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Rialto Theatre: history + exterior views

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

More Rialto Theatre pages: lobby areas | auditorium | stage + basement |

Opened: October 17, 1925. On the screen for the opening was Reginald Denny in "What Happened To Jones?" In 2020 the building owner did an exterior restoration project with the neon installation and various interior improvements handled by the tenant. Thanks to Brendan Durrett for this look at the new neon installation on the marquee and vertical. It's a photo that appeared as a post on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page. Signmakers was the contractor.

News: Since 2017 the theatre has been under a long-term lease to a church group called Mosaic. The church's work on the interior included repainting the auditorium in an off-white color palate and terracing the main floor. The reopening was August 29, 2021. See 42 photos taken that day by Escott O. Norton in the Rialto Theatre Gets a New Look album on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page. 

History: The Rialto was a project initiated by West Coast-Langley Theatres, a partnership of C.L. Langley and West-Coast Theatres, Inc. Another Langley project that had opened six weeks earlier was the Alex in Glendale. As was typical of these deals, the circuit didn't own the building. It was constructed by others based on the theatre chain signing a long-term lease.

Langley wasn't around for the opening as he had sold his 1/3 interest in the 21 theatre mini-circuit about a month earlier. See a September 12 item from Moving Picture World that was located by Mike Hume. West Coast Theatres operated the house, along with the others that had been part of the West Coast-Langley division. In 1929 the firm would become Fox West Coast after William Fox assumed control See more about the circuit on the Fox West Coast History page. Successor companies operating the Rialto include National General Corporation and Mann Theatres. 

Mann eventually subleased the theatre to an operator who ran it as a Spanish language film house. In 1976 it was leased to Parallax Theatre Systems, later known as Landmark Theatres. The company was started in 1974 by Kim Jorgensen with Steve Gilulia and Gary Meyer coming aboard as partners in 1976. Among their other early theatres were the Nuart, the Sherman in Sherman Oaks, and the Ken in San Diego.

The building was owned by the family of Dominic Jebbia. He had purchased it in the 1930s and it had been held in a trust for the family members that are his heirs. The family continued to own the building until the late 2014 sale to developer Izek Shomof. The theatre has been on the National Register since 1978.

Architect: Lewis A. Smith, who did many projects for West Coast Theatres. The theatre was intended for both film and vaudeville. It has an approximately 26' deep stage, fly capability, an orchestra pit, and basement dressing rooms.

Seating: 1,143 currently. The construction announcement claimed it was going to be a 1,600 seat theatre.

Pipe Organ: It had a 2 manual, 10 rank Wurliter that was used for many concerts and recordings by George Wright, Korla Pandit, and others. It's been gone for decades.

Closing: The theatre closed in August 2007 when Landmark Theatres said patronage wasn't sufficient to pay the bills. Following the closure there were only occasional rentals.

The saga from 2007 to 2017: With no regular maintenance after closing the building's deterioration accelerated. There had long been talk about possible development deals either incorporating the theatre or on adjacent property. Torrance based developer Decoma had a project designed but it got aborted after financing dried up in 2009. The City of South Pasadena then went looking for a new developer but nothing happened. David Fonseca did a story in October 2010 on South Pasadena Patch: "City Seeks New Partner For Redevolpement Project." The project, as it was then designed, did not include the Rialto. But the city hoped a renewed interest in the area would be a first step toward rehabilitating the theatre building.

In March 2010 it got red tagged due to various fire code deficiencies. The city wanted sprinklers, smoke detectors and a fire alarm control panel -- none of which were required when the theatre last operated. The building's vertical sign was under attack in 2012 by the City's Building Department as being unsafe. It got a reprieve and was fixed up by leaseholder Landmark Theatres. Support for the sagging marquee was also upgraded. The L.A. Times asked in a 2012 story "Rialto Theatre's historic sign to be saved, but then what?" The Pasadena Star News ran an August 2013 story "South Pasadena weighs plans for decaying Rialto Theatre" that discussed the City of South Pasadena and the Chamber of Commerce exploring the options to rescue the theatre. Larry Wilson offered a "moderately radical" plan for a revived theatre in an August 2013 article in the Los Angeles Daily News.

