19800 Hawthorne Blvd.
Torrance, CA, United States
The Old Towne began as a Mann four-plex in the middle 70s. A couple of years later, two additional auditoriums were added to accommodate the large numbers of patrons attending this venue. Some of the more successful first-run films that played Old Towne were "The Jerk," "Saturday Night Fever," and "The Road Warrior." In the early 90s, the theater adopted an admission price of "All Seats $3.00," and it became a second-run house. To the best of my knowledge, the theaters closed in the late 90s, possibly due to competition from the newly constructed AMC, Mann, and Pacific multiplexes located nearby. The theaters themselves were pretty nondescript, built for function and with no architectural appeal. There was a deli located inside the mall, near the theater, and the sandwiches were named after celebrities. One popular confection was the "Ike and Tina Tuna." Freud would have a field day with that one!
This was indeed a 4 plex which expanded to 6 later on. The manager towards the end was "Jewel" who moved over from the Fox Palos Verdes where she was Asst. Manager. This theater has been gutted and now used as retail space. Another big first run here was "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and they seemed to play all of the terrible 3-D films released in the '80s.
In the mid-1980s, I when I did not quite make it to class I would go to the Old Towne for one dollar movies on Tuesdays. One movie I well remember attending in 1986 was Pretty in Pink.
The Mann Old Towne 6 Theatre was located 19800 Hawthorne Blvd..
Old towne mall rocked. It had a malt shop, Vespa scooter outlet, fantasy ride, carousel, excellent modle shop and old style cop who dressed like the old days. The place rocked. I remember some excellent movies, and made out with my first girlfriend Kathy, actually got a wet finger when I was in it. Bless her heart!
Old Towne did rock. The theater was great, but the mall was incredible. They also had a shooting gallery, this weird forest ride, and of course, The Scorpio Shoppe. The owner moved this place to Hermosa Beach-still in business. I saw some great films there...and like knatcal, I too saw Pretty in Pink there. I went with my sister and her boyfriend at the time. This and the Marina Theater aka Rat Theater in Redondo Beach (now a condominium) were by far the best so. bay movie locales back in the day.
Rode the bus from San Pedro to watch movies here as a kid. Saw "Friday the 13th Pt.3 in 3D" here. Saw Farrah Fawcett in "Sunburn" here. Twice. Loved the weird fun house with the foam walls coming apart. Good times.
Olde Towne Mall opened with 10 indoor rides. 'Fantasia' was a 2-story, overhead ski-lift conveyance funhouse ride located 1/3 of the mall from the North end with a rotating barrel gag (that always had pennies rolling and dropping on unsuspecting riders) and little scummy river bisecting the upper level and waterfall beneath the lower level car storage area. Most of the effects were large, plush animals nailed to the floor/walls. It sucked as much as you think it might. Maybe more because I think one 2-minute ride was $2.50. It opened when the Mall debuted and closed in '84. Security would throw our punk asses out when we spit on the dolls and punched holes in the barrel. We were very immature and stupid... but we had a lot of fun.
The 'Double-Decker Denzel Carousel' was located mid-mall and featured the typical assortment of actual and mythical animals. It lasted the entire life of the mall until it was sold to a small theme park back east in '91. It had small swings on the upper level where you could catch a little air and screw up your balance. For a 10 year-old this was like a Zanax rush.
'The Haunted House' Pretzel dark ride lasted from '80 to '82. It was directly across from the Shooting Gallery and had only a handful of run-of-the-mill gags including the big black bat on a garage door opener. It was closed during the week because no one rode it except naive tourists on the weekends. It also sported several lame pop-up box monsters that were constantly vandalized to the point people stole the chicken wire protecting the $5 gags until only the supporting stick would pop up, the crappy monster either stolen or face down and flooding the little, Haz-Mat creek that ran from the end of the ride to the car storage area. I remember one flooding took out the dress shop to the left of it and swamped out the security device store on the right that moved to the South end after the flood.
