Comments from LouRugani

Showing 126 - 150 of 254 comments

LouRugani commented about MILLER (TOWNE) Theatre; Milwaukee, Wisconsin. on Jan 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Note WHITEHOUSE Theatre to the right.

LouRugani commented about Granada Theater on Jan 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I’m wondering if the Three Stooges festival I attended in March, 1986 was on the last night the Granada was open. It was cold in the Granada although the heat was on, but the large audience remained throughout. In the poster cases outside, there were announcements of new ownership and presentations to come, yet I never read of anything else ever offered at the Granada.

LouRugani commented about Vic Theatre on Jan 16, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I put together an online memorial to Walter Klein, Jr. Comments and remembrances are welcome.

LouRugani commented about Hollywood Theatre on Jan 8, 2013 at 12:37 am

A news article reports that the HOLLYWOOD (nee BUTTERFLY) Theatre is being reborn as “Circa 1880.” Plans announced by the new owners include restoring “some of its past features, with a vision toward creating a special events destination by incorporating details that would awe guests, while keeping the space neutral enough to host wedding ceremonies, receptions and all manner of banquets.” The venue will feature a 9-foot dressing room and lounge area. The auditorium will showcase the original 22-foot tall ceilings and a new grand staircase leading to the balcony, and the owners say “We’re trying to keep the historical integrity of the building. Over the years, a lot of things were taken out.” The Polish Legion of American Veterans will still meet there for free once the occupancy permit is secured, probably in late February or early March.

LouRugani commented about Burns Theater on Jan 1, 2013 at 5:45 pm

In these 1957 photos, the BURNS name seems to have been painted out.

LouRugani commented about Star Cinema on Dec 30, 2012 at 10:01 pm

STAR Theatre official site:

LouRugani commented about Rhode Center for the Arts on Dec 28, 2012 at 11:32 pm

‘’‘Today is the GATEWAY Theatre’s 85th Anniversary.’‘’

Twenty-five years ago tonight I conducted a well-attended Theatre Historical Society tour through the GATEWAY which had closed in April 1984 but reopened that night with a live performance by a local amateur theatrical company.

(Thursday, June 1, 1939)

Onyx Club Orchestra to Play at Gateway Theater

“Stuff” Smith, composer of “I'se a Muggin” and the leader of the famed Onyx Club orchestra, will be at the Gateway theater in Kenosha next Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4, at the matinee and evening performances, to entertain with the swing music which has made the name of “Stuff” Smith a Broadway and Chicago byword.

When Walter Winchell wrote “Look for the next wallop in swing bands when "Stuff” Smith and his boys open at the Onyx club,“ he was right, for "Stuff” and his boys have made the Onyx Club nationally famous as “The Cradle of Swing.”

This great colored orchestra has recently completed a successful five month engagement at the Blue Fountain room of Chicago’s Hotel La Salle.

Featured with the orchestra are several of the hottest stars of swing, including Jonah Jones, Harlem’s famous “Gabriel of the Trumpet.” Regular admission prices will prevail.

LouRugani commented about Rivoli Theatre on Dec 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Apparently the 1960-era “Smell-O-Vision” gadget that wafted odors to match the action on the screen in “Scent of Mystery” wasn’t so new, according to this article from the Rivoli’s opening:

“Another and in this case an entirely novel feature of The Rivoli will be the introduction of perfume to supplement the appeal made to the other senses. Several thousand dollars have been expended on a newly devised compressor plant which operates in connection with an intricate system of atomizers and by means of which any delicate odor desired can be wafted instantly to all parts of the house; incense for Oriental scenes, clover and new mown hay when the stage setting reveals a country landscape at dusk, a myriad variety of floral scents if a garden is to be suggested, and any other blending of odors so long as they are aesthetically possible and have a definite suggestive value.”

