Drake Theatre

62-90 Woodhaven Boulevard,
Rego Park, NY 11374

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Showing 26 - 50 of 62 comments

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on May 3, 2008 at 5:26 pm

John, thanks for that information. I suspect that the Drake would not want to be known as a Middle Village venue, because the Arion already was drawing the Middle Village crowd, and the Drake wanted to be identified with the area from which it was most likely to draw — whether that was thought of as West Forest Hills (at it apparently was initially) or Rego Park.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on May 3, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Warren and Jeffrey, I think I can add some information on the Rego Park/West Forest Hills question. As early as 1928, when the Rego Park LIRR station opened under that name, the area was – at least to a certain extent – being referred to as Rego Park. This was only a few years after the initial development began.In many cases, the name selected by the LIRR to name a station had a significant effect on how the community would subsequently be known, and it probably had no small effect here. (Incidently, the fact that no station was created BEFORE 1928 clearly underlines just how undeveloped Rego Park was at that relatively recent date.)

My guess is that the area now called Rego Park was referred to as West Forest Hills for the same reason that Corona was once known as West Flushing – the two lightly populated “communities” were just viewed as appendages to their more developed neighbors. (It’s funny that in both of these cases, the usual “west-to-east” development pattern just did not apply.) The fact that some people were still calling the area West Foprest Hills as late as the mid-1930’s just means that things didn’t change all at once. It was probably the opening of the Queens Boulevard subway in the late 1930’s that spurred the explosive development that tipped the scale on Rego Park’s side once and for all.

While I never caught a film at the Drake, I vaguely remember my parents taking me to a bowling alley that – I believe – was situated in the theater’s basement. I was only about eight or nine at the time – I was born in 1950 – so I may be confusing this with another building situated a block or so away. (Anyone with clearer memories, please join in.) The bowling alley was, as I recall, a rather modest affair that featured human pin setters.

One last point about neighborhoods that might confuse the situation even more. Since this portion of Woodhaven Blvd. serves as the border between Rego Park and Middle Village – and since the Drake is on the Middle Village side of the street – the latter apparently has a pretty strong claim to it. Does anyone remember the Drake ever being referred to as a Middle village venue? Given the fact that the Drake is pretty far from Middle Village’s center, I think this probably is not the case. But it is worth to raise the question, if only to cover all the bases.

PKoch
PKoch on July 12, 2007 at 5:08 pm

Thanks, Jeffrey1955, for posting about the history of Rego Park.

stickball
stickball on July 12, 2007 at 4:57 pm

I enjoyed going to the drake. The theatre was not that big so you had a good view of the screen. The last movie I had seen there was – THE LAST STAR FIGHTER- . I miss the good days of sitting there and watching a movie.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on September 25, 2006 at 12:34 pm

Dang, that should have said Community, not Cumminty. This isn’t letting me scroll to check anything.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on September 25, 2006 at 12:32 pm

That’s an interesting question, but a cursory search indicates that the name Rego Park was already in use by the 1920s:

From the history of the Resurrection Assumption Church, http://www.rachurch.org/history.htm

In 1925, Rego Park was, simply, a nameless stretch of country where, approximately, ten farmers -most of them of the old German and Dutch stock — raised truck vegetables which they sold in Manhattan. Sixty-third Drive was a cow path — none of the present streets existed — and the farmhouses had neither gas nor electricity. The Rego Construction Company had purchased three farms, which comprised approximately forty-five acres. The name “Rego Park” was adopted to mean “Real Good” – a description of the quality of the homes they intended to build. This farmland was bounded [triangularly] by 63rd Drive, the Long Island Railroad, and a line of about 200 feet east of Eliot Avenue. Many of our “pioneer” parishioners were the proud purchasers of these homes when they were completed.

Meanwhile, Rego Park was springing up like an adolescent youth. The cornerstone of P.S. 139 was laid in 1928, and the school was opened in 1930. Next, the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour was opened in 1931. Noticeably, 63rd Drive also appeared to be shaping up. Families were rapidly moving into this lovely and convenient section of Queens and so, in keeping pace with this development, his Excellency, Bishop Thomas Molloy addressed the spiritual needs of his people. Therefore, in 1926, Rev. Francis Scullin was appointed to found a parish in what was, then, the outlying section of St. Bartholomew’s Church in Elmhurst. There were many problems facing Father Scullin [and his parishioners] foremost, of course, was finding the most suitable location to build a church that would serve all the people. A temporary church was constructed by the parishioners on 55th Avenue in Elmhurst. It was called the Church of the Ascension of Elmhurst. Over the years, improvements have been made to this very “homelike, and "peaceful” church. The probable date of the first Mass was February 28, 1926. … The first wedding took place on June 19, 1926. The groom was George Renhardt and his bride, Eleanor Coddington. Father Scullin “officiated” at their marriage.For the convenience of many parishioners, arrangements were made to schedule the Sunday Mass celebration in the Rego Park Community Club House, on 62nd Avenue.

