Sunday, March 14, 2010

Melodyland Theatre

Opened 1963
400 W. Freedman Way, Anaheim
3,200 seat capacity

Under construction - 1963
Anaheim Public Library

Melodyland was a center stage theater in Anaheim. It was located on six acres of land adjoining the Charter House Hotel and across Harbor Boulevard from Disneyland. 

Anaheim Public Library

It was built by Leo Freedman and then leased to showmen-producers Sammy Lewis and Danny Dare.  Melodyland opened on July 2, 1963 with Annie Get Your Gun

The concrete and steel building had an accordion shaped steel beam roof with solid steel dome as tall as the Matterhorn. There was a 40-feet circular stage in the center. 

Between 1963 and 1969 it hosted many top notch Broadway musicals and popular performers. 

In 1969 Melodyland was sold to Rev. Ralph Wilkerson and was reopened as the Melodyland Christian Center - an evangelical Christian church. 

In 2003 Melodyland theater and all the surrounding buildings were demolished.

A sampling of shows at Melodyland Theatre 1964  - 1969

Jimmy Durante, Bobby Vinton, Juliet Prowse APRIL 5 
Eddie Fisher APRIL 12
Connie Francis, Jan and Dean, The Scavengers APRIL 14 - 19
Nat King Cole APRIL 24 - 30
The King Family JUNE 15 - 20
Victor Borge JUNE 22-27
Ella Firzgaerald w/ Nelson Riddle & his Orchestra JUNE 29-JULY 4
Roger Williams, The Lennon Sisters OCTOBER 19
The Dave Clark Five NOVEMBER 16 (one night/two shows, 5 and 9 pm)
Jack Linkletter, Jimmy Rodgers, Joe & Eddie NOVEMBER 30
Kingston Trio, George Shearing Quintet DECEMBER 29 - JANUARY 3
Liberace MARCH 30 - APRIL 4
Mitzi Gaynor APRIL 6 - 11
Smothers Brothers APRIL 13 - 18
Jimmy Durante APRIL 20 - 25
Phyllis Dillar APRIL 27 - MAY 2
Peggy Lee, Benny Goodman MAY 3 - 8
Tony Bennett, Count Basie MAY 11-16
Tennessee Earnie Ford MAY 26 - 31
The King Family JUNE 15 - 20
Ella Fitzgerald, Nelson Riddle & Orchestra JUNE 29 - JULY 4
Dave Clark Five, Sonny & Cher JULY 12 
Johnny Mathis SEPTEMBER 12 - 17 

Smothers Brothers, Pat Boone APRIL 3 - 10
Dave Brubeck Quartet w/ Dizzy Gillespie APRIL 11 - 18
Jimmy Dean, Chuck Cassey Singers MAY 3 - 8
Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughn MAY 9
John Raitt MAY 10 - 22
The Mama's and The Papa's, Simon & Garfinkle  (L.A.'s debut) JUNE 3, 4 & 5
Roger Miller, Peter Nero  JUNE 28 - JULY 2
Chad & Jeremy, Ian Whitcomb, Buffalo Springfield  SEPTEMBER 2 &  3
The King Family DECEMBER 27 - JANUARY 1

Johnny Carson JANUARY 10- 15
Wayne Newton  JANUARY 17 - 22
Jack Benny, Vikki Carr JANUARY 24 - 29
Trini Lopez  JANUARY 30 - FEBRUARY 4
Liberace FEBRUARY 7 - 12
Phyllis Diller FEBRUARY 14 -19
Don Ho FEBRUARY 21 - 26
The Righteous Brothers, Sergio Mendes & Brasil'66 FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 5
Glenn Yarbrough MAY 22
Pearl Bailey JUNE 5
Bobby Darin, Chad & Jeremy JULY 4 - 9
Johnny Mathis SEPTEMBER 12- 17
Jimmy Durante, Edie Adams SEPTEMBER 19 - 24
Bill Cosby DECEMBER 15 & 16

Jimmy Dean JANUARY 16 - 20
Jefferson Airplane MARCH 8 & 9
The Association MAY 23 - 29
Ray Charles JUNE 4 - 9
Pat Boone, The Mills Brothers JUNE 11 - 18
The Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Seeds JULY 22 
The Turtles, Sly and the Family Stone JULY 23
Jose Feliciano AUGUST 12
Harry James, Della Reese AUGUST 18
Bob Newhart, Bill Medley AUGUST 16 & 16
Bill Cosby, Jack Wilson Trio AUGUST 20 -25 
The Righteous Brothers, Linda Ronstadet, Jose Feliciano AUGUST 31 &  SEPTEMBER 1
Don Ho Show SEPTEMBER 14 & 15
Roger Miller, Jackie De Shannon OCTOBER 14

Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Lennon Sisters MARCH 14, 15 & 16
Jack Benny MARCH 21, 22 & 23
Jimmy Durante MARCH 25 - 30
Bill Cosby APRIL 1 - 6
Juliet Prowse, The Four Tops APRIL 8 - 13
Johnny Carson MAY 3, 4 & 5
Wayne Newton MAY 9, 10 & 11
Ray Charles MAY 20 - 25
The Ventures, Lohman & Barkley JUNE 13, 14 & 15
The Classics IV JUNE 17
The Association JULY 8 - 13
The King Family JULY 22 - 27
Peggy Lee, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams OCTOBER 29



Anonymous said...

