Imperial Theatre

319 E. Ocean Blvd.    | map

Long Beach, CA   90802

Opened: 1926. It's listed in the 1926 city directory with an address of 315 E. Ocean Blvd.

Long operated by Fox West Coast, the theatre was also known as the Fox Imperial.  Right next door was the West Coast, also operated by Fox. 

The stages of both the West Coast and the Imperial backed up against the side of the Mission / Fox Long Beach Theatre around the corner on Long Beach Blvd.

Architects:  Lewis A. Smith was the original architect for the theatre. It's not known if he was also the architect for the Imperial Hotel building.

Clifford A. Balch did the repair work after the 1933 earthquake. It evidently got a Skouras-style re-do in the 40s and lost most of the original interior decor. It got another remodel in 1955.

Jennifer Looney-Doner notes that the building surrounding the Imperial lobby got a serious makeover, perhaps in the 60s. The hotel vanished and the building got shorter. The second floor then housed a Ukranian dance hall, the third floor a Gloria Marshall dance studio. Some of the space became artist's lofts/studios. Ms. Looney-Doner also notes that artists took some of the space upstairs in the West Coast Theatre building next door creating an interesting community for about 10 years.

Mann Theatres ceased operating the theatre in 1977 after which time the Imperial ran as an independent. The address in ads was frequently listed as "Ocean near American."  American is now Long Beach Blvd.

Seating: 820

Status: Demolished.  The Westin Long Beach now occupies the site.

More information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Imperial for lots of research by Joe Vogel, Ken McIntyre and others. 

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    American Classic Images

A 1983 view of the Imperial and the West Coast
from the American Classic Images collection.
 full size view

Also in the collection:
| 1980 view  |
  another 1983 view  |

    Sean Ault Archives   

A c.1956 look east on Ocean Blvd. toward
the Imperial and West Coast Theatres.
full size view

Thanks to L.A. transit historian Sean Ault
for the photo from his collection!


A postcard view of 1933 earthquake damage
 to the Imperial. It could have been yours for $5.50.
Thanks to eBay shopper (and Long Beach
historian) Michelle Gerdes for finding the card.

    Long Beach Public Library

A glimpse of the marquee of the Imperial in 1928. 
full size view

    Missing on Flickr   

A great view looking west on Ocean Blvd. that was
on Flickr but has gone missing. The West Coast
 and Imperial are on the right with the United Artists
 in the distance in the center of the photo.
 full size view

The view also appears in a smaller format on the
Cinema Treasures page for the Imperial Theatre.

A detail from the photo above, giving a better
look at the West Coast and the Imperial.
larger view

Source of the photo is unknown.

    USC Archives

A c.1926 exterior of the West Coast. Note the
 Imperial Theatre at the left. It's a California
 Historical Society photo. 
full size view

A view of the Imperial Theatre's marquee
on the sidewalk after the 1933 earthquake.

photo: Michelle Gerdes collection

[ click on these two images to enlarge ]

See more of Michelle's collection in
her "Theatres-California" set on Flickr. 

A left wall auditorium detail.

photo: Matt Spero - 1979

Matt adds that both wall sconces and the plaster
piece are now in his home theatre. Thanks, Matt!

    AmeriCar The Beautiful

A lovely early 1954 view east on Ocean Blvd.
At the Imperial: "Riders to the Stars" and "Glory
At Sea." The West Coast is running the early
Cinemascope feature "Beyond the 12 Mile Reef."
full size view | on the AmeriCar page

Thanks to Edward M. Fiore for posting a link to this one
on the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page.

    B'hend and Kaufmann Collection   

A 1955 view of the refurbished Imperial Theatre on the
occasion of its reopening. It's in the Tom B'hend and Preston
 Kaufmann Collection, part of the AMPAS Margaret
Herrick Library Digital Collections.
 full size view
  | on FB/LAtheatres

    Long Beach Heritage Museum

A post 1933 earthquake view from
the Long Heritage Museum.
slightly larger view

    L.A. Public Library Collection

A c.1928 view from above showing the Imperial
dwarfed by the West Coast behind. 
full size view

A 1968 view of the Imperial and its next door neighbor,
 the West Coast from the Library's collection.
full size view

Also in the collection:
 |  marquee glimpse -- 1928  |

    Motion Picture News

On the Internet Archive is the Motion Picture News
issue of December 28, 1929. Section Two is the
"Theatre Building and Equipment Buyers Guide"
with the Imperial on a page featuring photos of
 Fox West Coast theatres that had been
decorated by Robert E. Powers Studios.
on Internet Archive | on FB/LAtheatres

This lobby photo shows up in a February 18, 1928
 Motion Picture News story about the Powers Studios.

The lobby photo is also in the Theatres: Stage and Movie
set of Charmaine Zoe on Flickr where she has over 700
photos culled from various issues of Motion Picture News.