Curbed L.A. ran a June 2014 story about the "crumbling Rialto" being for sale. Newmark Grubb Knight Frank represented the Jebbia family for the sale of the building. The owners went through a long period of deliberation before selecting a buyer. A NGKF June 2014 press release outlined the (then unpriced) offering. Just the fact that the family owning the theatre had finally put it on the market was a big step toward the neglected building's rehabilitation.

A July 2014 L.A. Times story by Frank Shyong "Will South Pasadena's Rialto Theatre Rise Again?" discussed the concern of local residents who feared it would end up as something other than a theatre. The article included a photo gallery and speculations about the theatre's future. The October 2014 news was that, as Curbed LA said, "Quentin Tarantino is Not Buying the Rialto Theatre in South Pas." There was almost a deal but he backed out before closing. The Italian media outlet il Post gave the Rialto a great photo spread as well.

Until the building was sold in December 2014 Landmark still held the remains of a 99 year lease that had been executed in 1924. They evidently relinquished that as part of the sale process. The buyer was Izek Shomof, a downtown L.A. developer. The sale price was undisclosed. The L.A. Times had the news in "South Pasadena's historic Rialto Theatre sold to downtown developer....," a January 2015 story by Frank Shyong that included seven photos. At the time, Mr. Shomof was looking for tenants and, according to the Times, he had hoped "to turn it into an entertainment venue that could include a bar and screenings of old movies."

Repairs to the facade, one of the city's many concerns about the building, began in early 2015. The South Bay Daily Breeze also had a story about the developer and his plans for the building. A Pasadena Star-News June 2015 story "Rialto Theatre... built in 1925 opens for one night" covered a community meeting to discuss preservation concerns -- and included a nice photo album. Bianca Barragan had a June 2015 Curbed L.A. story "A Plan to Bring South Pasadena's Rundown Rialto Theatre Back as a Multiplex," with drawings of how the structure would have been divided up under a proposal from Vintage Cinemas owner Lance Alspaugh.

Bianca Barragan's July 2015 Curbed L.A. story "There's a Second, Rival Plan to Reactivate..."  discussed an emerging proposal from a group headed by the Friends of the Rialto founder Escott O. Norton to restore the theatre as a performing arts center. The owner had allowed the group access to stage several benefit shows while they were putting together a business plan. But in a 2017 post on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page, Escott said his group had been trying for several years to raise the money to secure a lease. Alas, there wasn't sufficient financial support for the project. 

The church era begins: The story about the building owner, Izek Shomof, signing a 20 year lease with the Mosaic Church was out in April. The lease included the ground floor retail spaces and second floor apartments. Escott and the Friends of the Rialto group worked with the owner on the exterior restoration. Ben Tansey had the story in "Big Changes Slated for Rialto...," a December 20, 2019 article for the South Pasadenan. Thanks to April Wright for spotting the story. 

Serious exterior restoration work began in January 2020. The church had been negligent in doing the exterior repairs mandated by their conditional use permit so the owner took over those obligations and negotiated a revised lease. The church also relinquished control over two storefront spaces and thus was just responsible for adding the neon to the restored marquee and vertical sign as well as doing any interior work.

A June 2020 presentation about the exterior restoration that Escott made to the City of South Pasadena Cultural Heritage Commission is on Dropbox. A 42 minute presentation that Escott did for the South Pasadena Public Library in 2021 is available on YouTube. Friends of the Rialto was ready to offer advice on the interior work but Mosaic wasn't interested. 

The church leveled the main floor and is using folding chairs when needed. This drawing is from a preliminary 6 minute video presentation they did for the August 20, 2020 meeting of the Cultural Heritage Commission. It's on Dropbox. Earlier, without a permit, they had removed the 40s vintage seats and had started hacking up the floor. Also discussed in the presentation were the ADA restrooms, previously permitted and nearing completion. 

The church's final plans for the floor renovation were reviewed by a subcommittee of the CHC before permit #48344 was issued on January 26, 2021. Other work included auditorium repainting, light fixture restoration, and removal of the seats in the front section of the balcony. Dahl Architects, Inc. was the designer. The CHC meeting agendas are online. For the Mosaic presentation in August see PDFs of the 8-20-20 Agenda and the the Mosaic video in the 8-20-20 Agenda Packet. On the latter document you'll find the Rialto down at page 127.