The rest of the article reads:

“In the way of stage setting and scenic effects Mr. Rothapfel will have far greater scope for his ingenuity than he has had heretofore. For the opening of the theater the stage setting will be known as "The Conservatory of Jewels.” It will consist of a dome within a dome, each studded with huge crystal gems after the manner of the celebrated Tower of Jewels at the Panama Pacific Exposition. These will flash with kaleidoscopic effect when the light plays upon them from the front and will glow softly in their several colors when another set of lights is brought into play behind them. The base of the inner dome will be incrusted with a fine jeweled mosaic and at the rear of the scene the eye will be led away in perspective down a magnificent avenue of palms. The brightest jewel of all of course will be the screen and this will be arranged so that it fits in as a component part of the stage picture. There will be two sets of curtains, a screen curtain and a tableau curtairf, thus adding another innovation to houses of this character.

Fifty in Orchestra

“So far as music is concerned, interest in the new theater centers largely around the orchestra. Mr. Rothapfel announces that it will consist of approximately fifty musicians, under the general direction of Hugo Riesenfeld, though except on special occasions Dr. Riesenfeld will continue to conduct at The Rialto. Unusual interest has been stimulated by the announcement that once each week the orchestras of The Rivoli and The Rialto will be combined in what is to be known as the Rothapfel Symphony Orchestra, of a hundred or more pieces, which will render a popular symphony concert in the new theater. Members of both orchestras will be liable for duty at either theater and the conductors and assistant conductors will interchange duties also upon occasion. Just as the conductors at the Metropolitan Opera House are called upon to interpret those compositions best suited to their special training, so the men handling the batons at The Rialto and The Rivoli will be assigned to whichever program will best bring out their particular capabilities. The grand pipe organ at The Rivoli is the largest and most complete ever installed in any theater in the world. It was built by the Austin Organ Company, of Hartford, Conn., and delivered at the theater on four huge auto trucks, in order to avoid possible delay because of freight tie-ups. It is equipped with every attachment known to the organ builder’s art and will supply adequate musical atmosphere for those performances at which the orchestra is not present.”

LouRugani commented about Byrd Theatre on Dec 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm

On November 7, 1917 the MADISON SQUARE Theatre opened, seating 2,000 people and owned by the West End Amusement Company, which also controled the Virginia and Crawford Theaters. The West End Amusement Company was formed by William E. Heaney (vice-president of the Illinois Branch of MPEL of America and manager of the Virginia and Crawford theaters), his father James B. Heaney, J. D. Murphy, and H. A., Paul A. and John Arm- strong. There was a $6,000 Wangerin & Weickhardt pipe organ. Admissions were 10 and 15 cents including the war tax.

LouRugani commented about Crystal Theater on Dec 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm

The CRYSTAL Theatre opened Thursday, November 8, 1917 on the site of an earlier CRYSTAL Theatre. It was operated by Peter J. Schaefer of Jones, Linick & Schaefer and Fred and Frank Schaefer of the Schaefer Theaters Company, and seated 1,800 on the ground floor. An eight-piece orchestra was employed and the architect was Henry L. Newhouse. The opening attraction was “The Man From Painted Post” with Douglas Fairbanks. Admission was 10 and 15 cents, including the war tax.

LouRugani commented about Broadway Strand Theatre on Dec 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

The Broadway-Strand Theatre address was listed in Moving Picture World as 6141-53 W. Twelfth street, and opened November 10, 1917 by Marshfield Amusement Company officials Louis L. Marks, Julius Goodman, Meyer S. Marks and Louis H. Harrison. It seated 2,100 people without a balcony, employed a fifteen-piece orchestra, and the architect was A. L. Levy. There was a playroom for children and a gymnasium for the employees. Marshfield Amusement Company also then operated the Orpheus, Illington and Marshfield theatres.

LouRugani commented about Grant Theatre on Dec 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm

A Mrs. R. D. Frazier owned the GRANT Theatre in 1917.

