Fox Theatre

2211 Woodward Avenue,
Detroit, MI 48201

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Showing 1 - 25 of 88 comments

edlambert
edlambert on October 23, 2014 at 2:12 pm

As a child I became interested in the new-fangled cinema photography as it was being presented: Cinerama, CinemaScope, etc. As my birthday gift in 1953 I visited the Fox to see the first film released in CinemaScope, “The Robe.” I know that the Fox just prior to showing this film was advertising its films as being on “the giant screen,” as other theaters downtown were doing. My questions: What were the dimensions of the old screen at the Fox? The dimensions of the ‘scope screen?

In neighborhood theaters, larger screens were installed, but masking was used to cover the upper part of the screens and to open on the sides in order to provide the aspect ratio for CinemaScope. In other words, ‘scope films actually used less square footage of the screen than did non-'scope films. I wonder whether the Fox also did this, although for years after every film shown at the Fox was in CinemaScope or its successor, Panavision.

tntim
tntim on June 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Picture of the projection booth. Link

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on November 6, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Martin and Lewis on the set of “Money from Home” promote a May, 1953 engagement at the Fox:

By the way, that’s a massive 3 strip Technicolor 3-D camera rig on the set. MONEY was one of only two movies filmed with this particular camera.

properduck
properduck on May 26, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Don’t forget John Muri’s 1971 concert on the Wurlitzer which he released on his own label LP in 1975.

koppenneer
koppenneer on February 13, 2011 at 11:58 am

For John Lauter – Did you create the CD you mentioned several years ago? I’d be very interested in buying a copy. Regards, Keith O.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on February 7, 2011 at 4:11 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkK1r6bVl1Y check this out…..this year’s longest Super bowl ad was shot at this venue….

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 8, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Thanks Twistr54 for the fine photos.

Twistr54
Twistr54 on June 10, 2010 at 7:49 am

View link
I have some new pictures of the Fox. I was there for an event on May 29, 2010. I know some inside pictures are a little dark, but all in all, they are pretty good.

JohnMLauter
JohnMLauter on April 20, 2010 at 5:27 am

Hey, I just found this again, sorry for the long lag—Thank you for your kind words re: my performance on “Prairie Home Companion”, it was a blast to be a part of, even if I didn’t get the gig until Friday morning! I work well under pressure, and Mr. Keillor, Rich Dworsky and the staff were wonderful to work for. To answer some questions, Bob Jensen, good info there, mostly accurate. It had been a habit to call those 4-36 organs either “Fox specials” or “Crawford specials” and it turns out that those terms are nomenclature that organ enthusiasts developed, the factory referred to them as “4-36 specials” The first one went to the Paramount theatre in NYC, they weren’t called “Paramount specials”. Crawford himself refuted the claim that he designed that model, he stated that it was designed by someone at the factory and that he simply asked for certain stops, which they obliged. I played that performance on PHC from the slave console, which is located in the balcony colonnade, a half a city block and 35 feet up from center stage, where the guy’s all-star shoe band was playing! thanks to a wireless headset feeding me the show mix, we were all together. The Detroit Fox Wurlitzer is remarkably unchanged and intact, not visited by “Midnight Organ supply” in the least. The Moller lobby organ gets used far more often than the Wurlitzer in the auditorium, we play that for a lot of shows. It is in great condition, thanks to roger Mumbrue and Dick Smith, the men who care for both organs. In terms of recordings made on the Detroit Fox Wurlitzer, There is the Reginald Foort 10" disc on the Cook label from 1952, Ed Gress on the Prescott(?-senior moment)label from 1957, Ray Shelley 1960 Columbia LP, Don Thompson’s Pipe organ presentations LP from the 1980s and Simon Gledhill’s CD from 1995.
I am contemplating making a CD there, possibly this summer.

bobbyallen
bobbyallen on March 29, 2010 at 10:24 pm

The sound of the detroit fox wurlitzer is truly one of a kind!! Mr. John lauter are there
Any plans in the near future of a recording being made on this mighty wurlitzer?
As far as I know there are only 3 albums made on this wurlitzer & both are no
Longer for sale. I fill that only 3 albums being made over the past 80yrs on this outstanding
Installation is a real shame.

Best regards, rob allen

ctrwd
ctrwd on March 24, 2010 at 4:41 am

The Wurlitzer slave console is still there (located on the side between some of the columns), and is in use. To see a video of it being played, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7Qjv_9zM9c
. The lobby Moller is also played frequently, also by John Lauter. The Detroit Fox is the only theatre in the US with its original slave and lobby organ installations intact and playable.

rlvjr
rlvjr on March 6, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Some people have said the FOX Detroit and the FOX St Louis are twins. Not quite. The Detroit FOX is 500 seats (11%) larger, and while much of the architecture is similar, there are many differences; as befits the work of outstanding architects.

Where the FOX Detroit truly excels is in their $8 million restoration; making all the fine artwork and atmosphere look “like new” — bright and fresh. The FOX St Louis had only $2 million to spend on renovation, and $6 million makes a difference. So Detroit wins this one.

