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During this holiday week in 1958, Loew’s State re-opened its stage with Alan Freed’s “Christmas Jubilee of Stars,” with 21 acts topped by “Cry” crooner Johnnie Ray. On screen was 20th-Fox’s “Villa!,” in CinemaScope and color starring Bran Keith and Cesar Romero, with Rodolfo Hoyos in the title role.
Only two days after Christmas, on 12/27/34, RCMH replaced its annual Christmas holiday show, which had included Shirley Temple in “Bright Eyes,” with an entirely different program. On screen was RKO’s “The Little Minister,” starring Katharine Hepburn, whose “Little Women” had been RCMH’s biggest hit so far. Leonidoff’s stage revue was entitled “Kaleidoscope.”
On this first day after Christmas in 1952, families heading to midtown Manhattan to see a movie combined with a stage show had five to choose from:
Paramount Theatre, Doris Day & Ray Bolger in the Technicolor “April in Paris,” with Sarah Vaughan, Illinois Jacquet & His Orchestra, and Stump & Stumpy on stage;
Capitol Theatre, Errol Flynn & Maureen O'Hara in the Technicolor “Against All Flags,” with Johnnie Ray, Ray Anthony & His Orchestra, Gary Morton, and Georgia Gibbs;
Roxy Theatre, Clifton Webb in the Technicolor “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and the first skating revue on the newly installed Ice Colorama Stage;
Radio City Music Hall, Esther Williams in the Technicolor “Million Dollar Mermaid.” with “The Nativity” and “Season’s Greetings” on stage;
RKO Palace, Boris Karloff in the B&W “The Black Castle,” and 8 Vaudevile Acts.
The Warner Theatre (ex-Strand) was temporarily closed for conversion to Cinerama.
Today (12/26) marks the 75th anniversary of the grand opening of the New Rialto Theatre, which would specialize in “Pictures chosen to give you the ultimate in thrill entertainment.” The premiere attraction was legendary animal trapper Frank Buck in “Fang and Claw”, a B&W feature documentary produced by the Van Buren Corporation for RKO Radio release. Doors opened daily at 9am, with last complete show at midnight.
On this Christmas night in 1959, the New Loew’s Capitol had its gala re-opening with the premiere of Edward Small-UA’s “Solomon and Sheba,” modestly advertised as “The Mightiest Motion Picture Ever Created!”. Tyrone Power had died of a heart attack during production, causing Yul Brynner to replace him in the title role opposite Gina Lollobrigida. Directed by King Vidor, the Super Technirama-70 and Technicolor epic started a continuous performance schedule the next day at 9:00am.
On this Christmas Day in 1935, Warner Brothers broke tradition by opening one of its most important films of the year in downtown Brooklyn simultaneously with the premiere engagement in midtown Manhattan. The Brooklyn Paramount shared the B&W epic “Captain Blood,” starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, with the Strand on Broadway at 47th Street. Both theatres now showed films only, but the Brooklyn Paramount had a lower price scale, with all seats at 25 cents until 2:00pm. The engagements were advertised separately to avoid price confusion.
On this Christmas Day in 1959, the Regal opened its “Gala Holiday Show” for one week only. Topping the stage portion was the Miles Davis Sextette, plus Art Blakey & His Jazz Messengers, Sonny Stitt, the Jessie Powell Orchestra, singers Betty Carter and Bill Henderson, and the Four Step Brothers. On screen in its first Chicago showing was “Jet Over the Atlantic,” starring Guy Madison and Virginia Mayo.
The Brooklyn Tech Auditorium is well-equipped and large enough to compete with Loew’s Kings for entertainment bookings. Why spend many milions rehabilitating the Kings when the area already hss such a facility. Can it support two?
Today marks the 83rd anniversary of the opening of the Roxy’s very first Christmas presentation, which included William Fox’s silent romantic comedy, “Silk Legs,” starring Madge Bellamy and James Hall. But the massive stage spectacular was the most important element, with a cast of 250 performers and 110 musicians in the symphony-sized orchestra. Six years leter, “Roxy” Rothafel would move the stage concept to Radio City Music Hall, where it is still practiced today. The first at the Roxy included a musicalized “Cinderella” in five scenes; “Ballet of the Toys,” with prima ballerina Maria Gambarelli; “The Adoration,” a series of religious tableaux; and “Old English Christmas Carols,” with choristers grouped in the Gothic staircases adjoining both sides of the stage. “Gamby,” as the dancer became known to her legions of admirers, also performed in the first RCMH Christmas show in 1933.
Tonight marks the 45th anniversary of the opening at Loew’s Capitol of the world premiere engagement of David Lean’s film of Boris Pasternak’s “Doctor Zhivago” with a reserved-seat roadshow policy. Advertising said that the epic was in Panavision and MetroColor, with no mention of 70mm projection. Highest prices were $4.25, $3.75, and $3.00 on weekend nights and holidays. Two performances on New Year’s Eve at 8:00pm and midnight were scaled at $5.50, $4.75, and $3.75.