Status: The church reopened the building on August 29, 2021. See 42 photos taken that day by Escott O. Norton in the Rialto Theatre Gets a New Look album on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page. Escott hopes to negotiate with the church about using the building for film screenings and other events. You can keep up with the latest happenings via the Friends of the Rialto website and Facebook page.

More exterior views:

A 1931 look at the gang of kids at the Rialto for "Cimarron," that "Rampaging Epic" with Richard Dix. It's a photo from the Kenny Collection via the Huntington Library that appeared on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page.

Another 1931 Huntington Library photo taken during a run of "Huckleberry Finn" with Jackie Coogan. It once appeared on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page.

A 1933 view from the AMPAS Tom B'hend-Preston Kaufmann Collection. Thanks to Escott O. Norton for locating it in the collection.

A detail from the 1933 B'hend-Kaufmann photo. 

A 1945 photo with the Rialto running "You Came Along" and "Keep Your Powder Dry." It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. It was indexed as #00078486 but evidently got lost during a website makeover. 

A lovely c.1950 view north toward the theatre as Pacific Electric Red Car 5076 makes its way to Pasadena. Many thanks to Sean Ault for sharing the photo from his collection.

A detail from Sean's photo. Note the great view of the ornament on the south wall of the stagehouse. Bob Davis comments: "This would have been between Oct. 1950 (when the 5050-series cars were assigned to the Pasadena Short Line) and Oct. 1951 (when buses took over)."

A 1970 or 1971 photo from the collection of Kathleen Olson Bobbio, taken when she was a Tigerette. "The Grasshopper" was a May 1970 release. Escott O. Norton did a share of her Facebook post for the Friends of the Rialto page. Thanks, Kathleen! And also thanks to Matt Spero for doing the color correction work.

A c.1976 view of the Rialto. It's on the Online Archive of California from the South Pasadena Public Library collection.

A 1977 photo by Lin Carriffe, one in a set he took for the application to get the Rialto on the National Register, something it achieved in 1978. Nine photos of his appear on the South Pasadena High School Alumni Association Facebook page. A more complete set of the 1977 photos is on the National Park Service website as a sixteen page pdf.

A Los Angeles Public Library photo taken shot while the theatre was playing "My Dinner With Andre," a 1981 release.

Thanks to the now-vanished American Classic Images website for this January 1983 photo.  

Looking north toward the hills in 1983. It's a photo from the American Classic Images collection.

Thanks to American Classic Images for this 1983 night view.

A 1984 photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

Zsa Zsa Gabor in front of the Rialto in 1988, speaking at a celebration of South Pasadena's 100th birthday. Thanks to Escott O. Norton for posting the photo on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page. Lin Cariffe commented: "Our esteemed mayor at the time, Jim Woollacott, made a slight faux pas and introduced her as Eva. The film 'Moulin Rouge' starring Zsa Zsa was shown that evening, and she appeared in the same gown she wore in the film, and in a tribute to South Pasadena she also wore a hat with ostrich feathers."

Thanks to Mark Peacock for this 2009 look at the the neon. See his Vintage Theatres photo set on Flickr for more great work. See another nice 2009 "Rocky Horror" night marquee shot from Thomas Hawk on Flickr.

The closed theatre in 2010. Photo: Bill Counter

A closer look at the entrance in 2010. Photo: Bill Counter 

Looking north on Fair Oaks. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010 

The boxoffice in 2010. Photo: Bill Counter 

"Help Save the Rialto." Thanks to Jeffrey Burke for the c.2011 photo that was on the now-vanished website

A 2012 look at the exterior of the forlorn Rialto by Lin Rhys. 

A view upward. Thanks to Lin Rhys for the 2012 photo.

A boxoffice view appearing with "For Sale: Who wants to Buy an Endangered 1920s LA Movie Theatre?," an article on the blog Messy Nessy Chic appearing after it was announced in June 2014 that the building was for sale. Many fine photos are included, most of which came from the Friends of the Rialto group.

A 2014 entrance view by Lin Carriffe. He included it with his set of 1977 photos in a post on the South Pasadena High School Alumni Association Facebook page. Thanks, Lin!