Thus there was already a Rego Park Cumminty Club House in 1926. Also, note that the 63rd Drive-Rego Park station of the IND subway was so designated when it opened on Dec. 31, 1936.

RobertR
RobertR on September 20, 2006 at 5:03 pm

Jan 1968, almost in release for 3 years

View link

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on June 15, 2006 at 2:34 pm

My memories of the seedy Drake Theater are not favorable at all. In the late ‘60s, they ran a number of foreign softcore X films, mostly in B&W. I watched a few out of curiosity, but they were pretty bad, especially when the moviemakers tried to throw in some redeeming social value. There was even one (“491” or something like that) with a Biblical connection! I’d seen other non-erotic films there, but upon leaving the Drake, I always felt that I needed to shower, and real fast!

RobertR
RobertR on June 5, 2006 at 11:00 am

The Drake used to play hardcore XXX at one time. When it was owned by Murray Schoen who at the time also operated the Deluxe in Woodside, he would play XXX one week and 2nd run double bills the next.

Bway
Bway on June 5, 2006 at 10:35 am

I didn’t realize they showed stuff like that at the Drake!

RobertR
RobertR on May 27, 2006 at 1:38 pm

Here is a pair of soft X’s from 1972. The company that released them Marvin was a releasing company that put out hundreds of horror, action and soft porn flicks in the 70’s and 80’s. They distributed for dozens of independent companies. At the end of the Rivoli’s life (then the UA Twin) when UA was sabotaging it, the booker for UA said to me “we should have renamed it the Marvin 1 & 2 because that’s all the f%$* we book in there”.
View link

RobertR
RobertR on May 27, 2006 at 1:37 pm

Here is a pair of soft X’s from 1972. The company that released them Marvin was a releasing company that put out hundreds of horror, action and soft porn flicks in the 70’s and 80’s. They distributed for dozens of independent companies. At the end of the Rivoli’s life (then the UA Twin) when UA was sabotaging it, the booker for UA said to me “we should have renamed it the Marvin 1 & 2 because that’s all the f%$* we book in there”.
View link

nutrichris
nutrichris on March 14, 2006 at 3:47 pm

Warren – can I use your 1986 shot of the Drake for a Rego Park Forgotten NY page? Please write to me. Thanks – Christina ()

PKoch
PKoch on December 2, 2005 at 11:46 am

Thanks, Warren and Jeffrey1955, for your answers. Warren, I thought that 589 Woodhaven Boulevard looked suspicious. Perhaps that was the address before the hyphenated Queens “Philadeplphia” street address system of numbered streets and avenues took effect. Thanks, Jeffrey1955, for your personal details. It’s a good idea to to include your year of birth in your handle on this board, so other moviegoers can gain some sense of what your movie-going experience might be.

The sixth comment on this page is my first comment on the Drake Theater, as “Peter.K”, on 14 April 2004. I somehow logged myself out, and had to log back in as “PKoch”.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on December 2, 2005 at 10:06 am

PKoch, yes I was born in 1955 — pretty clever of me, eh? But I was born in the Bronx. Moved to Elmhurst in 1963, went to PS 13, IS 61, and Newtown High School, and then pretty much disappeared in the mid-70s when I went off to college and hardly came back. My parents hung on there until about ‘79, then moved up to Peekskill.

PKoch
PKoch on December 2, 2005 at 7:43 am

Jeffrey1955, were you born in 1955 ? I was.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on December 1, 2005 at 10:31 pm

That ad illustrates a funny thing I recall from living in the area in the 60s and 70s: Lefrak City would never acknowledge it was actually in Corona. Hence, the ad lists both Drake and UA Lefrak City under Rego Park — of course, they’re (relatively) nowhere near each other!
I think the Drake was my favorite of all the theaters in the area. It just always seemed so cozy and comfortable. Some of the names mentioned above are very familiar, but I honestly can’t remember whether I saw The Ipcress File, or Wait Until Dark, or Butch Cassidy, or any of the other pictures of the mid-late 60s or early 70s at the Drake, or the Arion, or someplace else. It was basically wherever my father decided to drive. But I do have a distinctive memory of one of the theaters — probably the Arion — having peeling paint all over the ceiling, on the rare occasion when they turned on the lights.
And wow — “London Lenny’s” — there’s a name I had completely forgotten! Did I ever actually eat there, or just go past? I have no idea!

