Central Theatre

19 Central Avenue,
Passaic, NJ 07055

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clevergems
clevergems on February 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Just an update as I am in possession of a Ticket for the inaugeral performance and it is dated 9/10/1941 not 1940

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on January 4, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Seventy years ago, on January 4, 1943, the “Voice that Thrilled Millions” aired the first broadcast of his daily CBS radio show. Only three months earlier, Frank Sinatra had first appeared as a solo artist the week of October 8, 1942 at the Central Theater in Passaic, NJ. He played a return engagement at the Passaic showplace two months later starting the week of December 17, 1942. These are important and represent two significant moments in Frank’s career: On September 8, he made his final appearance with the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, so his first appearance at the Central was only one month into his career as a solo artist.

The December 17 booking is significant because, only two weeks later on December 30, he opened as an “Extra Added Attraction” with Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee at the New York Paramount Theatre. This was the legendary gig with thousands of screaming girls in the audience and Times Square. Sinatra appeared for ten weeks, shattering all records at the 3,664 seat showplace. Billboard noted in their January 9 review, “Boyish appearance and mannerisms all catnip for the ladies.”

While the Paramount engagement is considered his official debut as a solo artist, these two Central Theatre gigs are significant during this transitional point. His life – and career – would never be the same again.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on October 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Scroll down to see two pictures of the Central from 1968 on this webpage.

Most of the links to pictures in the preceding omments are dead; perhaps some fans of this theater could help find some, especially of the interior.

frapol
frapol on October 16, 2012 at 11:54 am

Just found this site. Was an usher in late 50’s with Pete Noto and Andy Abdul. DeBalsio was the manager with Mr.O'Brian and Mr. Gerard. Rodger Nargi replaced one of them.Jane Palko was the popcorn girl.Loved the blue clock in the corner. Hope someone saved it. Sweep up alot of spilled popcorn and saw some good movies.

dwill123
dwill123 on August 20, 2012 at 10:55 am

I saw Pink Floyd here in 1971. Much nicer concert venue than the Capitol just around the block.

mjsfla
mjsfla on July 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

I along with my sister were in many dance recitals held there. Dotty Locker and Walter Kormin Dance Studios were the two we danced in back in the late 50’s. Like others, too bad I didn’t take more pictures of the place!

pwolsko
pwolsko on September 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I was an usher at the Central from 1961 until 1965. Other users I can recall were: Bob Laird, Richie Harris, Stan Freedman and Ostap Pruchninsky (sic). Managers were Rudy DeBlasio and Roger Nargi.Owner was Harry Hecht? (cannot quite recall) There was another fellow, Roger Prince..I forget his role at the theater – later became a cop in Passaic. Popcorn girl was Audrey Havriliak (her dad was a Byzantine Priest in Passaic. Electrician was John Graham? (memory fuzzy) I forget the names of the projectionists – they still used used carbon-arc projectors back then! Wish I has used my head and taken lots of pictures back then of the upstairs dressing rooms, etc…but I was young and dumb. There was an old guy who took wickets – short and I think his name was Saul. I remember the blind guy who sold newspapers at night in front of the Central – think his name was Joe, but it’s been many years now.

gd14lawn
gd14lawn on March 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm

On a trip to Passaic to see a show at the Capitol theater in the 1980’s, I went into the McDonald’s and they had framed pictures of the beautiful theater that had been demolished to build the McD’s. I remember thinking how much nicer the torn down theater was than the Capitol, which remained.

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on July 13, 2008 at 8:05 am

I sure wish there was a better image of the artwork on the two side walls by the stage. By time I was going to the Central in the late 60’s, it had been covered over with wallpaper!

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on July 13, 2008 at 7:01 am

Throughout the 1940’s, the Central presented “legit” shows on stage during the summer. That ended in the late 40’s/early 50’s.

I’ve documented every show that played the theater for the first 6 or so years. I had planned to do a tribute website but never got around to it. I suppose I should just post the list here.