A noirish view of the theatre lit for "Showtune," a revue based on the works of Jerry Herman. Thanks to Wendell Benedetti for his 2016 photo, one in a set of eleven on the LAHTF Facebook page. The Conundrum Theatre Co. production was a benefit for the Friends of the Rialto organization. Also see a night "Showtune" marquee view on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page.

Another 2016 An April 2016 look at the marquee by Wendell Benedetti on the LAHTF Facebook page. Also on the LAHTF page: marquee - 90th gala - 2015 - Stephen Russo | facade daytime view - 90th - Stephen Russo | lobby - Stephen Russo - 2016 |

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. | on Facebook

A November 2017 photo by Sean Byron. It's one in a set he posted on the LAHTF Facebook page that he took at a Mosaic church service in the building.

A signage detail. Thanks to Sean Byron for his November 2017 photo.

The boxoffice was in use for a one-night showing of "Miracle on 34th St." in December 2019. Thanks to Claudia Mullins for the photo. See more views from her visit in a set on the LAHTF Facebook page.

Exterior restoration work begins. The church's lease was renegotiated when they proved incapable of getting the repair work done. Thanks to Escott O. Norton for the 2020 photo, one of three included in a January 15 Friends of the Rialto post on Facebook. He comments:

"After many decades of neglect the Rialto is finally getting the attention she deserves! Scaffolding is up on the exterior as the Rialto owners start repairs on plaster and molding, fixing original windows, and a new paint job to return it to the original colors! On the interior, the tenant has pulled the permits to remodel the lobby, which mostly involves adding an ADA accessible bathroom in what was last used as the concessions back room, but was originally a bathroom.

"Friends of the Rialto is working to insure the original colors are brought back for the exterior, and working with both owners and tenants to make sure all historic elements are protected, preserved, and restored. Thanks to the Shomofs (owners) and Mosaic Church (tenants) for working with Friends of the Rialto to accomplish a successful restoration!"

A signage detail. Photo: Escott O. Norton - Friends of the Rialto - January 15, 2020

The top of the vertical. Photo: Escott O. Norton - Friends of the Rialto - January 15, 2020

A closer look at the top of the south side of the vertical. Thanks to Escott O. Norton for the photo, one of 28 in his January 17 Friends of the Rialto post on Facebook. He comments: "In 1933 (and possibly as early as 1925) there was some additional detail that extended above the existing blade. The additional 5 light sockets that are not along the edge were part of that extra design which was removed some time before 1942...There are still some pieces of original neon, but it appears that most if not all have been broken over time." Check out the full Rialto's Exterior Restoration album of over 50 photos.

The lettering at the bottom of the vertical. Photo: Escott O. Norton - Friends of the Rialto - January 17, 2020. He comments: "Getting this close offered a surprise! I assumed it was painted but on closer inspection the letters are actually cut-outs with milk glass backing, so they were originally backlit! We hope to see them glow again when the electrical is restored! All milk glass is in place except for this little section of the "E", pretty surprising for 94 years old!"

The back of the lettering above the center readerboard. This version of the marquee dates from the 1930s. Photo: Escott O. Norton - Friends of the Rialto - January 17, 2020

One of many curiosities on the facade. Photo: Escott O. Norton - Friends of the Rialto - January 17, 2020. He comments: "My favorite discovery is this little 'grotesque'! Less than 3" tall, this face is located on either side of the round panels under the center windows. It is amazing that such attention was put into a tiny detail 20' above the ground!"

A detail from the top of the facade. Photo: Escott O. Norton - Friends of the Rialto - 2020. Thanks, Escott!  See his January 17 Friends of the Rialto post for more photos and lots of discussion about the restoration work.

The marquee getting some overdue maintenance. The Rick Thomas photo is one of five appearing with "Rialto Theatre Restoration | Beloved Icon Received Fresh Coat of Paint," a May 21, 2020 story by Eric Fabbro in the South Pasadenan. 

The scaffolding coming down. Thanks to Escott O. Norton for his photo on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page. See his June 3 Friends of the Rialto post for lots of discussion. He notes that the colors are historically accurate, determined by an analysis done by KC Restoration.

