Manhasset Cinemas

430 Plandome Road,
Manhasset, NY 11030

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efriedmann
efriedmann on May 21, 2007 at 3:23 pm

I was there recently to see THE NAMESAKE and a revival of CITIZEN KANE. Back when it was mainstream Hollywood films, I saw titles like THE UNTOUCHABLES, BACK TO THE FUTURE-PART III and TOTAL RECALL. I’m glad to see they haven’t closed up this theater (yet!).

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 24, 2007 at 11:55 am

The 1957 Film Daily Year Book gives a seating capacity of 968 for the Manhasset. Couldn’t that figure be used in the introduction instead of “unknown?” At least it tells us that the Manhasset is a small theatre, and that the three screens are probably about 300 seats per screen if the house was divided equally.

Vodhin
Vodhin on February 24, 2007 at 10:45 am

I have heard of the Playhouse Ghost, believed to be the ghost of someone who hanged himself in the rigging backstage. He supposedly haunts the appartments that are there now. True or not I don’t know.

RobertR
RobertR on February 19, 2007 at 1:06 am

Wasn’t there also a ghost at the Great Neck Playhouse?

Vodhin
Vodhin on February 18, 2007 at 8:46 pm

I’m more skeptical of these “woo woo” type things myself (hence trying to find out what might be causing the shadow) and is why I say that there is more in this universe than we could ever know. Whatever it is, it was noticable to just about anyone who had it pointed out to. Eerie, definately… but since it is so subtle, I doubt it will be freightening anyone away. Maybe it will steal your popcorn, though… ;)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 18, 2007 at 4:37 am

Vhodin… you should have saved that story for Halloween. I am skeptical of such things as you describe, but I surely don’t doubt your recounting of the experience. In fact, I quite enjoyed reading it – very well written and more than just a little spine-tingling, if I might add. Thanks!

Vodhin
Vodhin on February 18, 2007 at 2:32 am

Good tip on the photobucket. Usually an image tag can contain the term “width=xxx” (where xxx equals the value you want in pixel size) 512 width should be fine here and many other forums. I’m not 100% sure if it works with this site, though (and there is no option to edit a post, so experiments are out of the question lest we have a ton of usless posts).

I actually recommend that you resize your images before even uploading to an image host – make them 512 wide to start with. Then the actual file will be much smaller and load nice and fast.

I appologize to the fine folks here are Cinema Treasures if I have upset the apple cart with this info (but having images of these great old theatres available for view is a major benefit, and with external image hosts, it should save your server space and bandwidth). Everyone should read the TOS (http://cinematreasures.org/legal/) and understand that materials (e.g. images) you post, either as links or otherwise, automatically include your release of any copyright, granted to Cinema Treasures. On that note, you should not post images or other material (links or otherwise) to material that does not belong to you.

Back to Manhasset and relevant information.

Something comes back to me about the old chandelier that was in the stairwell- it should still exist in the old safe room /manager’s office in the back theatre 3 (the old balcony). I remember when UA renovated that we had it moved and installed in that little room (last door just after the door to the projection booth) because it was going to be thrown out. Last I knew, that room was used for paperwork storage.

On a ghostly note- I and several others who have worked there have experienced first hand, an eerie apparition: a disembodied shadow cast on the wall of the back of that old balcony theatre. We’ve even spotted it drifting along the back wall downstairs (when walking to the theatres, the wall on the right). How and when- Well, I first spotted it while standing outside under tha marquee, having a smoke while waiting for the last shows to let out. I thought someone was behind the candy stand, keeping an eye on it using the mirrors in the outter lobby to see all the way up and around the corner. Several nights went by and it happened again, this time to other employees.

It seems to show up more often during the summer, mostly between 11:30 pm and 1 am. As you walk down the hall downstairs past theatre 1 and 2 or if you stare at the back wall of theatre 3, you’ll notice “arches” of light from the high hat lighting in the ceiling. The shadow can be seen only in the “half light” between the bright area and the dark area, a five or five and a half foot humanoid silhouette moving with “purpose”.

