Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about J. Frank Dobie Theatre on Jun 16, 2009 at 9:28 pm

This large house was originally called the West Theatre (see the official website), which was described (but not illustrated, unfortunately) in Boxoffice Magazine, January 4, 1947. The Art Moderne house was designed for Mr. W.D. Glasscock by the San Antonio architectural and engineering firm Spillman & Spillman, with Beverly W. Spillman lead architect. The West originally had 650 seats on the main floor and a balcony seating 250.

A different page of the same issue of Boxoffice said the West Theatre had opened on New Year’s Eve, and that the project had cost $75,000.

The January 25, 1960, issue of Boxoffice said that the West Theatre had been closed, and the March 13, 1967, issue of Boxoffice said that the equipment of the West Theatre had been sold to a theater in Mexico City.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lord Cinema on Jun 15, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Some of the information in comments above is erroneous. The history of Norwich theaters is a bit confusing due to shifting of names, but this house was not the former Strand or the Yale.

There was a Strand Theatre in Norwich that was condemned in 1944. Ed Lord rebuilt it (to plans by architect Charles H. Abramowitz) and reopened it in 1946 as the Lord Theatre. It was not the same as Lord’s Midtown, as a June 8, 1957, Boxoffice Magazine item said that Ed Lord had shuttered the Lord Theatre for the Summer, leaving Norwich with only two operating theaters, Lord’s Midtown and the Stanley Warner Palace. So the Lord Cinema/Midtown/Loew’s Poli was not the same house as the Strand.

The Yale Theatre in Norwich is mentioned in issues of Boxoffice from 1958 to 1961. Ed Lord sold the Lord Theatre in 1958, but the Boxoffice item about it said he would continue to operate the Lord’s Midtown. Then a January 30, 1961, Boxoffice item says that “Isadore and Sam Berkman, owners of the modernistic Midtown Theatre, have resumed personal operation, with the relinquishing by the Markoff Brothers of the lease on the first-run theatre.” The item goes on to say that the Midtown was one of the newest theaters in Connecticut, having been built a decade earlier and originally leased by Loew’s Theatres before being operated by Ed Lord. Lord subleased the house in 1955, according to the November 5 issue of Boxoffice, and renamed it the Midtown.

So, this was not the Yale Theatre, either. An April 3, 1961, Boxoffice item mentioned the closing of the Yale Theatre, saying it had been acquired from the Edward Lord interests some years earlier, so it must have been the former Strand/Lord Theatre. The Yale closed on July 1, 1961, to make way for an urban redevelopment project.

There was a Loew’s Poli theatre operating in Norwich in the early 1940s, as evidenced by several Boxoffice items of the period, but the name was apparently moved to the new house. The construction of this new Poli began in 1948, according to a couple of Boxoffice items from the time, and the July 9, 1949, issue said that Loew’s new Poli in Norwich would open on July 13. I’ve been unable to find out what became of the earlier Loew’s Poli.

There’s also a bit of confusion about the earlier Poli, as in 1942 the former Broadway Theatre was rebuilt, and a few issues of Boxoffice say it reopened as the Loew’s Poli, but then there are many Boxoffice items from the mid-1940s still referring to the Broadway Theatre, and also to the Loew’s Poli, so I don’t know if the names were used interchangeably or if there were two different theaters operated in Norwich by Loew’s at the time.

I’ve also been unable to find when, or if, Ed Lord took this house back, but he took over the former Palace Theatre in 1964, twinning it in 1969. He also opened a twin house in the former location of Barney’s on Main Street in 1976. That might be the Lord Twin Cinemas seen next door to the former Lowe’s Poli/Midtown in the 1980 photo ken mc linked to in the comment immediately above.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about East Windsor Drive-In on Jun 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Construction began in August, 1950, according to Boxoffice, issue of August 5 that year. The architect was Charles H. Abramowitz.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theater on Jun 14, 2009 at 9:12 pm

According to the May 8, 1948, issue of Boxoffice magazine, the Rialto at Three Rivers was expected to open within 30 days. The house had been designed for the Hall circuit by architect Jack Corgan.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyric Theater on Jun 14, 2009 at 8:51 pm

There were two Lyric Theatres in Idabel. The second was opened in 1949, and was designed by architect Raymond F. Smith.

According to the February 16, 1946, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, when B.F. McLendon’s new State Theatre at Idabel was completed their older Lyric Theatre, long the town’s “A” house, would be completely remodeled and become the town’s “B” house.

However, the August 21, 1948, issue of Boxoffice said that the new Lyric, recently opened, had replaced another house of the same name which had been in a rented building. The May 8, 1948, issue of Boxoffice had said that the new Lyric had been designed by Smith, who had also designed the new State Theatre (also the second of its name in Idabel) two years earlier.

