Theatres of Portland.

oriental theatre

This week, Outlook Portland welcomes co-authors of the new book, “Theatres of Portland”, Steve Stone and Gary Larcher. “Theatres of Portland” is a great collection of photographs of the movie palaces from Portland’s past — the Fox, the Paramount, the Oriental, the Broadway, the Orpheum and others. Portland has always had more than its share of theaters and is lucky that many of the neighborhood movie houses survive in some form, even if the beauties that once lined Broadway are long gone.

Steve and Gary will also be signing their book this Saturday as part of an event at  the Hollywood Theatre at 1 p.m. Saturday as part of a program that includes “Before the Dark,” a documentary about the demolition of the Oriental Theatre, and the 1957 Peter Sellers movie “The Smallest Show on Earth.”

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One thought on “Theatres of Portland.

  1. On February 17, 1970, the Oriental Theatre had an auction which turned out to be the Titanic of my life. I was a student at Benson High School at that time. My father actually grew up with the Oriental from the time it opened on December 31. 1927. My sister danced on the stage of the Oriental during the years that the city manged the use for plays and recitals in 1967 and 68. I spent many a Friday and Saturday at the Oriental along with roller skating down the street at the Imperial Roller Rink. I still feel the thrill of walking out on to the balcony and staring at the vast auditorium dome with the huge chandelier and life size art figures. My father was a close aquaintance of Dennis Hedberg, who was the last manager of the Oriental. Therefore, I was able to help out with the Wurlitzer Organ and venture through out the entire theater complex as a kid. The interior of the theater was in remarkably great shape in 1969. The only items showing wear were the carpets and the seats. I remember the night of March 29, 1970, like it was yesterday. My dad and I were retrieving what ever we could load on to my dad’s truck Incredibly, very little was actually saved from the building. Many people who purchased items at the auction, later realized that the figures and ornaments were to large and to difficult to remove and they ended up leaving with out them. By then, the power was disconnected from the theatre and the last sound that ever came from the Oriental was a noisy power generator that was centered on the balcony providing the only light for this last performance. Of course, there is so much more to tell, and I will leave with my memory of the wrecker’s steel ball sitting on the corner of Belmont and 6th avenue on the last night of the truly magnificent Oriental Theatre. Demolition started the following day on March 30, 1970. This event was front page news with a photo story for the Oregonian newspaper.

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