Going waaaay back to the first 6 months the mall was open and before The Mann Theatres debuted they had a small but impressive carnival in the huge 3 story area at the entire South end of the mall. I believe it was Pay-One-Price but you could also buy individual tickets because admission was free. There was a 'Parachute' centrifugal wheel, a pair of 'Hammer Heads', the 'Kiddy Kar Thrill Track', a half scale 'Ferris Wheel' and a few, standard, small, circular kiddie rides. They filmed 'The Fury' at the carnival area (trashing the 'Parachute' 'ride in '78). Plot Outline: A government agent is determined to come to his son's rescue, when a sinister official kidnaps him to harbor his extremely powerful psychic abilities.The credits mistakenly credited 'Old Chicago Amusement Park, Bolingbrook, Illinois, USA ' as the park but it was actually filmed the last few months before the Carnival closed and the remodeling for the theatres began. Of course there was the midway where, if you were real lucky, you could win a $2.00 Mr. Bill doll for $20.00 worth of darts. This area also blew goats.
Does any one else remember the indoor 'Miniature Golf Course' near mid mall and the 'Sega Center Arcade' at the North end near the Food Court? How about the glass-enclosed train tracks outside of the 'Fantasia' ride and 'The Belgian Waffle House' restaurant where you could run one of 4 trains on different tracks for .50?
The theatres completely fell into disrepair when they went to a $3 discount house. The floors felt like you were stuck in the La Brea Tar pits and it was obvious to anyone with a nose that several patrons decided the restrooms were just too far away and offloaded up in the back floor of the theatres. I remember the theatres would build a large model of a scene from one of their current movies right out front of the ticket line. "Caddy Shack' was the best followed by 'Friday the 13th'. Somehow they talked the manager to display severed body parts and a huge amount of stage blood. These cool displays were also completely trashed within days.
The best time I remember at those theatres is when someone released a jar of moths during 'Strange Brew'. Just like in the movie, the moths clustered around the only source of light in the room (the projection Room Window) completely ruining the next few showings and forcing the extremely, morbidly obese 'Jewel' to roll off her re-enforced bench to give out free passes. Also, their was a pretty impressive fight just outside the Box Office when a large crowd of rednecks started hazing anybody that was buying a 'Purple Rain' ticket.
Immature? Disrespectful? Complete lack of respect for others property through random acts of malicious vandalism? You betcha. Good Times, indeed. VIVA LA OLDE TOWNE!
...Also, does anyone remember the wax museum during the first year Olde Towne opened? It was pretty lame, too.
Finally, a dicussion about Old Towne Mall!!! My childhood favorite...I was so sad to see it go. My mother took me there all the time to ride the carousel in the early 80s, and we knew the owners of the Belgian Waffle by name (in fact, a year or so ago we ended up reunited with them because one now works at our local coffee shop).
My mother has lived in the South Bay her whole life, and remembers each and every thing that's been discussed in this thread, as well as the ones about the UA 6 at Del Amo, and the Redondo Beach Cinemas. She was very excited to hear all about the various rides in Old Towne once more. She says the Fantasia ride was the best, and that the whole place started going downhill when the Time-Out arcade was put in. Her brother (my uncle), incidentally, was the clown-ish person who walked the invisible dog to entice people to buy those fake/gag dog leashes.
I fondly remember the swings on top of the carousel, getting a smurf toy from the hanging baskets at the toy store, and going trick-or-treating there each Halloween. I miss it dearly.
There was a good comic store there, called the Comic Vendor, which eventually relocated to North Torrance. I recall public chess tables there too, that my dad always said "were where the queers met up." I also distinctly remember riding a kid's ride called THE BUSY BEE, which woulda been fun if the bee-antennae hand controls had worked properly.
Definitely, the coolest place to see flicks in the So. Bay in 1982.
Believe it or not, the Mann Old Towne 6 was a cash cow for Mann Theatres. I was working at the Village in Westwood around 1981/1982 and they bragged all the time that it was their highest grossing theatre in the entire chain. Go figure.
Old Towne Mall was an awesome place for us kids growing up in the 70's! Back in the day, when our parents thought life was safe, they would drop me and my friends off there so that we had a place to hang out and be cool and not pester our parents. I remember getting the lemon/salt cucumbers on a stick; the very cool poster shop; the pet shop where I bought my first hamster; the magic shop; and the roller skating shop. I think there was some killer spaghetti/pizza restaurant at the main entrance. I do remember that there was a ton of food! I loved the arcade and the tacky rides: those would kill time before seeing a movie. I remember seeing "Jaws III" and "The Jerk" at that theater, as well as countless other gems. I need to go see the postings about the old South Bay Center, the other "neighborhood" theaters that were located at Artesia/Hawthorne. Wow, alot has changed in our area... I'm feeling so OLD!
