Alhambra Twin Cinemas

702 W. Main Street,
Alhambra, CA 91801

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guymard on May 17, 2023 at 11:10 am

My father managed the Alhambra and Gold Cinemas during the 1960s and 1970s after managing the Temple Theater (Las Tunas Dr & Rosemead Blvd) for 12 years. I worked at the Alhambra and Gold Cinemas from 1972 to 1978. Before the Annex was remodeled and reopened as the Gold Cinema in, I believe, 1968, it was used to warehouse thousands of old movie posters and displays which all got thrown away during the remodel. Before the remodel, there was a very large old organ, covered in chicken wire, at the front of the Alhambra Theater up against the old vaudeville stage. This organ was removed during the remodel as well as the hay-filled loge seats at the rear of the auditorium. I spent many Saturdays, before the theater opened to the public, searching through the loge seats finding money that fell out of people’s pockets. I also spent many days and nights exploring this place including the old dressing rooms in the basement. One of these rooms was padlocked where Mr. Edwards stored all obsolete admission tickets. These included tickets when admission ticket prices rose and for theaters that were closed. I was given permission to go in and take strips of tickets but was overwhelmed. I really miss the old Alhambra Theater. As a previous post mentioned, the Whittier Narrow earthquake was its demise. The water-filled air circulating unit on top of the building, nicknamed “Big Bertha,” crashed through the ceiling and took out the screen and first 5 rows of seats. This happened several hours after the initial quake. It eventually took months to completely tear down the building as it was taken down brick by brick.

rivest266 on September 28, 2019 at 12:36 pm

The Single Bill theatre opened on November 5th, 1941. Grand opening ad uploaded.

JoeW on December 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

The Alhambra Theater was the location of the murder of an Alhambra Police Officer who interrupted a robbery. I believe there wass a plaque at the newer theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 4, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Jimmy Edwards' desire to build a theater in San Marino was the subject of an item in the February 12, 1937, issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor. Plans for a 750-seat reinforced concrete movie house with dimensions of 55x130 feet were being prepared by architect John Walker Smart.

Three years after being rebuffed by San Marino, Edwards was planning to build a theater on Huntington Drive in adjacent South Pasadena. A February 9, 1940, Southwest Builder item said that S. Charles Lee would be the architect for the South Pasadena house. This project was never carried out either, though I have no idea why.

I’ve come across several references to proposed Edwards theaters that never got built. Among them were two proposals for theaters on Garvey Avenue in Monterey Park— a 1,000-seat house in 1939 and a 1,200 seat house in 1945— that failed to materialize.

Incidentally, John Walker Smart was the architect of Sylvester Dupuy’s Pyrenees Castle, the hilltop mansion in Alhambra which became infamous a few years ago as the site of record producer Phil Spector’s murder of Lana Clarkson.

Smart was also the architect of an unbuilt Moorish-style theater proposed for Alhambra in late 1923. It’s possible that it was intended for the site of the Alhambra Theatre itself. Even if Smart’s project was intended for some other site, if it had been built the Alhambra, dating to late 1924, might not have been.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 17, 2011 at 11:32 am

Here is a photo of Jimmy Edwards standing in front of the Alhambra Theatre in the 1930s. The circa 1939 date given on that page is wrong. As I recall from earlier research, Edwards bought the lease on the Alhambra not long after he acquired the Mission (later Monterey) Theatre in Monterey Park, and that was in 1930. By 1939, Edwards was operating a circuit of more than a dozen neighborhood theaters, and the Alhambra was his flagship house. If this photo depicts the theater just after Edwards acquired it, it probably dates from the very early 1930s.

The July 23, 1938, Boxoffice Magazine item about Edwards' plans to add a second auditorium to the Alhambra Theater, mentioned in my earlier comment, has been moved to this link.

The article by Helen Kent about the opening of the Alhambra’s second auditorium, in the October 12, 1940, issue of Boxoffice, now begins at this link, and continues on the subsequent two pages of the magazine (click “next page” links at top or bottom of the page scans.) This article has several photos of the theater as it appeared in 1940.

Dublinboyo on June 16, 2011 at 11:58 am

The Alhambra Palace 10, or whatever it was called, has ceased operating and is now closed. The theater is now dark and only a poignant “Thank You Alhambra” is all that remains on the marquee. All that remains is to remove the seats and fixtures, gut the place, and then demolish it. Coming soon: a Los Angeles County administration building on this site. Yet another theater on Main Street in Alhambra – gone – where once there were many. Joining The El Rey, the Capri and the Century and Temple farther east on Las Tunas, now the only theater that survives on Main Street is the Edwards Alhambra Renaissance 14 on the corner of Garfield and Main Street. Saw lots of great movies over the last 45 years at both the Alhambra Palace and also at the old Alhambra and Gold Cinemas before the Palace replaced it when it was destroyed in the Whittier Earthquake in 1987. This theater was a large part of my youth and it will be missed.

robtak on March 1, 2011 at 9:00 pm

The Edwards Atlantic Palace, which stands on the site of the old Alhambra Theatre, is scheduled to be demolished on July 1, 2011: View link

shilo07 on May 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm

great theatre i saw space balls and a lot of great movies.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 12, 2010 at 9:45 am

James Edwards' intention to add a second auditorium to the Alhambra Theatre was announced in Boxoffice, issue of July 23, 1938 (upper right corner.) However, the project was not completed until August, 1940.

Helen Kent’s illustrated article about the Alhambra and Annex appeared in Boxoffice of October 12, 1940.

kencmcintyre on February 21, 2008 at 1:11 pm

The Gold Cinema was advertised in the LA Times in August 1973:

kencmcintyre on July 19, 2007 at 4:00 pm

It was called the Cinema Theater when a robbery occurred in September 1968, according to the LA Times.

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on January 27, 2006 at 5:47 am

When I was the projectionist there, Jerry Brown was governor and dating Linda Ronstadt, the singer. Well, Ronstadt’s cousin was the manager here at that time. She and I had a blast. We even had to throw out her boyfriend a few times because he interferred with our working so well together… tee-hee… Oops

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 23, 2004 at 8:48 pm


Thanks. I have a few more things to say about the Alhambra when I get the time. I probbably saw two or three dozen movies there in the 1950s and 1960s.

A seating capacity of 600 seems awfully low. The main auditorium was quite large- at least 70 feet wide, maybe 80 feet, and there must have been at least 35 rows of seats. The loges were large, but the majority of the seats were standard theater size, about twenty inches wide.

The second auditorium (Annex/Single Bill/Gold Cinema) by itself must have had 200 or more seats. I never saw a movie in there, but I remember taking a look inside during the years it was dark. It was much smaller than the main theater, but still a decent size.

The only theater in Alhambra that was larger was the Garfield, built a year or two later than the Alhambra.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 23, 2004 at 5:45 am

Congratulations on your most informative introduction to the Alhambra Theater. All the Film Daily Yearbooks I have (1941, 1950 & 1952) give a seating capacity of 600.