Unfortunately, the second Lyric had a fairly brief existence. The May 5, 1956, issue of Boxoffice reported that the theater had been destroyed by fire on April 29. I found no mention of it after that, so it must not have been rebuilt.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Franklin Theatre on Jun 14, 2009 at 4:53 pm

From at least October, 1938, according to various issues of Boxoffice Magazine, the Franklin Theatre was operated by Kurt Laemmle, co-founder of Laemmle Theatres. Max and Kurt Laemmle are mentioned as operators of the Franklin, Park, and Dale Theatres in Highland Park as late as 1951.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theater on Jun 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Various issues of Boxoffice Magazine from 1937 through 1942 say that the Ritz was then operated by Kurt Laemmle, the Los Angeles exhibitor who was a nephew of Carl Laemmle of Universal Pictures. Laemmle sold the Rtiz to Mr. and Mrs. Pat Byrnes in 1942.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Palo Theatre on Jun 14, 2009 at 4:04 pm

The April 21, 1951, issue of Boxoffice said that the Palo Theatre had opened with 500 seats.

Mr. and Mrs. Byrnes also operated the Ritz Theatre in Lowell, beginning in 1942.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Crest Theater on Jun 13, 2009 at 11:45 pm

The December 27, 1947, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the new Crest Theatre would open in 60 days. It was being built for Phil Isley Theatres.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lincoln Theater on Jun 13, 2009 at 11:31 pm

The November 30, 1946, issue of Boxoffice Magazine ran an item about the Lincoln Theatre, headlined “New Dallas Negro Theatre To Open Early in 1947.” The item said the new house was to have about 500 seats.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Vogue Theatre on Jun 13, 2009 at 11:22 pm

The March 21, 1949, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the Vogue Theatre opened on March 21 with an invitation-only event for 500 guests. The public opening took place the following night, and the feature film “Blood on the Moon” was shown to a full house.

The Vogue was built by the Robb & Rowley circuit. The theater was in an entirely new building designed by the architectural firm of H.F. Pettigrew & Associates, but was located on the site of the 600-seat Bison Theatre which had been demolished to make way for the new house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Frolic Theater on Jun 12, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Either Boxoffice’s reports of May 15 and May 29, 1943, were exaggerated, or the Frolic Theatre was rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire that month. One item claimed a loss of $200,000. It also said that the Frolic had originally opened in 1921.

I can’t find any Boxoffice items about a rebuilding or reopening of the house, but the June 16, 1945, issue of Boxoffice says that Bill Cassidy was operating the Frolic Theatre in Midland, and the Frolic is mentioned in at least one 1951 issue of Boxoffice, so a theater of that name was operating in Midland for quite some time after the fire.

The handsome moderne facade in the historic photo Lost Memory linked to above was the work of the Dearborn, Michigan, architectural firm of Bennett and Straight, who remodeled the house in 1936. The project was the subject of an article by E.D. Straight in the October 17 issue of Boxoffice that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Kinema Theatre on Jun 12, 2009 at 10:46 pm

The March 14, 1953, issue of Boxoffice said that the renovated Rivoli, formerly the Kinema, had been reopened by Gerald Hardy. It was to be operated as a first-run house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tryon Theatre on Jun 12, 2009 at 10:29 pm

From the caption of a small, blurry photo in the November 9, 1940, issue of Boxoffice Magazine: “A view of the Tryon in Tryon, NC., a mountain resort. When the old Tryon burned, C.W. Nessmith and Associates determined to erect a new house that would bring to this remote resort a theatre citizens would boast of. They succeeded beyond their expectations, apparently, for patronage is excellent.”

There’s no indication of when the earlier Tryon burned, or if it was in a different location, but the theater in the blurry photo is definitely the same building in the 1981 photo linked in Chuck’s comment above. Boxoffice contains no earlier mentions of the Tryon Theatre that I can find.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Monroe Theatre on Jun 12, 2009 at 10:09 pm

The Monroe Theatre was built for local exhibitor J.R. Denniston in 1937. It was designed by the Dearborn architectural firm of Bennett & Straight.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ward Theater on Jun 12, 2009 at 9:58 pm

The May 29, 1937, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that ground had been broken for the Ward Theatre. The house was being built for G.A. and Lee Ward, who already operated the Broadway Theatre in Mt. Pleasant.

The Ward Theatre, designed by the Dearborn firm of Bennett & Straight, was to have 900 seats, with 700 on the main floor and 200 in a mezzanine. The August 7, 1937, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the Ward Theatre was scheduled to open Sunday, August 8.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theatre on Jun 12, 2009 at 9:26 pm

The Majestic was probably never one of the Denniston family’s theaters. Boxoffice Magazine gives conflicting dates, but it is clear that from at least 1931 until 1962, when it was sold to a Mr. Jack Rapp of Decatur, the Majestic was operated by Rene Germani.

An item about the sale in the June 25, 1962, issue of Boxoffice gives 1931 as the year when Germani began operating the house, but a December 3, 1955, article about Germani says that he built the Majestic in 1927. The 1955 article also says that the house was extensively remodeled in 1937, which would account for the rather moderne appearance of the facade in the photo Lost Memory linked to above.