It took us over two months to trace out “her” route, and follows this path: It starts on the wall behind the candy stand, about where the right soda machine is and moves toward theatre 1 where it waits for a little bit. It then moves down the hall and up the stairs to the old balcony. It cannot be seen again until it is in the balcony where it slowly drifts to the door to the projection booth (to the hall to the booth- I think it might go into the old generator room below the booth for a moment). After about a minute or so, the shadow moves to the old safe room/ manager’s office and then very quickly darts back toward the entrance of the balcony (but I think it’s heading toward the fire exit on that side).

Not a truely spectacular event other than it was a regular occurance every night all the time since it was first noticed, and it seems that everyone can see it if you point it out. To see it, don’t look directly at it, but look a few feet away from where it should be (focus on the dark area between the arches of light). The shadow moves as a slow walk (downstairs) and then at a hurried walk (upstairs). What you see is a shadow on the wall shaped like a person about five to five and a half feet tall, darker than what should be there and moving but only in that transition from light to dark- you cannot see it in the bright area of the light or the darker section between the lights – and come to think of it, when Clearview took over, they replaced the incandescant lights in the fixtures downstairs with flourescent retrofits that do not create the needed arches of light. The light in that ahlls is probably too flast to notice it. The Balcony should still be a good spot to see the “ghost”, though.

Now, please understand that I don’t think that it’s an actual ghost- not the sort that you see on TV or one that jumps out at you and goes ‘boo’ (though some folks have left the balcony before the show was over citing a creepy feeling up there). Personally, I believe that there is a whole lot more in this universe than we could ever understand, but a ghost this is not. I and other’s have seen it, and have gone to lengths to try to rule out possibilities: passing car or aircraft light, moonlight, anything. We’ve stood right next to the wall when it passed. We’ve even done research to see if there was ever any kind of incident at the Manhasset that might make a “ghost” – a robbery or other foul deed. Nothing turned up. If I was to venture an opinion as to what it is: perhaps some kind of memory that’s retained in the walls of the building (it is a huge iron wirelath structure and might be able to ‘record’ someone’s strong emotional state (scorned lover?) as they moved by it. Then again, maybe not.

And that’s the only “ghost” I know that’s ever been in the Manhasset (other than the one with Demi Moore).

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 15, 2007 at 1:56 am

Vodhin….Thanks so much for sharing those photos and jogging your memory for that very informative post earlier today! I’m probably a little more computer savvy than Warren, but I have yet to master php or html myself – beyond being able to bury my hyperlinks within the body of my comment text. But thanks for trying to explain it all the same!

By the way, Photobucket stores images indefinitely – as long as the user keeps their account active. No direct hits are required to keep an image active in a Photobucket album. Also… if one doesn’t reduce the size of the image they wish to post within their comments, a large photo will disrupt the way a given theater page is displayed. There have been a few instances here where users have used the [ img ] tag rather than the [ url ] tag, resulting in a page that now scrolls horizontally out of one’s browser window. Obviously, you seem to know what you’re doing.

Vodhin
Vodhin on February 15, 2007 at 12:29 am

If you can make the link you can make the pics appear too. Just put [ img ]photo'sURL[ /img] (but without the spaces- I can’t show you exactly because it will think I’m putting in a pic…)

With sites like photo bucket and image shack, the images will get deleted if it is not active- a link here does nothing to keep the image unless someone clicks it, but the image tag will call the image, registering on the image server as active.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 14, 2007 at 6:18 pm

Thanks, but I’m a computer illiterate and should probably stick to the simple method I’ve been using, which is linking to a scrapbook at Photobucket.com.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 14, 2007 at 2:52 pm

Has the “Add a Photo” feature finally been activated? I didn’t know it was possible to actually display photos here. I thought you could only enter links to other websites, as I’ve been doing now for two years. What is the procedure for this type of display?

Vodhin
Vodhin on February 14, 2007 at 1:42 pm

Well, it’s been a while since I visited here and I have to thank EdSolero for the new photos- I’m happy to see that the gray paint is gone! UA had done everything (And I mean everything) in a deathly shade of gray about 1897, and when Clearview took over in 1998 they kept the gray tones but decided to at least use several shades and accesnt the jabot/cascade trim in gold. The new paint looks great, a huge improvement all around.

Here’s some pictures of the marquee and lobby about 1998, right after Clearview took over and renovated.


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EdSolero: indeed, that section of tile marks where the old box office stood- it was a very tiny affair. I have no idea about what it looked like or how tall it was, but I do know that it didn’t connect with the ceiling. My guess would be that it was a half round if not square, and I remember Karl telling me that the cashier sat on a seat attached to the door in the rear: a perfect set-up for a pratfall gag.

