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Richmond: Still time to get tickets to benefit comedy show on April 26

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A few tickets are still available for the comedy shows on April 26 headlined by Ronnie Schell and Will Durst to benefit the Richmond Museum of History.
Shows will be at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Topline Theater, 1402 Marina Way South in Richmond.
A handful of tickets remain for the afternoon show and there are more than 30 available for the evening show, said museum Executive Director Melinda McCrary.
Richmond native Schell will emcee the shows and do some standup of his own between sets by Will Durst, Kivi Rogers and David Gee.
All of the comedians are donating their time and talents for the benefit show.
Tickets are $30 each, available at the Richmond Museum of History, 400 Nevin Ave.; online at richmondmuseum.org; or by calling 510-235-7387.

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Berkeley: Giveaway on Sunday of seats from UC Theatre

The UC Theatre in Berkeley is offering a unique opportunity to longtime fans on Sunday: Free original theater seats, available first-come, first serve. The new owners of the funky and beloved movie house, who are raising funds to turn the theater into a performance venue, posted the following Friday on their Facebook page:

Memories that last a lifetime available Sunday Noon to 4pm at The UC Theatre!
We’re giving away some of the UC Theatre Rocky Horror nourished, Landmark Theatre initiated, historic theatre seats…
FREE – ONE TIME ONLY this Sunday, March 1st, from 12noon to 4pm.
If you are interested, here are the conditions we ask you to follow:
1) First come, First Served.
2) Seats are in sections – no single or double or triple seats available – the smallest sections available are 4-6 seats. Larger sections are also available. The seats are VERY HEAVY!
3) Seats must be removed as is.
4) You must have a truck or van, and a minimum of 2 strong people to load them. They are VERY HEAVY!
5) We cannot give away the chairs unless you meet the criteria above. No exceptions.
Please spread the word to people who will adopt, cherish, and give these seats a good home!
Donations to the Berkeley Music Group in support of The UC Theatre “Turn on the Lights” Capital Campaign are much appreciated. www.theuctheatre.org/support.
See you at the Theatre this Sunday!
Thanks!

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When baseball great Jackie Robinson came to Oaks Ball Park in Emeryville

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Program page from the 1951 exhibition game at Oaks Ball Park between Jackie Robinon’s All Stars and Billy Raimondi’s Major-Minor Leaguers.

Saturday, Jan. 31, is the birthday of baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson, who was 28 years old in 1947 when he broke Major League Baseball’s longstanding unwritten ban on black baseball players.
Robinson made at least three visits to Oaks Ball Park in Emeryville on barnstorming tours.
The first two were in October of 1946, when Robinson, still about six months away from breaking the major league color barrier when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers, came to the East Bay with a group of black baseball players to face the local black baseball team, the Oakland Larks, in an exhibition game.

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Jackie Robinson caused something of a sensation in 1946, when he was signed to play with the Montreal Royals, a Brooklyn Dodger farm team.

(Robinson and team also made a stop in San Francisco to play a team led by another future Hall of Fame player, Cleveland Indians ace Bob Feller.)
Robinson was an established big league star when he made a return trip to Emeryville in November of 1951, when his barnstorming All Star team played a squad of current and former Pacific Coast League players led by Oakland Oaks catcher Billy Raimondi.

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Jackie Robinson had just finished his first and only minor league season with the Montreal Royals in 1946 when he came to Oaks Ball Park in Emeryville with a team of Negro League players and black teammates as part of a barnstorming tour. Their opponents that day were the Oakland Larks, a black baseball team whose members included Lionel Wilson, future judge and Oakland mayor.

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Robinson’s barnstorming tour made a second visit to Emeryville in October of 1946.

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Players on Robinson’s touring team that came to the East Bay in 1951 included Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League, and his Cleveland Indian teammate Luke Easter.

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Richmond: Students invited to free screening of “Selma” on Monday

Students will be admitted free to the 10:50 a.m. Jan. 19 showing of the film “Selma” at the Century Hilltop 16 Movie Theater, 3200 Klose Way, in celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Admission is on a first-come, first-serve basis and the ticket price for adults will be $7.
All other screenings that day will be at the regular ticket price.
Free bus transportation to the showing, leaving at 10 a.m., will be available at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, 684 Juliga Woods St.
The shpwing is sponsored by Richmond Cease Fire/CCISCO and Cinemark Theaters.

