4501 E. Carson Street,
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Previously operated by: Pussycat Theatres
Architects: Simeon Charles Lee
Styles: Streamline Moderne
Previous Names: Pussycat Theatre
According to Maggie Valentine’s book “The Show Starts On The Sidewalk” the Lakewood Theatre was originally a theatre and town hall in Quincy, a town in California, which architect S. Charles Lee had designed. Due to a wartime restriction on building materials, in 1945 Lee had the wood sections of the building dismantled and moved to Long Beach and reassembled with brick and steel to construct a building seating 922. Located in Lakewood Village at the Los Cerritos Diagonal at E. Carson Street and N. Lakewood Boulevard the Lakewood Theatre was opened on October 24, 1945 with Bette Davis in “The Corn is Green”. Movie listings show that for more than 30 years it was an independent theatre.
The more controversial history of the Lakewood Theatre began when it became a Pussycat Theatre in 1977. Newspaper articles on file at the Long Beach Public Library show that in late-December of 1977 the police raided the Pussycat Theatre, citing a zoning law. The battle between the community and the Pussycat Theatre over pornographic movies at the Lakewood Theatre would go on for 11 years in various courts with the Pussycat Theatre always jumping through legal loopholes.
In 1980 the Supreme Court backed the city but in 1985 reversed their decision and let stand a lower court decision that had defined an adult theatre as one that shows a “preponderance” of pornographic movies. One loophole was that the Lakewood Theatre had been twinned in the mid-1970’s and was showing porno movies on only one screen. The city finally prevailed in 1988 and the Lakewood Theatre reverted to family films but by this time adult theatres were fading in popularity anyway.
The Lakewood Theatre was later demolished and in 1991 an office building was built on the site. The Lakewood Theatre should not be confused with the Lakewood Center Theatre, which was built in the nearby new city of Lakewood in 1952.
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