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Part of the Shubert properties.
“Opened in 1885 as the Hennepin Theatre for live performances, the theater became known as the Lyceum in 1905 and was remodeled and renamed the Lyric in 1908. Three years later, in September 1911, Roxy reopened the Lyric for the season, hoping to replicate the Alhambra’s success with film rather than dramatic plays.
Minneapolis would not succumb as easily (to motion pictures) as had Milwaukee. Motion pictures had already offended local reformers, while the city’s legislators looked upon movie theaters as dangerous fire hazards—or worse. “Everyone was antagonistic to pictures,” Roxy would later recall of his early days in Minneapolis, including the clergy, police, merchants, and the city’s educators…
For its reopening on September 18, 1911, Roxy installed a $2,500 pipe organ, a concert grand piano, and the all-women Fadette Orchestra of Boston. He also presented a variety of soloists along with the newly formed Lyric Quartet.251 The opening bill featured the films Sight Seeing in Boston, The Voyageur, The Ruling Passion, Captain Kate, and The Runaway Leopard (ca. 1911).252 All of this was provided for a ticket price of between 10 and 20 cents at the 1,700-seat theater—roughly the same cost as the city’s cheaper nickel and dime houses and dramatically lower than the Lyric’s prices when operated as a legitimate theater.253 Roxy’s new staff included footmen, pages, matrons, and female ushers who courteously assisted all patrons during the four daily hour-and-a-half shows.254 Roxy refurbished the Lyric Theatre as well, elaborately decorating the stage and screen. And with uneven projection in theaters across the city (and throughout the country), the Lyric’s daylight pictures were now intended to encourage repeat attendance, attract women, and boost perceptions. Elsewhere, palms, flowers, and an electric fountain prominently graced the entryway."
Melnick, Ross (2012-05-01). American Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935 (pp. 68-69). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
Melnick, Ross (2012-05-01). American Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935 (p. 68). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
Check out the new book about Roxy, “AMERICAN SHOWMAN SAMUEL “ROXY” ROTHAFEL AND THE BIRTH OF THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY, 1908–1935
Melnick, Ross (2012-05-01). American Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935 . Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition. Pub. Columbia University. Available on Kindle.
I understand that there was a small theater in Lillington at approximately where the Hardees is located at one time. I suspect it may have been a part of the defunct Jerry Lewis chain (actually a franchise). It is too bad that there aren’t any drive ins left but I suppose they would be much more hazardous to manage these days. Thanks for the input.
I was the projectionist (both cinima 1 and 2 for the grand opening I am proud to say.
I showed the first porn film at the Olden. It was called, “I am Curious Yellow”. They charged (I think) over $5 per ticket and during the first week we sold out all 834 seats three times. The line went around the block twice. The film was awful. It was sooo bad that the fellow that spelled me had placed reel 2 and 3 in reverse order in the rack. I played it that way the following night and didn’t realize it until I went to rewind the third played reel. No-one noticed, and of course I didn’t volunteer. At the time I was working for a defense contractor that had a strict policy, if you were arrested, for any reason other than a traffic violation, you were fired on the spot. At that time in Trenton, both the Theatre Manager and Projectionist could be arrested. I actually had a one inch thick rope tied to the rewind table. The rope had large knots every foot or so. The Candy Girls had a “trouble” button behind the counter. They were going to ring it three times to signal me that we were being raided. My plan was to climb down the rope into the audience. I really needed my day job.
I am curious as to who made the vitaphone projectors? The Vitaphone system originally employed a record player that was connected mechanically to the projector for sound. I am sure the Vitaphone projectors in the Jersey have a cyan layer exciter and pickup. I’d appreciate any information on the booth at the Jersey. Thank you.
As an old projectionist, I’d appreciate knowing more about the mirror system that enabled the projection of the movie on the wall of the lounge (see above) in the State Theater. The source of the image was in the projection booth. I found it very interesting, curious, and unusual. The Roxy (New York City) had a screen installed above the lighting panel on the stage that enabled the lighting technician to view the orchestra from the area of the balcony or loge so that he (or she) could adjust the lighting to compliment the mood of the scene (E.g. blues and greens for scary and browns and reds for love and good feelings). The theater also used the lighting system to save money on heating and cooling. It was cheaper to heat the place, patrons felt less cold when the auditorium lighting used reds and browns. The air conditioning costs could be reduced if the theater used blues and greens in the lighting. I believe it was more effective for audience appeal than smell-o-vision.
Should you ever need a volunteer projectionist to raise money through film presentations, I’d be happy to volunteer.
I suspect the owner of the Rialto also had an interest in the American located on Princeton Avenue just North of Ingham Avenue. It later became a 5 and 10 cent store. You could see the booth in the 5 and 10 cent store that was used as an office. A Bicyclist ran the films from the Rialto to the American. This according to my father and other North Trenton residents.
The theater, in spite of the name, was never intended to become an “art house.”
I was the original manager for the small, single screen theater. I think it only sat about 300 people comfortably (about the size of the Greenwood in Trenton, NJ. It had Cinemamechanica projectors and automation in the booth with 6000 and 9000 foot free wheeling reels. It was owned by the Tommaro Brothers, produce and fruit distributors in Hamilton, NJ, and directed by Tony Tommaro. I do not believe it ever became a money maker. It was originally going to be a part of the Jerry Lewis Theater Chain but that organization went bankrupt.
I was the original projectionist at the Director’s Chair Hamilton theater and showed the first film in both cinemas. It was originally planned as one of the defunct Jerry Lewis Twin Cinemas but following the failure of that organization, development continued under the ownership of the Tommaro Brothers. The Tommaro’s also owned produce wholesaling in the Township. Anthony Tommaro was the managing director for the small chain. The Theaters were originally managed by the late Jack Kosharek who managed the Olden Theatre previous. As usual, Jack ran a magnificent theater operation with the house being always immaculate. It was Jack’s preference that the auditoriums be fitted with curtains in front of the screen for the proper dramatic effect (like the Olden). He believed that the paying audience should never see the screen without a movie projected upon it, unlike the classless movie houses of today). The screens were geometrically corrected for the Wide Screen, anamorphic lenses, also unique to the little theaters.
The booth was unusual inasmuch as each included two Cinemechanica projectors from Milan, Italy and nearly complete automation. Theatre 1 (right side as you entered) had the first Cinemechanica nine projectors imported into the United States. After years of working Simplexes and Centuries, it was a genuine pleasure to work with the Cinemechanica nines. I am not saying the Simplexes or Centuries were of poor quality — they remain the best — but the nines were so quiet and reliable. The Cinemchanica sevens were a bit noisier. The booths also had automation for lighting and curtains, and (when necessary) changeovers. One projectionist handled both of the booths. The projectors used 6000 and 9000 foot free wheeling film reels. These were very convenient but heavy to get to the top spool. The theatres had stereo and surround sound but I don’t believe we ever used the whole system. The lenses were mounted on a rotary fixture so you didn’t have to manually replace them when you switched from “flat” to “anamorphic” (wide screen).
I didn’t think the Cinemechanica automation circuitry looked well made but it worked well. Regarding the Popcorn (see above) I know for sure that they always used the bagged popcorn, even in the beginning. The same supplier we had at the Olden theatre supplied the popcorn to the Director’s Chair.
The Candy Girls at the Director’s Chair were always beautiful as they were at the Olden. Jack Kosharek knew what he was doing and pretty Candy Girls always increased concession sales. Many people don’t know it but profit from concession sales are usually part of the agreement with the film owner. Jack Kosharek, PhD was the best theater manager that I ever knew. May he rest in peace.
The reason Jack didn’t allow drinks in the auditoriums was that spills made the floors sticky and invited insects. If you ever had to clean under the theater seats with a mop and bucket you’d understand the restriction.
I went on to be the first manager of the Director’s Chair theater in Jackson, New Jersey. I learned a lot from the great Jack Kosharek.
No offense taken. It is great to see your postings and to be able to talk with wierdos (like me) with interest in Movie Theatres. It is a pleasure to communicate with someone from the Greenwood — our neighborhood theatre with whom we shared pop-corn bags and no doubt other things as good neighbors will. Still after three or four years in the Olden’s booth, three nights a week and one eleven or twelve hour shift on a weekend day, I can assure you I know the equipment very well and there were no Amprex stereo heads but Ampex connected to the Ampex amplifier (unused) on the wall to the left of projector number 2. Regarding the glasses wearing projectionist who called the projectors “cameras”, I am at a loss. There was a decent guy called Bob who lived up North in New Jersey, and until he retired, my tutor, who was in the Union for fifty-five years. The same union that did not even send him a rose for his funeral. He was a perfectionist and another very kind gentleman (except if you violated any of his very logical rules). He treated the Simplex E-7s like the valuable instruments they were. He was the long-serving projectionist at the infamous Morrisville Drive-in Theatre.
Wow, Tin Carbon Savers. That’s a new one for me. I know that theatre owners were cheap but saving a few bucks by making Tin butt savers is incredible. Did he actually use tin or aluminum foil? Tin has a very low melting point and I would question its use but only from a theoretical point of view. Seriously I’d like to know how to construct a Tin Butt Saver. The machined Butt Savers were very good and not that expensive. The thumb screw for locking the butt to the copper plating was quick and easy. I can remember my manager (Jack Kosharek) raising hell about long butts in the sand filled butt discard can. This may be selfish but I’d love to see more postings from ex-projectionists. Perhaps a “projectionist” thread?
It was good to see your response. I was projectionist at the Olden from about 1970 to 1974. I don’t know if I was working the night of the incident. Every once in a while there was trouble but most of the time it was a quiet night at the Olden. Jack Kosharek ran a good and clean theatre. He was a decent and well educated man (PhD). Once it began showing porn it was the beginning of the end for the Olden. We occassionally packed the house for some shows and at least one-half of the house for the Kid Matinees. He hired beautiful candy-girls and this tended to improve the overall ambience. I lived in North Trenton and never went to the theatre on Paul avenue (near Saint James). The building for the “American” that became a five and dime store remains according to an arial view. The American was associated with the Rialto, now gone. I have a feeling they shared reels and I suspect that the producers never saw a dime from the American showings LOL. The American was right next to Raney’s bar that was on the corner of Princeton and Ingham. My dad owned the Texaco station across Ingham Avenue. I loved being a projectionist and tried to do a good job for the customers. It was a part time job that paid many bills while I was working at RCA Astro.
I too am a Trentonian and lived in North Trenton for the first twelve years of my life. We moved to Mercerville after that and I lived there until I went into the Navy. I was chief projectionist at the Olden Theatre for a few years. I always had an interest in Movie Theatres and seem to recall driving by that structure (probably lost) and theorizing that it was a movie theatre. I didn’t know anything about its history, however. I would have loved to tour the property although I suspect there is not much evidence left of its original purpose.
Thanks for the response,
I believe that in fact is a movie theatre structure. I suppose that after all of the years the emergency exits have been closed.
I google mapped the address 302 Cummings Avenue and it returned the park like property right at the fork between Cummings and West. If you look about 100 feet to the west of the fork there appears to be a theatre structure with a stage loft. I may be wrong on this count. What do you think?
Regarding the above from Crazy Bob, The “tube sound” he referred to I suspect was the optical sound (exciter) and that was RCA and not “amprex” Both the sound head and the amplifier were RCA. The service contract was with RCA Service Company out of Cherry Hill, NJ. The projectors had an Ampex magnetic head (situated above the picture head). The Ampex magnetic head and amplifier were unused. The speakers were Altec Lansing Voice of the Theatre (3)
U cab renenber DeMore’s Hobby Shop and had many a pizza (ca;;ed a
tomato pie in Trenton at at Marucas in my teens. Unlike anything you can find called a pizza anywhere else. It was fantastic and much better tasting for some reason). I believe that the Maruka family also operated a pizza concession on the Boardwalk (notice the word is capitalized) in Seaside Park.
I also have a sense of sadness when I visit Trenton and see what’s happened to the neighborhoods. Thank you for your thoughtful response.
I was a chief projectionist for years and actually managed a theatre. I read about the motion picture theatre management ideas of Samuel Rothafel, or Roxy and have developed some very practical ideas on motion picture theatre operations. I have evaluated the motion picture operation of a restored movie palace and offered detailed recommendations.
I am retired but would love to answer any questions you may have about such things. Motion Picture presentation is still in my heart. My email address is:
Broad and Warren Streets do not cross in Trenton.
Unless street names have changed, and they do, the theatre could not have existed on Cummings and West State Street as there is no such intersection. More likely, given the name, it was near or on Liberty near Cummings (the two streets do not intersect) about a block or two Southwest of Chambers/Liberty cross.
One more thought, I am pretty sure that the Keith name associated with the Capital referred to the Keith Vaudeville Circuit that eventually merged with the Radio Corporation, and the Orpheum orgnization (also a Vaudeville organization). The eventual firm name is Radio Keith Orpheum or RKO.
The Capitol Theatre lobby featured a large mural of George Washington Crossing the Delaware. If memory serves me the auditorium had pillars. I believe toward the end of its existence it featured a super-wide screen that extended beyond the prosenium and the Todd (Mike, an Elizabeth Taylor husband) AO system, it was called Todd AO (American Optical).
It is interesting how virtually all of the Trenton theatres featured Moller Theatre Pipe Organs and not Wurlitzers. The only one that I can recall seeing or hearing was the one at the Lincoln that resides, completely restored at the Trenton War Memorial.