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California Theatre/San Bernardino, CA

San Bernardino County Sun (California)

December 1, 2010 Wednesday

San Bernardino theater takes its place in history

By Michel Nolan, Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO – The city paid tribute to a queen on Wednesday.

The 82-year-old California Theatre of the Performing Arts, a venerable queen among Southern California’s historic theaters, was inducted into the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historic Resources.

Community leaders celebrated the commemoration in the downtown San Bernardino’s theater’s balcony-level California Room with a presentation of the official National Registry plaque.

Since 1928, local audiences have been entertained in San Bernardino’s renowned art deco performance palace.

The theater has welcomed such performers as Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Rock Hudson, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and cowboy humorist Will Rogers, who appeared there in 1935, his last public performance before he died in an airplane crash six weeks later.

“This building is a cultural jewel, another gem in the crown of the Inland Empire,” observed 5th District county Supervisor Josie Gonzales.

The theater is owned by the San Bernardino Economic Development Agency and managed by Theatrical Arts International.

Emil Marzullo, interim director of the Economic Development Agency, said that when it comes to rebuilding downtown, the theater is the one constant in the last 80 years.

“There’s a certain respect – a certain reverence – in the community that we have found with this building,” he said. “We have noted there has been no problem with grafitti here.

Mayor Pat Morris said the landmark theater is the beginning of the city’s revitalization.

“The council will act this month on a contract with Regal Cinemas, the nation’s largest cinema operator, to launch a $4 million renovation of our cineplex here. That’s very exciting,” Morris said.

Wednesday’s celebration kicked off San Bernardino’s Holiday Festival.

The “12 Days of Greetings” is a series of events through Dec. 12, designed to bring holiday spirit and commerce to downtown.

“As big as we’re able to dream is what we’ll do in this theater,” said Theatrical Arts producer Joseph Henson. “I look forward to today and what’s coming tomorrow.”

California Theatre of the Performing Arts Timeline

1928: Built as a vaudeville house, showcasing comics, song-and-dance performers and silent films, it was a favorite proving ground for Hollywood filmmakers, who would test market their latest movies here before releasing them to the public until the late 1940s.

June 28, 1935: Cowboy humorist Will Rogers makes his last stage appearance before dying in an August plane crash at Point Barrow, Alaska.

June 1939: “The Wizard of Oz” is screened for a San Bernardino test audience.

1984: The theater undergoes another reincarnation, as home to the San Bernardino Civic Light Opera.

1999: The San Bernardino Economic Development Agency undertakes a renovation of the theater, which had fallen into disrepair.

March 26, 2000: The theater glitter as more than 1,000 celebrities and local VIPs gather for “Symphony With the Stars,” welcoming Carlo Ponti Jr. as guest conductor of the San Bernardino Symphony. In attendance are Ponti’s parents, film legend Sophia Loren and film producer Carlo Ponti.

5 Comments

  1. Gary Lee Parks

    This theatre was toured by THS in 2005. It is a very beautiful example of a midsize movie palace. The architectural style can be called Spanish, or even Spanish/Moorish, but it is NOT Art Deco. The neon marquee, and even the Skouras era box office, can be loosely termed Art Deco or Moderne, but not the total building itself.

  2. Jerry Alexander

    Once again, a misuse of the term “art deco” by an unknowledgeable newspaper reporter. This usage ranks right up there with calling a vertical a blade.

  3. {sigh} Absolutely agree, Gary and Jerry. Every journalist and writer should be taught in Writing 101 that “old does not equal Art Deco”!!

    I believe their confusion comes in, as Gary notes, when an element or two is of the Art Deco design. So many theaters were given quick “modernizations” with the addition of a new box office or new light fixtures, new curtains or some random ornamentation of the latest design. This caused an eclectic look which today confuses those who are not truly students of architectural style.

    But, hey, at least these great old theaters are getting press, right?!

  4. An interesting side note: THS Director (and our resident Deco Expert) DENNIS WILHELM has noted in the past that the term Art Deco should always be capitalized as a proper name. THS has adopted this standard in all correspondence and publications.

  5. I had the pleasure of working there as a young man in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Met one of the cashiers there (Marilyn Ochs) who did me the honer of becoming my wife. We named our first born after the theater managers wife ( Jeanne Pankow ). We referred to the theater as THE CAL. and still do. I was assistant manager, and had the pleasure of rubbing elbows with many celibeties. I have many fond memories of this wonderful place.The Cal will always be a special place for me.

