Comments from Donald John Long

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Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Hawaii Theatre on Feb 2, 2016 at 8:06 pm

The first movie shown at the Hawaii Theater when it first opened on May 9, 1940 was “ABE LINCOLN IN ILLINOIS”. The theater had a gala Grand Opening event with lots of publicity.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Hawaii Theatre on Feb 2, 2016 at 8:04 pm

The Salvation Army took possession of the property in 1964 and gutted it and renovated it into a church in 1965 where they have remained to this day. The church was closed in 2010 for repairs and renovations, and reopened in early 2015 as it appears today as Ejercito de Salvacion, a Spanish-language church operated by the Salvation Army.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Ejercito de Salvacion - Salvation Army Church on Feb 2, 2016 at 7:53 pm

The Salvation Army took possession of this building in 1964, and renovated it in 1965, destroying all of its theatrical trappings and decor, using it as a church building from 1965 to 2010, when they closed it for repairs and remodeling, using it for a vacant or storage facility until new renovation and remodeling from 2013 to its new opening in January 2015 as Ejercito de Salvacion, a Spanish-language church group meeting there under the Salvation Army banner.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Hawaii Theatre on Feb 2, 2016 at 7:36 pm

The last time I went to this site, in 2012, the building was closed up and it appeared as if it were either vacant or being used as a storage facility. A sad end to a formerly beautiful theater – but this is unfortunately very often the case with most picture palaces of the past.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Hometown Cinemas - King Ranger 9 on Jun 18, 2011 at 12:47 am

There is next to nothing to say about the King Ranger Theater multiplex building, except that it is typical of late-20th Century multiplexes in the Midwest built in standard hurricane steel structures. It has no interesting features and is simply a theater for the local Seguin population to go to, to see movies with their families.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Del Oro Theatre on Mar 17, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Thanks! I worked at the Del Oro Theater for several months in 2004.
I was the maintenance and janitorial manager working for the Getzes.
They were really nice people to work for. It was a joy to clean up the theater every day and get her ready for showtime!
While I was there, the management was in the process of completing the theater’s restoration and now it is a jewel of California cinema.
There was an old sign backstage that stated the theater had its grand opening on May 24, 1942, after being under construction for two years beginning in early 1940. The sign also had a printed programme showing that the theater showed a Hollywood double feature of two 1942 classics, plus a WB cartoon, a newsreel of WWII coverage, and a travelogue about Mexico.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Stephen & Mary Birch Texas Theatre on Jul 7, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Possibly! Please contact the City of Seguin Chamber of Commerce right next door to the Texas Theatre for further information.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Del Oro Theatre on Dec 2, 2004 at 1:44 am


On October 7, 2004, the newly restored and repainted DEL ORO Theater switched on its beautiful Art Deco Moderne neon tower lights for the first time in many years, accompanied by a gala evening celebration at the theater hosted by owners Mike and Barbara Getz, who were also on hand for the festive evening which included suspending the regularly-scheduled program of movies for reels of preview trailers of current and recent films, free popcorn and soft drinks, a buffet table in the lobby, and a celebration of all things Art Deco with many in 1930s-1940s period costumes and classic cars out front of the entryway, plus a special screening of the new movie SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW in the main auditorium. A good time was had by all!
The DEL ORO Theater is once again the sparkling centerpiece of downtown Grass Valley city development.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Del Oro Theatre on Sep 28, 2004 at 2:07 am

The Del Oro Theater was built beginning in 1941 and had its Gala Grand Opening Premiere on May 29, 1942. It is in classic Art Deco Moderne style and the seating capacity was originally 620 seats including the balcony as a single-screen movie house.
Today as a tri-plex, renovated in 1993 to replace the balcony seats with two other theaters with independent access, the Del Oro now has a total of 845 seats: 500 in the main auditorium, 190 in Theater 2, and 155 in Theater 3.
Originally part of the United Artists Theater chain from the 1940s to 1993, when it went under new ownership by a lesser chain which did absolutely nothing to preserve or upgrade it, it was purchased and renovated by Mike and Barbara Getz, owners and managers of the Sierra Cinemas chain in Grass Valley and Nevada City, who took it over in a sad state of disrepair in December 2003. Since then, it has become a jewel in the crown of downtown Grass Valley redevelopment, and a joy for theater-goers from all over California.
The original Architect and firm of record which built the Del Oro in 1941 is known to the Getzes, who have thoroughly researched the theater’s 63-year history.
I was employed at the Del Oro as a maintenance and janitorial custodian from June to September 2004.
I am providing this information because I don’t know how to update the information at the top header above the theater comments.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Del Oro Theatre on Jul 10, 2004 at 4:04 am