RobertR
RobertR on October 16, 2005 at 12:04 pm

Here is the ad for the 1970 matinee re-issue of the “Wizard of Oz”. I remember when I was working at the Drake the posters and lobby cards for this engagement were still there. They spared every expense for this ad, and the one sheet was not too much better either.
View link

Carlton
Carlton on September 8, 2005 at 10:48 am

Having worked at numerous neighborhood houses I was surprised when around 1965/66 when we went to the Drake to see The Iprcrss File it had no ticket taker, just a turnstile at the entrance. It was the only time I went to the Drake. When in New York and visiting the are we often go to “London Lenny’s” restaurant which is not far from the theatre.

cmaffia
cmaffia on June 13, 2005 at 7:46 am

I lived right off 63rd Avenue and Woodhaven and remember that Led Zepplin riot. I remember the next day my mother walking me across the street to look at the damage. Glass was everywhere. I also remember seeing “Swiss Family Robinson” and also “American Warewolf in London” The last movie I recall in either 87 or 88 was “Do the Right Thing” I miss that theatre and “old” Rego Park as well. Very fond memories growing up there.

hardbop
hardbop on April 4, 2005 at 12:39 pm

I went here once to see “City Slickers” on its first run, which must have been 1990. I remember it being a nice, clear neighborhood theatre and the owner/operator had a lot of equipment on display and left the projector open before/after screenings to you could see the projectors. It was clear to me that whoever ran this place the one time I went there took a lot of pride in its operation. I was sorry to learn that it closed.

gharris36
gharris36 on March 3, 2005 at 1:17 pm

I left a comment yesterday on the Arion Theater (or was it Theatre?) and was delighted to read the entries on The Drake. I grew up (in the 60s and 70s) a few blocks from the Drake and actually went to many more movies there than at the Arion. Because I have not been back more than a few times since I left for college, the Drake, like the Arion, lives on, unchanged, in my memory. I saw my first movie at the Drake (it would have been Sound of Music or Mary Poppins) and can recall seeing both Godfather movies, Cabaret, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Sounder, Kelly’s Heroes, Harry and Tonto, Dog Day Afternoon, High Plains Drifter, and many others. I can recall that when I was a small child the Drake’s second floor “lounge” (which I believe included a Lady’s “powder room”) was to me the height of elegance. I also recall that like many theaters in Queens the Drake served some time as a porn house, and I have a memory (perhaps faulty) of them showing Deep Throat and other 70s XXX “hits”, but they later reverted back to conventional movies. I also have a memory of the Led Zeppelin riot of ‘78, and am quite sure that my brother was there and told me about it that night. Also, in addition to the Howard Stern movie (which had a sweeping pan shot of Woodhaven Boulevard, hilarious to anyone who lived around there) there was a low-budget romantic comedy in the 90s, which I saw on video but the name of which I cannot recall, about an immigrant from Taiwan who works at a Chinese restaurant in Queens and dates a non-Asian American woman — at one point they go out for dinner and a movie and there is a nighttime exterior shot of the Drake with the marquee blazing, although by that time I’m quite sure it was no longer in operation as a theater.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on September 27, 2004 at 3:26 pm

Yes, please do. I’m looking forward to it already.

RobertR
RobertR on September 27, 2004 at 2:29 pm

I was the assistant manager of the Haven, when the riot happened at the Drake. (the same owner had both along with the Cinemart. If I recall the print was mag optical and they could not get the sound loud enough on the old mono sound system. They actually tore the radiators out of the wall, besides smashing up the candy stand and kicking holes in the walls. The theatre was back up and running in less then 2 weeks. At that point the midnight shows were stopped. I have all the records for what played at these theatres from 1977 on. I can post some of it when I have a chance.

Bway
Bway on August 18, 2004 at 3:51 pm

Very interesting Warren. I also had no idea about that occurance at the Drake, although have heard of similar occurances elsewhere. It also reminds me of some concerts I have been in in the city, manytimes done in old theaters (although not a “riot-like” situation though). It reminds me of places like the Hammerstien Ballroom (I think it was an Opera house but not sure) which is used as a concert hall now. I saw a few concerts there, and I almost get as much of a thrill out of looking up at the ceiling and all the old features of the building before the concert as the actual concert itself! There are no seats in there anymore, and when the crowd begins the slam dancing and wave dancing, it can get a littl “hairy” in there, but never out of control.
I think what they use as Roseland concert hall near Times Square was also some kind of theater at one time, but there are even less features of the old theater there yet if it was.
I don’t think either of those “theaters” ever showed any kind of cinema, thus they are not listed on this site.
And Peter, yes the pot smoke fills the theaters at those two places too. I can just picture it in the drug store that is now in the Meserole in a time warp (maybe only for medical purposes though now – hahaha).