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Joy Newton Houck was Joy Sr’s name. Joy Houck Jr., known around the theatre biz as “J.N.”, and Clyde Joy Houck are sons of Joy Houck Sr.
The Toulouse Theatre opened on Friday October 16, 1970, showing The Virgin and the Gypsy. It was owned by Walter Reede Theatres, who also operated the Sena Mall Theatre in Metairie at this time.
As a Walter Reede Theatre, I remember that instead of the standard concession stand, there were vending machines in the lobby, one for popcorn, one for drinks, and another for candy. The projection booth had the latest Simplex equipment with Xetron xenon lamps, and an NTS automation system capable of changing from one reel to another.
During the time that Walter Reede operated this theatre, many policies were tried. Art/foreign product, some nostalgia, but nothing seemed to be the answer to getting people to come to this nice little theatre.
The Toulouse faced some challenges, first being that parking in the French Quarter was a nightmare, day and night. Although there are residences in the French Quarter, apparently there was not enough business to keep this theatre operating.
By June of 1974, the Toulouse was closed. It was sublet to George Echols, who operated ITU, an adult theatre corporation, which also operated the Paris at this time. It opened in August of â€™74, showing gay adult films. This policy lasted for only a short time. Straight adult films showed at this theatre until it was closed by May of â€™76. By July, it was again being operated by Walter Reede, this time as a $1.00 sub-run theatre, but closed by January of 1977.
Along comes Russell Rocke, a Tulane University law school graduate, and author. His plans included not only a movie theatre, but a cafÃ©, and a late night piano bar. The Toulouse Street Theatre opened in June, 1977. Double features were changed a twice weekly, included a mix of recent releases, foreign and art films, and some cult classics. It was the perfect mix for the funky little French Quarter theatre, and it had a nice run. Some live entertainment was presented, including Vernel Bagnerisâ€™ play, which originally appeared at the Lyric Theatre in New Orleans in 1927, entitled â€œOne Moâ€™ Timeâ€. The play did huge business, and eventually opened off Broadway. In 1984, when the Worldâ€™s Fair acted, as Rocke put it, as a tight magnet, business dropped, and the Toulouse Theatre closed as a cinema for the final time. I was a part time projectionist at the Toulouse in the late 70â€™s and early 80â€™s. It was a fun place to work, and a nice place to see a movie.
H & B Theatres stood for Houck and Bounds Theatres, Joy Houck’s partners being C. C. and Leo Bounds. The Bounds were also partners with Houck in the Leo, Palace, Ritz and Joy in Texarkana, at least in the late 40’s.
Message to Mike Rogers. When you are back in central Florida, about 30 minutes East of Tampa is the Silvermoon Drive-In, in Lakeland. It is a shining example of how a drive-in should be operated, the snack bar is full of nostalgic drive-in photos, and the presentation is complete with some nostalgic intermission clips. A far cry from the drive-in experience you described.
This theatre began it’s life as “Fiarito’s Dream Theatre”. In 1934, Joy Houck bought it and changed the name to the Joy.
Houck operated it until he was in the planning stages of building the Joy on Canal St. when he changed the name to the Pix.
He sold it to a gentleman who’s last name was Schiro, who operated it for a few years.
If I remember correctly, it closed in the 50’s, sat vacant for many years, and the building burned in the late 60’s.
My mom lived at 5316 Dauphine, and this was one of her ‘neighborhood shows’. The building did face Dauphine St, just to clear up any confusion.
This theatre has quite an interesting past. It originally opened in 1910 as the Harlequin, an open air theatre (no roof). Passes were given on rainy nights. It was owned by Rene Brunet Sr., father of Rene Brunet, who now owns the Prytania.
One of the projectionists that worked at the Harlequin was Salvadore “Toto” Giuffre, who I trained with at the Skyvue Drive-In in the early 70’s. Rene Sr. built the Imperial, and sold the Harlequin, which then became the Plaza.
At some point, United Theatres obtained the theatre and changed the name to the Clabon.
What comes around goes around…in around 1970, Rene Brunet Jr. purchased the theatre from United, and operated the Clabon un til 1978, . It became a disco, and then, the church that is currently in this historic building.
The Fox Theatre opened in 1945 by Charles Gulotta (sp?). He operated the Fox until his passing in 1953, when it was obtained by the owners of the Lakeview Theatre, Sammy Wright, Frank Lias and Louis Dugas, who also had the Algiers Drive-In at this time.
I remember going to the Fox as a youngster. A small lobby, concession stand with a Manley popcorn machine on the right side. There was a small balcony, which was closed by the time I attended, but I asked the owner if I could see the projection booth, and he brought me up one night.
The Fox was one of the only theatres in New Orleans that had ‘wall to wall carpeting’ in the auditorium, the Cinerama being the other. It closed in 1971, the last movie was Billy Jack.
The actual address of the Isis was 1515 Dryades. The name of this portion of this street has been changed to Oretha Castle Haley.
It is, and has been at least since the 70’s, Gloryland Mount Gillion Baptist Church. The building is still there, but the original sign, including the marquee, which was there until Katrina, is gone, replaced by another sign.