OMG, I had a flash back from 1967 Melodyland, I attended a family show like a circus I think being that was 44 years ago I'm not sure.
I grew up in Fullerton my mother worked at the Anahiem PD and would work overtime at Harmoney Park and Melodyland. Boy am I home sick.

Anonymous said...

I saw a concert at Melodyland with The Supremes and The Temptations, and I believe it was in '66 or '67.

Anonymous said...

Bobby Darin, Chad & Jeremy JULY 4 - 9 1967 I was there and going up to Oragon this weekend to see 43 years late OMG

Michael Sterling said...

I was a cast member in Melodyland's first year when they were doing muscials. I did Bye Bye Birdie with the great TV star and comedian George Gobel as "Albert Peterson", and TV hearthrob Stuart Damon as "Conrad Birdie". My castmates included Debbie Watson (who was discovered by MGM's Arthur Freed) and went on to star as "Karen" which was also the title of the unique NBC TV trilogy series overall titled as called Bristol Court. Debbie then went on to star as "Tammy" in the TV series based on the movie of the same title starring Debbie Reynold. It was a great time for a 14 year old kid like me who also went on to a career in TV.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this site. I just relived one of the best moments of my life...7/12/65. My 16th bday, my best friend Ruth Anne and I at Melodyland to see the only band in the world for us DC5. After the 5pm show we went to Disneyland and ran into them!!!! With their arms over our shoulders we walked about 100 yds. through the park with them. Ohhhh it was awesome. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Who was at Melodyland performing on September 26, 1967????
I have it written down on an old calendar but not who was there...

Art Arciniega said...

I worked as a barboy & dishwasher at the Celebrity Room which was a restaurant & lounge at the Melodyland theatre in 1967. Erwin Gordon was my boss. I worked with Dino & Mel a couple of the bartenders and Sam Rondini was the chef. Mr Gordon would let me go into the theater and watch the shows, Jack Benny, Phyllis Diller, Liberace. It was a great experience for a 17 year old kid.

IM said...

The Grateful Dead played with the Jefferson Airplane on March 8-9 1968.

See for more info.

Carl Belknap said...

I was the drummer for the Seeds at their show in July '68 with the Strawberry Alarm Clock. I spoke with George Bunnell, the bass player for the Strawberry Alarm Clock, a few years ago, & he told me that was one of his all time favorite shows. I had the honor to play drums on two Seeds songs at Sky Saxon's memorial in 2009. Please check out my band at Click on the photos to see pictures of me with Sky Saxon & Jan Savage at a couple of Seeds shows several years ago, & with Daryl Hooper at Sky's memorial. Carl Belknap

Anonymous said...

I remember Grateful Dead and Airplane. Wonderful concert. Saw The Seeds at Melodyland and numerous times at Hullabaloo on the strip.

beachgal said...

The J. Airplane was there July 7, 8, 9 & 12th. The 7th, 8th and 9th was with the Greatful Dead & Fleetwood Mac (the original one which was a British blues band). The 12th was with Steve Miller Band, Charlatans, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks & something that was called Fire Dance (Alton Kelley Benefit). The 12th was a replacement date for the JA when they could not keep a May 8th date booked).

I went to a lot of these you listed. Thanks for all the work you have done on all the LA venues!

Anonymous said...

The image at the top, of the construction, is actually Stadium Drive-in, in Orange. You can identify it by the projection windows at the top of the building.

Cathy said...

I grew up in Fullerton, and even though I knew Melodyland Theater as a theater, the first time I ever got to go was after it became Melodyland Christian Center in 1970, and where I became a Christian; during the "Jesus Movement".
I'm SO homesick, too.
Thanks for your blog :)

Anonymous said...

How funny, the main construction photo shown here is Stadium Drive-In, projection booth/snack bar and not Melodyland. Was at both locations many times. Fun pics and stories though.

Anonymous said...

We saw Mitzi Gaynor perform... I also remember seeing Michael Rennie as Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady. We also saw the opera, "Carmen." I know we saw many other shows, but I can't recall the rest. Flash forward almost 40 years... My mom was living at Ageis. She now had dementia. My dad was now dying from COPD. The woman who had starred in that production of My Fair Lady performed for the seniors at Aegis. She recalled starring with Rennie in the show. She also said he was quite a jerk. She later reminisced about working with Goldie Hawn before she became famous; they were still on friendly terms. My sister and I were in the audience, and we rushed up to her after her performance to tell her we were in the audience when we were kids. It was pretty cool. My parents still had the programs from the 60s too.

Shalan1234 said...

Hi, did anyone see Juliet Prowse perform at Melodyland? I'm trying to get information, memorabilia, any photos, etc. Thanks!