Showing 126 - 143 of 143 comments
Further comments concerning the Irving submitted by Warren, Bway, Peter K and Erwin M can be found on the Ridgewood Theater page on this website starting at Comment #45. A rather interesting read and a great example of the meeting of the minds to solve a mystery theater.
Warren, since you have definitely identified the name as the Irving Theater, would it not be reasonable to figure that it was located on Myrtle Avenue near Irving Avenue, which is the next street past Wyckoff Avenue going towards Brooklyn? Is the address 55-05 Myrtle Avenue near Irving Avenue?
I believe that the ad on the side of the building in the Avalon photo refers to television sets and not radios. Cut off at the top of the picture are the letters TELE, which could easily be part of the word “television”. Also the slogan SEE – HEAR TODAY would make more sense referring to TV’s than radios. I am also of the opinion that the photo was taken some time during the last half of 1948, which was the beginnng of the TV sales push. Also, I am 99 percent certain that the main feature listed on the marquee as playing that day at the Avalon is “Romance On The High Seas” which introduced Doris Day and was released in the New York area in late June of 1948. However, I still have not been able to decipher what the co-feature was that day.
I have still been unable to decipher the co-feature playing that day.
The Parthenon was located at 329 Wyckoff Avenue near Myrtle Avenue. Perhaps Warren is looking for a theater which may have been known as the Irving, Erwin (No, I wasn’t named after a theater!) or Irwin Theater. My mother spoke about it on occasion as she and my father had attended German language films there in the late 1930’s. Whether the theater lasted into the war years, when all of the German language prints were confiscated, or after I do not know. However, I do know that after the war and during the 1950’s that the only German language theater in the Ridgewood area was the Wagner Theater on the corner of Wyckoff Ave and Stockholm Street.
My first encounter with the Valencia was in the summer of 1950, when they played “Scared Stiff” with Martin and Lewis. The stars twinkled and the clouds drifted across the atmospheric sky…a first time experience not to be forgotten. Other memorable films that come to mind were the 1956 reissue of “Gone With The Wind”, a reissue of “Duel in the Sun”, “La Strada”, “Two Women” and the special reserved engagement of “The Ten Commandments”.
The Valencia had the best air conditioning of all the Jamaica theaters. Whatever their system was, the whole theater was like a giant meat locker. Still remember waiting in front of the theater for a bus on a hot summer’s day and feeling a blast of cold air every time someone opened one of the lobby doors.
Also recall that in the early 50’s, before using studio generated posters in their display cases, posters were created by either an in house art department at the Valencia or, more likely, an art department within the Loew’s Theaters organization. Some were quite unique and certainly added a touch of class to the whole operation.
I recall this little gem of a theater from the mid 50’s, which was located on Fifth Avenue at 12th Street. At the time they ran two series of revivals of early talkies under the umbrella title of “OK For Sound”. It was there as a teenager that I was introduced to “Freaks”, “Imitation of Life” (1934), “The Lottery Bride” (an early Jeanette MacDonald vehicle, “The Great Gabbo”, “Seven Sinners"
and numerous other gems from that early era.
The most striking feature of the theater was a small cafe setting in the lobby with a b/w wall size mural in the background done by the late Abe Hirschfeld. It depicted charactertures of numerous Hollywood celebrities sitting at tables in an outdoor cafe. As I recall Chaplin was in the center holding a red rose, which was three dimensional and the only touch of color. Does anyone know if this mural still exists in the present space where the Fifth Avenue Cinema once existed?
The following information concerning the whereabouts of the Valencia’s Wonder Morton was found on the Garden State Organ Society’s web page.
“This article appeared in the American Theatre Organ Society Web Journal Wednesday, April 09, 2003
One more of the five Wonder Mortons is going to a new home. The 4/73 organ originally installed in the Loew’s Valencia Theatre in Jamaica, Queens, New York will be installed in the Balboa Theatre in San Diego.
In 1966, the late Peter Schaeble purchased the organ from the theatre and had it installed in an addition to his Long Island house. After his death in 1996, Jasper Sanfilippo acquired the organ and stored it with the idea of installing it in the carousel building on his properly. This did not come about.
The Balboa Theatre Foundation intends to restore the theatre which once had a smaller Robert Morton organ. That organ was removed in 1931 and installed in another San Diego theatre where it remains today. The Balboa Theatre Foundation has purchased the Wonder Morton from Sanfilippo to install in the restored theatre. The restoration will take about two years.”
Thank you brucec for expressing it all so well.
Loew’s Hillside was always well maintained and had a certain ambience that I personally found very appealing. Are there any photos of the interior anywhere on the internet? As a teenager in the 50’s I usually went there on Sunday afternoons. One memorable time Piper Laurie made a personal appearance and autographed photos in the lobby. If I’m not mistaken, she was promoting “Mississippi Gambler” at the time.
