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According to the research of Edwin Allen at the Philadelphia Free Library the Stage Door Cinema opened on September 1, 1971 with the film “Carnal Knowledge.”
The 1907 Bridgeport City directory lists a Bridgeport Theatre at 1416 Main Street only in 1907. No theatre is listed at that addres until 1914 when it appears as the Family. In 1915 it is listed as the Strand Theatre. The Strand Amusement Company came into being in 1920 when Charles and Louis Levine bought the building and turned the theatre operation over to Morris Jacobson. It closed January 23, 1963 and was demolished.
The theatre opened as Hawes Opera House 1875 and Sylvester Poli bought the theatre in 1901. It was remodelled and renamed Poli’s until Poli opened his new Poli’s on Main Street in 1912 and it became the Plaza. The Main Street Poli’s became the Globe after Poli opened his Poli’s Palace and Majestic in 1922. It was demolished around 1930 and became the site of a gas station.
The American Theatre opened around 1915. It may have had a fraternal or public hall on the upper floor. It was taken over by the Strand Amusement Company in 1929. It closed as theatre on June 24, 1964 and was converted to retail use.
The theatre opened as the Brooklawn on June 2, 1937. Leonard Asheim was the architect. It was remodelled as reopened as the County on October 5, 1961. It closed in March 1989 and was converted for commercial use.
Bridgeport is known as the Park City and it would not be unusual to have one or more theatres bear that name. The Fairfield Avenue address is on the other side of town just off of Main Street. The Stratford Avenue address is close to the town line of Stratford. The 1909 opening appears to be correct. The theatre was acquired by the Strand Amusement Company after they acquired the Strand Theatre on Main Street in 1920. At the same time the nearby Hippodrome was acquired. The Park City closed in 1953 and was demolished.
The theatre was built by Peter Dawe,a painting contractor, at the location of the theatre. In 1910 he purchased the Bijou Theatre on Fairfield Avenue. Two years later he razed the East Main Street business property and erected the Palace Theatre. The theatre name was changed to the Strand Palace around 1925. It was acquired by the Strand Amusement Company in 1923. The name was changed to the Mayfair around 1943. It closed in 1954 and was demolished.
The theatre opened as the Studio and the name was changed around 1916 to the Liberty. It had 483 seats.It closed about 1952 and was converted to commercial use.
The theatre opened as the Paramount on August 26, 1921. It was the Colony between 1925 and 1942 when it became the Parkway. It closed on June 7, 1952 and the building was converted for commercial use.
The Barnum Theatre opened around 1917 and closed on June 3, 1966 and was converted for commercial use.
The Bostwick was a neighborhood theatre that opened around 1916. It closed June 4, 1953 and was demolished.
The Astor Theatre opened as the Capitol Theatre around 1923. It was acquired by the Strand Amusement Company of Bridgeport in 1946. It was closed in July 1947 to be completely renovated and reopened as the Astor, December 2, 1947. In its last years it featured Spanish language films. It was destroyed by fire in 1976.
The Black Rock opened as the Orpheum and became the Black Rock around 1930. It became the art Cinema on March 14, 1951 and closed on July 7, 1957 and was demolished. The Beverly opened on October 26, 1949. It was the only new theatre to open in Bridgeport after World War II until the Showcase multiplex opened around 1995.
The HI-Way Cinema opened on January 1949 and closed on December 21, 1988. The theatre was demilished except for the structural steel which was utilized in the construction of the office building. The structural steel was not removed but may have been added to in constructing the building.
Although the the front of the building and most of the auditorium was located in Stratford part of the auditorium, screen and parking lot was located in Bridgeport. The location of the theatre was important in that the clearance for showing of films depended on whether it was actually located in Bridgeport or Stratford. In any event this was resolved when clearnaces were no longer applicable by the film studios.
The theatre opened around 1914 for vaudeville and films. It was operated for a number of years by the Strand Amusement Company which in 1949 had 7 theatres in Bridgeport. It closed in 1964 and was converted for commercial purposes.
The Lyric Theatre opened on June 26, 1911 for vaudeville and stage prsentations. William Fox took over the operation of the theatre but Syvlvester Poli controlled vaudeville bookings and Fox was not able to compete. Poli took a lease on the Lyric in 1918. In 1923 Poli completed renovations of the Lyric by knocking out the back stage wall and expanding both the auditorium and stage. This was less than a year after he had opened the Palace and Majestic theatres one block away.
In 2928 Poli sold his theatres to William Fox and took them back when Fox defaulted on the terms of the sale. All of the Poli Theatres were then sold to Loew’s who operated them into the 1960’s.
My notes do not indicate it but I think that the Lyric became the home to Burlesk in Bridgeport.