The steam pipe in question ran under the center of the inner lobby floor (about where the right hand soda machine is) and was buried directly in the earth. It fed the radiators in the bathrooms, the two stores next door, and then branched off down to the box office and sidewalk.

I remember UA had required the threatre to be open as a shelter during Hurricane Gloria (no one showed up) and I was busy on the roof cleaning out the drains (I hated that tree in the front and it’s drain clogging burs). I came in and was walking around barefoot while my shoes and socks dried. That’s how I found the steam pipe- it burned my feet. My further barefoot wonderings found hot spots undea all bathroom floors and under the marquee- all the way out to the curb (but only on the south side of where the box office stood). It might be that the heated sidewalk was just a effect from the radiator in the old box office, a byproduct of the need for heat.

In the late 80’s or early 90’s, there were two mishaps related to that pipe: first, there was a payphone on the wall between the bathrooms, but it had fallen off- the pipe had rotted away completely and the steam was just going where ever it could, including up the walls. The lobby was dug up and the pipe replaced, which increased the steam reaching the old box office location. I suspect that the pipe there was also rotted out, and eventually the steam caused a major flood in the store next door. That flood resulted in the old box office pipe’s perminent disconnection.

Hey Warren- The main house fan located backstage had a manufacture date of 1927 on the fan housing, and I’ve seen something else with that date on it- a service record- yes, now I remember: the old boiler in the pit backstage (long ago replaced) had a service chart dating that far back. You seem to know a lot about the old local theatres on LI, so I was wondering if you knew how to thread one of these:


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Above is a Bauer U4 at the Manhasset, a work horse of a projector. Below is a shot of the projection equipment for screen 1, taken about 1998:


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For those who don’t know, most theatres use a system similar to this, where the entire film is spliced together by the projectionist and fed to the projector in one go. Some theatres (a very few) still use the old reels which require a projectionist to switch reels during the show either every 18 to 20 minutes or so (some use 60 minute reels, still requiring a ‘changeover’). With today’s multi-screen complexes, a projectionist would be run ragged.

Film is still delivered (to my knowledge) on those old twenty minute reels, and Thursday nights can be grueling for a projectionist, who must make up new shows and load it onto this type of film transport while breaking down exiting shows to be shipped to other theatres. As a matter of fact, you can see a new show loaded on the bottom plater, made up and ready for the next feature (or it might be a matinee movie, too).

This is an interesting system, with many intircate parts to keep the show on the screen. The platters (the disks) turn as the film is fed out to the projector, with a governing control to keep everything at a steady speed. As the film feeds out on one platter, it is taken up on another, almost an endless loop. When the show is over, the projectionist removed a ring in the center and feeds the film out and back to the now empty platter. No need (or ability for that matter) to rewind. When something goes wrong and part of the show is missed, you can see that it is nearly impossible to rewind the film in this type system. It brings a whole new meaning to “The Show Must Go On.”

With Digital Projection looming on the horrizon, this type of system will be dissappearing from theatres, potentially along with projection booths and projectionists, too. Next time you visit a theatre, bring him a cup of coffee wink

shua22
shua22 on November 27, 2006 at 10:17 am

We did not see you there taking your photos… if we had, we surely would have tried to strike up a conversation. Volver was upstairs. Unlike Main Street in Port Washington, they have not split the upstairs in Manhasset so it is one curved theater with about 4 sections facing out to a large platform (covering the theaters below) and then to a decent sized screen. The sound was pretty decent, no complaints here, but I’m not that picky… I wouldnt know the difference between good sound and great sound but it certainly wasn’t bad. The place is clean. Upstairs has old style balcony seating (think stadium seeting) so you get a good view from almost every seat.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 26, 2006 at 2:09 pm

Are we certain that this was originally a “Skorus” theatre? I presume that the poster really meant “Skouras,” but I don’t think that the St. Louis-based Skouras brothers became involved in New York exhibition until the early 1930s, when they were asked to run a circuit consisting of some of the theatres of the bankrupt Fox chain. The Manhasset Theatre may have opened in 1926, and certainly by 1927. It makes its first appearance in Film Daily Year Books in the 1927 volume, which was published in May of that year.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 26, 2006 at 2:47 am