LouRugani commented about Times Cinema on Dec 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

The Times reopens on Friday, December 28, 2012 at 6 PM with a floodlight and a red-carpet runner after being dark since March when its lender began foreclosure proceedings. New owner Lee Barczak bought the Times at auction in May, and on Sunday, December 23 he announced details of the Times' reopening ceremonies, which will feature “Django Unchained” at 7:30 PM.

LouRugani commented about Samuel J. Friedman Theater on Dec 25, 2012 at 10:34 pm

(New York Times) Theater Fire Damages Interior of the Biltmore Theater By ESTHER IVEREM, December 11, 1987

The interior of the Biltmore Theater in Manhattan, which recently received landmark designation, was damaged by fire early yesterday in a blaze that officials say was deliberately set.

At about 2:30 A.M., firefighters responded to an alarm set off by a sprinkler system at the theater, at 261 West 47th Street. Firefighters found the stage and a portion of the orchestra seating ablaze. Heat damaged the ornate plaster ceiling, sending some slabs falling 60 feet to the floor.

“The chief at the scene has deemed the fire suspicious,” said a spokesman for the Fire Department, Lieut. Frank Martinez. “There was a flammable substance poured onto the stage.”

According to the police, there is evidence that someone broke into the 948-seat theater, which has not been used since the musical “Stardust” closed in May. Hypodermic needles were found inside the theater, indicating that drug users may have been using it as a shooting gallery, and storage lockers had been rifled.

Vagrants and Squatters

No one was seen fleeing the building at the time of the fire, said a Police Department spokesman, Det. Joseph K. McConville.

Lieutenant Martinez said, however, that there has recently been a problem with vagrants and squatters breaking into the building.

One month ago, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the interior of the 52-year-old theater as a city landmark, protecting it against demolition or alteration. The commission praised the Biltmore’s detailed and refined neo-classical architecture.

The commission is still considering designation of the exterior of the theater.

According to city records, the Biltmore is owned by Murray Hill Investments, represented by Sam Pfeiffer, whose address was listed as Madison Investments in Manhattan. There is no phone listing for Murray Hill Investments or Mr. Pfeiffer, and the telephone for Madison Investments has been disconnected.

Lillian Ayala, a spokeswoman for the Landmarks Commission, said that despite fire damage, the building’s interior would retain its protected status. Any reconstruction would be reviewed by the commission.

LouRugani commented about Hollywood Theatre on Dec 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm

The HOLLYWOOD Theatre building/Polish Legion of American Veterans was sold in February, 2012 to L&M Meats, which has plans to expand the kitchen and utilize the HOLLYWOOD’s former auditorium for catered events. Some interior and exterior cosmetic alterations are ongoing.

LouRugani commented about Hi-Way Drive-In on Dec 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Ahead on Waukegan Drive-In (Boxoffice, June 24, 1950)

Construction of a drive-in being erected by Highway Amusement Enterprises, Inc. at the intersection of Routes 173 and 41 near here, is expected to be completed about July 1. With a capacity of 628 cars, the open-air theatre will cost approximately $90,000. The projection booth is to be located atop the concession stand. Irving M. Karlin, Chicago architect, designed the drive-in.

LouRugani commented about Michigan Theater on Dec 4, 2012 at 10:07 pm

The MICHIGAN’s spectacular vertical sign was called the largest in Michigan, and was 120 feet tall by fourteen feet high and weighing seventeen tons.

By 1954, corrosion was found inside the 27-year-old sign which wasn’t noticeable outside. Sign contractor Edward A. Long of the Long Sign Company worked several eight-hour shifts from midnight until 8 am using a huge Moto-Crane to remove the sign, cutting it from the top down with torches. United Detroit Theatres said the sign wouldn’t be replaced.

LouRugani commented about MAJESTIC Theatre; Madison, Wisconsin. on Dec 3, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Photo from 1940.

LouRugani commented about Al Ringling Theatre on Dec 3, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Just for accuracy’s sake, officially the theatre’s name has a period after the name ‘Al’.

