Showing 1 - 25 of 28 comments
I really thought there was a PRINCESS THEATRE in operation in Asheville, NC when I lived there in the mid to late 1950’s. What was the name of the theatre close to the S&W Cafeteriaq ? ( We used to call the S&W cafeteria the Stand & Wait.)
The PRINCESS theatre was a wooden structure and was still in operation following WW II. I remember seeing movies there in the late 1940’s. I have photos of the outside when the theatre was closed and covered with vines.
After the PLAYHOUSE closed as a motion picture house, it was briefly the GOLDEN APPLE DINNER THEATRE.
I saw GRAND PRIX here seven times. I kept coming back and bringing friends that had never seen CINERAMA. What a great experience. I wish it was still there and still running CINERAMA. I speak to most people now about CINERAMA and they have no concept of what it was like.
Your “Google” photo is showing one block too far north. If you could turn around 180 degrees you would be looking at the north side of the theatre building. The building still exists. When I moved to St. Petersburg in 1953, it was called THE SUN THEATRE and ran 2nd run films. When I graduated from high school in 1955, and just before I moved to Asheville, NC, I had to go see a last movie at the SUN THEATRE. The movie was JOHNNY DARK with Tony Curtis. When I moved back to the area, the SUN THEATRE was now the SUN ART THEATRE and was showing “them there furrin fillums”. When this did not work the SUN ART started running “soft core” porno films. They even added a small “pussycat” theatre inside the office area that ran 16mm films. The theatre had a live stage and dressing rooms and at one time in the early 1960’s had live vaudeville and burlesque shows. In later years it was used as an antique auction house.
United Artist theatres did not last long here in the area of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Largo, Florida. I had a friend of mine go to work at the Pinellas Park theatre as a non-union projectionist. One day the theatre manager was walking through the projection booth while my friend was starting one of the shows. At the start, the picture was slightly out of focus. When he reached over to adjust the focus the manager asked him just what did he think he was doing. When he replied that he was focusing the picture, the manager said, “ You do not EVER touch that knob. It is pre-set and you do not mess with it.” That was the day he decided he did not wish to work for UNITED ARTISTS. This may shed some light on some of the reasons that United Artist Theatres did not last long in this area.
As a post script, the LYRIC THEATRE referred to here was on the East side of the Elk River and was in downdown Charleston. When I lived there, the theatre was always called THE NEW LYRIC and showed 2nd run features.
I was born and raised in Charleston and went to the CUSTER THEATRE every Saturday for years. I also went with my parents on Saturday nights. On Saturday afternoons, the CUSTER showed a cartoon, a newsreel ( remember them ?)and two features. One was always a cowboy movie and the other one was always a comedy AND … there was always a serial to keep you coming back next Saturday afternoon. The Saturday evening show was a current 2nd run feature. The CUSTER was a lovely theatre with a balcony. In later years it was used as a showcase for live “country & western” performances. I have interior photos of when it was used for live performances.
I worked as the projectionist at the FIFTH AVENUE CINEMA for GENERAL CINEMA both when the theatre was a single screen house and as a twin. The projectors were CENTURY with CENTURY sound heads. The projectors were running 6,000 foot reels. When it was made into a twin, both sides were the same with the exception that theatre one now had CENTURY “reverse scan” sound heads with both theatres having KELMAR amps. The arc lamps were ASHCRAFT “ CORE-LITEs. The booth utilized CINAMATION automation with a matrix board and diode pins for programming. The arc lamps would "self-strike” by means of “bullets” places between the positive and negative carbons. These “bullets” would explode when power was applied, thus establishing the arc. We never used them because they tended to blow ash onto the reflectors. I have still photos and video of the booth in operation. I also have one of the CINEMATION automation units ( with diode pins.) GENERAL CINEMA ( a wonderful company to work for ) did it right. This was the only theatre I worked that had four arc lamps and FIVE rectifiers with switches to change rectifiers if one went bad. Now that’s class.
One night when I was the projectionist at the PLAYHOUSE, the intercom buzzer went off. When I answered, it was a very excited Mr. Boardman. He said, “Turn off the sign immediately.” After turning off the sign, I called Mr. Boardman back and asked him why he was so excited. He said, “ Driving down Central Avenue to the theatre, he noticed a malfunction with the sign. One side said PAYHOUSE and thew other side said LAYHOUSE. The sign was repaired the next day.
The booth had SUPER SIMPLEX projectors and BRENKERT "ENARC” lamps with a small motor-generator in the booth for power. A nice feature of the PLAYHOUSE was a large snack bar to the right of the box office. The front opened up to face Central Avenue and food was served to patrons who were not in the theatre. An added bonus was that this was also the location of a city buss stop.
Mr. Bradley … …Were you a member of Local 552 ? I was a member for many years and was the BA for nine years. Do you live in the Tampa Bay area now ?
I was a relief projectionist at the Gateway after it was purchased by General Cinema. The projection booth was equipped with Century projection and sound heads and Strong “Futura” arc lamps. When it was made into a twin, the Century equipment was retained and duplicated for the second screen and now had Christie AutoWind 2 platters. The theatre never had the capability to run 70mm. The entire closed mall was demolished and is now an open air mall. Mr. E. J. Hanchett was the last projectionist/manager. As previously noted, the mall contained a health spa and it was located next to the theatre. There were times that the chlorine smell was overpowering in the projection booth. I have photos of the booth, lobby and entrance of the theatre.
