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Columbia Theatre


Address: 231, The Pike

Balboa Picture Breaks Records,” The Moving Picture World, July 1914; p. 1,249: Breaking all former records in big box office receipts at the Columbia Theatre in Long Beach, California, the Balboa Amusement Producing Company’s four-reel feature film, “A Will o’ the Wisp,” was shown at the playhouse named last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. In the four years since the theater was instituted there never before had been such a great crush of theater-goers, blocking the doors and massing in crowds for several hundred feet from the entrances…During the three afternoons and evenings this week, the services of city firemen and policemen were necessary to hold the throngs in check at the theater doors, and hundreds were turned away daily because the playhouse was not large enough to seat the hosts of eager pleasure seekers. On Tuesday evening several women were hurled to the pavement by the press of the surging crowds and for a time it seems they would be seriously injured, but were rescued by three policemen and carried outside the throng.

Great local interest was shown concerning the big release because of it being in every way a home product, being filmed at the Long Beach studios of the Balboa company and in the river lowlands near the northwest limits of the city, at a time when the country there was inundated by a river flood. The scenario was written by the Balboa photoplay editor, Frank M. Wiltermood, who borrowed the main idea of the play from the old-time melodrama, “Hazel Kirke,” showing an aged, blind man alone in his home while a storm rages outside. Among the highly talented players who enacted the leading parts in the masterpiece film were Jackie Saunders, Henry King, Dick Johnson, Mollie McConnell, Charles Dudley and Madeline Pardee.

Columbia Theatre, exterior

Stormy weather at the Columbia. Courtesy of the Ronald W. Mahan & Joseph J. Musil Photo Theatre Collection