A closer look at the vertical. Photo: Escott O. Norton - Friends of the Rialto on Facebook - June 3, 2020

A view north toward the repainted signage. At this point there was no neon on either the marquee or the vertical. Photo: Bill Counter - June 24, 2020

The area below the storefront windows once featured randomly colored Batchelder tiles. The tiles were getting restored after decades of chipping, brick veneer application and other abuse. Thanks to Escott O. Norton for this photo. See his August 4, 2020 Rialto Exterior Batchelder Tiles album on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page for ten additional photos and a discussion of the restoration process. 

A view from across the street as the facade restoration and painting project was wrapping up. Photo: Bill Counter - June 24, 2020

New neon going up. This is one of thirteen photos from a November 23, 2020 post by Escott O. Norton on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page. 

A closer look at the top of the vertical. Photo: Escott O. Norton - November 23, 2020

Thanks to Sabrina Diane Pauloo for this shot of the completed work. She added it as a comment on a thread about the neon project on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page in December 2020. 

The boxoffice on the church's reopening day, August 29, 2021. Photo: Escott O. Norton. See 42 photos from that day in the Rialto Theatre Gets a New Look album on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page. Escott comments on this shot: "The original box office is cleaned up, with the textured plaster painted black."

The south side of the building:

The balcony fire escape on the south side of the building. We're looking toward the stagehouse along the house left side of the building. Thanks to Claudia Mullins for her 2018 photo.

A look along the south side of the building. Photo: Bill Counter - 2017

The south fire escape. Thanks to Sandi Hemmerlein for her 2015 photo, included with her fine Avoiding Regret photo essay "Upon the revitalization of the Red-Tagged Rialto Theatre."

Looking back toward Fair Oaks Ave. It's a 2018 photo by Claudia Mullins.

The south side with a new coat of paint. Photo: Bill Counter - June 2020

Looking toward Fair Oaks. No paint yet on the balcony exit stairs. But the church had nicely positioned dying plants on the stairs. They were not using the balcony. Photo: Bill Counter - June 2020 

A more elegant appearance after the balcony stairs and other metalwork along the side of the auditorium finally got painted. Thanks to Claudia Mullins for sharing her March 2023 photo.  

A closer look at the stairs. Photo: Claudia Mullins - March 2023

Around the back: 

The north (house right) exit passageway. The doors closest to us are the stage loading doors.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2017

A look under the north fire escape. Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein - 2015

In the north exit passageway looking toward the lobby end of the building. Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein - 2015. Thanks, Sandi!

A 2006 photo of the north side of the building by Tahoe 61. It's one of seven items in his Rialto Theatre set on Flickr.

A closer view of the north side of the building. Photo: Bill Counter - 2017 

Looking out the house right balcony exit at the new stairs. Photo: Escott O. Notton / Friends of the Rialto - August 29, 2021. Thanks, Escott! 

The Rialto in the Movies:

The Rialto appears in "The Kentucky Fried Movie" (United Film Distribution Co., 1977) as a theatre presenting films in the "Feel-Around" process. John Landis directed. Thanks to Mike Hume for the screenshot. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for eight more shots from the sequence done at the Rialto.

Going over the edge of the balcony in Rennie Harlin's "Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master" (New Line Cinema, 1988). Thanks to Escott O. Norton of Friends of the Rialto for the screenshot. You can see a dozen more from the film on the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post.

Jennifer Connolly and Bill Campbell go to a movie at the Rialto in "The Rocketeer" (Touchstone Pictures, 1991), directed by Joe Johnston. The film is set in Los Angeles in 1938. We're trying to keep a jetpack out of the hands of the Nazis. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for another shot.

A look at Tim Robbins and Vincent D'Onofrio in the Rialto lobby in "The Player." (Fine Line, 1992). Robbins is a Hollywood executive who has come to the theatre to look for a writer he thinks is harassing him after a script rejection. The trouble is that he doesn't know which writer he's looking for. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more views of the Rialto from the film.

The Rialto plays a theatre in Nashville in Peter Bogdanovich's film "The Thing Called Love" (Paramount, 1993). The film about the country music business features River Phoenix, Samantha Mathis, Sandra Bullock and Dermot Mulroney. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for another shot with performers lined up north of the theatre. Most of the shooting was done in Nashville with some interiors in Los Angeles.

The Rialto is seen in Daniel Pyne's "Where's Marlow" (Paramount, 1993).

