Ambassador Theatre

2464 18th Street NW,
Washington, DC 20009

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Showing 26 - 38 of 38 comments

CFaber on November 7, 2005 at 5:38 am

I wish you could edit your previous posts. I accidentally wrote my grandmother’s maiden name. Her name when she played at the theater was actually Mabelle (Bowers) Thickstun. Oops.

CFaber on November 7, 2005 at 5:22 am

My grandmother, Mabelle Bowers, also played the organ for silent movies at the Ambassador / Knickerbocker Theater. I don’t think she was there when the roof caved in, but I do remember hearing her tell the story about it. She also played piano and organ at the Circle and Tivoli Theaters.

MaryESmith on October 20, 2005 at 10:41 am

Please see the article concerning Ida V. Clarke that my daughter scanned in and submitted today, thank you Marcy. I know my mother has mentioned a theatre or two I believe one of my great-uncles owned either Arthur of Lawrence Philips maybe two in the 1920’s. I’ll check for any pictures and information for you this weekend. I may be able to find a picture of the outside of the Knickerbocker too.

MaryESmith on October 20, 2005 at 10:41 am

Please see the article concerning Ida V. Clarke that my daughter scanned in and submitted today, thank you Marcy. I know my mother has mentioned a theatre or two I believe one of my great-uncles owned either Arthur of Lawrence Philips maybe two in the 1920’s. I’ll check for any pictures and information for you this weekend. I may be able to find a picture of the outside of the Knickerbocker too.

Me1 on October 20, 2005 at 7:07 am

“My grandmothers name is Ida V. Clarke. She was the Organist and one of the survivors. She had stepped out to place a call to my grandfather while on break. I have a newsclipping that ran 16 years later w/her picture.”

Here is the article: View link

rlvjr on October 2, 2005 at 10:19 am

THE AMBASSADOR was a beautiful and pleasant place to see a movie. Enter on 18th Street and the box office was inside, a florist shop was directly to the right of the box office, so the lobby always smelled and looked good. The interior was magnificent and there were balcony seats. Almost always playing the same first run as the WARNER downtown (or later the METROPOLITAN) admission prices here were about 5% lower. I saw maybe 50 to 75 first runs here and box office was solid. The Martin Luther King riot and looting spree, lasting days on end, killed most in-city business; but besides that the beautiful surrounding Mount Pleasant neighborhood became the #1 drive-by-shooting zone in Washington. Young people have no idea. Law enforcement was liberal (read that NIL). With racial and other crime justified daily on TV and in the Washington Post, and with corrupt city government, Washington DC was a wreck for 20-odd years. Not even Congressional workers on Capitol Hill were protected, not Senators, not Congressmen. Thus our great theaters died —– except the Warner, boarded up for years, but the office building above it kept demolition at bay.

rlvjr on October 2, 2005 at 10:07 am

TEN COMMANDMENTS: No, RKO Keith’s didn’t have another booking obligation. Indeed they expected TEN COMMANDMENTS to play there for a year. Negative reviews simply killed the short-term box office until word-of-mouth belied the “critics.”

Ron3853 on October 2, 2005 at 5:39 am

Does anybody have a photo of the front and marquee of this theater in its latter days (circa 1961-1966)? I would really like to see what it looked like – all the photos I’ve ever seen were on the interior, and it was razed before I was able to visit the site in person. Thanks!

bruceanthony on October 1, 2005 at 12:06 pm

Its hard to believe that “The Ten Commandments” didn’t catch on and they had to move it. “The Ten Commandments” was the second highest grossing film up to this time only “Gone With The Wind” was larger until “Ben Hur” came along in 1959. The Keith’s may have had another booking commitment which forced the film to move.brucec

rlvjr on October 1, 2005 at 10:45 am

After TEN COMMANDMENTS failed as an advanced price reserved seat attraction at RKO Keith’s, Paramount moved it one block north to the Playhouse Theater, not to the Ambassador. Interesting to recall that TEN COMMANDMENTS —– a longterm smash hit by any standard —– initially failed because of negative reviews. That’s right; the so called critics said it wasn’t much good.

MaryESmith on July 21, 2005 at 4:53 am

My grandmothers name is Ida V. Clarke. She was the Organist and one of the survivors. She had stepped out to place a call to my grandfather while on break. I have a newsclipping that ran 16 years later w/her picture. Would you like me to figure out how to scan and submit it?

veyoung52 on January 21, 2005 at 9:57 pm

Prior to the beginning of the above list, this was the house that Paramount moved “10 Commandments” into on a semi-continuous basis after that film had failed to catch on at the RKO Keiths.

Ron3853 on September 5, 2004 at 7:20 am

Part of the history of a great motion picture theater is the films that played there. Listed below are the films that were featured at the Ambassador Theater in Washington, Dc from November 1957 until its closure in 1966. Research is from microfilms of The Washington Post and Variety. The dates listed are the Wednesday of the film’s opening week, as in those years, most films opened on Wednesdays instead of the Friday openings that occur today. In most instances, the Ambassador played its films day-and-date with an other theater. In earlier years it was the Earle (later Warner) in downtown Washington. After the Warner began to feature hard-ticket roadshow films, the Ambassador shared its openings with the Metropolitan, which was also downtown.

11/20/57 The Tin Star
11/27/57 Bombers B-52
12/04/57 Battle Stripe/Armored Attack
12/11/57 Rodan
12/18/57 Esther Costello
12/25/57 Sayonara
02/19/58 The Deep Six
02/26/57 Fort Dobbs
03/05/58 Darby’s Rangers
03/12/58 Cowboy
03/19/58 Lafayette Escadrille
03/26/58 Jumping Jacks/Scared Stiff
04/02/58 Marjorie Morningstar
04/30/58 Another Time, Another Place
05/07/58 Chase a Crooked Shadow
05/14/58 Too Much, Too Soon
05/21/58 The Left-Handed Gun
05/28/58 Vertigo
06/25/58 Attila
07/02/58 No Time for Sergeants
08/06/58 The Light in the Forest
08/13/58 Indiscreet
09/03/58 The Naked and the Dead
09/17/58 Wind Across the Everglades
09/24/58 Damn Yankees
10/15/58 Onionhead
10/29/58 The Blob
11/05/58 From the Earth to the Moon
11/12/58 The Spider/The Brain Eaters
11/19/58 Enchanted Island/Appointment With a Shadow
11/26/58 Home Before Dark
12/17/58 The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad
12/31/58 Auntie Mame
02/25/59 The House on Haunted Hill
03/04/59 Up Periscope
03/11/59 The Hanging Tree
03/18/59 Rio Bravo
04/08/59 The Trap
04/15/59 Alias Jesse James
04/29/59 Lonelyhearts
05/06/59 Westbound/Born Reckless
05/13/59 A Star is Born
05/20/59 The Man in the Net
05/27/59 The Young Philadelphians
06/17/59 Don’t Give Up the Ship
07/01/59 Hercules
07/22/59 The Nun’s Story
09/02/59 Yellowstone Kelly
09/09/59 John Paul Jones
09/16/59 That Kind of Woman
09/23/59 Sign of the Gladiator
10/07/59 Room 43
10/14/59 The FBI Story
11/11/59 -30-
11/18/59 The Jayhawkers
11/25/59 A Summer Place
12/16/59 Goliath and the Barbarians
12/30/59 The Miracle
01/13/60 Cash McCall
01/27/60 The Purple Gang
02/03/60 Seven Thieves
02/10/60 The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond
02/17/60 Jack the Ripper
03/02/60 The Bramble Bush
03/23/60 This Rebel Breed
03/30/60 Guns of the Timberland
