Pasadena Photoplay Theatre

28 E. Colorado Boulevard,
Pasadena, CA 91101

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Warner's Photoplay Theatre

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The opening of Warner’s Photoplay Theatre on August 13, 1914, was reported as a great success in the Pasadena Star News the following day. The place was packed to the doors, the report said.

Located in former commercial premises in what was then the heart of Pasadena’s downtown, the new cinema was operated by H.L. Warner (no relation to the Warner Brothers), who would go on to build the larger Warner Egyptian Theatre (later called the Uptown Theatre) a couple of miles farther east, in 1924.

The Pasadena Photoplay Theatre was closed by 1930, the year in which the building that now occupies the theatre’s former site was built.

Contributed by Joe Vogel

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 22, 2008 at 8:11 pm

Henry Warner’s later and larger Pasadena house, the Warner Egyptian Theatre, is listed at Cinema Treasures under the name it had been using for decades by the time it showed its last movie in 1986, the Uptown Theatre.

kencmcintyre on October 26, 2008 at 2:53 pm

An LA Times article on 1/12/27 noted an explosion and fire at the Pasadena Photoplay. The explosion blew the theater’s metal front doors off of their hinges.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 16, 2011 at 3:28 am

Here is a photo of Warner’s Photoplay Theatre. The correct opening year was 1914, not 1915 as I wrote in the introduction.

AndrewBarrett on April 24, 2014 at 7:20 pm

“The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David L. Junchen, page 628, lists a “Pasadena Theatre” in Pasadena, California, as having a three manual Smith theatre pipe organ.

No other details, such as # of ranks or installation date, are given.

I could not find a “Pasadena Theatre” listed on this site right now (April 2014) but this has a fairly close name. However, according to Lost Memory, this “Pasadena Photoplay Theatre” apparently had only about 350 seats, and most three-manual theatre organs had at least ten ranks.

The largest known Smith organs were both 4 manuals and 16 ranks, so that this organ in question was probably between 10 and 14 ranks, or so.

This is quite large for a little 350-seat theatre, since most theatres of this size either had a photoplayer (such as those made by American Photo Player Co, or Wurlitzer) or simply a person playing the piano, or, if an organ, nothing larger than about six or seven ranks (and thus, two manuals). Thus, I think it is unlikely this is the same theatre mentioned in the book.

Does anybody know more about this instrument, or a larger “Pasadena Theatre?” in Pasadena?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 25, 2014 at 12:30 am

Andrew, the Fox Pasadena Theatre opened around 1910 as Clune’s Pasadena Theatre. It was called simply the Pasadena Theatre during the 1920s. William Fox didn’t take over the West Coast Theatres circuit until the very late 1920s. That was probably the house in which the organ was installed.

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