An ongoing series illustrating the diary of my grandmother Helen Hussey. Current entries: The San Francisco Sojourn 1939-1940.
Wednesday April 5, 1939. “Jeanne and I to the RKO Golden Gate to see Rogers + Astaire in the Castle picture.” The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), would be their final RKO film together, although they would reunite in 1949 for MGM‘s The Barkleys of Broadway. The film was unique for Astaire and Rogers. The characters in it are more realistic than usual in an Astaire-Rogers film, it is the only Astaire-Rogers musical biography, the only one of their musicals with a tragic ending, and the only one in which Astaire’s character dies.
The RKO Golden Gate Theater.
Built in 1920, the Golden Gate Theatre was a movie theater for over 50 years until it closed in the 1970s. By the time it was shuttered, the Golden Gate Theatre had already been converted into a two screen theater in the 1960s, with the balcony theatre known as the Penthouse Theatre. With the twinning it suffered little permanent damage as it was restored to a single auditorium by the Shorenstein Hayes Nederlander group.
When it was finally renovated and reopened in 1979 into a performing arts center, the original detail and look of the theater was restored as well. Although the neighborhood has remained a little seedy, the theater is still very grand, with a marvelous Art Deco vertical sign that is nearly 4 stories high. Today, the Golden Gate Theatre is still a premier venue for travelling broadway shows and a visual journey into San Francisco’s gilded past. Contributed by Juan-Miguel Gallegos. Cinema Treasures. org
“Afternoon walk in the park. Jose over and took Jeanne for Tea at Japanese Tea Garden. Nite: Took Sam to the library. Wrote to Irene. It was a beautiful day.”
Mom took me for my first trip to San Francisco in 1967. I remember she made a point of visiting the Japanese Tea Garden. One other note – Sam Hussey never drove; Helen did all the driving.
Friday April 9, 1939. “Jeanne and I to the fair. We won telephone calls. Jeanne phoned Mercedes, but not home. I called Irene + talked to her. We went to listen to the marimba. Home about Ten P.M.”
Friday April 8, 1939. “Met Sam and we all went to the Fair. Saw many exhibits. Drank at Happy Valley. Saw Carlos and met most of the marimba players. Back to Izzy’s-fiesta, etc. Got a ride home with the Italians. Hazy ending to the day.”
Sunday April 9, 1939. “Easter Sunday. Went to Oakland for dinner with Gen and Jess. Drove to Berkeley and Alameda. Saw an interesting big house, also an old home on Central Avenue. Home about 6:30” Certainly similar interests through the generations in this family!