eclectic life as an independent cinema which offered an alternative to the Fox Theatre. It has staged musical revues, shown Spanish-language and first-run films. In the 1970’s it played foreign movies and counter-culture films such as “Pink Flamingos”. I remember attending a showing of “Reefer Madness” where there seemed to be standing room only. A 1980 review of theatres in the Orange County Register said “restrooms often dirty”. Its permanent closing probably occured sometime around the mid-1980’s.
It was demolished in 1991 and in 1992 apartments were built on the site.
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