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Rialto Theatre: auditorium

1023 Fair Oaks Ave. South Pasadena, CA 91030 | map |

The Rialto pages: history + exterior views | lobby areas | auditorium | stage + basement |   


A 30s view of the Rialto interior appearing in the Historic Rialto photos album on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page. It was added by Escott O. Norton and he credits it to his friend Phyllis. Linda Hammonds also has the photo on the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page where she credits it to the South Pasadena Public Library. Keep in touch with what's happening at the theatre on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page.



A Rialto balcony view of undetermined vintage that was used in the 1968 American Theatre Organ Enthusiasts conclave program. Thanks to Bob Alder for posting it on Flickr.



A 1977 house right view by Lin Carriffe. It's part of a set he took for the application to get the Rialto on the National Register, something it achieved in 1978. His set of nine photos appears on the South Pasadena High School Alumni Association Facebook page.



A proscenium view. Photo: Lin Carriffe - 1977 



The rear of the auditorium. Photo: Lin Carriffe - 1977 



Another look to the rear of the house. Photo: Lin Carriffe - South Pasadena High School Alumni Association Facebook page - 1977. Thanks, Lin!



A lovely c.1995 look at the auditorium from Berger Conser Architectural Photography. The photo is from their great 1997 book "The Last Remaining Seats: Movie Palaces of Tinseltown," available on Amazon. Visit Robert Berger's website for a portfolio of sixteen images from "The Last Remaining Seats." 



A view across the Rialto auditorium taken by Ken Roe in 2002. It's on Flickr from his wonderful Movie Theatres USA album. He notes: "The theatre was very dark, with practically no interior lighting, so we opened the side exit doors to allow daylight into the auditorium." The occasion was a visit to Los Angeles theatres he organized for the Cinema Theatre Association, a UK group.



A 2002 proscenium view. Photo: Ken Roe on Flickr. Thanks, Ken! 



The vista across the Rialto's main floor. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014. Thanks, Hunter. Keep up with his most recent explorations: on Facebook | HunterKerhart.com | on Flickr |



A house left proscenium column detail. Photo: Friends of the Rialto Facebook page - 2012



A look across to house right. Thanks to Mike Hume for his 2017 photo. Visit his Historic Theatre Photography site for hundreds of great photos he's taken of theatres in the Los Angeles Area and elsewhere. The site, of course, has a page he's done on the Rialto.



A house right detail. It's a photo by Jeffrey Burke that appeared on the now-vanished website RialtoSouthPasadena.com.



The plasterwork at the base of the house right proscenium column. Thanks to Jeffrey Burke for the photo.



A proscenium view from house left. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



The lady below the organ grille house right -- not a PG rated attraction. Thanks to Gary Simon for this shot and all the other photos he took that appear on this page. This 2016 photo originally appeared on the LAHTF Facebook page

The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation is actively involved in the study and preservation of the vintage theatres in the L.A. area. The group frequently supports events and offers tours of the buildings. www.lahtf.org | on Facebook



This Walt Mancini photo of one of the winged ladies appeared with a June 2015 Pasadena Star-News story "Rialto Theatre... built in 1925 opens for one night" about a community meeting convened to discuss preservation concerns. Other photos were also included in an album with the article.



 A side view of the bottom of the organ grille area house right by Irfan Khan, one of seven photos with "Will South Pasadena's Rialto Theatre Rise Again?," a July 2014 L.A. Times story by Frank Shyong. Some of the same photos from the 2014 article appeared again in a January 2015 story by Mr. Shyong: "South Pasadena's historic Rialto Theatre sold...."



Some of the original carpet at a front exit. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017 



The view farther back house left. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014



The crowd for a June 2015 preservation meeting. It's a Walt Mancini photo with the Pasadena Star-News story "Rialto Theatre... built in 1925 opens for one night."



A look toward the stage during the 2016 Conundrum Theatre Company production of "Showtune," a benefit for the Friends of the Rialto group. Note the nice view we get of the balcony soffit and the decorative beam. It's a photo Escott O. Norton posted as part of a big album of the event on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page. 



Another April 2016 "Showtune" photo on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page.



An April 2016 look across the main floor by Wendell Benedetti on the LAHTF Facebook page. It was a crowd of well-wishers following a fund raising benefit performance of the revue "Showtune."



Thanks to Matt Lambros for this 2017 photo. Visit his After the Final Curtain blog and his Facebook page to see what theatres he's been exploring lately.



An organ grille and sidewall mural shot by Irfan Khan appearing with "Will South Pasadena's Rialto Theatre Rise Again?," a July 2014 L.A. Times story by Frank Shyong.



A sidewall mural detail appearing on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page. Escott O. Norton comments: "It's all about the details! On either side of the Rialto theatre interior there are these painted scenes that look like windows to a fantastic Moroccan landscape. For decades these were dark and impossible to see. Then in the mid 1980s, the Rialto manager at the time, a great guy by the name of Mark Weber and I got a ladder and climbed up to these arches. We carefully cleaned off the murals and replaced all of the lightbulbs, and Voila! What other details could be revealed by a careful cleaning and better lighting?" Also see a photo album for the May 2015 cleanup day at the theatre.