There are dozens of references in Boxoffice during the 1940s into the early 1960s to Germani being operator of the Majestic, but I find no mentions at all of the Dennistons in relation to this theater even after Germani sold it. In fact I can find no mentions of the Majestic at all between 1962 and 1970.

Then the Majestic was offered for sale at $40,000 in the classified ad section of various issues of Boxoffice in early 1970. Apparently it was purchased by a porn operation. An item in the November 16, 1970, issue of Boxoffice said that a restraining order had been issued to prevent the reopening of the Majestic Arts Theatre at 1030 2nd St. in Monroe. The owner, manager, and projectionist had been cited for showing an obscene film the previous week, and the projectionist had been arrested.

The May 10, 1971, issue of Boxoffice said that the restraining order had been made permanent, but the July 5 issue that year said that the obscenity charges had been dropped after the earlier ruling had been reversed by an appeals court judge. After that I find no mentions of the Majestic in Boxoffice, so I don’t know how long it survived as a porn house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Camelot 1-2-3 on Jun 12, 2009 at 7:31 pm

The remodeling shown in the 1979 photo concealed the original Art Moderne facade as designed by Bennett & Straight. The Circle Theatre was give a two-page spread in the January 8, 1938, issue of Boxoffice, with photos of the lobby rotunda, the spacious 1,800-seat auditorium, and the original facade with its intricate massing.

Bennett & Straight also designed the Midway Theatre in Dearborn.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Odeon Carlton on Jun 12, 2009 at 6:49 pm

The Odeon-Toronto was featured in an illustrated article in the April 2, 1949, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. This Odeon, like many others of the period, was designed by architect Jay I. English, who died before its completion.

The Odeon opened September 9, 1948. The first film shown was “Oliver Twist.” Boxoffice, in its issue of September 11, 1948, gave the seating capacity as 2,400, but the 1949 article said the auditorium seated 2,231.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rose Theatre on Jun 12, 2009 at 5:11 pm

The opening date of 1941 currently given is wrong. The Rose had recently opened when it was featured in the April 2, 1949, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The all aluminum pre-fab metal building was built by the Reynolds Metal Company, and adapted for theater use by Fairfield Enterprises Inc., designers and builders. The 600-seat house was built for $60 a seat, compared to a cost of $150 to $200 a seat for conventional theater construction at the time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park Theatre on Jun 12, 2009 at 4:57 pm

The Park Theatre was the subject of a brief article in the April 2, 1949, issue of Boxoffice. The compact house featured a stadium seating section to maximize capacity on a small lot. The Park was built for the Panero Theatre Company and was designed by architect Vincent G. Raney.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Minaret Cinemas on Jun 11, 2009 at 11:48 pm

The Plaza needs to be added then, but under what name?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Heights Theater on Jun 11, 2009 at 11:17 pm

This theater is now a church called Centro de Jubilo, located at 3103 Falls Drive, Dallas, TX 75211. Here’s a Google Street View of the building.

The February 19, 1949, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that Robb & Rowley Theatres had asked for bids for construction of the Heights Theatre. The new house adjacent to the Westmoreland Village shopping center was to have 800 seats.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Wynnewood Theater on Jun 11, 2009 at 10:41 pm

That’s definitely a July 3, 1951 opening. The June 30, 1951, issue of Boxoffice said that Rowley United Theatres had been scheduled to hold its annual managers meeting at the Adolphus Hotel and at the new Rowley Wynnewood Theatre on the 28th and 29th, so I guess the managers got a preview of the house.

The July 21, 1951, issue of Boxoffice reported that the opening had been a great success, with a capacity house for the first show.

I’ve been unable to find the name of the architect of the Wynnewood, but the theater was built by the Dallas construction firm of Vivrett & Vivrett.

The Wynnewood Theatre installed Todd-AO equipment in 1958 for the Dallas road show run of “South Pacific”, which opened April 16 and ran at the house for over a year. One Boxoffice item from 1959 said that the management ran a special shuttle bus to downtown hotels to bring patrons to the theater’s suburban location.

“Windjammer,” mentioned in a comment above, began its run at the Wynnewood on January 25, 1961.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Minaret Cinemas on Jun 10, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Could this be the cinema that opened as a single-screen house called the Plaza Theatre on Thanksgiving Day, 1978? The Plaza was the subject of a brief article in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of February 5, 1979.

Located in a newly-developed shopping center called Sherman Plaza, the 300-seat Plaza Theatre was designed by the center’s architect, Bruce Kassler, with some input from the design department of the Filbert Company, a Glendale, California, theater services company that outfitted the new house.

I’ve been unable to find any later issues of Boxoffice mentioning a theater at Mammoth Lakes, so I don’t know if the Plaza was twinned and became the Minaret or not.