May 22, 2015
“April 1950 holds special memories for me. I watched the legendary Mae West perform at the Nixon Theatre Downtown in “Diamond Lil.” More significantly, it marked the end of that grand and beautiful theater at the corner of Sixth Avenue and William Penn Place.
When the curtain came down on the final performance of “Diamond Lil” on April 30, one of the city’s finest playhouses closed its doors for good. The site had been sold to the Aluminum Company of America to make way for construction of Alcoa’s corporate headquarters.
Then a college student, I ushered at the Nixon on evenings and weekends. It was my first extended exposure to live stage shows and marked the beginning of a love of the theater that remains strong to this day.
May 21, 2015
Press photos show more than the celebrities of the day. They can also serve as gateways to moments in history that shape our experiences to this day. This photo is labeled “Sennett’s Bathing Girls.” Mack Sennett, an early film entrepreneur whose Keystone Studios launched the careers of movies stars like Harold Lloyd, Gloria Swanson, and his namesake Keystone Cops.
The Bathing Girls were a marketing ploy Sennett created following the logic of the now classic advertising maxim “Sex Sells.” Anne Helen Petersen wrote an article called “Hollywood’s Bathing Beauties” for Lapham’s Quarterly, that traces the genesis of these knee-baring babes.
The way to get Keystone pictures extra notice, Sennet thought, was a healthy dose of knee nudity. The producer put his underlinings to work scouting the area for pretty girls, with particular attention to the look of the bare leg. But these girls, in the rough, were not publicity material. Instead, Sennett posed them next to his star comedians and sent the photos off to the press, knowing that the spectacle of the pretty girls and their pretty knees would give his stars the extra coverage they needed. And just in case the newspapers wanted to get sneaky, he had his photographer shot the images in such a way that sneaky editors could not just cut out the comedian and print the pretty girl.
May 20, 2015
May 19, 2015
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre opened to the public 88 years ago. On 18 May 1927 the theatre hosted the world premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s ‘King of Kings’ and opened for the public on 19 May. Here’s some photos of the theatre and a link to a great article about ‘Mr. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.’
May 18, 2015
May 14, 2015
You can find information for architectural restoration, to help gain landmark status, or document performances and the history of a theatre in your community.
The American Theatre Architecture Archive (ATAA) are currently home to over 100,000 items documenting over 18,000 theatres in America.The largest holding of its kind, the resources available in our collections document the architectural heritage of theatres in America from the 1880s to present day.
Browse our ‘Finding Aides’ to learn about the collections in the archive and how they can help you. For example, you can learn about the Paul S. Moore Collection, the Michael Miller Collection, and the Chicago Architectural Photographing Company Collection.
May 13, 2015
Would you like a tour of King’s Theatre after its extensive renovation? Thirty THS members joined Executive Director Richard Fosbrink for a very special visit. https://youtu.be/ynGUJ-RHSOo
May 12, 2015
Explore the Ben Hall collection’s selection of stage show photos from the Roxy Theatre. When Samuel Lionel “Roxy” Rothafel built the Roxy Theatre in Times Square, he set out to make the most awe-inspiring viewing experience imaginable. This extraordinary movie palace featured more than the luxuries of an elaborately decorated auditorium and an expansive plush lobby (though it had those as well!). http://www.historictheatres.org/archival-collections/
May 11, 2015
Watch an engaging video about the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre with story tellers Andrew Dolkart, Architectural Historian at Columbia University, Jeffery Eric Jenkins, Lunt-Fontanne Theatre Historian, and composer Alan Menken. “The theatre is a living, breathing entity. There’s all these invisible artistic threads linking us to the people who came before us.” http://www.spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/lunt-fontanne
May 8, 2015
Two great San Francisco Historic Theatres, the Grand Theatre and the New Mission Theatre, are leading a new life as part of their community.