NYC Josh… Did you guys actually see me taking the photos? That would be pretty coincidental, huh? I was there probably around 8:45pm on Friday evening. A showing of “Volver” had just let out and a good number of folks were exiting and discussing it with admiration. As I milled around waiting for the vestibule to get less crowded so I could snap some shots, I was comparing the crowd at the Manhasset to the usual multiplex crowd I have to endure in Queens and thinking that this is the kind of mature audience with which I’d prefer to experience a film. How was the auditorium you were in… was the screen a decent size? Which room was it? And what of the sound?

shua22
shua22 on November 25, 2006 at 11:28 pm

AMAZING. So last night mu friend Larry and I go to see Volver at Manhasset. We grew up in a neighboring town and have since moved away. It’s been quite a while since we’d been there and we were pleasently surpirsed with the general condition of the place. Since we’re both big fans of this site, we logged on to take a look at the page for this theater. To our delight and surprise, the photos above were added to this site while we were at the theater and appear to have been taken while we were there!! This site is a real treasure!

About the theater: They’ve done just about as much as they can to keep this place viable. I guess there are limitations, financial and oterwise, to modernizing a 1927 building. Taking all of that in stride the only real complaint is the stink from the air conditioning system (think urine). On a positive note, after the first five minutes, you get used to it!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 25, 2006 at 1:27 am

I stopped by this theater tonight to grab some shots of the neon lit marquee signage and was able to get into the ticket lobby where the manager gave me permission to snap a few images. Unfortunately I couldn’t get further into the lobby, which curves in a dog leg around to the right – as pointed out in Vodhin’s terrifcally detailed post of July 7th, 2004. Here are the photos:

Manhasset marquee 1
Manhasset marquee 2
Manhasset marquee 3
Outer vestibule mosaic tile floor
Tile floor center detail – marks old box office?
Ticket lobby and booth
Ticket lobby towards candy counter
Alt view of ticket lobby towards street entrance
Ticket lobby side wall view towards inner lobby
Outer vestibule

I wonder about Vhodin’s claim that the break in the vestibule floor tile pattern represents where the old outside ticket booth was located. I guess I don’t doubt it, particularly given the story about the heat pipe, but it sure seems like a pretty tight place to fit a cashier. Just look at the two women looking over the display cases in that same photo to get an idea of scale.

In any event, the interior appointments of the outer lobby seem to be extremely well kept and faithful to the theater’s art deco heritage. I’d love to get back and have permission to photograph deeper into the theater.

RobertR
RobertR on October 14, 2005 at 10:25 pm

Cleopatra played here after the Rivoli run
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RobertR
RobertR on September 10, 2004 at 3:23 pm

The original introduction for this theatre should be changed. UA ran this theatre into the ground (what else is new), but Clearview has done a nice job on it. It is never dirty and no longer sub-par. I love going here again.

Vodhin
Vodhin on July 7, 2004 at 8:13 pm

I should point out that the names of the employees that worked this theatre for ET, are on a wall that is now inside the newly added handicap restroom. When Clearview added the restroom, a false wall was erected over this area to accomodate the new plumbing. I think only a small portion of the names remain, as the plaster wall was cut up pretty badly.

I remember that when Clearview’s construction workers replaced the commodes in the mens room, the wall between the mens and ladies room collapsed, and forced a complete renovation to both bathrooms.

Vodhin
Vodhin on July 7, 2004 at 6:44 am

Ah, Manhasset â€" I worked that theatre from 1984 to 1994. In that time, I have unearthed many details about this 1927 masterpiece. This was a theme theatre- African Safari, if I’m right.

This was one of the Skorus Theatres that Mr. Skorus built for his sons. I don’t know the son’s name, but the top-dead-center of the marquee had his son’s initials on it â€" in Greek lettering: M S. The rest of the marquee is still pretty much original, save for the actual title boards.

The original titles were created by embossed ceramic letters framed in black metal, so only each letter was illuminated. The framing of the letters had tracks to hold colored gels for a Technicolor display. I have one of these letters, a ‘Z’ that had been used as a pane of glass in a boarded up window (in the staircase leading to the balcony). Unfortunately, when we opened up the window, the letter fell and broke- but I still have the pieces somewhere.

