Friends of the Rialto | What’s Coming

There's a lot coming to South Pasadena's legendary Rialto Theatre

PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |

Happy 93rd Birthday to the Rialto Theatre!


PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |
PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |

93 years ago tonight, on Saturday October 17, 1925, the Rialto Theatre opened to great fanfare and stars coming all the way from Hollywood for the world premiere of “What Happened to Jones”! It must have been quite a night for South Pasadena! Unfortunately, there have been no photos discovered of the event, as much as we have tried to find them! Instead of photos, Here are some actual items discovered by Friends of the Rialto that were there on Opening Night!

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PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |

These beautiful Batchelder tiles are located on the sides of the water fountain in the lobby. Have you seen them? And this old worn carpet is one of only 2 pieces left of the original 1925 carpet, It is located House Right just next to the orchestra pit. We’ve spoken to carpet restoration specialists, this is enough to actually replicate for new carpeting. Won’t that look great?

PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |
PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |

This is a difficult one, can you guess where this is? I have spent countless hours exploring the Rialto for over 3 decades, and I only recently discovered this little detail. It is a red velvet valance with a nice bronze detail on it. Any ideas? It is located directly under this lion’s head if that helps. Give up? It is on the side exit doors in the balcony. Originally all the exit doors had velvet curtains so that light and sound wouldn’t disturb the audience if doors were opened. The curtains are long gone, but this one valance remains!

PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |
PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |

Finally, this little item is pretty special, and the connection to the Rialto’s Opening Night is wonderful! A few years ago I was approached by the descendants of Clyde Church, the banker who owned the land where the Rialto was built. On Opening Night, in addition to the Hollywood stars, the live orchestra the “5 snappy acts of vaudeville” and the world premiere, there was also a giveaway. One of Mr Church’s 3 daughters was the winner of this little hand painted hat-stand. It was a prized possession and the story and the hat-stand were handed down through the generations. Jenny, the great grand daughter of Mr Church, brought this little treasure to an event and let me hold it for this photo!


Movie Screenings at the Rialto

This Saturday, October 20th, Mosaic Church will present a public screening of the movie Ghostbusters! Come dressed in your best Ghostbusters attire and bring friends! For more information and to purchase tickets CLICK HERE.


Future Events

Friends of the Rialto has designed a detailed Rental Program template and has presented it to the Mosaic Church for consideration. Our goal is to help activate the Rialto Theatre throughout the week with a mix of community events, film screenings, film shoots, and private events. Activating the Rialto is part of our mission, and will also help generate revenue that can be used to restore the Theatre. The church is considering our proposal and we hope to set something in motion soon. We get an average of 2-3 requests to use the Rialto Theatre every week, so we are confident that we can help activate the Rialto with all sorts of interesting programming!


More Developments

Mosaic is looking at the possibility of subleasing the retail spaces in the Rialto Theatre building. These spaces have been used in the past for everything from restaurants, barber shops locksmiths and baseball card shops! They seem most interested in some kind of food / beverage shop that would work well with a theatre use. If you know someone who might seriously be interested in using these spaces, please have them contact us at We will put you in touch with the right people.
Please help spread the word about our efforts. Forward this email to others who might be interested, and urge them to sign up on our website and join our Facebook Page.


Who Are We?

PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |

Friends of the Rialto was formed in 1983 as a committee of the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation by Escott O. Norton. Over the years, many people have been involved in supporting the efforts, from dedicated theatre employees to residents of the community. Our current advisors includes theatre professionals, artists, historians, film fans, and interested residents of South Pasadena and surrounding communities. Friends of the Rialto is a 501(c)3 non-profit designation.

What Do We Do?

PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |

The Primary Mission of the Friends of the Rialto is to advocate for the preservation, historic renovation, and reopening of the Rialto Theatre. We are willing to work with all parties to achieve that goal.

PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |

Our vision for the Rialto is to help reopen the Theatre as a multi-use venue, presenting a wide range of arts, from live theatre, music, comedy, speakers series, to classic and contemporary films. Through decades of personal research I am confident that this is the best use for the Rialto, and is also the best fit for the community of South Pasadena. As we enter the next phase of the Rialto’s life with Mosaic Church as the tenant, we will do our best to ensure that a wide variety of the arts are still presented to the public.

What Can You Do?

Spread the word!!!
Tell your friends about us! The larger our numbers, the stronger our voice. Whether it’s letter writing, fund-raising, or putting on hard hats and participating on Rialto work days, the more hands the better

Share your ideas
What do you see for the future of the Rialto? Think about it! Share your ideas on Facebook, or via e-mail.

Treasure Hunt
Go through your attics and old photo albums! We are trying to create a central archive for all things related to the Rialto and its history. If you have old photos or memorabilia you would be willing to share with us, please send me an email at


We are building a Volunteer Mailing List. If you want to be notified when we need help, please CLICK HERE to join the Team!

PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto |

We Are Still Accepting Donations

While the original goal of our online campaign was to raise startup funds in order to take on the lease, we are still accepting donations that will be held for advocacy and restoration projects. There are many examples of advocacy groups taking on special restoration projects that might not be done without these funds.

We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and can accept donations by check while we revamp our online campaign.

We will be announcing our next restoration effort shortly!

Thank you!

PHOTO: Friends of the Rialto | | Escott O. Norton, Founding Director

How to Reach Us

If you are on Facebook you will get the latest information on the restoration process, as well as events that might be of interest.There are lots of photos of the Rialto and other theatres I have researched over the years. You can also make comments and have Rialto related conversations with other Friends.

Twitter: @FotRIALTO
Instagram: @friendsoftherialto

Mailing Address:
Friends of the Rialto
277 W Green St #301
Pasadena, CA 91105

Street Address:
Rialto Theatre
1023 Fair Oaks Avenue
South Pasadena, CA 91030