LouRugani commented about Badger Theater on Dec 3, 2012 at 7:27 pm

The BADGER’s pipe organ was still there in 1979. The theatre was immaculate and the elderly owners were very gracious in allowing me to look around after the evening’s program.

LouRugani commented about Rhode Center for the Arts on Oct 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm

TRIPLE SCREEN (Kenosha News; Tuesday, December 9, 1975, p. 31)

The Lake Theater will be remodeled and expanded into a triple screen theater in late 1976, John F. Ling, theater owner, announced Monday.

The project’s first phase entails dividing the theater in half to make two auditoriums, one seating 475 persons and the other 485.

Work on the theater’s “twinning” should begin in January and be completed by March, Ling said. The Lake Geneva architectural firm Nafziger and Howard, currently involved in constructing a double-screen theater in Lake Geneva, was the designer.

The project’s second phase, beginning in the Fall of 1976, will put a third, mini-theater seating 300, in part of the area presently the lobby. The balcony will be eliminated.

Ling said he had also been thinking of selling the theater, called by some a city landmark, to build a theater outside of the downtown area. He said the Southport Mall project and expanded parking facilities via a recent trade with American Motors convinced him to stay downtown.

Mayor Wallace Burkee said the city was considering buying the Union Dye building, east of the theater on 5th Avenue, for conversion to a 28-space parking lot.

The theater remodeling will cost $100,000 to $150,000, Ling said. He added the cost to expand to a third screen area will equal the first phase cost.

The revamping will give patrons a wider choice of movies by allowing more films to be shown, said Ling. The theater had previously been remodeled in the late 1950s (sic), Ling said.

Burkee called the plans one of the “first tangible large remodeling projects since the mall.” He said he expects further such downtown projects.

LouRugani commented about City Cinemas Village East on Oct 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm

This was the location for the film-theatre sequence in “Unfaithful” (2002). (“Mr. Hulot’s Holiday” was the feature in the storyline.)

LouRugani commented about Hi-Way Drive-In on Oct 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm

(Antioch [IL] News, August 10, 1950)

New Hi-Way Theatre To Open

Grand opening of the Hi-Way Outdoor theater, located at Rte. 173 on Skokie highway, just south of the state line, has been set for tonight, according to James E. Mc- Grain, manager of the new theater.

The latest developments in motion picture sound and projection equipment and a new type screen designed to furnish the best in outdoor movie entertainment have been incorporated into the open air movie palace.

Knowledge gained in more than 150 years of combined movie and entertainment experience by the operators of the theater insure sound selection of programs and smooth, courteous service to the patrons.

McGrain’s experience includes operation of the Barrison theater in Waukegan during the halcyon nickelodeon days, management of legitimate theater road troupes, and motion picture promotion.

Something new in outdoor movie concessions will be the hot plate lunches to be served patrons in their cars.

Well-balanced menus of tempting, inexpensive meals will make it possible for the entire famiy to enjoy a holiday at the movies.

LouRugani commented about Girard Theatre on Oct 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 28. (1903) — The Girard Avenue Theater was gutted by fire early today, entailing a loss of $50,000, of which $25,000 was on the building and the remainder on the contents. The fire started at about 3:30 a. m. on the stage, and is supposed to have been caused by an electric light wire. A traveling company was producing the “Minister’s Daughter.” All of the company’s scenery and costumes were destroyed. Miller and Kauffman were the lessees.

LouRugani commented about Liberty Theater on Oct 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm

(SEATTLE TIMES, Wednesday, July 10, 1991)

Going To The Liberty — 67-Year-Old Theater Finds Success In Treating Kids Like Family
By Keith Ervin


“What’s your name, sweetie? How old are you?”

Her name is Mariah, says the girl sitting in the front row of the large movie theater. And she’s 10.

“We’ll sing `Happy Birthday.‘ Are you agreeable? If not, we’ll throw you out!” jokes the man with the microphone and the ready smile.

