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How very sad, Roger. I always wanted to go back and take some pix. That will never happen now.
A few more things on the Optic and Woodley: The Optic was originally on S. B'way, a new theatre was built in Jan. 1911. It was located at 533 S. Main (Los Angeles). R. W. Woodley was the owner and manager. It was stated as a first class house, and it also ran vaudeville. It had an electric sign that read “Vaudeville”. The Woodley Theater was on S. B'way (the street number was given as 833 or 838 by different trade journals). Seating capacity was 900. Admission price n the mid teens as 10-15-25¢. They were projecting advertisements from the roof onto other buildings at that time as well!
Hello Sarah, I have done quite a bit of research on this era and have what must be hundreds of listings of nickelodeons thru out the country mentioned in the press. There are likely original buildings still extant for them in NYC, we do have some here in LA. I have some pictures I can forward you if you reply. Great project and I look forward to the doc!
Growing up in the area, I attended the Capitol to see movies as a youth. My first recollection was Its A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I remember entering the lobby, going up marble steps with brass railings. When Jimmy Durante crashed and kicked the bucket it scared my little brother who was 3 or 4 and he started crying. He wouldn’t stop and my mother (unlike anyone today) gathered us up and took us home. Social courtesy at one’s expense. Can you imagine? Another memory I have is going to see Mark of the Devil in the early ‘70s in my early teens. Ushers handed out vomit bags, which really worried me (I STILL have mine!) because I thought it would be horrible and I didnt want to throw up! Glad to say it went unused. I recall a few people running out during the movie. Grossing audiences out is now de rigueur, sorry to say. It wasnt too long after this the Capitol closed down.
I always go by the theater when Im back in New London. Bank St. and State St. are loaded with history. Many theaters have been there the last century and more.
Has anyone taken any pictures of the Marr & Colton organ? It had a unique feature of silent movie mood presets. Posters here say it was from the New London Capitol. John Hammond was the organist there in 1926, the year it was installed. He was also Rosa Rio’s first husband, who just passed away. They both accompanied silents in New London. Would love to see pictures. New London-born here, too.
You can see quite a bit of video of her on YouTube. The Keaton PLAYHOUSE clips are a treasure with live audience. Nos. 1, 2, & 3 will give you the whole film. The quote that women organists were rare is untrue. Chicago alone had about 50 women theater organists in the mid ‘20s. Rosa simply out did them and out lasted them. Here age may be questionable. She did tell me she was 106 last year. And a census record I have puts her birth year as 1903, confirming that. But she may have embellished it, to make it more impressive. With her amazing career, she certainly did not need to do that! I spent a week with her a year ago, capturing hours on video. She was truly a remarkable person, no matter her years.
You’re most welcome, guys. I found that the Fairbanks film Jeanne played for that was quite a local event was American Aristocracy. It was shot in Watch Hill in 1916. Fairbanks and his entourage arrived on the 2nd week of Aug. to shoot the entire film there on location. I have regretfully never seen it, so I am hunting down a copy for myself. I recall her telling me about a scene where a local woman drives by in an auto and Fairbanks does a stunt where he jumps into the seat of her car. It was quite a hit with the locals, naturally. During the 1970s she accompanied the silent film programs I produced in S.E. CT. Many people came because of her playing. I regret not making a tape of her. But she forbid it. I should have snuck it one evening. She was one of those wonderful people who brought the silents to life! And this is where she got started, at the Ninigret.
Rosa’s passing ends an era. It’s daunting to think that an era that ended in 1929 was still kept alive in 2010 by someone who lived it. In the past 9 months we lost possibly the last 3 original accompanists to silent films. We will no longer have personal recollections from these artists; the creative players who gave silents life. That is something to mourn.
My late friend, Jeanne McPartland, played piano for silent films there in the 1920s. She continued to accompany silents through out her life, and played for many of the programs I produced in CT. She talked about a Fairbanks film shot in the area which was shown locally as a thrill for residents. There were people who went to the screenings who had remembered the film when Fairbanks shot it. One woman was actually in the film. She had many interesting things to retell about her experiences. I do miss her a great deal.