For a recent column on Ontario’s Yangtze Restaurant, I needed to know when the Ritz Theater, Yangtze’s longtime neighbor, burned down. The indefatigable Joanne Boyajian of the Ontario City Library’s Model Colony History Room found the date and more. Why not share the research here? It’ll bring back memories or fill in some gaps in history.
The theater began as the California (in 1933, according to my own files), showed B movies compared to the classier fare at the Granada and became the Ritz on June 22, 1961.
Its last all-ages movie was “Dr. Zhivago,” which ran for weeks. Then, circa 1967-68, the theater went X-rated, much to the consternation of the community. The Ritz burned on Friday, April 27, 1979. The Daily Report quoted the Rev. Clarence G. Eigenhuis, past of the First Foursquare Church in Ontario, as calling the fire an “answer to prayer.” (I’ve been told people gathered to cheer.)
The fire was initially thought to be of suspicious origin, but arson was ruled out as no clues were found, the Progress Bulletin reported. Investigators concluded the fire was accidental and was due to an electrical short circuit in the balcony.
If you have memories of the California or Ritz theaters, post away below.