February 23, 2006
Allen Windsor, author of “Cruising the Deuce … in Movie Houses on 42nd Street, Times Square, and Greenwich Village in the 1940s to 1980s” (available from http://chelcpress.com), recently gave a reading at the 13th Street Gay Center on 14 Feb 2006 that was televised and will be shown on Channel 34 some time in February.
He describes each grind house on 42nd but also details what went on in upper balconies and toilet areas elsewhere around the city. With him was Willy, the porter in the old Variety Photoplays on 3rd Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets.
The book is filled with many tales of that era, and John Waters asked for and received permission to use the book as a prop in a movie he’s making. Foreword is by a former president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex.
February 10, 2006
I am the great-grandson of Thomas W. Lamb. I happened upon this wonderful website today, and am amazed at the information available here. Many thanks to the site founders for putting (and keeping) this site together.
For now, I will be gathering information on TW’s prodigious work portfolio, as well as any stories that may have been handed down by those who knew him. From what my father remembers, he was quite a character. If you have anything to contribute on the topic, or have worked on (or in) one of his theaters, I would be very grateful to hear from you.
December 27, 2005
NEW YORK, NY — Hello, I am looking for information on my great-grandfather, Percival “Patty” Roberts who died on Staten Island in the early 1960’s.
My great-grandfather was the stage manager/electrician at the Palace Theater, I assume on Staten Island, but could be the one in Manhattan?? Possibly at the turn of the century, 19-twenties? I have old photos of him at a switchboard backstage which looks to be about six feet wide by eight feet tall, lots of “Frankenstein” switches.
I remember him smoking cigars and calling me “wildwoman” when I was about three. He died shortly after that. He knew a lot of vaudeville stars, Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, etc.
My grandmother, Florence Adelaide Roberts, would fill in between acts singing opera on stage as a little girl.
Florence M. “Rennie” (Castle) Miller
1060 Rock Road
Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972
December 13, 2005
I’m now writing an article about the history of the Crest Theatre. I’d love to hear from anyone who has any memories of the Hippodrome or Crest, or knew someone who worked there.
December 12, 2005
MEADOW GROVE, NE — On June 10, 1925 for the first time anywhere in the world a motion picture was projected on the outside of a building (City Hall) in Meadow Grove, Nebraska. The businessmen of the community thought it would be a great idea to draw business into this small Nebraska village and it did. In 1925, this was several years before the Drive-In Theater developed by Holingshead in New Jersey in the early 30’s. The original place where these movies were shown is still there and the original arc-light projector is still there. An essay documenting this story has been entered in the, “Help Us Tell America’s Story” in Parade Magazine. The free outdoor movies were discontinued in Meadow Grove, Nebraska in 1967.
December 8, 2005
TheaterBuff1 ponders the future of the movie theater:
There once was a time when people placed all faith in the movie palaces, believing they would always be. But such proved not to be the case, which is not the same as saying that the strong desire for them ever went away. Just as it was before they were built, while they existed, and after so many of them were demolished, the widespread wanting for them very much remained. And not just with regards to movie palaces, but also, regular neighborhood movie theaters where everyday folks could go between the big epics. So it’s to say of the ideal theater of the future it should come in two types — that is to say, tomorrow’s movie palace and its regular neighborhood theater. But in order for such theaters to exude a sense that they’re of the future and not of the past, they must have an overwhelming sense of solidity to them. Yet at the same time this solidity should fall far short of anything that could be describable as outright obnoxious. Regarding the latter, they must instill a great sense of hope in people from many varied walks of life, rather than, “We’re invading your world whether you like it or not.”
But in order for that to be achieved, they must exude that which everyone can positively identify with. And especially those whom the theater is built in closest proximity to.
November 8, 2005
As a Dallas native—now transplanted to the upper midwest—I long to see entries on this site about the Elm Street theaters that once defined downtown. Elm Street was known as ‘theater row".
The Palace was demolished when I was about 13; The Tower (home to roadshows of “My Fair Lady” et al), has always fascinated me because I never got to go there and it seemed to get the ‘big’ films; The Melba/Capri(the Cinerama house—crudely divided and expanded into a 6 screen multiplex and billed as ‘the largest theater in the world" as painted on the rear of the building on Pacific St.; and the Loew’s Downtown—the last 'palace’ built on Elm St in 1969 and demolished soon after—I think in 1974 or so.
November 7, 2005
Former NY'er…existing in The Midwest (what EVER that means…). I worked the Bleecker St and Carnegie Hall Cinemas… was close w/Meryl and Gary… other projectionist at Bleecker cannot remember his name… but spent many kind moments up in the booth!!
In fact, I was there when the artwork commissioned by Sid/Jackie, and completed by Dominique Pichou was unveiled at the Bleecker…
October 14, 2005
While surfing around I found a program produced by BBC Radio recently “The Last Picture Show Men”.
It’s a very well done 30 minute documentary featuring several retired British projectionists who have some fascinating stories along with lots more interesting material.
You can listen to it at the on the BBC Radio 4 website. (Go to the “L” listings and click on “The Last Picture Show Men.”)
The use of sound in the piece makes for great listening. It sure brings back the movie-going experience.
October 12, 2005
I’d like to add a couple more theater chains to the list. You have a listing for Alger Brothers and state that they operated out of Chicago. Actually, that chain was a partnership of my dad, E.E. Alger and my uncle, Harold R. Alger and the only theaters ever in that chain were the Albro and Princess in Urbana, Illinois and the Park and COED in Champaign. My Dad managed those theaters out of LaSalle, Ill. and my uncle provided the on-sight management.
The other chains with which my dad was involved as general manager or managing partner were Alger Theaters and L & P Theaters. The latter company was a partnership between Balaban & Katz (out of Chicago) and Alger Theaters. In addition, the LaSalle Drive-In was a joint venture between Alger Theaters and a company called Alliance Theaters out of Chicago and Ft Wayne, In.