The 2165 seat theatre was closed and demolished in September 1956.
Warner’s operated the Bromley at 5810 Old York Road. It is listed with 953. Barney Sackett had a radio program called “Two On The Dial.” He took over the Earle Theatre after Warner’s closed it and did “Death of a Salesman” on stage. He went on to operate an art house around 19th & Sampson.
The Wayne Avenue Playhouse was located at 4910 Wayne Avenue. In Philly there were many sub-run theatres that were located in residential areas. The Wayne with 504 sets was one of those. The Bandbox was located at 30 E. Armat Street. Both the Bandbox and Wayne were in Germantown. Goldman took over the Grange theatre from Warner Bros., extensively renovated it and reopened as the Esquire. It was located on the Northeast corner of Broad & olney It had about a 1,000 seats. Moe stein was the first manager.
I worked for Goldman Theatres during the period 1950 to 1953. At that time Norman Gordon was the manager of the the Goldman Band Box Theatre in Germantown. That theatre was quite successful running off-beat films. E. Lyle trenchard was the general manager of the Philadelphia area theatres. He was also sceretary of William Goldman Theatres, Inc. I assume the two legitimate theatres mentioned in the above posting were the Erlanger and Locust Street opposite the side doors of the academy of Music. Although Goldman had taken over the Erlanger at 21st & Market Streets to exhibit films the major film producers would not release films to him and he initiated a landmark legal case which he won that required the major film producers to require competitive bidding for their product and to prohibit restrictive booking. This ultimately resulted in the separation of film production and distribution from exhibition. The Fox Locust was opened by the Fox Film Corporation and because of its poor location for a film theatre was nor successful. Fox gave up the theatre in 1931 and it became a legetimate house. The Philadelphia legitimate houses were the Forrest, Shubert and Walnut. I believe that the locust was the smallest of the legitimate houses. That theatre is sometimes confused with the Locust Theatre that was located at 52nd and locust Streets in West Philadelphia.
William Fox in his biographical book, “Upton Sinclair Presents William Fox” speanking about the Audubon and Crotona Theatres he constructed is quoted, “One of these places opened Thanksgiving Eve and the other a few days before Christmas in 1913."
Since the audubon reprtedly opened on November 28, 1912 and the Crotona in 1912 it is probable that either Fox got his years mixed or some how the stenographer taking notes recorded the year wrong. The Crotona probably opened around December 23, 1912.
My colleague Edwin Allen searched the micro film copies of the Philadelphia Inquirer in the Philadelphia Free Library and found that the new Midtown Theater was opened by William Goldman on December 23, 1950. The opening film was “The Goldbergs” with Molly (Gertrude Berg) and the entre cast appearing at the opening ceremonies. Mayor Bernard Samuel, Ralph Kelley, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and a large group of civic and business leaders were present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony
Nathan Gordon operated a theatre circuit as Olympia Theatres. Many of his theatres were known as Olympia. Gordon was a motion picture pioneer who was aslo involved in film distribution. He was one of the organizers of the First National Exhibitors Circuit in 1917 and held the New England franchise for First National Pictures.
In May 1925 he sold his interest in 38 theatres, including the Olympia Theatre in Chelsea, to Famous Players (Paramount)along with his franchise for First National. Gordon also held a 50% interest in Maine and New Hampshire Theatres which also became a part of the Paramount theatre organization.
In 1920 Adolph Zukor (Famous Players) joined with Alfred S. Black to form Black New England Theatres, Inc.
In 1930 Olympia Theatres was merged with New England Theatre Operating Company to become New England Theatres.
Around 1934 Paramount went into bankrupcy and the theatre operating companies being reorganized with Paramount no longer owning 100% of the thaetre companies.
The New England Theatres became M&P, (Mullin & Pinanski). Paramount was reuired to separate their theatre operating companies from the production company M&P was separated into two separate companies with Marty Mullin heading New England Theatres, made up mostly of the old Olympia properties and Sam pinanski heading American Theatres which consisted mostlt of the old NETCO properties.
I was in error regarding the Wurlitzer organ. It was an original installation, Opus #1854, shipped from the Wurlitzer factory on March 8, 1928.
The architect for the Las Vegas Cinerama was Perry Neuschatz. The contractor was E. L. Farmer Construction Company of Phoenix, Arizona. It was a partnership of Harry L. Nace of phoenix and William R. Forman of Pacific theatres.
The El Portal opened on June 21 ,1928. The architect was Rishard D. King of Los Angeles and the contractor was Ryberg-Sorensen. When the El Potal opened, Cragin & Pike closed the Majestic theatre. It appears that the Wurlitzer organ was moved from the Majestic to the El Portal.
The opening film was “Ladies of the Mob” starring Clara Bow.