Summer 2004 Update:
The Del Oro Theater is now (July) being completely painted on its exterior in a stylish and tasteful combination of beige sand as a primary base color, with accents in turquoise and Spanish red (a dark red color) which match the original tiles surrounding the front box office. These colors are harmonious with classic 1940s Art Deco styles.
Unfortunately, repainting the building necessitated the loss of the large heart-shaped mural on the back wall of the movie house facing the Highway 49 freeway. It had to be sanded and smoothed and painted over. For the last 25 or 30 years this grand mural has graced the back wall of the theater as a historical landmark. It said “GRASS VALLEY – Heart of the Gold Rush” inside a large golden heart, with painted miners from the 1800’s and painted-on rocks on each side.
The Getzes regretted having to lose this mural, but have worked with the Grass Valley and Nevada County authorities to create a new artwork competition to design a new mural to take its place, which will appear in the spring of 2005 when a winner is selected.
A new handicap restroom was added behind the snack bar in the lobby to meet current codes, and the main auditorium is now user-friendly for wheelchair access patrons.
In the fall, the neon work will be completed and the tower will be electrified by October 2004, returning the theater to its former Art Deco glory. Mike and Barbara Getz are doing a wonderful job on the theater to preserve its past while making it a completely enjoyable venue for today’s audiences.
The original carbon-arc Simplex projectors with 20-minute reels were replaced in the early 1970s by new Christy halogen platter systems, which were then replaced a few years ago by new Christy Xenon-lamp houses.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Del Oro Theatre on Apr 29, 2004 at 11:56 pm

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Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Del Oro Theatre on Apr 29, 2004 at 9:00 pm

The grand old Art Deco Moderne picture palace DEL ORO is experiencing a real renaissance now that it has been purchased by Mike and Barbara Getz, owners of the Sierra Cinemas in Grass Valley, making it once again a showplace for top first-run movies. The theater was built in 1941, and was purchased by the Getzes in December 2003, and is a real downtown Grass Valley landmark, with its Art Deco neon tower which is soon to be re-electrified so it will once again flash its colors proudly.
The theater is now in the process of being restored and renovated, keeping its classic look, and boasts many new upgrades such as Dolby DTS Stereo System in the main theater auditorium, new seats and special black draping for sound improvement, a new computerized ticket program, and a complete new roof protecting both the main lobby, auditorium and entire building. They have updated the snack bar lobby while keeping the classic Deco decor, offering a veriety of treats including specialty coffees.
Truly, “The Del Oro is back!” as a recent Grass Valley Union newspaper headline proudly stated. Future plans are for the complete restoration of the neon lights, paint and more beautifications.
There are now lines out front to see the latest Hollywood movies, and the downtown area is being revitalized.
Source: The Grass Valley Union Newspaper, April 16, 2004

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Stephen & Mary Birch Texas Theatre on Mar 23, 2004 at 9:00 pm

According to the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise newspaper of January 28, 2004, the Texas Theater will reopen very soon as a venue for classic film programs, live theater and special concert events. In the year 2000, the Texas Theater Task Force was organized from the Seguin Conservatory Society and the City of Seguin Chamber of Commerce to preserve and restore the Texas Theater of Seguin.
At the time of its opening in 1931, the theater was a state-of-the-art facility with modern fixtures like air conditioning and devices to assist the hearing impaired.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Studio Drive-In on Mar 3, 2003 at 3:59 am

Here’s to the heyday of the drive-in movie theater – the Studio was one of the finest examples of postwar Art Deco Moderne drive-in architecture, alas now a thing of the past, like its neighbors the Century Drive-In and the Centinela where many childhood dreams came true, screening the cinema dreams and dramas cranked out by mighty MGM and other studios nearby… where a piece of the American Dream was realized in the mid-20th Century and then rapidly forgotten 30 years later with the arrival of video and Cable TV. I recall fondly staring up at the monumental screen tower of the Studio Drive-In as a boy of 10 years and dreaming of rocketships and big cars with tailfins and pastel two-tones flashing by in the night, while doo-wop singers echoed “In the still of the night” off the perimeter walls. Man, you just had to be there!

