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Here’s the text of the report about Fred and his organ:
(CBS News) RACINE, Wis. — From the outside, the three-bedroom ranch in Racine, Wis., looks like any other house. On the inside, it looks like any other house.
But if you make your way down the stairs, you’ll find a cellar unlike any other cellar. And it’s down here where 87-year-old retired insurance salesman Fred Hermes works on his hobby in front of a live audience.
“It makes me happy to see the enjoyment they get out of this,” Fred says.
Yes, here in the basement, where most of us keep our water heaters and paint cans, Fred has a giant Wurlitzer and balcony seating.
Fred built this theater-in-the-ground in 1959. It wasn’t so much that he wanted a theater as he needed a place to keep his organ and the 3,000 pipes that came with it. He rescued the organ from the old Michigan Theater in Detroit.
“Biggest organ that Wurlitzer ever made with five keyboards,” Fred says of the organ. It was made in March 1926, which Fred notes was the “same month I was born.”
Fred says he feels a kindred spirit with the organ.
That explains the Wurlitzer, but what about the rest of his place?
“Then they started tearing down all these beautiful movie theaters around the country,” he says. “And that’s when I thought, ‘Why not pick up some of this junk and make it look like a movie palace?’”
Which leads to the question: Why would anybody want that?
“Because they’re crazy,” Fred replies.
A few years ago, word got out that Fred had this theater and the tour buses have been stopping by ever since — which is fine by Fred. In fact, he says he has a responsibility to share his place.
“Here’s the way I look at life: this is a gift that God gave me,” he says. “And I think I owe something. And that is why I have people coming around here.”
They say God works in mysterious ways. And if this is one of those ways, Lord knows what he’s trying to tell us. Maybe follow your dreams, or share your passion, or maybe we’re just supposed to appreciate the quirks of this great country.
Like Fred’s home theater, sweet home theater.
If you want more information or would like to visit Fred’s basement organ, go to RealRacine.com.
You plan to go to the Fair for the classic movies? Reminds me of another exchange:
Renault: And what in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.
What’s playing at the Roxy?
I’ll tell you what’s playing at the Roxy.
A picture about a Minnesota man falls in love with a Mississippi girl
That he sacrifices everything and moves all the way to Biloxi.
That’s what’s playing at the Roxy.
At the Fair, however, it’s more likely to be a double feature of Acres of Ass and Nudies go Berserk. Or variations thereof. And really, who is watching the screens anyway?
She retired from pictures in 1933 and moved to her husband’s ranch, so I wonder how many personal appearances she was making that year.
Bow Tie is NOT in the house. I wonder why.
Bow Tie is in the house, effective this week.
I am an eternal optimist.
You and Nellie Forbush!
1958 was a great year if you were a straight, white Christian male. Otherwise, you may have encountered some roadblocks.
As late as 1965 the Lyric was still “premiering” motion pictures albeit smutty ones:
Per NY Times 8/12/65: BOB HOPE, get some soap and scrub out that blue humor! “I’ll Take Sweden,” which United Artists opened yesterday at the midtown Lyric Theater, is altogether unworthy of a beloved sunshine man who has cheered millions. The picture is an altogether asinine little romp, laboriously eking out a winding trail of sexual innuendoes, with some pasted-on backgrounds of Sweden and much mad racing in and out of bedrooms. And it couldn’t be duller or more obvious.
I wonder why this theater is not yet listed in the newspaper movie clocks.
This was the first porno theater I ever tried to enter — I was about 15, and the manager at the door wouldn’t let me in, saying “You don’t wanna know what goes on in here.” But I really did want to know…!
Alas, it wasn’t until Cabaret opened here, decades later, that I finally passed through these hallowed portals.
16 of the 17 theaters listed in the Dr. No ad are gone, except for the Roosevelt Field, which is now a multiplex. (The Green Acres was around until last year, though.)
Too bad it’s not a Loew’s.
Still closed as of this week. Here’s the direct link and here’s the text of Wally’s post:
The aroma of hot buttered popcorn will soon be wafting through the long-shuttered Islip Theater.
The circa-1946 venue on Islip’s Main Street, closed since 2006, could be playing first-run movies by mid-March, through a planned remake of the community touchstone.
