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here’s some of the movies i saw at the rivoli in ‘50’s and '60’s: red skys over montana,> journey to the seventh planet,> the seventh voyage of sinbad,> baby, the rain must fall (steve mcqueen),> who’s afraid of virginia woolf? (liz taylor and richard burton),>the graduate (dustin hoffman),> blow up (david hemmings),> goodbye columbus,> the prime of miss jean brody,> the lion in winter (katherine hepburn), to sir with love (sidney poitier and lulu),> alfie (michael caine),>georgie girl,> having a wild weekend (the dave clark 5),>far from the madding crowd ( terrance stamp),> joanna (michael sarne, director),> bullitt (steve mcqueen),> butch cassidy and the sundance kid ( paul newman, robt redford),> bigfoot (starring bigfoot), >barbarella (jane fonda),> rosemary’s baby (mia farrow, john cassevettes), harold and maud (ruth gordon, bud cort),> and the worst movie i have ever seen: ilsa, she wolf of the SS (starring nobody you ever heard of)
i saw “the wizard of oz” at the “fifth avenue” in 1951-2, attending an afternoon matinee with my mother, louise c. heintz. i was 4, and it was already an old movie, but my first viewing. back then, most movies were black and white. but mom got me excited by saying we would see a color film. when the titles and first scenes appeared in B&W, i was profoundly disappointed, and showed it. “shh! just wait!!”, was all she said. when dorothy landed in oz and walked out of her house into a colored landscape, i figured it all out!>>>after the theatre closed, i believe “the cavalier” next door operated a restaurant in the space for a while.
my father, florian c. heintz, got his start as a professional musician at the wisconsin theater in 1936. then, he was a 17 year old aquinas student, known to be a talented tenor sax player. when a visiting vaudeville show came to town, short one saxophonist, he was asked to sit in at the wisconsin. >> it was called: “vic binn’s broadway review” and featured the new miss america. >>> upon the end of run, dad was hired to join the troupe, traveling the country and ending in new york.>> though still in school, his family allowed him to go because, during the great depression, his $5 weekly salary was quite good. he promised to send $2.50 home every week to support the family and finish high school in the summer. >>> years later, he was back in la crosse with a wife and family. in the mid fifties, he worked as a decorator at boyer furniture store across the street. a little boy at that time, i recall seeing the theatre in ruins, standing for a number of years before demolition.
my family moved to the corner of west avenue and jackson in 1953, a half block away. (present site of taco john’s)>>> the strand closed soon after, i believe. it was located on the alley, with “gladys' variety shop” just to the east. lots of toys within. it may have been a candy store at an earlier time. next to that was “ruud’s drug store” on the corner of west ave. >>> before building demolition c. 1970, the theatre was variously a jesus people church and indoor archery range, then vacant for many years. right before it was torn down, i walked inside the open door and obtained two glass exit signs for my collection. >> a snapshot exists in the collection of the university of la crosse murphy library, area research center. (branch of wi. hist. soc.) just ask for photos of west ave. and jackson st. corner. it was taken from the gas station lot on southeast corner looking over at the theatre. unfortunately, it is a partial, indirect view.>>>