Along with my producers, director and dedicated crew, I visited this amazing landmark on Catalina Island yesterday as part of an Avalon-wide location scout.

            Entering the 20,000 square-foot Casino Ballroom took my breath away.  It’s one of those rare places, the likes of which will never be constructed again.  We didn’t spend too much time there, but an impression was made on us all.  It wasn’t hard to imagine Glenn Miller’s big band raving it up before hundreds of dancing couples on the world’s largest circular dancefloor.

            A wealth of information regarding the building is available on the web.  If you can, I’d urge you to visit.  You’ll feel yourself being absorbed by the embrace of an old Technicolor movie in which the light, tones and shadow are always perfect!

August 29, 2022 (photo by author)

14 thoughts on “THE CATALINA CASINO”

  1. I love the Casino! Was first there in 1979 for a dance following a big scuba diving event. And much to my surprise I was back there at the theater just a few weeks later watching my first IMAX “rushes” with IMAX founder Graeme Ferguson. We were shooting the first underwater film for the theater in San Diego. We were viewing the 35mm print down and Graeme had us laying on the stage in front of the projection screen in order to get the feeling of the big IMAX screen. The strangest part was the images were sideways as they had not yet come up with the optical printer to rotate the horizontal running 1570 film 90 degrees when they made vertical running 35mm print down. It was all very surreal, and I was hooked on IMAX!

  2. Amazing space. What a fun place to do some cinematography! Looking forward to the results.

  3. James – That is an incredible story…I would love to have seen the place then!

  4. Greg – Ironically, we’re not shooting inside the building, only outside. We just managed to slip in for a quick look around. It was truly impressive to the eye…

  5. Hi Richard, Did you arrive to the island by boat or air?
    The casino has a dramatic presence as it anchors the harbor,
    especially when you arrive by boat. I understand that Cecil B DeMille,
    Louis B Mayer, and Samuel Goldwyn would sail their yachts
    to the island and preview their newest productions in the casino.
    It is truly an architectural gem. Yesterday I visited the Academy Museum
    of Motion Pictures. Another gem!

  6. Hey Ken – We ferry it over, and it’s all quite impressive on the approach. But that Casino building really is the gem of the island. It’s so unusual in its place; there’s nothing else remotely like it there!

  7. Gorgeous photograph! I can imagine the big band and happy feet moving around the floor. Romantic.

  8. My first job as a DP, ca 1999, was a documentary on Catalina Island. I learned so much about the history of cinema at that casino, and about Catalina tile, The Wrigleys. Ronald Reagan, Marilyn Monroe, etc.
    It was quite interesting as someone who had recently relocated from the east coast.

  9. Take a tour of the island if you get a chance. It has extensive history.
    Wrigley who owned the Cubs held the team’s spring training there from
    1921 to 1951. There are buffalo on the island that we’re brought over for the
    1924 Paramount movie The Vanishing American. However the scene with the buffalo was cut and the 14 buffalo brought over for the movie were
    left on the island and have flourished to a herd of around 150.
    Wrigley even opened a mine and rock quarry along with a plant to produce decorative tiles that he called Catalina Clay Products.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *