Mermaids and Jewel Thieves

The Bay Theatre – 1955

This image comes to us care of a past Seal Beach resident, Bob Robertson. The photo was taken by Bob’s father, Bill Robertson, owner of the Seal Beach Post and Wave newspaper.

click on the image for a larger view

The Bay Theatre was built in 1947 and survives today as a rare single screen survivor in the age of multiplex theaters and high definition home theaters.

Movie posters for “Jupiter’s Darling” and To Catch a Thief are hanging in the “next attraction” frames next to the box office.  There’s a possibility that this is early 1956 since movies weren’t released as wide and stayed in circulation much longer than today.  “Jupiter’s Darling,” released in February 1955, starred Esther Williams and Howard Keel and was a notorious box office flop for MGM.  “To Catch a Thief,” released in September 1955, is considered a classic Alfred Hitchcock film by many and starred Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.

Does anyone out there recognize any of the people in this photo or remember what the occasion was?  And while we’re at it, why don’t you share your favorite memories of the Bay Theatre in the comments?

ADDENDUM:  Does anyone remember a Hollywood film being shot on the hill before the homes were built, and then the film being shown at the Bay after it was released?

Be sure to check back every for more historical photos and stories of Seal Beach.

– Michael Dobkins

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11 Responses to Mermaids and Jewel Thieves

  1. Libby Appelgate says:

    I worked for the Bay Theatre with Mr. Cobb as the theatre manager pictured standing next to the ticket booth from 1956 – 1959 as a ticket seller in the glass booth. I answered the telephone and sold tickets while studying for my class assignments at Long Beach State. (not a good atmosphere for studying.) After the tickets were sold and all the patrons entered,I closed up and ran inside to sell popcorn and candy. Boots Nash who was married to Kenny Nash worked in the office doing the books but I see their son Mike hunched down in the front of the photo trying not to interfere with the photo being taken. He was a personable, cute little redhead. Boots and Kenny Nash ran the Taxi Burger stand next door in the ’40’s and made the most wonderful burgers, malts and french fries that anyone had ever tasted.


  2. Kathleen Fitzgerald says:

    My family didn’t move to SB until 1959 (I was 10). By that time the ticket office was on the left side. I didn’t know it was ever in the middle! I remember a lot of matinees at the Bay Theatre as a kid. Everyone was there! Later on, in 1966 or 67, I got my first job at the Bay, behind the candy counter. I was paid $1.25 an hour. There was a butter machine that would stir the hot butter and I don’t remember anyone ever cleaning it out. At the end of the night the butter was taken upstairs and then brought back down to be added to and reheated the next day. I had to wear a really old-fashioned used uniform that was kept in the office upstairs. Later I was promoted to the ticket booth. It is still the exact same ticket booth today. In fact very little has changed; not the seats, the bathrooms, the candy counter or the lights. When I go there now, while I’m waiting for the show to start, I experience so many memories . . . Elvis movies, Doris Day and Rock Hudson, The Godfather Part I, Blazing Saddles, even The Exorcist!


  3. DAVID PRIVETT says:

    The origianl name of the theater in 1947 was “BEACH”

    I recall in the early 50’s, Paul Bender had an old car without a muffler system. He used to park it across the street in front of the Pool Hall (now HARBOUR surf shop”. He would rev up the engine and then let off the gas and the resultant back fire would blow the letters off of the marque. I think that is what caused Mr. Cobb’s growth on the top of his head.

    Another prank which was played on Mr.Cobb was one of the older, taller guys would reach up above the doors of the mens and womens restrooms and swap the glass designation signs at the start of intermission. Of course it was chaotic when the unknowing met the knowing inside the restrooms.

    Ahh, these were fun times!


  4. Joe Osuna says:

    recent VIP’s promo
    volunteers in police services promo for local tv channels


  5. Robbie says:

    I grew up in Seal Beach from the time I was about 4 or 5, which would have been around 1951. I lived at 805 Electric Ave., which was about half a block away from the Bay Theater. Every Saturday afternoon, my Dad would go to play golf and my Mom would give me, my sister, and my brother each 30 cents. A quarter would get you into see the movies, ( there were always two plus cartoons) and a nickle would buy a Charms sucker, which , if you didn’t bite it, would last a long time. This was my Mom’s chance to take her much needed nap. Her nap lasted about as long as the first feature and cartoons. She would then come to the theater and give some excuse as to why she needed to go in and talk to us kids. That way she didn’t have to pay. Of course, she always stayed for the second movie. I think Mr. Cobb eventually just gave her a free pass to save her the trouble of having to come up with excuses. The Bay Theater is one of the pleasant memories I have of Seal Beach. Others are; the Easter Egg Hunts, the Fish Frys at the picnic area next to the pier, the Halloweens where we had two nights of fun (one for Trick or Treating and one for the Halloween party across from the Police Station on Central & 7th) , watching the parade on St Patricks Day, earning a dollar a day for doing the daily record keeping at the Shell gas station when I was 13 years old until I was about 16, playing Pinball at the little burger place next to Benny Rapp’s Chevron Station, the dances at Marina Palace, the smell of the Bay Hardware Store, the suicide cokes we could order from the lunch counter at Brock’s Drug Store, going to “The Trees” (before they built the houses on the east side of PCH) and sneaking a cigarette, and so many more. I guess I am in the minority group that can say, “I had a wonderful childhood.” Thanks Seal Beach. Robbie


  6. durwood mackey says:

    It was in August or September of 1954. The movie was called “Lucy Gallant,” starring Charlton Heston and Jane Wyman. Heston impressed me (I was 15) for being as open as he was, willing to hang around in the rye grass, sign autographs and talk to a bunch of teenagers while they set up his scene. It took three or four days. It was a semi-modern western, and filming was sometimes interrupted by helicopters or an inadvertant glimpse of traffic on PCH. I remember some guy griping because some of the palm trees got into the scene and someone else pointed out they had palm trees in Texas too. It wasn’t a very memorable movie and I don’t know if they ever showed it at the Bay.


  7. Michael Dobkins says:

    Thanks for clearing this up, Durwood. For anyone interested, Lucy Gallant is currently available on Netflix streaming.

    And someday before the 100th Founders Day anniversary, I’m going to do a post on the film history of Seal Beach.


  8. I went to school and hung out with Bob Robertson. Went to some parties sponsored by his father at the Airport club. (I think that is what Was called) great memories. He had one of the coolest hot rods in town.


  9. As Dave Privett says, the original name of the theatre was The Beach Theatre and it opened, not in 1947 but in November 1945. If you go by newspaper ads, it was originally open only on Fri-Sun. In June 1946, builder and owner/manager Oscar Johnson sold the property to the huge Fox West Coast chain. They closed it for three weeks, did some refurbishing and equipment upgrading and reopened it as The Bay Theatre in July 1946.


  10. Tom Harvey says:

    And the movie shown in the “Now Playing” window box is “We’re No Angels”, released July, 1955. The poster readily found online differs from the one visible in the background by switching the positions of the two leftmost actors. With the concept of matinees, it’s not necessarily what the kids are lining up to see, but it seems kid-friendly enough.


  11. Pingback: December 24th in Seal Beach History | This Date in Seal Beach History

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