On this night in 1949, Cecil B. DeMille’s “Samson and Delilah” opened its dual world premiere engagement at the Paramount and Rivoli Theatres. More details here: /theaters/548/
On this night in 1949, Cecil B. DeMille’s “Samson and Delilah” opened its world premiere engagement at the Paramount and Rivoli Theatres with celebrity-studded performances covered by radio, TV, and newsreels. Continuous showings started the next day. Due to the Technicolor spectacle’s running time of 128 minutes, the Paramount’s stage show was shorter than usual, presenting only Russ Case and His Orchestra and Chorus. At the Rivoli, patrons received a bonus of magnascopic projection of the climactic scene in which Samson destroys the pagan temple.
Tonight marks the 50th anniversary of the Criterion’s opening of the world premiere engagement of Columbia’s “Pepe,” with Mexican superstar Cantinflas, Dan Dailey, and Shirley Jones, which was presented as a reserved-seat roadshow. The CinemaScope extravaganza, with prints by Technicolor, boasted a supporting cast of 35 stars, including Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak, Bing Crosby, Maurice Chevalier, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jimmy Durante, Greer Garson, Edward G. Robinson,Debbie Reynolds, Jack Lemmon, and Judy Garland (in voice only). $3.50 was the top price for orchestra and loge seats on weekend nights and holidays.
I don’t understand the designation. What has been Landmaked? Just the exterior, or the entire building? The auditorium is in ruins.
The programme was for the original Colonial Theatre, which was demolished and replaced by the current building that serves as a church. The introduction says that the airdome (outdoor cinema) was on an adjacent lot, but some theatres had them on the roof. The airdomes usually operated only from May into September, closing when cold weather started.
Tomorrow (12/21) will mark the 77th anniversary of the opening of RCMH’s very first Christmas screen and stage show, which was quite similar to the holiday presentations that managing director S.L. Rothafel had assembled for his namesake Roxy Theatre before he quit to run the two new Rockefeller Center theatres. The film was RKO’s B&W musical, “Flying Down to Rio,” with Dolores Del Rio, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Gene Raymond. The stage show opened with the Synphony Orchestra’s processional, “The Nativity,” followed by a spectacular two-part version of “Coppelia” with music by Delibes and performed by the resident company of 500. Ballerina Marie Gambarelli was the principal dancer, and the Roxyettes (later known as the Rockettes) portrayed Christmas tree ornaments in a lavish toy shop scene.
During this week in 1947, Lili St. Cyr was “Back By Popular Demand” and “Better Than Ever” at the Follies Burlesque. Also on the bill were Mary Miller, Marie Voe, and a company of 60. The Follies presented three shows daily except on Saturdays, when five were given (the last at midnight).
On this day in 1954, Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront” ended an exclusive and highly profitable run of 20 weeks at the Astor. The theatre then closed for three days for the installation of a new CinemaScope screen and four-track stereophonic sound for the world premiere engagement of Walt Disney’s live-action “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” which started on December 23rd. Supporting the Kirk Douglas-James Mason starrer was Disney’s first Donald Duck cartoon in CinemaScope, “Grand Canyonscope.”
The theatre was still being operated as Keeney’s in an ad in the Brooklyn Sunday Eagle on April 4th, 1927, with no mention of a Loew’s connection. The Keeney’s policy then was a sub-run feature film and vaudeville, with program changes on Mondays and Thursdays. It’s possible that Loew’s was now in control but taking its time about a re-naming.
Inestia, I don’t think that’s a poster. Could be an ad from one of the weekly trade journals like The Billboard. In the heyday of vaudeville, there were hundreds if not thousands of agents that represented performers. But if the act was good enough to play a major theatre like the Strand, Johnson & Lowenstein was probably one of the top agencies. Putting a date to the ad, however, would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. If you contact me privately, I might be able to provide some guidance:
Sixty-eight years ago today, MGM’s “Random Harvest,” starring Ronald Colman and Greer Garson, opened its world premiere engagement at RCMH, supported by a two-part Christmas show featuring “The Nativity” and “Hats Off.” The B&W romantic drama proved so popular that it ran for 13 weeks, with the stage show changed to an expanded “Hats Off” in January. “Random Harvest” set a long-run record that held until 1968, when Paramount’s “The Odd Couple” topped it by one week with 14.
Fifty years ago today (which happened to be a Friday), Jules Dassin’s “Never on Sunday,” which made an international star of Melina Mercouri, opened its Chicago premiere engagement at the Esquire Theatre. An added attraction was “Day of the Painter,” which went on to win an ‘Oscar’ as best live action short subject of 1960. Mercouri was less successful in the race for best actress, losing to Elizabeth Taylor for “BUtterfield 8.” Both played prostitutes, but Taylor had the advantage of a “sympathy vote” for having recently survived double pneumonia and emergency surgery.
Fifty years ago today, Columbia’s “The 3 Worlds of Gulliver,” in Super Dynamation and Eastman Color, made its Chicago debut at the Loop Theatre. Doors opened at 8:45am for what was described as “Nothing Less Than a Miracle in Motion Pictures!”.
The first Loew’s name was Livingston (honoring Livingston Street, and not spelled Livingstone). According to legend, Livingston was discarded because it had too many letters for the electrical signage that was planned, and also might cause confusion with Loew’s Lexington in Manhattan.
Despite a partial similarity in names, the Shore Road Theatre should not be confused with the Shore Theatre (originally Loew’s Coney Island).