Located five blocks south of the 110 freeway, on Fair Oaks Avenue in South Pasadena, the Rialto Theatre is now closed and endangered. The Rialto Theatre opened for vaudeville and movies on October 17, 1925, with Ray Metcalfe playing the 2 manual, 10 rank Wurlitzer pipe organ and with the Rialto Orchestra accompanying the world premiere of Universal’s “What Happened to Jones” starring Reginald Denny. A Franchon and Marco stage show included Trapeze artists and vaudeville acts. Admission was 30 cents. The Rialto Theatre was one of the last theatres to be designed by noted theatre architect Lewis A. Smith, who died the following year. It is decorated in a mix of several styles, mainly Moorish, but there are elements of Egyptian, Spanish Baroque and Classical features too, all contributing to the Jazz Age charm of this theatre.-Howard B. Haas
During its long history, rumors of the theater being haunted have been consistently circulated. Tales abound of people having died there, particularly a girl who allegedly slit her wrists in the bathroom before making her way up to the balcony and bleeding to death. Another story tells of a man who went insane in the projector booth.
In any event, staff and visitors allege that the stalls in the girl’s bathroom have been known to start shaking of their own accord. In the theater itself, the apparition of an older man has often been sitting in various seats, as well as walking up and down the balcony stairs. Could this be the man who went insane in the projector booth?
Others say that the theater is also haunted by a cat. In its early days, the theater’s mascot was a cat who roamed the old movie house, brushing up against customers’ legs and often walking in front of the screen. According to some tales, the cat continues to move stealthily through the theater and produced an eerie red light when the phantom walked in front of the movie screen.
Another visitor reported the image of a dark figure gliding down off the stage, making his way toward the theater seats, before disappearing into the lobby.
Other "normal” paranormal events have also been reported such as abnormalities in photographs, uneasy feelings people experience in various areas of the theater, especially in the women’s restroom, and whispers that are sometimes heard.
Paranormal groups who have investigated the theater agree that it is most likely haunted. -legends of america
Having visited the Rialto Theater, I really enjoyed walking around looking at every nook and cranny of the exterior through the lens of my Nikon. The feeling of wonder and old Hollywood is evoked by its majestic facades and charm. The faded days long past are seen and evident in the emotional response to the building. I hope someday someone will take the time to bring this Historical Landmark back to life. I felt the theater had a presence from the minute I walked up to the front doors. The main bottom floor is fine, but the stairs leading upstairs to the balcony section, had an ominous shadow figure moving around. I will be posting the enhanced photograph soon. Stand from the front by the doors, and you might capture some evidence as well. That's if, you really want to see it. happy hunting!