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Camera 12 Cinemas on Mar 3, 2003 at 3:46 am

This fine example of steel and glass ultramodern hi-tech design is also known as the United Artists Theater complex, at Paseo de San Antonio in downtown San Jose at the VTA Light Rail stop by Starbuck’s coffee. Successful it was as architecture, but not as a commercial space, for some unknown reason (which many natives of San Jose believe was bad management) and now it sits empty and neglected, a sign of all that’s wrong with the City of San Jose’s downtown redevelopment plans. A similar theater in Burbank, for instance, does a thriving business. We hope it will be reoccupied as a multiplex theater by a major chain instead of being remodeled into something else, like a store.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Coronet Theatre on Jan 20, 2003 at 2:59 am

The Coronet has been the major venue in San Francisco for first-run major studio blockbusters for over 25 years.

This is where I waited in line for over two hours around the block on May 25, 1977 for the premiere opening of George Lucas' first STAR WARS movie in 70mm and Dolby Surround Stereo Sound. I returned to see it two more times here in 1977. The stories about the ticket lines being over half a mile long around the block then are not exaggerated. Many sci-fi fans met, networked and even fell in love while camping out in lines here.

I also saw CLOSE ENCOUNTERS here in 70mm in October 1977 on its premiere, and we waited in line for over an hour for that one.

I must have seen a dozen films there in the next 20 years. The last two times I went there, I saw BATMAN AND ROBIN (1995) and BATMAN FOREVER (1997).

The Coronet, on Geary Blvd., is an indispensable part of the San Francisco Cinema experience, and it needs to be preserved. As you can see from the photo above, taken in 1964, the Coronet is an Art Deco-Moderne style building, and has thankfully never been remodeled, twinned, or multiplexed.

Its appearance is still unchanged today.

It would be a historical tragedy if it is destroyed.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Park Theatre on Jan 20, 2003 at 2:43 am

One of the finest theaters on the San Francisco peninsula, The Park Theatre in Menlo Park was a jewel of an Art Deco palace that has survived changing times, thankfully almost unscathed, until August 2002 when the Landmark Theater chain lost its lease with the owner. Now it is closed and boarded up, a forlorn reminder of better days in the past. One fond memory I have is going with a family group to the Park cinema in 1989 to see Disney’s “Little Mermaid”. It was a delightful ambience to enjoy a classic Disney animated feature in an Art Deco palace like this. The future of the Park Theater is now very uncertain.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Park Theatre on Dec 21, 2002 at 3:48 am

Preservation Alert! Endangered Species! This classic cinema treasure movie theater is in danger of being demolished or drastically remodeled, after being vandalized recently (See full story in Dec. 2002 Cinema Treasures News and Preservation Alert). If there is anything you can do to help save and restore this wonderful old picture palace, please let us know!

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Granada Theatre on Dec 19, 2002 at 8:05 am

I was there today for a visit in beautiful downtown Morgan Hill, on a sunny, perfect day, and met the owner of the theater this morning while it was closed and I ventured into the lobby to have a look around. Mr. Eanderson told me the theater opened on June 22, 1951 as a single screen cinema with 650 seats as an independent house. It had a full stage and was sometimes used as a live theater playhouse or for church meetings before it was twinned. The original ticket booth was out front and was destroyed by a speeding truck many years ago which plowed through it, and was then rebuilt inside, with the removal of the original snack bar when the theater was twinned in 1980. The new snack bar is on the right side of the lobby as you enter. This theater is leased by Peachtree Concessions now as a snack bar concession more than a functional theater, although it shows first or second-run films.

The building is in fair condition but it badly needs restoration, paint and a new facade which would help to revitalize its appeal as a cinema rather than a run-down old theater. The tower is original but the marquee was replaced by a cheaply-built fluorescent-box type signage marquee which does match the style of the tower. The lobby could use some Deco pastel paint and fixtures. The twinning hurt its overall esthetic appeal, and it would look much better if it were restored as a single screen. Mr. Eanderson has owned or managed the theater since it first opened over fifty years ago, and he worked at the old Granada down the street many years before that. The old Granada was built in the 1920s and was gutted by fire in 1949. It is now a closed-down Mexican Cantina next door to Rosy’s At The Beach restaurant.

Mr. Eanderson was very helpful and was delighted I was interested in the theater and its history. He is currently seeking a new company to lease the theater and help him upgrade it, and keep it running as a movie theater. He has no plans to close it in the foreseeable future.