I’ve got lots of photos as well. When the theater was being demolished, somebody threw all of the office files into the orchestra pit. My brother and I were in there with boxes saving everything we could. I’ve even got the blueprints for the theater!

avsplanet
avsplanet on March 28, 2008 at 3:54 pm

thanks bob but i really would like to know the exact month and year in was closed down..does any one know

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on March 13, 2008 at 12:20 pm

The Central was demolished in 1978 or 1979.

avsplanet
avsplanet on March 13, 2008 at 9:27 am

it was the 70’s..but what year?

avsplanet
avsplanet on March 13, 2008 at 9:24 am

jeff, do you know the exact year the central closed…?

JeffS
JeffS on March 13, 2008 at 7:09 am

Right. The south end of the lot, looking north. That’s what I figured. It is amazing to think that railroad tracks ran straight up the middle of Main Street. Then again, the path of the railroad is still quite visible if you know what you’re looking for. Off topic: The tracks in Passaic were the Main Line of the Erie Railroad, which had two parallel lines, one being the main line, that ran through Passaic, and up through Paterson, Hawthorne and Glen Rock. The other, the Bergen County line, left the main at BJ tower in Rutherford and traveled up through Wallington, Garfield, Fairlawn, and Glen Rock before rejoining the Main at Ridgewood Jct (WJ tower). The Bergen County line is now the busily used New Jersey Transit line. On the old Mainline, the tracks split at BJ Tower (BJ for “Bergen Jct”) in Rutherford and paralleled West Erie Ave, crossing Carton Ave in Rutherford, then crossing the river into Passaic. Up through busy Passaic center, then passing the behind the site of the old Central Theater. The tracks then paralleled Main Ave on a right of way taking it behind factories and businesses and up into Paterson. Most of the original Main line is gone, running from Paterson behind St. Joe’s Hospital to just south Rt 46 in Clifton where you drive under them at a concrete bridge prominently marked ERIE. What NJT refers to today as the “Main Line” from Lyndhurst to Paterson is actually the old Lackawanna Main Line which superseded the Erie’s Main Line through Passaic when the two railroads merged in the 1960’s. That main line from Paterson up to Ridgewood Jct is still the old original Erie section. OK, enough railroad history. Back to the Central!

avsplanet
avsplanet on March 12, 2008 at 9:43 pm

jeff..that pic was taken right befor the paking lot starts from, in the middle of main av..right after the Y.M.C.A…If you look at the road and the tracks you can see there’s a slight turn then it straghtens out…that slight turn is still there..that is where the parking begins, thats there now…

JeffS
JeffS on March 10, 2008 at 4:25 am

Passaic Kid: Can you pinpoint the exact location of this picture? I know approximately, but would like to know exactly where the photographer was standing.

avsplanet
avsplanet on March 9, 2008 at 8:09 pm

tony…you have to down load them to a folder

avsplanet
avsplanet on March 9, 2008 at 8:07 pm

hey jeff..you blow my mind..on that corner where that bill board says olds mobile..theres a club there now..sad sight..i’m going to get some pics soon so every one could see

avsplanet
avsplanet on March 9, 2008 at 7:05 pm

hey warren i’m i new member..and i’m trying to find out the exact year the central in passaic was closed down..so far i know it was the 70’s…but what year…i’m also starting a project on passaic called..Befor everything changed..so if its possible i was wondering if you had some old photos of great land marks or any thing on passaic…i’m gonna have pictures up my self soon…if so i like to thank you ahead..hope to hear from you soon

susansp5
susansp5 on December 9, 2007 at 7:30 am

To Bob Furmanek:

My mother’s uncle Lou Preiskel used to manage the Central Theatre in the 40’s. My mother is gone, but her cousin, Marion, the daughter of Lou Preiskel is still living in Pennsylvania.

She may be able to shed some light on the era for you.

ThePhotoplayer
ThePhotoplayer on April 4, 2006 at 2:21 am

Those are great photos, Jeff. A far cry from what Passaic now is.

Does anyone else have some clear pictures of the auditorium? I’m doing a little project and I’d like to have some more details about the ornamentation of the theater.

tonyn
tonyn on February 11, 2006 at 8:02 am

Thanks Jeff, that worked.

JeffS
JeffS on February 11, 2006 at 7:45 am

Sorry about those dead image links. I forgot they were on a personal server I took down. These links are on an image service, and hopefully you should have no trouble viewing them.

These are old photos of Main Street, Passaic NJ, looking north from the sound end of Main.

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