San Val


The Magnolia Theater. Gone Forever, but never forgotten.
Photo Courtesy Bob Meza

The MAGNOLIA theater, originally located on Magnolia Blvd. and N. Evergreen Street in Burbank. The Magnolia was a marvelously bland movie house. Housing approximately 737 seats and a huge 40 foot screen, the Magnolia was an anachronism in the area. 

The Magnolia was meticulously clean. Not once would one experience the sticky floors or unique bathroom aromas that became common at the Cornell. Even the air conditioning at the theater kept the temperature and humidity fresh and comfortable.
The owner of the Magnolia, Al Minor was the preeminent Bijou entrepreneur in Burbank having opened the Loma Theater and the Major Theater in the 1920's. Mr. Minor was passionate about his theaters, and the Magnolia was his crowning achievement in Burbank.

The theater was situated in what could be called a residential area. Few businesses surrounded the theater, and further west on Magnolia was a series of offices and production companies. The location of the Magnolia was not a hindrance to its success however. During the 50's and 60's the Magnolia always managed to have a packed house. Due to the expert booking that took place there, Audiences could see any of Hollywood's best action and dramas. While the Cornell Theater started to mutate into an exploitation cinema in the late 60's, the Magnolia continued to bring in prime first run features such as "Rio Lobo", "Klute", "Deliverance" and "Rollerball".

Always running a double feature, the Magnolia's price of $4.00 for adults and $2.50 for children under 12 was not too extravagant. Add to that, that the Magnolia was the only theater that allowed smoking in the auditorium (though only in the back rows, those seats equipped with little ashtrays, a forerunner of the cup holders we have now). And the addition of reclining seats for those who smoked must have been another advantage to taking up the habit.

On those days (or nights) that the Magnolia was busy, the scent of stale smoke and buttered popcorn brought with it a feeling of home in the 70's. The Magnolia was a good theater, but one with such an plain design on it's exterior that it remains my least favorite theater. While comfortable and spacious, there was an atmosphere there, and intangible quality that always told me I would never be old enough to fully appreciate this grand old movie house.

The Magnolia closed its doors in shortly after the Cornell Theater passed away. The building was soon purchased (it was rumored) by Barbra Streisand who turned the building into a state of the art recording facility. The Studio is now independent as the 'Babs' has retired (again). But driving by, I still get an urge to step out in front of that building if only to catch a faint memory of what had once been a grand palace of darkness and flickering light.



This site was last updated 07/25/07