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When General Cinema was running this it was referred to (at least internally) as Reno-Sparks Cinema.
I think it was the fall of 1993 that he left to start his own booking service. I’m not sure when he retired from that and went to Florida. His wife was another very nice person, and would come to premieres and company events. Mr. D. seemed to know everybody in the business. I don’t recall meeting his children, they were grown up and married during the time I was around there.
This is another basement cinema, built in about 1978 in a 47 story apartment building designed by Gruzan & Partners. This is a true twin theatre, where the two 400+ seat auditoriums and seperate lobbies and entry vestibules are mirror-images of each other. The box office and entrance are set in a low plaza a dozen steps down from the sidewalk. Going inside, you then went down aanother floor on steps to the lobby, and from the lobby down yet another 8 steps to the auditorium. There was an escalator to come back up to the entrance. Instead of a marquee, there is a pylon sign in the middle of the plaza steps that said ‘Loews New York One Two’. New Yorkers are used to finding theatres with a marquee, and we were always getting calls from people on the corner of 65th St. and 2nd Ave. who could not find the place. As with most theatres of the era the auditoriums are unremarkable, with dark carpet on the walls and low black ceilings. The seperate lobbies, while good for preventing cross-overs, are inadequate for holding a crowd. Loews booked it with a mix of arthouse and general release product. Loews operated it from the beginning until the lease ran out in 2002. For the past couple of years Crown has been running it.
Yup, he was (is) a class act. When I met him there I was impressed that the president of the company came in and stopped to chat with the staff – he knew their names, inquired about members of their families (by name) and was very pleasant and personable. It was a surprise because I had come there from General Cinema where the company executives who came around barely acknowledged the manager and the staff was just furniture in the lobby.
Cinema I and II
(now Cinema 1, 2, 3 Third Avenue)
1001 Third Avenue
Date Completed: 1962
Builder: Rugoff Theaters
Architect: Abraham W. Geller Associates
Consulting Theater Architect: Ben Schlanger
This award-winning art film theater was the first duplex, “piggy-back” movie theater built in the United States. The piggy-back idea was developed by Ben Schlanger, who had pioneered a back-to-back duplex theater for the Information Center at Colonial Williamsburg. Cinema I and II was built by Rugoff Theaters to serve as the core of an East Side International Film Center and as a crosstown complement to Lincoln Center, which was being built at the same time but did not include a movie house.
Artwork was an integral part of Abraham Gellerâ€™s International Style design. The interior spaces designed by Geller, James McNair, and Norman Ives include a sloping barrel-vaulted ceiling, Danish copper-leaf chandeliers in the upstairs lounge, and an abstract mural by Ilya Bolotowsky in the ground-floor lobby. In 1983, Geller was again hired to divide the larger upstairs auditorium into two, making the theater a triplex.
Beekman Theater and Block
1242-1258 Second Avenue
Date Completed: 1952
Builder: New York Life Insurance Co.
Architects: Fellheimer & Wagner for the building and for the interior of the Corn Exchange Bank
John J. McNamaraâ€"associate architect for the Beekman Theater
J. M. Berlingerâ€"associate architect for the Excelsior Bank
This Second Avenue blockfront was planned by the New York Life Insurance Company as a modern shopping center to supplement the ground-floor shops in Manhattan House across the avenue. International Style features include the horizontal orientation of the building, the glazed corner on East 66th Street, and the ribbon windows on East 65th Street. The buildingâ€™s design and gray brick cladding relate to and complement Manhattan House.
The Beekman Theater, built as an art-film house, is one of the few such theaters remaining in Manhattan. The International Style design is enlivened with a tilted glass facade and sloping streamlined lounge ceiling that refers stylistically back to the Moderne style of the 1930â€™s. Design features like the continuation of the marble entry frame and terrazzo flooring from the exterior into the interior and the placement of a window between the lounge and theater break down traditional divisions of space.
When Cineplex took over and The Grand Pooh-bah came down from Toronto to tour the theatres that he thought he bought, they went here and he proclaimed that in the lobby he would install a cafe with carrot cake and coffee in fine china cups (similar to what eventually ended up in the Carnegie Hall Cinema). The RKO person who was conducting the tour said ‘You can’t use fine china cups here – in this theatre they steal the toilet seats off the toilets’. – the RKO person was advised not to tell The Grand Pooh-bah what he could or could not do…
I heard he retired to Florida somewhere….
So Schwartz and Landis kept the rights to the projected new theatre and didn’t sell them to Cineplex with the rest of the company?
When it was announced that the Cinerama was going to be demolished and an office building put in its place, it was also stated there would be a new multiplex theatre in the basement, similar to what happened with the Loews State. However, once the old theatre was down, the developer stated that plans changed and there would be no new theatre in the building at all. I doubt there was ever a plan for a new theatre, and it was a BS story on the part of the developer just to get the theatre down without a lot of noise from the public. The old theatres closing came at the same time as RKOs takeover by the Canadians (who were scrambling to get office space set up at 126 E. 56th St 20th flr. The RKO offices had been upstairs of the Cinerama Theatre). When the announcement came that there would be no new theatre, there was no fuss made about it by the Canadians in the trades.
Next door at the Cinema I in the late 60s Martin Sheen was employed as an usher. He was fired when he set up the ticket-holders line across the street in front of Bloomingdales – and held up traffic on Third Ave. for 10 minutes when they brought the line across and into the theatre…..
The Empire was run by General Cinema through at least the early 70s that I’m aware of – it was part of the Buffalo Division.
This should be listed under General Cinema.
This and the West Side Drive-In (and Carousel Lanes, Peter Pan Snack Shop and Amy Joy Donut Shops) were all General Cinema operations in town before they ever built their first indoor theatre here, the Southgate Cinema.
The first occupant of the retail building on the East Side’s site was Giant Tiger – when they went out of business Uncle Bill’s moved in.
There were only a few films made in the Cinerama process, not enough to justify the expense of a new installation.
This needs to be listed under General Cinema.
Cool, that’s an urban legend shot put to rest – I’d heard that one for years…..
Wasn’t the Pussycat chain owned by Rosemary Clooney’s husband? (I forgot his name)
This needs to be listed under General Cinema, who operated it for its entire run…….
We started having the ushers cleaning the auditoriums in cleveland around 1978, when they put out that ridiculous ‘Timmy the Trashcan’ trailer.
The Northpark Cinema closed in 1987.
The theatre and the shopping center of which it was part was built on a landfill, a former garbage dump. It suffered from structural problems throughout its life due to the settling of the ground beneath it. I believe the entire shopping center has been demolished.
I need to amend the location – the Cinderella City Mall was in Engelwood, Colorado. The Cinema opened in 1968 and was demolished in 1979.
As far as I know after GCC left it MJR Theatres took it over and was still calling it Livonia Mall and operating it as a bargain house.
Seat counts were 425? I thought it was about 450, but if I told you 425 then , that’s what it was. It was a long time ago. I hated that theatre, badly proportioned, never should have been split, plus it was in a dead mall. I hated that town, too. What a sorry-ass place that was.
Yup, thats me. 8/75 thru 2/77 at Dort…. where did you get my name?