from Oakland Tribune November 21, 1916 4

The T & D Theatre was a large movie theater in downtown, open from November 22, 1916 until 1976. It was at 419 - 11th Street. T & D were the owners, Turner and Dahnken, but it was known by many in its last years as the "Tough & Dirty" because of the films it showed.

According to Theatres of Oakland 1, it seated 2,632 people, putting it third behind the Fox Oakland Theatre and the Paramount Theatre. When it opened, the newspapers said 3,500 people, which would have made it the largest theater in Oakland. Regardless, it was the first 'big' movie theater in Oakland, preceding the Fox by 12 years.

The theater had a ladies' tea parlor, and featured a number of canary cages and a large fish tank. The façade included large stone jars that "emitted steam and red lights, creating the effect of 'sacrificial incense' burning." The architects were Cunningham and Politeo, who also designed the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco.

Anita King, the "Paramount Girl" was at the grand opening, and had operated the steam shovel at the ground-breaking. 2 The opening was front page news in the evening edition of the Oakland Tribune the night before. Various companies that were involved in the construction took out advertisements in the paper touting their contributions, from the tile to the electric signs to the curtains and scenery.

The theater had an immense Wurlitzer Hope-Jones organ that cost $48,500 and had individual pipes weighing up to a ton. The organist could control the lighting and simulate sunset, moonlight, etc. The organ was later moved to the United Artists Theatre in Berkeley, and then into storage.

From 1973 until its close in 1976, it showed adult films.

Turner and Dahnken

T & D were J. T. Turner (later his widow, Hattie M. Turner) & Frederick Dahnken of San Francisco, who owned a number of theaters (the Turner & Dahnken Circuit), including the Oakland Photoplay at 1552 Broadway. It was one of the largest independently owned theater chains in the country. In 1922, West Coast Theatres, Inc. purchased the Turner & Dahnken Circuit theaters. Searches for Turner & Dahnken Circuit turn up their involvement in an early music piracy case, where they had printed the words and music to a copyrighted song in one of their programs. TURNER & DAHNKEN v. CROWLEY went to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and has been cited in modern piracy cases. 5

Links and References

  1. Theatres of Oakland by Jack Tillmany and Jennifer Dowling
  2. The Moving Picture World 1916
  3. New Officers Elected New York Clipper August 3, 1921
  4. New T & D Theater Opens Tomorrow Oakland Tribune November 21, 1922
  5. United States Circuit Courts of Appeals Reports Volume 164, 1919