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My dad worked for Century Theatre throughout the late 1950s and 1960s, and I spent many happy hours in the dark throughout my childhood and teen years. He managed the Rialto from the early 1960s for several years (I was in high school at Erasmus, and we lived on the corner of Ocean and Caton). Around 1961 they tried running old movies at a discounted price (the only one I remember is “Meet Me in St Louis”), but this was years before the ever-growing interest in old films, and no one came, so they gave up this policy very quickly. I used to bring my friends or my “dates” on a Saturday night for free movies, and often afterwards we would head back down Flatbush Avenue to Jahn’s ice cream parlor (or into Garfield’s, to laugh at the “old” people hanging out all night, sipping a cup of coffee). Glad to see that the theatre is still standing…
I worked as an usher at the Albemarle in the summer of 1963, when it was still being managed by the Century chain (I got the job because my dad worked for them as a manager elsewhere). It was my first job, and because I was under age, I could only work during the day. I made the minimum wage then (maybe $1.15 an hour). It was the usual neighborhood movie palace, not on a par with the Loews Kings or the RKO Kenmore, but pretty amazing. I was always explaining to people that no, the theatre wasn’t “air-conditioned,” it was “air-cooled” (we used to joke that that meant they kept a door open to the street), and that the coolest place to sit was in the back of the orchestra (again, near the open door). Lots of complaints and lots of refunds (it was a hot summer). Century let it go at the end of the summer, and I moved on to the Nostrand Theatre.
My dad worked for Rugoff & Becker’s chain thoughout the 1950s, and I spent a lot of my childhood in the dark at the Oceana, Tuxedo and Sheepshead theatres in Brooklyn. But my neighborhood hangout every Saturday was the Linden. Yes, I remember the matron with her flashlight, and I remember sneaking over to the “adults” section at a certain point in time, so I could see the films I really wanted to see (Love Me or Leave Me, Les Girls, Garment Jungle) and not the endless stream of serials, westerns and cartoons. I also remember my mom marching down the aisle with the matron to find me and take me home. I got 30 cents for the movies, which meant 20 cents to get in, and 10 cents for 3 candy bars at the corner candy store (never in the theatre itself, too expensive!) We moved away in 1959, and never went to the Linden again.
My father, Sam Lesiger, owned and operated this theater during the early 1940s. Wish I had more information, but he passed away nearly 40 years ago, and that’s all I know. Anyone else remember it?
My father managed the Oceana Theatre from the mid-1950s until 1960. During the 1950s it was one of three neighborhood theatres owned by Rugoff & Becker (the other two were the Tuxedo, where the Luna Park apartments are located on Ocean Parkway, and the Sheepshead, in Sheepshead Bay). All three theatres were acquired by the Century chain in the late 1950s, and my father worked for them until the late 1960s (Century also owned the Kingsway, Avalon, Midwood and other Brooklyn Theatres). At some point, when Century went bankrupt, the Oceana was converted to a sixplex, and there were often one or two Russian-language films playing for the now-Russian-speaking neighborhood. I went there several times in the 1980s while it was still a movie theater, and was fascinated to see how it had been converted (my father’s office and part of the lobby were now a separate theater!). Two years ago on a trip to Brighton Beach I managed to get into the Oceana, which has been operating as a Russian nightclub for some time. The facade was pretty much the same as it had been 40 years ago, but the inside had been totally adapted to resemble an old-fashioned nightclub. There was still a stage where the original screen had been (in the 1950s some stars made personal appearances to plug their movies). Probably the biggest event that I remember was in 1958 when “The Ten Commandments” played a two-a-day run for a number of weeks.
Here’s a final question: does anyone remember the Brighton Theater, a legitimate theater that was part of the fabled “subway circuit,” a group of theaters around New York City where Broadway shows toured when they closed their original run? The Brighton was located near the Tuxedo Theatre at the end of Ocean Parkway, just before you turned to go to Coney Island (right) or Brighton Beach (left). My father managed the Brighton for some period of time in the early 1950s, and I remember attending a performance of “Top Banana” as a very young child. Anyone have more information on the Brighton?