In October 1928, when the Fox Theater first opened its doors in Oakland, CA, thousands came to experience Hollywood’s newest innovation: talking films. Audiences for Howard Hawks’s The Air Circus and an accompanying live stage show found themselves inside an enormous, dazzling fantasy palace. The buff brick and terra-cotta building was a lively collision of Moorish, Indian, Medieval and Baghdadian influences, with a massive polychrome dome, endless decorative plaster and paint, wood graining, gilding and even a pair of statues, which everyone called the “Buddhas,” flanking the stage.

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