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Hand-tinted images of the Panama Pacific International Exposition from 100 years ago

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Color photography wasn’t an option when the Panama Pacific International Exposition opened 100 years ago in what is now the Marina district of San Francisco, but the Bardell Art Printing Co. of San Francisco issued beautiful and painstakingly hand-tinted images of the World’s Fair in numerous forms, including fine prints and postcards.
Shown here are images of the fair buildings from an album issued by Bardell in 1915. By the time of the Golden Gate International Exposition 24 years later, color photography (and film) was available, but expensive, and black-and-white pictures and home movies were still the norm, as were tinted postcards that don’t live up to their predecessors.
Special days at the PPIE for Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond and other West Coast cities were held acknowledging their contributions to the still-young state. (It should be noted that the “End of the Trail” statue was repeated at the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island on 1939).

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Palace of Education.

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Birdseye view of the Pan.-Pac. Int. Exposition.

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Arch of the Rising Sun — Court of the Universe.

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Palace of Fine Arts.

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Palace of Horticulture.

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Arch and Fountain of the Setting Sun.

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Court of Flowers.

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Festival Hall.

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Court of Palms.

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Fountain of Ceres — Court of the Four Seasons

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Tower of Jewels — Fountain of the Setting Sun.

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Reflection in the Lagoon — Court of Four Seasons.

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Lagoon and Fountain — South Gardens.

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Palm Avenue.

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Reflection in the Lagoon — Court of Four Seasons.

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Illumination Mullgardt’s Tower — Court of Abundance.

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Column of Progress.

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Dome of Fine Arts Palace Illuminated.

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Tower of Jewels.

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Colonnades Palace of Fine Arts.

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Statue: End of the Trail and Tower of Jewels.

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Tower of Jewels Illumination.

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Tower and Court of Abundance.

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Tower of Jewels.

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Souvenir postcard views of the 1925 Tournament of Roses parade

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In the age before television, the only to see the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena was in person or via news photos or newsreel. If you did attend in person, you could share the experience with a souvenir postcard. We found this 80-year-old postcard strip of prize-winning floats, originally mailed when address requirements were minimal, at Wonderland Books in El Cerrito.
Note the float that has a dirigible made of flowers.

The Rose Bowl that year was a legendary matchup between Notre Dame, coached by Knute Rockne and featuring the famous “Four Horsemen,” in a showdown against Stanford, coached by Pop Warner and featuring all-time great Ernie Nevers.

Nevers established a Rose Bowl single-game rushing record in the game, with 114 yards on 34 carries. But Notre Dame prevailed 27-10.
Radio play-by-play of the Rose Bowl commenced the following year.

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WWII Wednesday: Olive Oyl works as a wartime welder

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Olive Oyl was already a popular cartoon star by the time the United States entered World War II, but still did her part during the war by puncing the clock as a welder. Amorous advances by co-workers Popeye and Bluto lead to some workplace safety issues, however.

While work on the Popeye cartoon “Mess Production” started months earlier, it actually was released by Famous Studios on Aug. 24, 1945, 10 days after VJ Day.
The cartoon incorporates a number of gags from two 1930s black-and-white Popeye cartoons from the Fleischer Studios (predecessor of Famous Studios): “A Dream Walking” and “Lost and Foundry,” as well as the 1942 Superman cartoon “Destruction, Inc.”, a wartime cartoon with Lois Lane in the Rosie the Riveter role.

http://youtu.be/lgHKQiPiH5g

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Berkeley’s UC Theatre through the years

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The theater as it looked when it opened in 1917.

Plans to renovate and reopen the historic UC Theatre on University Avenue in Berkeley were announced last week.
Here is a look at the landmark movie house over the years:

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Another view from 1917.

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By 1924 the theater had added a marquee and vertical sign.

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The theater in 1933. It was the height of the Great Depression and a repossessed furniture store was next door.

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The theater soldiered on during World War II.

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The UC Theatre in 1968, when its neighbor was the underground newspaper Berkeley Barb.

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Interior of the UC Theatre in its heyday.

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Watercolor rendering of the theater as it would look renovated as a performance venue.