We see a lot of the Rialto at the beginning of Wes Craven's "Scream 2" (Dimension Films, 1997) with Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Leiv Schreiber and Jada Pinkett Smith. Jada is going to have a bad moviegoing experience. "Blame it on the movie." When we go inside we get shots of the Rialto lobby but the Vista Theatre auditorium. They also used the Variety Arts Theatre. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for some more Rialto shots as well as views of the Vista and Variety Arts.

Martin Landau and Jim Carrey look at the Rialto in "The Majestic" (Warner Bros., 2001). Well, almost. Thanks to Escott O. Norton for locating this image of the set inspired by the Rialto interior. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several more "Rialto" shots as well as some nice views of the Chinese from the beginning of the film.

Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) go to the Rialto for their first date to see "Rebel Without a Cause" in Damien Chazelle's "La La Land" (Lionsgate, 2016). Here he's waiting in front because she's late.

Mia and Sebastian watching the show in "La La Land." See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for more Rialto shots as well as views of other theatres seen in the film including the Magnolia in Burbank, the El Rey on Wilshire, and the Variety in West Adams.

The horror anthology film "Nightmare Cinema" (Cinelou Films, 2017) was, according to Escott O. Norton in a post on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page, "written for and filmed in the Rialto." The Hollywood Reporter had a November 2017 story that included this screenshot. That's Mickey Rourke playing The Projectionist, a ghostly figure who brings your darkest fears to life on the screen.

April Wright interviews Escott O. Norton of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation at the Rialto for her lovely documentary "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace" (Passion River, 2019). The Rialto is just one of many Los Angeles theatres featured. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more about the film.  

The Rialto on Video: The exterior of the Rialto is seen in the Michael Jackson music video "Thriller" (1983). The interiors were done at the Palace Theatre downtown.

See Don Solosan's "Insider's Peek #15: The Rialto" on YouTube. The five minute video done for the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation features Escott O. Norton, the organization's executive director. Norton also heads the Friends of the Rialto group.

Laurie Allee did a nice 2 minute video about the Rialto with clippings and vintage photos. It's part of a 2011 Pasadena Patch article "The Rialto: A Landmark of Cinema History." The article also includes an interesting history of the building with a discussion of the problems facing its revitalization.

More information: See the Rialto page on Cinema Treasures for lots of history, recent news and links to additional photos. Also see their page listing other theatres designed by Lewis A. Smith.

Don't miss Sandi Hemmerlein's 2015 Avoiding Regret photo essay "Upon the Revitalization of the Red-Tagged Rialto Theatre."  Check out Mike Hume's fine page on the Rialto on his Historic Theatre Photography site.

The National Park Service has a page on the Rialto as part of an exploration of Route 66 travel destinations. Also see their eight page pdf of the theatre's National Register application. One comment of note: "For about ten years, beginning in the middle 30's, the Rialto had an interesting distinction: each year when the academy awards were announced for the best picture of the year, it was already playing at the time at the Rialto." There's also a sixteen page pdf photo gallery of 1977 photos by Lin Cariffe.

The South Pasadena Public Library has some Rialto photos in their photo album of the city's businesses that's on Flickr.  

Los Angeles Times photographer Annie Wells went on a Vintage Movie Palaces tour with members of the League of Historic American Theatres in 2006. In the photo gallery of 24 pictures with the article, numbers 1 through 5 are nice shots of the Rialto. Vix also comments on this tour on the blog History, Los Angeles County

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

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  1. Grew up in South Pasadena from birth in 1962 to 1978. When to the Rialto for movies all the time. Saw 2001, Ice Station Zebra, Silent Running, Dr.Demento, 5 Hours of Beatles and of course Rocky Horrer about 30 times.

  2. Thank you to the owners Smonoff for the fantastic restoration of the exterior. Shame on Mosaic for their renovation of the interior which utterly and absolutely destroyed the charm and history of the Rialto. Way to go Mosaic for your choice of painting everything white and covering up the organ grilles and winged harpies that adorned the inside. Shame on you Mosaic: truly a sin what you did and there will be no forgiving you.

  3. Saw my first silent movie in a theater there: The Mark of Zorro with live organ accompanyment by George Wright, about 1961.