The audience claps, then sings a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” to Mariah.

But wait.

Bud Dunwoody, proprietor of the Liberty Theatre, isn’t quite ready to dim the lights and show “White Fang,” a second-run Walt Disney movie.

After reminding the patrons to keep their feet off the chairs in front of them, keep their trash off the floor and enjoy the movie, he has a few more words of advice.

Be sure to buckle your seat belt on the way home, have a beautiful day tomorrow, and above all, “Say no to drugs. They can and do kill you.”

Kids may not take Dunwoody’s words to heart any more than they do the advice of their own parents. But in an age of faceless, electronic entertainment, they are offered something personal in this throwback to another era.

Going to the Liberty is more than going to see a movie. It’s an experience.

“In most movie theaters it’s more an entertainment situation nowadays than a social gathering,” says Dunwoody. “I’m trying to make it both. I want people to come in and have a good time and see a good movie and have a good feeling.”

It’s a formula that seems to work.

When Dunwoody took over the theater nine years ago, it was in decline, showing movies only three nights a week. Now the 600-seat theater is open every day, sometimes selling out its regular $2 shows as well as its $1 weekend matinees.

Dunwoody’s trademark opening act, with its tribute to the birthday boys and girls, didn’t start out in a lighthearted way. The first time he stood in front of the audience, it was to deliver a furious warning to the teenagers who had been disrupting shows with their loud socializing.

He threw out the troublemakers and solved the discipline problem. But he continued his practice of standing before the audience and saying what was on his mind.

The quintessential family theater, the Liberty not only offers fare for the whole family, it’s family-run. Working at the 67-year-old theater with Dunwoody are his wife, Patricia, his daughter Christy, his granddaughter Jennifer, and his son Dennis, who now manages the theater five days a week.

Of the children in the audience, says Dennis, “We call them our kids when they’re inside our theater. When they go back out, they’re their parents' again.”

The Liberty does show some films aimed at older audiences – “Awakenings” and “Dances with Wolves,” for example.

The theater once showed “The Abyss” even though it included some adult language and offered a glimpse of the heroine’s breast. That glimpse was acceptable, Bud Dunwoody explains, because it was brief and because it occurred while the woman’s husband was trying to revive her.

He censored the “F-word” in a recent film by turning the sound off momentarily. But Dunwoody dismissed one patron’s complaint that Demi Moore showed “too much cheek” in the hit movie “Ghost.” “They show more on these TV ads for swimming suits than we see in these movies,” he says.

Although Dunwoody chooses not to show R-rated movies at the Liberty, he has no objection to theaters that do. In fact, he shows “some of the better R’s” at the Neptune Theatre, which he has operated in Long Beach, Pacific County, for the past three years.

One kind of film he won’t show at either theater is the popular slice-and-dice horror genre: “There’s enough violence in the world without putting it on the screen.”

Born in Alabama and raised in Georgia, Dunwoody got into the theater business after retiring from the Air Force in 1969. His brother-in-law offered him a job as a management trainee in a Renton theater. He managed theaters in Tacoma, Seattle and Portland before buying the Liberty.

At 62 – “and feeling like 40” – he’s in no hurry to retire from his second career. The point of it all isn’t to make money, he says, but to have fun:

“I’m not out to make a million dollars. If I was out to make a million dollars, I sure wouldn’t be at two bucks a head. The million dollars is not my goal.”

So he’s still at his small-town theaters several nights a week, greeting customers outside the box office and giving his cornball spiels that are as much a part of the show as the movie itself.

What about the warmup act on the nights Bud Dunwoody isn’t at the theater? He took care of that when he asked his son to manage the theater – and insisted that he continue the tradition of addressing the audience.

Dennis Dunwoody was uneasy about it at first. But, his dad says proudly, “He’s just like a duck in the water now. In fact, he’s probably just as crazy as I am.”