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A look at the Albany Theater through the years, part 1

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This photo of Solano Avenue from the late 1920s shows the original Albany Theater, a small one-story building at the left that dates from 1914 and hosted vaudeville. Behind it is the two-story building that was built as an Italian organization meeting hall. The hall would be renovated and reopened in 1935 as the Albany Cinema. In its original form, the meeting hall had two storefronts at street level and a ballroom and meeting rooms on the second floor. Note the Southern Pacific street car tracks (and overhead wires) on Solano and the Key System tracks on San Pablo Avenue in the foreground.

(Click on the pictures for a larger view.)

The movie house on Solano Avenue known over the years as the Albany Theater (or Theatre), Albany Cinema, and now the Albany Twin, is a survivor in an era when many neighborhood film emporiums have closed. Victims include The Oaks at the Berkeley end of Solano, shuttered for several years.
But the Albany Theater was not the original venue with that name, nor was it originally a theater.
It succeeded a one-story predecessor next door on Solano that was built in 1914 and operated as a vaudeville venue.
The second Albany Theater was originally a two-story meeting hall built in 1926 by an Italian-American organization. It had two storefronts on the ground floor and meeting space and a dance floor above.
The building was purchased in 1934 by a successful theater operator who hired Berkeley architect William Garren to redesign the building to show movies. Plans were announced in November 1934 and the building’s interior was gutted and turned into a movie house that opened in 1935.
Garren took control of the theater when the man who hired him died and the well-known architect would go on to manage it for the next 30 years, becoming a popular figure in town, becoming a leader of the business community and serving on Albany commissions.
One longtime resident recalled that homebuilder C.M. MacGregor would annually treat the local kids to a free matinee and ice cream at the theater and would dance down the center aisle wearing a tam o’shanter and singing a little ditty.

Garren had a good run as the unplanned cinema operator, but finally bowed out in 1965. He did remain active in civic affairs for some years to come.
Jack Tillmany, who managed the Albany Theater after Garren stepped down and provided many of the photos and clippings we will post here. He offered the following reminiscences:

In the early 1960s, I managed the Piedmont Cinema in Oakland for Martin Foster, who also operated the Parkway Cinema on Park Blvd. Both of them were tremendously successful, thanks mostly to a well selected format of popular titles, such as the James Bond and Pink Panther series at the Piedmont, and more international fare at the Parkway, seasoned with hotties like Dr. Strangelove and Romeo and Juliet. It was inevitable that Foster would expand and the Berkeley market beckoned. In October 1965 he took over the Albany from William Garren and I was promoted to general manager for the three enterprises. Garren had operated Albany as a mom and pop venue for the local family trade, with Saturday afternoon matinees for the kids, etc., all of which had, by that time, had become part of a bygone era. Foster wanted to appeal to the Berkeley crowd, with more of an off beat, and European flavor, and the changeover was an immediate success, bringing new life into a dying operation, and a new Berkeley audience who had probably never before ventured that far West on Solano Ave.

The earliest (circa 1941) and only photo I’ve ever seen of Albany, is before its 1950 remodeling, when SP trains still ran on Solano Avenue.You can’t see much of the theatre, except its original vertical, and the “Any Seat Any Time 30 cents” sign on the West wall, but that sort of says it all.

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The Albany Theatre (“30 cents cents any seat, any time”) about 1941 with a streetcar of the Southern Pacific line in the foreground. At the left is the S.P. (Southern Pacific) Store, managed by Max Etingoff and now Max’s Liquors. Also note there is a street level billboard on Solano at the left of the streetcar.

Tillmany continues:

I really don’t think Garren every quite understood the 1960s or what was happening to his beloved theatre, but it had suddenly become part of the era and Foster was smiling all the way to the bank. I remember one evening, with a sell out crowd inside and a line around the corner and up the block waiting for the next show, and Garren stopped by and just looked around in amazement! Here it is in June 1967, with another tremendous success that Foster had milked dry at the Parkway and then moved up to the Albany for an even longer, continued run, Georgy Girl.

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The Albany Cinema as it looked in June of 1967. In addition to its original conversion, the building by this time had undergone three remodeling projects inside or outside.

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Work to convert the meeting hall to a movie house began late in 1934 and it opened in 1935. The interior was gutted and the second floor removed to create an auditorium and the exterior was remodeled and a marquee added. Note that plans included an airplane beacon and a nursery with cribs and toys.

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Plans were filed in 1945 to remodel the theater’s interior.

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Newspaper coverage of an exterior remodeling in 1950.

COMING UP NEXT: BATMAN COMES TO THE ALBANY THEATER

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The Albany Twin as it looks today.

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