04/06/60 The Nun’s Story
04/13/60 Visit to a Small Planet
04/27/60 Tall Story
05/11/60 Wake Me When It’s Over
05/25/60 The Rat Race
06/15/60 Because They’re Young (Ambassador ONLY)
06/22/60 Hannibal
06/29/60 Ice Palace
07/13/60 The Lost World
07/27/60 Hercules Unchained
08/10/60 Oceans 11
09/07/60 The Crowded Sky
09/14/60 13 Ghosts
09/21/60 Hell to Eternity
10/05/60 The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
10/26/60 Fast and Sexy
11/12/60 Girl of the Night
11/09/60 Journey to the Lost City
11/23/60 G. I. Blues
12/07/60 Sunrise from Campobello (moveover from Uptown)
12/14/60 Cinderfella
12/28/60 The Sundowners
01/25/61 Swiss Family Robinson
02/22/61 The Great Imposter
03/08/61 A Fever in the Blood/No Time for Sergeants
03/15/61 Gold of the Seven Saints/Auntie Mame
03/22/61 Giant
03/29/61 White Warrior
04/05/61 101 Dalmatians
04/26/61 The Sins of Rachel Cade
05/03/61 The Absent-Minded Professor
06/07/61 The Last Sunset
06/28/61 Parrish
07/19/61 Tammy Tell Me True
08/02/61 The King of the Roaring 20s/The Plunderers
08/09/61 The World by Night/The Steel Claw
08/16/61 Armored Command
08/23/61 Claudelle Inglish
09/13/61 Come September (day-and-date w/ Warner – Metropolitan DARK)
10/04/61 Greyfriar’s Bobby
10/11/61 Splendor in the Grass
11/08/61 The Mask
11/15/61 Susan Slade
11/29/61 Blue Hawaii
12/20/61 Babes in Toyland
01/17/62 The George Raft Story
01/24/62 The Singer, Not the Song
01/31/62 Madison Avenue
02/07/62 A Majority of One
02/21/62 The Big Country/Thunder Road
02/28/62 The Outsider
03/14/62 The Couch/Malaga
03/21/62 Hitler
03/28/62 The Day the Earth Caught Fire
04/11/62 Splendor in the Grass/Fanny
04/18/62 Moon Pilot
05/09/62 Burn, Witch, Burn
05/16/62 Samar/House of Women
05/23/62 Love Me or Leave Me/Love is Better Than Ever
05/30/62 Escape from Zahrain
06/06/62 Lonely are the Brave
06/13/62 The Count of Monte Cristo
06/20/62 Merrill’s Marauders
06/27/62 Bon Voyage
07/18/62 The Sad Sack/The Delicate Delinquent
07/25/62 The Music Man
09/26/62 Guns of Darkness
10/03/62 The Phantom of the Opera
10/10/62 The Chapman Report
10/31/62 Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
11/21/62 Girls! Girls! Girls!
12/05/62 We’ll Bury You/Who Was That Lady?
12/12/62 Boccaccio 70 (English language version)
12/19/62 Gay Purr-ee/The Sundowners
12/26/62 Gypsy
01/30/63 Who’s Got the Action?
02/13/63 Son of Flubber
03/13/63 The Days of Wine and Roses
04/10/63 Critic’s Choice
04/24/63 Giant
05/01/63 The Man from the Diners Club
05/15/63 Indiscreet
05/22/63 It Happened at the World’s Fair
06/05/63 Island of Love
06/12/63 West Side Story (Ambassador ONLY)
07/03/63 Spencer’s Mountain
07/17/63 Summer Magic
08/07/63 PT 109
08/21/63 Tarzan’s 3 Challenges/The Slave
08/28/63 Wall of Noise
09/04/63 Of Love and Desire
09/11/63 The Castilian
09/18/63 Hootenanny Hoot
09/25/63 The Girl Hunters
10/02/63 Women of the World
10/09/63 Rampage
10/16/63 Twice Told Tales
10/23/63 Shock Corridor
10/30/63 Mary, Mary
11/13/63 The Incredible Journey
11/27/63 Palm Springs Weekend
12/11/63 No, My Darling Daughter
12/18/63 Four for Texas
01/08/64 Strait-Jacket
01/22/64 Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?