I'll never forget the image of the carousel inside the mall (in the middle - the 2nd entrance I believe) looking in from Hawthorn Blvd on my many journeys w/ my mom or dad around the SouthBay during the late 70's and early 80's...for some reason that image never left. I always looked for that when I passed by.
I remember seeing Apocalypse Now in 1979 as a 9 year old, and saw the cheesey film "Meteor" on a Friday night in that same year with a friend from school and his mom. I also snuck into "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" in 1986 and watched the movie in a packed house, sitting on the carpet in the back... I can even remember which theater--as you walk in and pass the snack bar you make a left and go up the ramp....it was the last one up to the right. Sneaking in was fun...we usually did it in the back (across from the Music PLUS record store)..."Summer School" was another movie I saw there,,hahah
Years passed the mall obviously got worse and then CLOSED....I remember talking bad about it ..we all did in the mid 80's or so like, "why was it still around. What a boring mall." Hey we were in highschool... Boy was I wrong. It was CLASSIC!
My last memory is when they moved the carousel at the south end and closed off the mall...In college at the time , I took my girlfriend to see "Goodfellas" there for $3(big spender, ey! LOL) ..I raved about the movie and it was the only place where it was still showing...I think there was an arcade there too...all near the food area. WOW....kind of sad looking back and at the time I could care less.... Now I'm curioius to see pictures of the interior and exterior of the mall during the 70's.
Hey Steelerb! Thanks for sharing your cool "Old Towne" experiences. Thanks also for the links. I have some friends who may want to see those... Wow, thank goodness for the Internet! I love seeing those old pictures of that great mall. I totally remember bad mouthing the mall as I got older. It's sad that all the current shopping malls have become so cookie cutter and "corporate". I love the cheesiness of the 70's now that I look back on it all. I'm still living in the neighborhood, and it's sad to see how little has been preserved from my childhood. Take care!
Hi SocalNative! I grew up in El Segundo (HS Class of 88) but now live about a mile behind (West) the South Bay Galleria near that park w/ the basketball court, rec center and baseball field. Nice area.
The Old Towne Mall looks so horrible now...what a sad site. I drove around the parking lot today just to check it out...hey at least the parking lot is still there! LOL
SCN and others....if anyone stumbles upon more Old Towne mall pics I'd LOVE TO SEE THEM--especially that Ghost Ride and Carousel--That classic Carousel. Take Care SoCalNative!
I too saw Pretty in Pink, The Lost Boys, and Some Kind of Wonderful on opening night there. That was probably the theater that I visited most when I was a teen. But I never knew all this about the mall. By the late 80's all we went there for was the pet shop (where we got our toy poodle that lived for 17 years) and the beauty supply store for my beauty school drop out sister. The majority of the storefronts were vacant. Oh and Federated whose commercial had that annoying "Fred Rated" (Shadoe Stevens) sledge hammering electronic devices.
I remember seeing 2 horrible films there John Beluchi's "1941" and "Howard the Duck." Three other memories from the olde town mall. I remember the Shady Lady dress shop. The band shell in the north food court. I remember that played alot of rag time/dixie land music. One group I remember was an all women band that played washboards, kazoo's, etc. I also remember very early in the mall's history that a place called the "Artesian Way" (i think it was called that.) it was at the south end of the mall and feature arts and crafts from people who would bring there stuff to sell.
Wow! I just googled "old town mall" and found all this. Totally awesome. I grew up in Torrance and the So. Bay area. My mom worked at the Scorpio Shoppe with Jerry Mirror from about '74-'77. I loved that mall. The cheezy rides, the merry-go-round, the pizza place and the movie theatre. I saw the first Nightmare on Elm street there and so much more. I got my ears pierced at the mall when I was 3. Lots of good memories shared. Thanks everyone. I would love to have some actual photographs of the mall "back in the day" for a memior I am compiling. If anyone has old pictures to share, please e-mail me. Thanks