Jul 28, 2014
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Yet Another Reason to Reopen the Rialto

Michael Jackson's music video "Thriller" was filmed at the Rialto in South Pas.

I quickly realized upon moving to this area that the Rialto held a special place in the hearts of South Pasadeneans. And for good reasons.

"Oh, I loved the Rialto. I took my family to see the last movie shown there, Ratatouille," Margaret Finnegan commented on Patch.

"Everything about the place was charming, including legends of ghosts and freckly candy sellers."

From the workers to the history to the architecture, locals could reminisce about the theatre for hours.

Upon posting columnist , tons of readers commented on Patch. Some recalled memories; others offered ideas on reopening the historic landmark. 

One resident even asked a question that resulted in a wonderful discovery.

"Does anyone know if the Rialto was the location for the interior, movie theater seating shots for the THRILLER video short (Michael Jackson's) now in the National Archives?" Christine wrote on June 12.

Well I did some research and, yes, the interior shots of the video were filmed at the Rialto in South Pas, according to IMDb. Yet another bit of historical goodness!

So, what's next for the Rialto? 

While South Pasadena's love for the theater seems to be widespread, Escott O. Norton, who was part of Friends of the Rialto, a group that restored the original lobby murals and hosted the 60th Anniversary Gala in 1985, told Patch one city official back then said he would make sure the Rialto was shut down for good if Norton tried to bring back live theater.

In Allee's article tomorrow (Tuesday), she'll share theater renovation success stories. And most importantly, could South Pas model their behavior? 

Her video will include locals talking about their Rialto memories—plus an interview with a man instrumental in saving the Rialto back in the late '70s. He even let her use some of his vintage photos. 

In the meantime, check out some of our attached videos. To your right is a mini-documentary on the history of the Rialto by student filmmaker Miranda Gontz; also Allee's montage of new and old photos; and Michael Jackson's Thriller video. Enjoy!

Editor's Note: The 60th Anniversary Gala took place in 1985, which means no current city council members were serving at that time.  

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