After Loew’s gave the Hillside up, the new owners booked an occasional stage show around 1959 or 1960. One of the shows was the “Jewel Box Review” which was billed as “25 Men and a Girl”. This was prior to their trying burlesque. The “Jewel Box Review” was a moveover from Harlem’s Apollo Theater and was quite spectacular to say the least. The Hillside’s stage facilities were still in fine shape. It was almost as if vaudeville had made a triumphant return.
I think that this listing should be changed to the Victoria Theater. That was its name for the 30 year period from 1942 to 1972, which were its glory days as a first run theater in Times Square. The Embassy Five name was used maybe six or so years and those were less than glory years before the demolition.
As a side note, it would be great if theaters that have had more than one name in their lifetime could be cross referenced in some way on this site.
Referring to Peter Kâ€™s May 12th posting of the el train photo containing part of the marquee for Loewâ€™s Oriental, I think I have deciphered the titles of what was playing that day. The first two lines read â€œRAIDERS OF THE LOST ARKâ€ and the bottom title, of which only one word is visible, should be â€œZORRO, THE GAY BLADEâ€. This time the date of the photo (August 2, 1981) appears to be correct, which was not the case when I figured out the Loewâ€™s Hillside marquee. That one was only slightly more legible. In any event, according to the microfilm of the New York Times for 8/2/81, these were the two features that were playing at the Oriental, which had already been twinned by that time. If you zoom, enlarge the photo and stare a bit, â€œRaiders of the Lost Arkâ€ does seem to fit.
Thanks Orlando for your detailed comments. When I was a student at Brooklyn Tech in the mid 50’s, which is a few blocks from the Majestic, one of my teachers recalled seeing Houdini there. I assumed it was an appearance in vaudeville, but then it could have also been a touring show.
Thanks for the compliment Peter.K. It ended up being a matter of a process of elimination and some research on the internet. Being an old film buff helped a bit too.
I believe that the lettering on the marquee of the Hillside in the photo on the â€œnycsubwaysâ€ website reads as follows:
LET NO MAN
WRITE MY EPITAPH
with SHELLEY WINTERS
also HELL IS A CITY
Both features were released by Columbia Pictures nationally in October/November 1960. The IMDB gives NYC release dates for “EIPITAPH” of 11/10/60 and “HELL” of 1/18/61. It is quite reasonable to believe that the two ended up on a double bill in February/March of â€™61. Most likely the date on the photo should be â€˜61 instead of â€™64.
Thanks PGZ for the correction. The last sentence of my entry should therefore read (with an additional correction) “The theater was either demolished or completely refaced with orange colored brick in the front and the side on Stockholm Street.” DeKalb Avenue is the street on the opposite end of the block.
Drove past 110 Wyckoff Avenue the other day and very little if anything is left of the Wagner Theater. The space is now occupied by the Women’s Health Center, which is probably associated with the nearby Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. The existing building bears very little resemblance to the theater. The theater was either demolished or completely refaced with white brick in the front and the side on Dekalb Avenue.
About 90 % of the Arion theater building is still standing. The auditorium portion remains behind the row of stores that lines Metropolitan Avenue. When the theater closed and was taken over by Jamron Drugs, at the time, the portion of the structure that held the outer and inner lobbies was demolished. The outer lobby, which held the box office and showcases, was two steps above the level of the sidewalk. The small inner lobby had more showcases, the ticket takerâ€™s stand and the rest rooms. This was replaced with a structure that is even with street level.
The Jamron, then Genovese and now Eckerd drug store was built in the shell of roughly the back half of the auditorium. Recently, I caught a glimpse of the ceiling of the theater when some of the drop ceiling tiles were removed for some repair work. How much of the original theater exists is anybodyâ€™s guess.
The Arion was the theater of my youth in the 50â€™s and was where I got my weekly dose of cartoons, serials, Abbot and Costello and that lady in the white uniform who kept us confined to the childrenâ€™s section. Mr. Rabinowitz, whoâ€™s daughter I went to school with, was the projectionist for many years.
Sadly to say, the owners ran the place into the ground. At one point around 1960, the theater closed for renovations. About a month later it reopened with great fanfare announcing â€œgallery seating – the most comfortable seating in all of Queensâ€. What a disappointment that was. What they had done is take out every other row of seats for plenty of leg room and replaced the remaining seats with seats that looked like they were discarded from a theater built in the teens â€" hard leather seats with wooden backs. The seating capacity of some 970 was reduced to about 500. Things went downhill after that until the inevitable closing.
Shouldn’t the name of this theater be the RKO Keith’s – Richmond Hill?
My wife, who grew up in Richmond Hill, as well as friends and acquaintances from the area always refer to this theater as the Keith’s. Years ago I recall that newspaper ads for the RKO chain always had to differentiate between the two Keith’s theaters in the borough of Queens. The one in Richmond Hill and the other in Flushing, which is referred to correctly elsewhere on this site.