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California Theatre/San Bernardino, CA

San Bernardino County Sun (California)

December 1, 2010 Wednesday

San Bernardino theater takes its place in history

By Michel Nolan, Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO – The city paid tribute to a queen on Wednesday.

The 82-year-old California Theatre of the Performing Arts, a venerable queen among Southern California’s historic theaters, was inducted into the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historic Resources.

Community leaders celebrated the commemoration in the downtown San Bernardino’s theater’s balcony-level California Room with a presentation of the official National Registry plaque.

Since 1928, local audiences have been entertained in San Bernardino’s renowned art deco performance palace.

The theater has welcomed such performers as Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Rock Hudson, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and cowboy humorist Will Rogers, who appeared there in 1935, his last public performance before he died in an airplane crash six weeks later.

“This building is a cultural jewel, another gem in the crown of the Inland Empire,” observed 5th District county Supervisor Josie Gonzales.

The theater is owned by the San Bernardino Economic Development Agency and managed by Theatrical Arts International.

Emil Marzullo, interim director of the Economic Development Agency, said that when it comes to rebuilding downtown, the theater is the one constant in the last 80 years.

“There’s a certain respect – a certain reverence – in the community that we have found with this building,” he said. “We have noted there has been no problem with grafitti here.

Mayor Pat Morris said the landmark theater is the beginning of the city’s revitalization.

“The council will act this month on a contract with Regal Cinemas, the nation’s largest cinema operator, to launch a $4 million renovation of our cineplex here. That’s very exciting,” Morris said.

Wednesday’s celebration kicked off San Bernardino’s Holiday Festival.

The “12 Days of Greetings” is a series of events through Dec. 12, designed to bring holiday spirit and commerce to downtown.

“As big as we’re able to dream is what we’ll do in this theater,” said Theatrical Arts producer Joseph Henson. “I look forward to today and what’s coming tomorrow.”

California Theatre of the Performing Arts Timeline

1928: Built as a vaudeville house, showcasing comics, song-and-dance performers and silent films, it was a favorite proving ground for Hollywood filmmakers, who would test market their latest movies here before releasing them to the public until the late 1940s.

June 28, 1935: Cowboy humorist Will Rogers makes his last stage appearance before dying in an August plane crash at Point Barrow, Alaska.

June 1939: “The Wizard of Oz” is screened for a San Bernardino test audience.

1984: The theater undergoes another reincarnation, as home to the San Bernardino Civic Light Opera.

1999: The San Bernardino Economic Development Agency undertakes a renovation of the theater, which had fallen into disrepair.

March 26, 2000: The theater glitter as more than 1,000 celebrities and local VIPs gather for “Symphony With the Stars,” welcoming Carlo Ponti Jr. as guest conductor of the San Bernardino Symphony. In attendance are Ponti’s parents, film legend Sophia Loren and film producer Carlo Ponti.

No Comments

  1. Gary Lee Parks

    This theatre was toured by THS in 2005. It is a very beautiful example of a midsize movie palace. The architectural style can be called Spanish, or even Spanish/Moorish, but it is NOT Art Deco. The neon marquee, and even the Skouras era box office, can be loosely termed Art Deco or Moderne, but not the total building itself.

  2. Jerry Alexander

    Once again, a misuse of the term “art deco” by an unknowledgeable newspaper reporter. This usage ranks right up there with calling a vertical a blade.

  3. {sigh} Absolutely agree, Gary and Jerry. Every journalist and writer should be taught in Writing 101 that “old does not equal Art Deco”!!

    I believe their confusion comes in, as Gary notes, when an element or two is of the Art Deco design. So many theaters were given quick “modernizations” with the addition of a new box office or new light fixtures, new curtains or some random ornamentation of the latest design. This caused an eclectic look which today confuses those who are not truly students of architectural style.

    But, hey, at least these great old theaters are getting press, right?!

  4. An interesting side note: THS Director (and our resident Deco Expert) DENNIS WILHELM has noted in the past that the term Art Deco should always be capitalized as a proper name. THS has adopted this standard in all correspondence and publications.

Leave a Comment

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *

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