02/05/64 Dead Ringer
02/19/64 Love With the Proper Stranger
03/18/64 Children of the Damned
03/25/64 A Tiger Walks
04/01/64 Paris When It Sizzles
04/15/64 A Global Affair/Tamahine
04/22/64 PT 109
04/29/64 A Yank in Vietnam/The Strangler
05/06/64 Empty Canvas
05/20/64 Lilies of the Field (Ambassador ONLY)
05/27/64 The Pink Panther (day and date with Calvert)
06/03/64 The Longest Day (Ambassador ONLY)
06/10/64 South Pacific (day and date with Calvert)
06/17/64 Oklahoma (Ambassador ONLY)
06/24/64 Lawrence of Arabia (Ambassador ONLY)
07/01/64 El Cid (Ambassador ONLY)
07/08/64 Ensign Pulver
07/22/64 The Long Ships
08/12/64 Viva Las Vegas
08/26/64 Looking for Love
09/02/64 Honeymoon Hotel
09/09/64 The Thin Red Line
09/16/64 Stop Train 349
09/23/64 Station Six-Sahara
10/07/64 Kisses for My President
10/21/64 The Stripper/The Hustler
10/28/64 Rio Conchos
11/18/64 From Russia, With Love/The Defiant Ones (Ambassador ONLY)
11/25/64 Whatever Happend to Baby Jane/Days of Wine & Roses (A ONLY)
12/02/64 Seven Days in May/Hud (Ambassador ONLY)
12/09/64 Charade/To Kill a Mockingbird (Ambassador ONLY)
12/16/64 The Carpetbaggers/That Kind of Woman (Ambassador ONLY)
12/23/64 Sex and the Single Girl
01/20/65 First Men in the Moon
01/27/65 Peyton Place/Return to Peyton Place
02/03/65 36 Hours
02/24/65 Dear Brigitte
03/10/65 How the West Was Won
03/17/65 A Boy Ten Feet Tall
03/24/65 Love Has Many Faces
03/31/65 John Goldfarb, Please Come Home
05/12/65 Synanon
05/19/65 Die! Die! My Darling
05/26/65 A High Wind in Jamaica
06/09/65 Up From the Beach
06/16/65 The Battle of the Villa Fiorita
06/23/65 Genghis Khan
07/14/65 The Sons of Katie Elder
08/04/65 Morituri
08/25/65 The Third Day
09/01/65 Pardners/Living It Up
09/08/65 My Blood Runs Cold/Murieta
09/15/65 Brakfast at Tiffany’s/Sabrina
09/29/65 Marriage on the Rocks
10/27/65 Taboos of the World/The Conquered City
11/10/65 Village of the Giants/Seaside Swingers
11/17/65 The Bedford Incident
12/01/65 The Rounders/Zebra in the Kitchen
12/08/65 Gypsy/The Music Man
12/22/65 Boeing Boeing

After Boeing Boeing" completed its run, the Metropolitan in downtown Washington closed on January 3, 1966. The Ambassador stayed open as a second-run house for 16 more weeks.

01/05/66 Secret Agent Fireball/Spy in Your Eye
01/12/66 Requiem for a Gunfighter/Pussycat Alley
01/19/66 The Skull/The Mad Executioner
01/26/66 The Cincinnati Kid/Gunfighters of the Casa Grande
02/02/66 Zorba the Greek/Cat Ballou
02/09/66 Tom Jones/Irma La Douce
02/16/66 The Ipcress File/Ship of Fools
02/23/66 The Pawnbroker/The Collector
03/02/66 Darling
03/09/66 That Darn Cat/Kid Rodelo
03/16/66 The King and I/Agent from H. A. R. M.
03/23/66 The Ugly Dachshund
03/30/66 The Slender Thread/Bunny Lake is Missing
04/06/66 Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines
04/20/66 The Spy Who Came in From the Cold/Never Too Late

The Ambassador stayed standing until the fall of 1969 when it was demolished. Between 1966 and 1969 the theater served mostly as a rock concert hall with pyschedelic lights and patrons dancing where the seats used to be. There is now a bank located on the site.