Capri Theatre

1913 Elm Street,
Dallas, TX 75201

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Showing 26 - 37 of 37 comments

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on March 15, 2009 at 1:11 pm

An old movie theater ad from 1949 for the Melba Theatre.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on March 9, 2009 at 9:11 pm

A vintage Elm Street postcard showing the “LBA” portion of the Melba Theatre’s vertical sign.

matermama on December 16, 2008 at 1:52 pm

Just wanted to tell more about the Melba Wurlitzer. The first one was installed in 1922 Opus 235 was a 3 keyboard (manual) 11 ranks of pipes (70 or so pipes in each rank). After a small fire in the theatre which damaged the console, the management ordered another console, Opus 503 (3/11) and it was installed in 1927. Mr. Wright told me in my interview of him in 2003 that he removed the organ in 1974 and it is still installed in his home here in Dallas. It is played for private functions. He also stated he and several others had tried to restore some of it in the theatre in the 1950s but it had been covered over by the large screen in the early 50s. It was never on a lift (that was the Palace organ). Several organists played it including Jack Caldwell,Lawrence Bolton, Caezar Borea, Lloyd Hill (known as Wild Oscar), J. D. Carlisle & Mr. LePere in the 1920s and several others as well on into the 1930s. Even Jerry Bacon played the organ a few times in the 1960s but it was rare. When the Kid Show was moved from the Palace to the Melba, Inez Teddlie played a Hammond that was brought in.
There were dozens of organists in Dallas during the theatre organ years. I have lists of them in my “Street of Dreams, A History of Dallas' Theatre Row” and “The Theatre Organ Murders” books. I was fortunate to have several interviews of several of them before they passed away. Dr. I Q was broadcast over a station in Houston (KTRH)and often was re-broadcast as if it was coming from a Dallas theatre as was also done in other cities. Norvel Slater was the featured organist for the Early Birds radio show for many years. Weldon Flanagan, the Palace organist from 1948 to 1969 was featured in live radio and TV broadcasts from the Palace. He and I are good friends and I’ve seen and have many articles about his performances. I saw him myself from 1948 until the Palace closed in 1969. There will be an article about Weldon coming out in the January 2009 issue of the Theatre Organ Journal of the American Theatre Organ Society.
Jeanette Crumpler

Raymondlepere447 on April 25, 2008 at 4:56 am

After months of searching, I have discovered the Mighty Wurlitzer from the Melba theater has been bought by a Dallas family and they spent 10,000 manhours rebuilding it.It was placed in the Melba in 1921. The owners are Gordon and Evelyn Wright of Dallas bought the instrument in 1978 They are members of the North Texas Chapter of the American Theater Organ Society. Raymond Le Pere

Raymondlepere447 on December 20, 2006 at 5:58 am

Sirs. Thanks for the old pix of the Melba. My father, Raymond Le Pere, was the organist for the Kiddie Club for several years. It was always a thrill for him to place me on the organ bench and ride up from the pit with him as he performed his miracles on the Wurlitzer. He also play for the radio show, Dr. I.Q.(..12 silver dollars and a box of Mars candy for bar for the lady in the balcony with the right answer…)On weekends, he was intermission organist at the Majestic and Palace theaters. Do anyone know where the Melba organ ended up? Thanks, Raymond Le Pere

legsdiamond on November 7, 2005 at 12:42 pm

This theater was divided (I don’t really know how because I was never in the ‘big’ theater') and the whole complex spilled over into a building next door as a 6-screen plex that was billed as ‘the largest theater in the world’ on a big painted mural on the rear of the theater on Pacific St. I was always so impressed by that stat.

My fav. memory of the Capri 6 is that when I made my dad take me to see one of the sequels to the “planet of the apes' series in one of the smaller theaters, actors/ushers dressed up like apes walked up and down the aisle doing their ape thing. It made a big impression on a 10 year old boy in the early 70’s….

This 6-plex became the home for every blaxploitation picture that Hollywood ever made. Some you’ve heard of; some you never will.

This theater was owned by Gordon McLendon, as were many of the cities most interesting and comfortable theaters (Casa Linda, Park Forest, Preston Royal, and the crazy drive ins—-Gemini, Astro, Apollo, the list is long)…

He shoulda hung on to this gem, the Melba/Capri.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 3, 2005 at 9:25 am

The Hope Theatre became Loew’s Melba Theatre when that circuit took control in around 1926/27.

arapaho48 on January 9, 2005 at 5:36 pm

Thanks, Charles. Fantastic ads and photos, particularly of the Melba at night. I haven’t seen a photo of the theater in decades and it really took me back! You don’t happen to have any photos of the Rialto Theater, do you? (It was about four blocks down Elm Street, past the old Palace and next door to the Capitol.)

arapaho48 on January 8, 2005 at 10:52 pm

Sorry to differ, Mr. Van Bibber, but when Cinerama films were first being shown in this theater, it was still known as the Melba. I not only remember this personally, but I also have old archive copies of The Dallas Morning News that prove this to be true. The name was changed to Capri some time during the early ‘60s and it played the occasional Cinerama film after that — the original first Dallas engagement of “2001: A Space Osyssey” played there. Eventually the McLendon Corp carved it up into a multiplex in an attempt to lure moviegoers downtown, and when that tactic failed to generate business it was scheduled for demolition.

veyoung52 on November 28, 2004 at 7:22 pm

I think what is meant here when it is stated “on a 148ft curved…” is that it was a 146 degree curved screen. Same for “120ft curved screen.” This 2nd installation in fact had a 120 DEGREE screen measuring 76x30 feet.
Also, this is the house that gained some notoriety for instituting a policy that was doomed to failure. Located in a city where racial segregation was rampant, the Melbal instituted a policy where Thursday Cinerama showings were “For Negroes Only.” One of the many reasons that led to Cinerama’s financial downfall during the travelogue years was that there were a number of cities in the South with populations which could have sustained a Cinerama engagement but where at least half of the population was barred from going to the theatres. Cinerama showings in the South during the pre-MGM-Cinerama Inc-agreement years were available only in Atlanta. No wonder Cinerama played so well in Washington, DC.

rickeiff on June 22, 2004 at 2:23 pm

The Melba was originally named the Hope and was built by the Howard Hughes interests. It was opened as a legetimate house but later in the 1920s became an Keith-Orpheum vaudeville house. In the early 1930s, Interstate Circuit took it over and operated it as a “B' picture venue. It never turned a profit and was thought of as a "jonah” and was dark except for ocasional roadshows. After W War II, Interstate reopened it as a hold-over house for the first run Majestic, down the street. Due to the court order to separate the studios from their Theatres, the Mebla was sold to the Louis Novy interests and the name was changed to the Capri. The Novys later sold it to the Bart McClendon chain of theatres which operated it until it was demolished in the 1970s. The Wurlitzer organ was extensively used in the 1930s for the live radio WRR broadcasts of the WRR Kiddie Club.