A centerline view. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014



The beast at the top of the proscenium. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014 



Another look at the proscenium's gargoyle. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - LAHTF Facebook page - 2016. Also on the LAHTF page see a 2016 proscenium gargoyle photo by Gary Simon.



A look to the rear from house left. Photo: Escott O. Norton - LAHTF Facebook page - 2016. Escott is Executive Director of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation and also leads the group Friends of the Rialto. FriendsOfTheRialto.org | on Facebook



A look up toward the booth. Thanks to Jeffrey Burke for the photo.  



A main floor side wall detail. Photo: Gary Simon - LAHTF Facebook page - 2016



Another look at some of the elegant plasterwork on the main floor back under the balcony. Photo: Gary Simon - LAHTF Facebook page - 2016 



Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for this great detail of one of the strange sidewall figures we see in the wider photo above. It's one of a set of five views she took during the October 2015 90th Birthday Gala. They're on the LAHTF Facebook page



A look at the one of the balcony soffit fixtures and the plasterwork around it. Photo: Gary Simon - LAHTF Facebook page - 2016



Plasterwork at a main floor exit. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



The Rialto as a church. Thanks to Sean Byron for his November 2017 photo, part of a set he posted on the LAHTF Facebook page.



A look to the rear of the house during a service by the Mosaic Church. They signed a 20 year lease in 2017. Photo: Sean Byron - LAHTF Facebook page - November 2017


Up in the balcony:
 

A view across the house at balcony level. It's a photo that once appeared on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page.

 

A look down to the main floor credited to Lorne Thomas appearing with "For Sale: Who Wants to Buy an Endangered 1920s LA Movie Theatre?," a June 2014 post on the Paris-based blog Messy Nessy Chic. The author got this story together in record time after it was announced that the building was for sale. See the post for many more photos, most of which came from the Friends of the Rialto group.

 

The vista from the top. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014. Thanks, Hunter!

 

A gaze over toward that sad organ grille. Photo: Gary Simon - LAHTF Facebook page - 2015



A balcony view with the Rialto stage in action during the revue "Showtune." It's an April 2016 Wendell Benedetti photo on the LAHTF Facebook page. Also on the LAHTF page see a balcony view taken by Don Solosan taken during a rehearsal for the theatre's 90th birthday show.



Across the front of the balcony. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



A look down to the stage. The platforming we see was going to be used by the church to cover the orchestra pit. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



A view down from the booth. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017. Thanks, Mike!



Thanks to Matt Lambros for this last 2017 pre-church photo. Visit his After the Final Curtain blog and his Facebook page to see what theatres he's been exploring lately.



Churching it at the Rialto. Photo: Sean Byron - LAHTF Facebook page - November 2017. Thanks, Sean.


Up in the booth:


Checking out the equipment. The event was a tour that was part of the summer 2017 Theatre Historical Society Los Angeles Conclave. Thanks to John Hough and Mark Mulhall for the photo. Check out their great photos of many theatres they've explored on their website OrnateTheatres.com.

Roy H. Wagner, ASC, worked for Parallax Theatre Systems, the company that later became Landmark Theatres, when they took over the theatre in 1976. He comments: "Parallax never did anything to restore the theater. They just picked up the lease. The only thing I recall our doing is purchasing a Xenon 16mm projector to run certain films. I was only a projectionist there in the very beginning and then turned it over to a group of projectionists. We never had platters (I don't even know if they existed then). We used Magnarcs and did standard changeovers. The stage was quite nice. We had three Altec A5's (I think). Only one of them worked. All of the surround speakers were still there but there was no stereo. This was way before Dolby."



Looking across the platter toward the Simplex XL. Photo: Bill Counter - 2017 



A booth front wall view. Photo: Bill Counter - 2017



A view across the booth from Escott O. Norton appearing in the Friends of the Rialto December 2017 newsletter detailing the group's plan to get the booth functioning again as a two machine installation. The single machine plus a platter seen in the photo had been the setup since the late 70s.



Projection expert Tom Ruff and a helper getting a soundhead on a second base. Many parts were found in the basement. Photo: Escott O. Norton - Friends of the Rialto - December 2017



Working on one of the Simplex XL heads. Photo: Escott O. Norton - Friends of the Rialto - December 2017



Getting a second lamphouse operational. Photo: Escott O. Norton - Friends of the Rialto - December 2017



Tom working on the soundhead of machine #1. Photo: Escott O. Norton - Friends of the Rialto - December 2017



Machine #1 running for the first time in more than a decade.  Photo: Escott O. Norton - December 2017. Thanks, Escott! Stay abreast of the Friends of the Rialto's current projects: FriendsOfTheRialto.org | on Facebook

The Rialto Theatre pages: history + exterior views | lobby areas | back to top - auditorium | stage + basement |

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