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Save the Westwood Theatre Sign! Join the Facebook group today! Don’t let this Toronto landmark wind up in a land fill site. Get more info here: View link
My dad, who grew up in that neighborhood, recalls seeing the first sound film, The Jazz Singer, at the Runnymede. He also remembers the siloette of an airplane being projected on the domed blue ceiling and twinkling stars, all part of the atmospheric effects. Glad it still stands.
Read the posting above and just had to drive down there to check for myself. Good news — the exterior of the Westwood Theatre still stands. It is the grocery store across the street that has been demolished.
Spoke with a chap today at the Etobicoke Driving school, one of the long time tenants of the Westwood building. He reports that the interior is pretty much stripped of any theatre dressings. The seats were all removed and concrete floors are all that remain.
He also recalled that newer seats had been transfered to the Westwood from the Runnymede when that theatre was closed down and renovated. All in vain as the Westwood was the next neighboodhood cinema to close.
Peeked in the lobby through the large square windows in those big, black front doors. The wavy drop ceiling is still there. You can kinda tell where the snack bar stood on the right. Otherwise, the lobby area, at least, looks like it has all been white washed since it was used during the filming of Resident Evil.
Incidentaly, the filmmakers were the ones who dinged one of those giant orange “WESTWOOD” letters on the roof, according to driving school dude. Shame on them. If you grew up in that part of Etobicoke, that is as sacred as the Hollywood sign.
The property, I am told, is owned by the city of Toronto. There have been rumors for years of building some sort of city hall west on the land. The TTC also covets the property. Developers see more space to cram in condos.
I just see the cool neigborhood dream palace where I saw all those Disney movies as a child — 101 Dalmations, The Sword In The Stone, The Jungle Book — and weep.
I was an usher at the Kingsway back in the early to mid ‘70s when it was still operated by the Famous Players theatre chain. I made $1.15 an hour, I think, paid in cash and coin in these little brown paper envelopes. I think I got an extra buck a week because I was the one who would scramble outside and change the heavy metal letters on the marquee each Thursday night. I was a grade nine or ten high school student at nearby Michael Power at the time.
I believe the Kingsway opened around 1939 or 1940, just as that west end neighborhood was being established.
Pretty sure the theatre had closer to 700 seats. I used to have to go around and tighted each one of the wooden arm rests with pliers. If the film being shown was in cinemascope, ushers had to adjust the matte curtains on either side of the screen by lining up two pieces of tape on the cables.
There was also a glassed in crying room up in a tiny balconey to the west of the projector booth that probably hasn’t been used since the '50s. Sat about 20.
The staff change rooms were in this dingy half basement under the main foyer. We used to have to put on these tiny black bow ties and sorta white shirts that hadn’t been cleaned since the 3-D craze. The creepy assistant manager used to like to go down there and watch everyone change.
I remember A Tough Of Class with George Segal and Glenda Jackson ran for six straight weeks there one summer. All those Bruce Lee Kung Fu films, too.
The manager was a magician who used to reach into the sand in the large, pedestal ash trays and conjure up coins. The lady who worked the glassed in ticket booth out front wouldn’t take the nearby subway to work because she was convinced the communists would get her there. The babe who worked the candy counter used to spray Love’s Fresh Lemon perfume all over herself and the popcorn each night. What a place.