Small matter! Visiting either theater is an outstanding experience.

[incidently, the Atlanta FOX is an altogether different (but stunning) architecture.]

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on February 27, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I had on Public Radio this afternoon/evening (Saturday 2/27/10) and listened to Garrison’s Keillor’s A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION from American Public Media.

The show was broadcast live from this theater.

The Mighty WurliTizer Theater Pipe Organ was played by John Lauter. JOHN MADE THE OLD ORGAN SOUND GREAT! Many Public Radio Stations rebroadcast A Prairie Home Companion on Sunday so you might still get to hear the organ.

John has a number of posts above. Nothing is really listed above about the Fox’s organs so I thought I would post what I could find out and hopefully John can correct my mistakes and also add comments.

“Fox Special"
Opus #1458, 1926, New York Paramount Theater
Opus #1894, 1928, Detroit Fox
Opus #1904, 1928, Brooklyn Fox
Opus #1997, 1928, St. Louis Fox
Opus #2012, 1928, San Francisco Fox

The Detroit “Fox Special” is a 4 Manual/36 Rank shipped by WurliTizer on June 14, 1928.

John writes that very little lost pipework (like 3 pipes/75 years (Dec. 2002)), essentially as installed, probably the largest original WurliTizer left, wonderful sound in that acoustic environment.

The organ included a 2nd 4-manual console (slave), I do not know if it still exists.

Moller Company Grand Lobby Organs
Opus #5286, St. Louis Fox
Opus #5387, Detroit Fox
Opus #5497, San Francisco Fox

These organs were 3 Manual/12 Rank with Artiste player units and each cost $10,000 in 1928. As of 2004 the Detroit Grand Lobby Organ was still working, I do not know it’s condition now.

“Gee Dad, it is a WurliTizer!”

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on December 9, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Nice shots of the Vertical looks much better with it.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 12, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Here is an interior photo, circa 1930s:
http://tinyurl.com/kt6wn4

Ziggy
Ziggy on May 21, 2009 at 1:11 pm

The original 1920’s marquee was simpler. I don’t know when the current marquee was put up. As far as why the St. Louis and Detroit Foxes were twins, I can only guess that the theatres were being built at close to the same time, and it was probably a money saving measure to be able to use the same molds for the plasterwork.

Lak
Lak on May 21, 2009 at 11:52 am

Is the current marquee a 1920’s original or a restoration of a 40’s or 50’s one? Also, can anyone tell my why the Detroit and St. Louis theatres were designed as “ twins”?

Samuel Augustus Jennings
Samuel Augustus Jennings on April 11, 2009 at 8:19 pm

The last time I ventured into the Fox was during Spring Break from college in 1963. I rememember seeing the unforgettable “Days of Wine and Roses” starring Jack Lemon and Lee Remick. Sunday night at the movies was a ritual when I moved to Detroit in 1957 to live with my father and stepmother, but Dad was extremely “thrifty” and didn’t believe in wasting good money on first run movies shown at the Fox and other downtown theaters, so I had to sneak like a fox into the Fox whenever I got the chance. Was there an organ player during intermission or is it just my imagination? For me the Fox Theater and Michigan Central Station epitomized big city glamour, grandeur, and magic. I felt, “This is where I belong.” I was transformed.

I felt the same magical transformation when captivated by the Fox Theater in Atlanta after it integrated in the 60’s.

nritota
nritota on January 1, 2009 at 8:00 am

My wife and I went to the theatre last night for new years eve with Bare Naked Ladies. We went in over an hour early to take in all of the sights, and even that wasn’t enough time! The more you look at the detail, the more that you can see of this beautiful house.

Even though BNL can rock the house, I can’t imagine what a full fledged rock concert could bring. We sat in the mezzanine and could see the rail rise and fall with the sway from the crowd. Architecturally amazing that this cantilever still performs 80 years later.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 17, 2008 at 9:33 am

FYI. There is a brief glimpse of the Fox marquee in a current Kid Rock music video, “Roll On” or something.
It features KR driving around the Detroit area in an `60’s Lincoln convertable.

A giant fenced-in classic building with arches is also featured. Presumably an abandoned auto manufacturer’s headquarters.

DetroitDerek
DetroitDerek on January 15, 2008 at 6:26 am

I got to play here once, amazing stage. Here is a close-up of the sign ( very cool ) , taken in mid-October 2007.

View link

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on January 10, 2008 at 5:12 pm

I saw Rossanne Barr here in concert in the early 90s. Not the best theatre for that kind of show but im sure big touring musicals and movies are amazing in this beautiful auditorium.

uptownjen
uptownjen on October 18, 2007 at 5:59 pm

little caesar’s may own it, but at least they haven’t changed the name. i saw wilco there last night and didn’t see any sign of little caesar’s other than banners in the concession stand advertising pizza for sale.

speaking of concessions, the candied warm nuts they sell just inside the door are delicious!!!!! what a great theater, in every possible way. it gives me hope that chicago’s uptown, which i live near, can still be saved from near-death.