Rudy Prashad, who owns two theaters in Queens, has signed a long-term lease to operate the three-screen theater, which seats about 900. He’s spending $500,000 on renovations to the interior, including paint, carpeting and new seating. The theater will be outfitted with new digital projectors for Real-D — the latest in 3-D technology.
“I love the area, it’s a beautiful, beautiful neighborhood,” said Prashad, who operates the Center Cinema in Sunnyside and Main Street Cinemas in Kew Gardens. “I just want to keep it as a neighborhood movie theater.”
The theater was once the pulse of Islip’s entertainment district, with patrons lining up to buy tickets at a marble box-office. In 1982, the single theater was turned into a three-screen movie house; and in 2006, with increasing competition from mega cineplexes, it closed.
James Nazzaro, a real estate investor who bought the closed theater at auction in 2006, has tried since then to lease the property. Several deals — which would have turned the venue into a day care center or a symphony hall — fell through.
In 2009, Nazzaro withdrew an application before the town’s Planning Board to demolish the building and build a day care center.
“For six years, I’ve been painstakingly trying to find the right tenant,” said Nazzaro, of the Bay Shore-based Nazzaro Group Llc. “It’s just really gratifying to see it come to fruition.”
When Suffolk County Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) posted news on his Facebook page earlier this month that the theater was set to reopen, the message garnered more than 600 likes.
“It’s a tremendous shot in the arm for the community,” Cilmi said. “Main Street in Islip has always enjoyed the community’s support. We have a pretty successfully cohesive area in the Islip hamlet. This missing piece has always been like a blemish on our community. Now that blemish will be healed.”
Prashad, who lives in Great Neck, said he has been greeted warmly as he has supervised crews working on the renovations. “We will have passersby knock on the glass door and say, ‘What are you guys doing? Is this going to be a movie theater?’ They’re very excited.”
Prashad said he anticipates keeping prices “very low,” – in the range of $2 less than the average movie ticket — and that free municipal parking will be available.
“I want to attract neighborhood folks,” he said. “There’s no reason for people to have to go far … to go to the movies. They should be able to walk and drive a close distance and enjoy a movie with their family.”
According to Lou Lumineck at the NY Post: Moss says the programming at the 1,131-seat venue would remain “pretty much as it is'‘ — first-run movies, movie premieres and special events like high-definition opera presentations. Cablevision spokeswoman Kelly McAndrew also declined to discuss the theater's finances or the length of the lease — believed to have around 10 years to go — but stressed that "this great partnership allows us to keep the Ziegfeld, which is open for business.’'
So the Lyric wasn’t strictly a playhouse until 1934?
Was the 1922 Robin Hood a movie or a play?
And as Eliza wondered about her late aunt, “what become of her new straw hat that should have come to me?”
Wasn’t 1933 the year a lot of the 42nd Street playhouses — including Ziegfeld’s Follies' home the New Amsterdam — converted to first-and-second run grindhouses?
But the question is, will BowTie run the house for Cablevision as a regularly-scheduled movie theater?
Joe, I suggest you read the Box Office article from 1947 that Tinseltoes posted on July 1, 2012. It is chock full of information about this theater, including its history, capacity and seating arrangemnts.
Well, Cablevision hasn’t done too badly by the Music Hall, MSG and its theater, and the Beacon, so maybe isn’t all bad news…
There is so much info about the Lyric on the Lyric page, especially in links that Tinseltoes has already posted.
The intro for this historic house really needs to be corrected and expanded.
Reposted from Embassy 1,2,3 page:
Speaking of the legit theaters that once were located on the south side of 42 St. between 7th and 8th Aves…my question is simple – when the renovation for the “new” 42 St. began in earnest in the early 90s what was the state of the Candler Theater? Was it in such bad shape they decided to demolish it or was it in perfectly renovatable shape but no one wanted to spend the money so it was razed.
The Candler (known as the Harris since 1921!) was a much nicer house [than the Anco], solid and dependable, and I don’t think I ever heard a satisfactory explanation as to why it was demolished. One of my favorites, and surely missed.
It’s interesting you [Bigjoe59] should ask about the Candler building, since the union I was in, the projectionists Local 306, was located in the Candler building. The only reason they were FORCED to move was because of the demolition. The building was certainly NOT in bad shape. In fact, like so many of the older buildings that have been razed, it was a building that was built for the ages. Like comparing the Empire State Building to the World Trade Center, which building would you select to be in if were going to be hit by a plane?