While doing research on the history of Joy N. Houck, the gentleman that owned Joy’s Theatres Inc., I found that the Atlanta Theatre was opened in June of 1940 after being remodeled by Joy Houck, and was known as Joy’s Atlanta. It was operated similar to the Joy’s Strand in New Orleans, admission 5c & 10c for double features. Joy installed a new cooling system, and installed new RCA sound equipment. Willis Houck, brother of Joy, was the opening manager.
The house was described as having more than 2000 seats and 2 balconies.
By 1941, William Cooper was the manager.
In 1942, L. D. Powers was transfered from Texarkana to manage Joy’s Atlanta.
By 1943, Dallas Lanier was the manager.
In August of 1943, the theatre was closed and the projection booth equipment was removed and installed at the new Joy in Dallas, site of the former Circle Theatre on St. Paul St.
I hope this helps to solve the mystery of the Joy Atlanta.
Here’s an ad for the Cine Royale from 1976:
Here’s an ad for the Grit from 1977:
1980 picture of the Tiger, known at this time as the “Grit”. This was the final year of operation for this theatre.
There’s some nice video footage of this theatre when it was still operating in the documentary Drive In Blues. Looks like everyone was having a ball!
I worked at this theatre beginning in 1974, when it was known as the Gentilly Orleans. The Groove Tube was showing at the time.
The Gentilly Orleans was a cozy little art house, showing some of the better and more offbeat art fare of the day. The auditorium was filled with high back blue rocking chair seats, and had a nice size screen.
There was a long closed balcony, where there were still a few rows of wooden seats covered with many years of dust.
Attached to the theatre was a restaurant, known for years as the Skillet, sort of a local greasy spoon. While I was working there, the restaurant was remodeled and the name changed to the Distillery, featuring a wide assortment of foreign beers, and really great bar-b-que. The theatre and restaurant shared the same rest rooms, and were attached by a very narrow hallway. Theatre patrons were permitted to go to the restaurant and purchase beer, and bring it back into the theatre.
The lobby had comfy couches and really had a living room feel to it. The lobby and concession were small, as you will see in photo links below. The theatre also offered complementary coffee to patrons.
The owner and manager of the theatre was Joe Bethea. This was, of course, toward the end of the era of the mom & pop theatre, where you were greeted by the owner of the theatre personally as you entered. Only one theatre still offers that personal touch in New Orleans today, The Prytania.
I remember Mr. Bethea telling me that in 1966, the theatre showed only 2 movies, A Man and A Woman for 7 months, and Georgie Girl for 6 months.
Some of the movies that played at the Gentilly while I was there were Felliniâ€™s Amarcord, The Night Porter, Flesh Gordon, a double bill of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz & The Twelve Chairs, Inserts starring Richard Dreyfuss, and Louis Malleâ€™s Lacombe Lucien.
A packed house was a sure bet for the weekly midnight shows on Friday & Saturday. We showed many rock classics at midnight, such as the first Pink Floyd movie, a revival of The Beatles in HELP, and Jimmy Cliff in The Harder They Come.
Some of the more offbeat midnight movies I remember were Pink Flamingos, Andy Warholâ€™s Women in Revolt, The Erotic Adventures of Zorro, and a local made 16MM comedy entitled OK-RAH: The Okrah that Ate New Orleans!
The Gentilly had the New Orleans premiere of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which showed every weekend at midnight from late 1976 until the theatre burned in 1978.
Some time after the fire, the building was purchased by a local developer, and was remodeled into several different businesses.
I have many happy memories of working at this theatre, and have thoroughly enjoyed this walk down memory lane.
Hereâ€™s a color pic of the front of the theatre from about 1975:
Hereâ€™s a pic of the front of the theatre from a Figaro newspaper. The Skillet is on the far side of the theatre.
Hereâ€™s a pic of the concession stand:
And a pic of the lobby:
This is a pic of the building in 2005 flooded by hurricane Katrina:
Not from the best angle, but here’s a link with a photo of the Beacon.
Click on an area of the photo, and it will enlarge.
Here’s a pic of the curved billboard in front of the Cinerama after it became the Sinerama. This is from a newspaper ad.
Here’s a photo from the newspaper article shortly after the St. Bernard closed. That’s Deacon Bell sitting in the box-office.
Here’s a photo of the Bell Theatre on fire!!!!
Here’s another pic of the Tiger from 1955-the theatre is on the left.
Does anyone have any info on the Gayety Theatre on Collins Ave? It was one of Leroy Griffith’s Theatres.
Yes, this is the correct Delta Theatre. If I remember correctly, it was demoshed in the late 70’s, although it closed in the 60’s.
Here’s a photo of the Filmland Drive-In:
This is an artists rendering of the Happy Hour Theatre. The correct opening year is 1910, although this pic has a caption saying 1907.
In 1937, Joy Houck leased the Strand Theatre and operated it until it closed in 1958. At this time, he re-named the theatre Joy Strand. I remember my father telling me that this was a popular spot for kids to go while playing hookie from school. Here’s a photo of the Joy Strand:
Here’s a beautiful photo of the Airline Drive-In marquee with neon glowing in all it’s glory: