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Fox Theater Bakersfield

Fox Theater Bakersfield

First Opened: 25th December 1930 (89 years ago)

Reopened: 1st July 1994

Status: Originally opened on Christmas Day in 1930.

Website: thebakersfieldfox.com Open website in new window

Telephone: (661) 324-1369 Call (661) 324-1369

Address: 2001 H Street, Bakersfield, CA 93301 Show address in Google Maps (new window)

Featured Photos

Overview

The Bakersfield Fox opened on Christmas Day in 1930 as an atmospheric theatre with a Mediterranean Village theme. Architect S. Charles Lee originally envisioned the theatre anchoring a major retail center with open arcades at street level, however ultimately plans were scaled-back. In 1953 the auditorium was given a Skouras-style makeover resulting in its current appearance.

The Fox Theater Buillding
The Fox Theater Building

Lee designed the building in Spanish Colonial Revival style with mission tiles on the roof and white stucco walls. The building features an eye-catching tower with Churrigueresque detailing around the lower windows, slender slot windows accentuating the height of the tower, “FOX” neon signage above, and large neon-lit clock faces at the top sitting just below a ornamental dome. The building was executed in poured concrete over steel, allowing it to withstand the 1952 Kern County earthquake (M7.3) that saw many other downtown Bakersfield buildings seriously damaged and subsequently demolished.

Sloping Ceiling of the Lobby
Sloping Ceiling of the Lobby

The lobby features dramatic sloping concrete beams, supporting the balcony, originally painted with stenciled geometric designs. An original 1930s followspot as used in the theatre has been made a feature in the upper lobby.

The original auditorium (1,500 seats) was an “atmospheric” design, intended to transport patrons to some far-distant land with painted mural walls and a starry sky overhead.

Original 1930s Atmospheric Auditorium
Original 1930s Atmospheric Auditorium

The Fox featured a Mediterranean / Spanish Colonial Revival Village theme, similar to The Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. The proscenium was flanked either side by sets of three pillars mounted on large pedestal bases, supporting an ante-proscenium reminiscent of a Spanish Mission, and topped with a shallow sloping tiled roof. Large faux-buildings of differing designs featuring ornamental balconies sat on either side of the proscenium, with grilles giving them away as enclosing the organ chambers. The rest of the sidewalls featured asymmetrical simulated buildings and ornamental walls draped with ivy, behind which were murals of rural Spanish countryside scenes painted onto the sidewalls giving way to the sky above, complete with painted clouds and twinkling stars. The whole affair was lit with hidden cove lighting and allowed for differing moods to be created, such as sunset for warmth and more bluish colors to suggest coolness during the hot summers.

Brenkert F7 Master Brenograph
Brenkert F7 Master Brenograph

As was common with theatres of the time, the Fox had a Brenograph. These complex light projection machines, manufactured by the Brenkert Light Projection Company, were advertised as Projecting Everything but the Picture. They were most commonly used in atmospheric theatres to project moving clouds or other weather effects onto the “sky” auditorium ceiling. Brenographs were extremely versatile and could be used to project almost anything, from tableau scenes to song sheet sing-a-long words, animated effects, and enhancing the main feature presentation with color and/or surrounding projections. The Fox had the ultimate model, the F7 Master Brenograph, and as of 2019 it is still in the theatre. It is not operational but it is in exceedingly good shape and ready for renovation.

According to robertmorton.org Link opens in new window the Bakersfield Fox received a Robert Morton 2-manual, 16-rank organ. It is unknown when the organ was removed from the theatre.

The Skouras-style 1950s Auditorium
The Skouras-style 1950s Auditorium

In 1953, under the management of Fox West Coast Theatres, the Fox underwent a major remodel by Carl G. Moeller to give it a more modern theme, in common with what happened to much of the Fox West Coast Theatres chain at the time. Unlike most other theatres, this late 1940s / early 1950s treatment has not been partially or fully reversed over time, and the Fox retains its full Skouras-style treatment. The style is best described as Art Moderne meets Streamline, utilizing a mix of heavy Art Deco and light rococo forms of gilded ornamentation, with monumental ornament and heavy use of drapery.

Another aspect of the remodel saw a 45ft wide, 20ft tall CinemaScope screen added, accommodated by hacking-out the ornamental plasterwork sides of the original proscenium arch. Film projectors were also upgraded. Front-of-House areas were updated as part of the modernization with a large concessions area being added. On the outside of the building a new marquee and Skouras-style box office were added on top of brightly-colored terrazzo. The theatre reopened May 1st, 1953.

Hidden 1930 Wall Mural
Hidden 1930 Wall Mural

Behind some of the auditorium’s drapes there are remnants of Lee’s original theatre design including columns at either side of the proscenium, organ grilles, and plasterwork medallions. Parts of the original sidewall murals and hidden cove lighting scheme also survive.

In 1977 the Fox was closed and sat dormant for many years save for some brief activity in 1983-84. In 1994 the nonprofit Fox Theater Foundation was formed and their “Save the Fox” campaign saved the theatre from demolition thanks to generous donations from over 380 supporters.

The Fox is now a busy live events center which hosts a variety of events ranging from movies to ballet, community events and contemporary pop and rock acts. Select artists who have appeared at the Fox over the years include B.B. King, Cyndi Lauper, Bernie Mac, Tony Bennett, Jamie Foxx, Huey Lewis and the News, the Moscow Russian Ballet, Tom Jones, George Lopez, Johnny Cash, Vince Vaughn, Olivia Newton-John, Bryan Adams, The Monkees, The B52’s, Ice Cube, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Movie, TV & Music Video Appearances

Music Videos

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Listed/Landmark Building Status

How do I visit the Fox Theater Bakersfield?

The Bakersfield Fox doesn’t currently offer tours so check out the theatre’s events calendar Link opens in new window for upcoming events.


Upcoming Special Events
** CANCELED ** “True Romance”

** CANCELED ** “True Romance” (6th April 2020, 7pm)

** THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED **

A comic-book nerd and Elvis fanatic Clarence (Christian Slater) and a prostitute named Alabama (Patricia Arquette) fall in love. Clarence breaks the news to her pimp and ends up killing him. He grabs a suitcase of cocaine on his way out thinking it is Alabama’s clothing. The two hit the road for California hoping to sell the cocaine, but the mob is soon after them.

Doors 6pm. Show 7pm. Runtime 119 mins. Tickets $5.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window




** CANCELED ** “Booze, Broads and Blackjack”

** CANCELED ** “Booze, Broads and Blackjack” (10th April 2020, 7pm)

** THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED **

Bring a sharpie for autographs and your best red carpet pose!

Hectic Films in association with Good Knight Productions, and Film Regions International, is proud to announce the West Coast Movie Premiere of “Booze, Broads and Blackjack”, Friday April 10th.

If you’re a fan of “Goodfellas” and “Casino” you’re going to love this movie! When East Coast radio host Jack King (Joe Raffa) goes to a Vegas celebrity Blackjack Tournament, his mob boss Uncle (Vincent Pastore – Big Pussy of the Sopranos) demands his nephew conduct some wise guy business while he’s there. A serious dilemma with no shortage of lighthearted moments soon unfolds. Many twists and turns await, in this brisk adventure that will lead you through the streets of Las Vegas to an unexpected ending

Also starring horror-movie cult actress Felissa Rose as Savannah, James Duval (Independence Day, Donnie Darko, Gone in 60 Seconds) as Oscar, Sarah French as Alicia, Erica Rey as Misty, John Thomassen as Larry, D.T. Carney as Tom, Thomas Haley as Dennis and Vincent M. Ward (The Walking Dead) as Tony.

This movie is directed by Hectic Film’s Rickey Bird Jr and written by Bakersfield novelist Carl Nicita. Main shooting scenes include Bakersfield and Las Vegas.

Following the movie, the audience will be invited to participate in a Q&A session with cast and crew members that may be in attendance, and available for photos and autographs.

Doors 6pm. Tickets $12 / $50.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window




** CANCELED ** “Transit”

** CANCELED ** “Transit” (17th April 2020, 7:30pm)

** THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED **

As fascism spreads, German refugee Georg flees to Marseille and assumes the identity of the dead writer whose transit papers he is carrying. Living among refugees from around the world, Georg falls for Marie, a mysterious woman searching for her husband—the man whose identity he has stolen. Adapted from Anna Segher’s 1942 novel, Transit transposes the original story to the present, blurring time periods to create a timeless exploration of the plight of displaced people.

Doors 6:30pm. Show 7:30pm. Runtime 101 mins. Tickets $6.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window




** CANCELED ** Tanya Tucker

** CANCELED ** Tanya Tucker (21st April 2020, 7:30pm)

** THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED **

Born in Seminole, Texas, Tanya had her first country hit, the classic “Delta Dawn,” at the age of 13 in 1972. Since that auspicious beginning Tucker has become one of the most admired and influential artists in country music history, amassing 23 Top 40 albums and a stellar string of 56 Top 40 singles, ten of which reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard country charts.

Tucker’s indelible songs include some of country music’s biggest hits such as the aforementioned “Delta Dawn,” “Soon,” “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane,” “It’s a Little Too Late,” “Trouble,” “Texas (When I Die),” “If It Don’t Come Easy” and “Strong Enough To Bend.” Tucker is also the recipient of numerous awards, including two CMAs, two ACMs and three CMT awards.

Recently, Tucker received four GRAMMY® Award nominations including Song Of The Year: “Bring My Flowers Now,” Best Country Album: While I’m Livin’, Best Country Solo Performance: “Bring My Flowers Now,” and Best Country Song: “Bring My Flowers Now.” The four nominations lead all 2020 Country GRAMMY® nominees.

Doors: 6:30pm. Tickets $37 / $47 / $57 / $150.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window




** CANCELED ** Franco Escamilla

** CANCELED ** Franco Escamilla (25th April 2020, 8pm)

** THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED **

Franco Escamilla, is a comic entertainer born on April 29,1981 in Cuautla Morelos, Mexico. He is a Musician, Comedian and Standup Performer, he is well known as “El Diablo (the Devil)”or “El Amo del Sarcasmo (The Master of Sarcasm)” for his YouTube videos of sarcastic jokes for adults, he brings a style of standup comedy with a sarcastic, rough, sour touch and with a black humor that has characterized him in his artistic career.

Doors: 7pm. Tickets $59 / $79 / $99 / $125.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window




LeAnn Rimes

LeAnn Rimes (14th May 2020, 8pm)

LeAnn Rimes is an international multi-platinum selling acclaimed singer and ASCAP award-winning songwriter who has sold more than 44 million units globally, won 2 Grammy® Awards; 12 Billboard Music Awards; 2 World Music Awards; 3 Academy of Country Music Awards; one Country Music Association Award and one Dove Award. At 14, Rimes won “Best New Artist” making her the youngest recipient to take home a Grammy® Award.

Out of the 42 singles she has released throughout her expansive career, LeAnn’s record “How Do I Live” continues to rank #4 on Billboard’s “Greatest of All Time: Hot 100 Songs,” and it holds the record for being the second longest charting song ever on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 15 of her multi-genre singles are top-10 hits, including “Can’t Fight the Moonlight,” which went #1 in 11 countries.

Passionate about using her voice to help heal the world, LeAnn was honored with the Ally of Equality Award by the Human Rights Campaign for her over 20 years of support of equal rights, the 2019 HOPE Award for Depression Advocacy, and 2009 ACM Humanitarian Award, among other recognitions. Rimes also created Soul of EverLe where she regularly shares inspirational thoughts and stories to help spread joy and Love.

Doors 7pm. Tickets $45 / $59 / $69.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window

Further Reading

Online

Books

Technical Information

Flying System
System Type
Single Purchase Counterweight operated Stage Right at Stage level
Grid Height
60ft
Linsets
30 @ 4-line Linesets
Lighting
Followspots
4 @ Lycian Super Star 2.5 (2,500W HMI/MSR)
Movie Projection
Projector
Christie DCP System
Stage Dimensions
Proscenium Height
27ft
Proscenium Width
48ft
Stage Depth
27ft
Historic Photos & Documents

Historic files shown here may be subject to copyright; review our “Fair Use” statement here.

Photos of the Fox Theater Bakersfield

Jump to Photo Section:

  1. Auditoirum: Orchestra
  2. Auditorium: Balcony
  3. Auditorium: From Stage
  4. Auditorium: Original Decor
  5. Lobby and Public Areas
  6. Other Public Areas
  7. Exterior
  8. Backstage
  9. Dressing Rooms
  10. Projection Booth
  11. Clock Tower
Auditoirum: Orchestra

The atmospheric-style auditorium, opened in 1930 and designed by S. Charles Lee, received a complete makeover in 1953 in Skouras-style, best described as Art Moderne meets Streamline. The Fox Bakersfield Theater is one of the few remaining comprehensive examples of this style.

Auditorium: Balcony

The atmospheric-style auditorium, opened in 1930 and designed by S. Charles Lee, received a complete makeover in 1953 in Skouras-style, best described as Art Moderne meets Streamline. The Fox Bakersfield Theater is one of the few remaining comprehensive examples of this style.

Auditorium: From Stage
Auditorium: Original Decor

A few remnants of the 1930 atmospheric-style auditorium still remain. A medallion on the House Left organ chamber is still visible behind the gold drapery (see the Historic Photos section, above, for original photos), as is one of originally three pilasters upon its classical base and with capital at its top, on the House Right side.

Original side wall murals are still visible at Balcony level, hidden behind the 1950s plasterwork.

Lobby and Public Areas

The lobby is reasonably similar to its original 1930 design although stenciling on the ceiling has been repainted and stenciling on the diagonal concrete beams has been lost.

In the major 1953 makeover a large concessions stand was added. Original 1930 single seats with the word FOX are dotted around the lobby, and an original 1930 spot light from the theatre is a feature item on the Lobby Mezzanine.

Other Public Areas
Exterior

Architect S. Charles Lee originally envisioned the theatre anchoring a major retail center with open arcades at street level, however ultimately plans were scaled-back. The Spanish Colonial Revival style, with mission tiles on the roof and white stucco walls, was mostly retained during the 1953 the Skouras-style makeover which included installation of the current neon marquee.

Backstage

The 60ft high stagehouse retains much of its original counterweight installation by Armstrong Studios Inc.

The original switchboard is also still in place.

Dressing Rooms
Projection Booth

The Fox Bakersfield Theater has retained its Brenkert F7 Master Brenograph, which would have originally been used to project moving effects and slides into the auditorium and onto the screen. As of 2019 the Brenograph is still in the theatre and is in exceedingly good shape and ready for renovation.<

Clock Tower

The Clock Tower at Balcony level was originally the furnace (heating) room for the theatre, with a huge fan pulling-in fresh air and gas burners heating the air before it was distributed around the auditorium. After the Fox Theater Foundation took on the theatre in 1994, the room was transformed into a new home for the renovated clock mechanism and mini-museum.



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