This theatre originally opened as the STEREO DRIVE-IN THEATRE, and it truly was a religion oriented theatre. Built onto the side of the screen was a structure that was all glass front and housed a room for performers ( mostly singers ). They had a curtain that would open to reveal the singers and had a “color organ” that illuminated the room when the singers were performing. The color organ worked great but you would not want to be in the room when it was working. There was a great abundance of “zip cord” wires running to the lamps. The ‘zip-cord" wires were not in conduits. Lovely people working the theatre.
When the Dolphin theatre closed, a bank moved into the building. I only have photos of the inside of the projection booth with two Century projection heads, two Century sound heads, Xetron Xenon lamphouses and 6,000 foot reels. No automation. Just before it closed I almost had to strike a match to see if the Xenon bulb was working. They had so many hours on them that they were black and I worried about a bulb explosion every time I struck the lamp.
The 70mm equipment was installed when the theatre changed from the ROXY to the CENTER. BEN HUR played there for over a year and THE SOUND OF MUSIC played there for almost a year. The projection and sound were superb.
The BEACH THEATRE was not a metal “Quanset” hut construction. I was the projectionist there when it was operated by Bill Eisenhart. This was during the time we ran every Marx Bros. film available. We also ran Laurel and Hardy films and played to a sold out house every Friday and Saturday. The booth had Super Simplex projection heads with RCA sound heads. It had Strong Mogul arc lamps and Kneisley tungar bulb rectifiers. It was a lovely theatre and could be re-opened again. ps: The concession stand had a MANLEY popcorn machine that looked like a juke box.
This WURLITZER was once owned by Paul G. Sholomicki, a IATSE projectionist in St. Petersburg, Fla. and came from a theatre, however, all the pipes Paul had were from a church. I helped Paul with some of the restoration of the console. The console had been painted white, black, green and a kind of yellow. Paul had the console installed in his home and was going to install the pipes in his garage. Unfortunately, Paul was killed during the tear down of a stage show at the Van Wezel Hall of Performing Arts in Sarasota, Florida ( respectfully called THE PURPLE PALACE by all of us stage hands/projectionist, and never had the pipes installed in his house.
Thanks for the video. After the theatre closed and just before it was torn down, I took some photos. When I went into the projection booth the only thing left was the rewind bench and on top of the bench were the two reel end alarms. They are now in my collection.
The CAMEO THEATRE was another “strange” theatre in St. Petersburg. Yes, the roof came to a point. I have pictures of the roof that I took from an adjacent building. I also have a photo of the collapsed roof. The theatre sat vacant and unused for years and the roof leaked and caused the rot that brought it down. An interesting note is that the toilet for the projection booth sat on an incline and if you sat on the toilet you looked down on the projectors.
This was an interesting theatre. It was part of the PHEIL HOTEL building and, as stated, you entered under the screen. The projection booth was built out over an alley. The story told by even older members than me of the IATSE local was that when the booth equipment was delivered, the workmen wanted to know if the booth equipment should be delivered to the booth. When asked that question the response was, “Booth ? What booth ?” because the theatre had no projection booth and that was why it was built hanging out over an alley. Now, I do not know if that is a true story or not but it sure sounds good.
The FLORIDA THEATRE was an “atmospheric” theatre. When you sat in the theatre it was as if you were in a Spanish court yard surrounded by buildings with the sky above you. There were BRONKERT “effects” projectors that projected moving clouds on the ceiling. There were also two balconys with concession stands on both the main floor and the first balcony. I own one of the exit signs from one of the rest rooms and it is a “Tiffany” style fixture with leaded glass. I also have photos of the projectors and the 35mm sound reader seperate machine.
When I moved to St. Petersburg in 1953, the LA PLAZA THEATRE was closed but still standing. I have been through the entire building. The theatre was entered from Central Avenue between the two buildings with the red roofs and you entered the theatre from its side. As you look at the post card, the large building in the background is the actual theatre with the screen and fly loft being the higher portion of the building to the right of the photo. It was built by Mr. Gandy, the same person that the Gandy bridge was named for. Mr. Gandy wished to bring operas and ballet to the city. Before the theatre opened it was called GANDY’S FOLLY because the local residents said that no opera or ballet company would ever come to St. Petersburg. Well, they were wrong and, Yes, it was a large theatre.
An additional comment regarding the PLAZA TWIN THEATRES …
The last 70mm print ran at the theatre was BRAINSTORM with Christopher Walken. Of course, I was there in the projection booth.
Sorry ROCKSALT, but the PLAZA TWIN THEATRES in St. Petersburg, built for Florida Theatres and later owned by ABC, Cobb and Cineplex Odeon, was equipped to run 70mm in theatre one. As an IATSE projectionist, I was an operator there for many years. The projectors and soundheads were CENTURY and the sound amps were all ALTEC. The projectors in theatre one were CENTURY 35-70’s and theatre two were CENTURY straight 35’s.
Andy is correct in his assumption. The Mustang was originally a single screen theatre with two projectors and arc lamps. Later when they no longer had a union projectionist, they added the second screen. Both the screen and the second projection booth were very cheap plywood construction. I worked there as a relief operator from new to just before they made it a twin.