The interior of the building is a “single piece” shell- the walls and ceiling are made of cement and plaster pressed into a sculpted wire lath suspended from the roof trusses. A visit to the attic shows a reverse impression of all the ceiling’s original art-deco detail.

The entire theatre is actually three separate buildings, the auditorium in the back, butting up against a ‘dog leg’ shaped lobby, and two retail stores in the front corner.

The building also had heated sidewalks under the marquee, apparently provided by the steam pipe that heated the original box office. You can see where the box office was by looking at the mosaic tile under the marquee- there’s a tiny rectangle of mismatched tile where it once stood. The steam pipe was left in place when the box office was replaced, and eventually rotted away, flooding the store next door in the early 90’s. No more warm tootsies in the winter, folks. Sorry.

Inside the outer lobby are still (hopefully) the large mirrors set in a Victorian (?) style trim. The floor had nine rubber mats inlaid into a mosaic tile ‘framing’ that lined up with the tile borders under the marquee. A second set of doors were located halfway up the outer lobby, the old header and trim still in place.

Entering the inner lobby you were greeted to the swooping curves of the art-deco design, turning right and passing under a long oval recess for the chandelier. I have little knowledge about what that chandelier looked like- but if it was like the one for the auditorium, it would’ve been stained glass set in a white-copper art-deco frame.

That chandelier sat under the screen of theatre 1 for the longest time, but was hauled out for trash when UA put in the horrible mustard seating, making way for extra seat parts. Another chandelier that was in the staircase gives another clue as to what might have been there: That one had diagonally arranged glass (crystal?) dowels set in a white-copper frame. I believe that the auditorium chandelier was stained glass, as you can still(?) see in the Manhasset High School auditorium- a building put up about the same time.

In the wall of the far end of the inner lobby is a recessed water fountain, in black tile with a yellow fish and seaweed design, and illuminated by a recessed light above. This odd design finally explained itself when I and a few other employees stripped the wallpaper off the walls in the restrooms (UA renovated the lobby, but not the restrooms or auditorium, sometime around ‘87).

The original wallpaper in the ladies’ room, next to the fountain, was an undersea mermaid scene, in deep aqua tones and colorful tropical fish. The men’s room was a similar scene with swordfish and other game fish on a turquoise background.

â€" A quick sidebar- one wall in the men’s sitting room had been stripped already, and the entire staff of the Manhasset Theatre had signed their names- commemorating the final showing of ‘E.T. â€"The Extraterrestrial’. If anyone out there reads this, rest assured: we kept your memorial for future explorers!

The original woodwork was in mahogany and white pine, with faux wood finishes on the plaster columns and paneling. This special treatment is still visible on one door in the building. There is a storage room in the back of the balcony theatre, on your right when you enter the auditorium, with this fine craftsmanship clearly visible, but on the inside, out of public view.

Manhasset’s Safari theme was exemplified in the tapestry and wall paper I’d found during my exploration of the hidden sections of the building. Now discolored with age, I think it was red with a gold inlay leaf pattern.

One section of this tapestry (a huge section at that) might still be found by getting back stage (I use that term loosely, as the stage area is only about 6 feet deep) and climbing a ladder to the blower room. From there- with a very bright light- you can look over the ceiling of theatres 1 and 2, into the empty space behind the walled-in balcony theatre.

From there you can see the newer green/blue/gold fleur-de-lis tapestry that had been put up over the old red safari, which is also visible where the newer tapestry has come down. If you get the chance, look for the tigers and elephants- and who knows what else.

A visit to the balcony theatre and the original ceiling can be seen, it’s art-deco concentric circles now painted flat black to reduce light reflection from the screen.

A regular visitor to the Manhasset was “Old Man Karl”, who was one of the original ushers when the theatre first opened. Karl spoke of many stories of the Manhasset Theatre, too numerous to put in one post.

One thing he did mention was that the theatre was one of the first motion-picture-only theatres on the east coast, and was built especially for ‘talkies’. The curved walls were intended to help project the sound out into the street and pique public curiosity. It did work- only in reverse as well. A whisper in the lobby could carry all the way to the front row of theatre 2.

Now, about the smell- If they ever get rid of the well-water air-conditioning…

RobertR
RobertR on January 9, 2004 at 7:24 pm

I love going to The Manhasset and have never found it to be dirty. I have been seeing alot of improvements made since Clearview took over.