The Granada is a theater to enjoy whenever you visit Morgan Hill or Gilroy on an escape from nearby San Jose or the San Francisco Bay Area. Its easy access on Monterey Road makes it a good spot for dinner and a movie.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Indiana Theatre on Dec 15, 2002 at 9:29 am

My Dad went to see “IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD” in CINERAMA at this theater in the summer of 1963 when he returned to Indy on vacation from our home in Los Angeles. He said it was the same theater he had seen Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney live in person doing a personal appearance 20 years before in 1943 to promote their movie “GIRL CRAZY”. He was home on temporary leave from WW II and was happy to have some real Hollywood stars to brighten up his life.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Hilbert Circle Theater on Dec 15, 2002 at 9:22 am

The Circle Theater is located on the central Circle drive around the celebrated Soldiers and Sailors Monument obelisk in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.

I saw the Western movie “SHANE” (1953) here in May 1959 when it was reissued. It had a beautiful Art Deco Moderne marquee out front at that time and boasted air conditioning. My father took pictures of it then, which we still have, including 8mm color home movies showing the neon lights on the marquee in daytime. It was a beautiful theater then and I was awestruck by its huge proscenium over the stage. I’m glad it’s still open.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Pan Pacific Theatre on Dec 6, 2002 at 1:52 am

Many vintage theaters and auditoriums with distinctive architectural features have been closed down and the property put up for sale, and for some unknown reason, in many cases this attracts the attention of unscrupulous real estate developers, who would either acquire the property for ten cents on the dollar through land auctions only developers and real estate people are informed of, and either demolish, deface, destroy, or remodel the building so that its original style and design are either lost forever, or greatly obscured. This usually happens due to neglect of the property and changes in architectural trends and business over the years, and illegal, criminal vandalism or suspiciously-set arson fires are often the unhappy result.

Perhaps the most famous incident was the Art Deco Pan Pacific Auditorium on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles, which had achieved historical preservation status with the city and county, but a Los Angeles Times Newspaper reporter discovered that the developer hired someone under the table to torch the structure and an arsonist burnt the building down in April 1989.

There were two theatrical buildings in this general location with similar names – one exclusively a large public auditorium, the other expressly a movie theater a block away.

In 1935, the Pan Pacific Auditorium was designed according to conceptual drawings by Norman Bel Geddes, famous Art Deco Designer and Architect, and built in 1936 for the Pan Pacific Exhibition in Los Angeles. It was an awesome display of futuristic Art Deco Moderne architecture, with four massive masts for flags above the front main entrance which gave the place a totally unique style and a grandiose look. The Art Deco influence could be seen all the way to the parking lot lamp posts with a stylish flair.

My family often went to the Pan Pacific Auditorium during the mid-1950s. It was the home of the Los Angeles Home Show, held every year there since 1938. It was also the site of the celebrated GM Motorama held every year there from 1949 to 1961.

In the 1960s, it was a popular venue for everything from boxing and wrestling matches to a live concert by Elvis Presley.

And of course, its last fling in the eye of the media was as the classic disco nightclub “XANADU” in 1980.

The last time I was there to see and photograph the Pan Pacific Auditorium was in the spring of 1987, and there was only one of the original parking lot lamp posts still standing over a weed-infested field, where the asphalt parking lot had long before been broken up by bulldozers.

It was sad to see it looking so forlorn and forgotten with derelicts hanging around it, pigeons roosting on its parapets, and unsightly graffiti and “KEEP OUT” signs on the front auditorium doors which were originally glass and gleaming metal bustling with visitors from all over America.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Garden Theatre on Nov 26, 2002 at 7:11 am

This would be a lovely addition to the thriving Willow Glen community if it were still a movie theater, as it is located on Lincoln Avenue amid the hustle-bustle of daily business, but has unfortunately been turned into a rather glaringly ugly reminder of the hack commercialism of small-time businesses exploiting these old edifices with garish advertising at the expense of the arts. The Garden is but a hollow shell of its former self, and a sad loss for Willow Glen, a community proud of its historic heritage of old Victorians and stylish old homes within San Jose, which has its own downtown apart from San Jose’s new high rise downtown.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Fine Arts Theatre on Nov 26, 2002 at 6:57 am

I worked in this theater as a part-time fill-in IATSE Union projectionist from 1980 to 1982.

It certainly didn’t look like the Mayfield when I worked there! It has a beautiful 1950s Art Deco facade which thankfully for art lovers has not been destroyed. It closed in 1987 and became the oriental rug store mentioned above.

Donald John Long
Donald John Long commented about Seavue Twin Theater on Nov 25, 2002 at 7:28 am

This theater was originally built in the late 1940s in the Art Deco style, with nautical themes throughout, (tropical fish painted and sculpted on the walls, etc.) but it was remodeled in the 1960s to “modernize” it, and this decor was somewhat obscured. When I went there with my sister in 1976 to see “Silver Streak”, it was a nice, comfortable well-maintained second-run house.