About


The Cameo Cinema

As anyone who watched James Stewart’s George Bailey greeting Bedford Falls’ Bijou Cinema in the classic It’s A Wonderful Life knows - local and independent movie theaters are an integral part of a town’s experience and lifestyle.

Founded in 1913, St. Helena’s Cameo Cinema is Napa Valley’s oldest independent cinema; it is a keystone business in a historic downtown that preserves the character of the community. Under the direction of owner Cathy Buck, the Cameo is a thriving Main Street mainstay, whose programs reach some of the Bay Area’s most engaged, lively and adventurous people! Our loyal patrons confirm that the unique power of cinema not only endures, it continues to blaze bright.

JOIN US! SUPPORT THE ARTS IN NAPA VALLEY WITH  A DONATION TO FRIENDS OF THE CAMEO!

Friends of the Cameo

Friends of the Cameo, our non-profit partner, has generated donations that have allowed us to make substantial investments to enhance your viewing experience.  A  successful Capital Campaign in 2013 gave us the funds for an extensive interior renovation.   In 2018, two extraordinary donors gifted us a laser projector, making the Cameo Cinema the only single screen theater in the United States with a 6K Barco Cinema Laser Projector and 7.1 Dolby Atmos Sound. 

MISSON STATEMENT
Friends of the Cameo is an organization dedicated to the preservation and advancement of one of the oldest continuously running single screen theaters in America, which opened its doors in 1913. The purpose of this organization is to manage the Cameo Cinema as a community asset, operating as a nonprofit single screen, state of the art community film center which enhances the artistic, educational, cultural and social life of Saint Helena and the Napa Valley.

      Meet Cathy Buck

Enter Hi, I'm Cathy Buck...the Cameo Cinema proprietor. I was born Catherine Huggett in Battle Creek, Michigan. I have three extraordinary children! My oldest Jason resides in St. Helena; my twins, Jessica and Jeremy live in Florida and New York, respectively.   Jess and her husband Chad are both physicians and have gifted me with two grandchildren.   I moved to "shangri-la" (Napa Valley) 10 years ago and am still pinching myself. I came from a 20-plus year career in real estate and decided to see where this California road would take me. I was fortunate when a friend shared that the Cameo was up for sale - we bought it.   This is an incredible journey, one filled with lots of stories, and it's with great pleasure that I say....dreams really do come true!


A Short History of the Cameo Cinema


On May 15, 1913 the G&G Theater opened in tiny St. Helena, California, showing the silent movie Kings of the Forest to a sold-out audience. This "epic adventure" was produced by Selig, one of the earliest and most well-known of the silent film companies.  The G&G Theater boasted "400 seats 150 opera chairs, a modern stage and two stdanding sets."  It quickly became the cultural center of this small agricultural community, rivaled only by the local churches.  In 1915 it was renamed the Liberty Theatre and featured many D.W. Griffith's epics - Intolerance, Hearts of the World, Way Down East and Four Horseman of the Apocalypse


This Liberty changed hands several times over the next few decades, and  its name changed with every sale.  In the 1970s the Money family took possession, making it The Liberty Theater once again.  They began the long overdue renovations and upgrades, continuing their stewardship into the 1980s. Like many small town movie houses in the age of television,  the Liberty struggled to maintain a presence on Main Street in St. Helena.  

In 1996 Charlotte Wagner assumed the lease and performed a serious upgrade to the facilities and equipment, renaming the theater, The Cameo Cinema.  Cathy Buck assumed the lease in 2008 and a new era for the Cameo Cinema began.