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The Ritz Theatre was opened on June 21, 1940 in a west Gulfport residential area by the owners of the Royal Theatre in downtown Gulfport and seated 300. Its name was changed sometime in the early 1950’s to the Regal Theatre.
The Avenue Theatre was opened at 4 pm on Thursday Feburary 3, 1949. The opening picture was Paramount’s 1948 comedy “Miss Tatlock’s Millions” starring John Lund, Wanda Hendrix, Barry Fitzgerald and Monty Wooley.
The opening day for the Dome Theatre was March 17,1971 and it held its grand opening on March 26, 1971.
Jim, it was not the Paramount that burned. The Sand Theatre (formerly Legion Theatre) on 13th owned by the American Legion and Ed Ortte of Bay St. Louis burned in 1973. Woolworth’s next to the Paramount burned, not the Paramount. The Paramount which had smoke damage from the Woolworth fire was demolished in the 1990’s after a group was formed to try and save it was unsuccessful in raising the money to buy and restore it. The city of Gulfport was offered the theatre for $150,000 by its owner but the city did not want to buy it, so it was demolished. Several years before the Woolworth fire the old Palace Restaurant on the other side of the Paramount partly burned and the Paramount received smoke damage from that fire too.
The article on the Gulf Theatre being destroyed the fire gives the date of the fire as Nov. 20, 1938 at 11 pm. The fire was well underway by the time the fire department arrived and spread to the adjoining building. Both were total losses. It gives the opening date for the Gulf as in June of 1937 and said it seated 300.
The Royal Theatre closed and reopened on September 3, 1949 as the Don Theatre after under going some remodeling and marquee changes. The opening picture for the new Don Theatre was a late show at 10 pm on September 3rd. The opening feature was the James Stewart and June Allyson picture “The Stratton Story”.
The Royal opened at 1 pm on Monday May 6, 1940, and seated 498. The opening feature was Deanna Durbin in the Univesal Picture “It’s A Date”, along with a newsreel and cartoon.
The seaing for this theatre which was opened in 1941 should be 600, not 1200.
The Roxy Theatre opened on July 12, 1941 at 1 pm with the Republic Pictures western “The Trusted Outlaw” starring Bob Steele. The opening program also included a serial and cartoon.
The ad pictured for the Sand Theatre ran in the local newspaper on Sunday March 4, 1973. That night after the theatre closed a fire of undetermined origin extensively damaged the balcony and booth area. Part of the balcony collapsed into the lobby area and bottoms of the seats under the balcony were burned. It was announced that over $150,000 in damages to the interior occurred. The Sand never reopened even though it was announced it would be rebuilt as soon as possible.
The Star Theatre was opened on January 14, 1947 as a second run house. The Star Theatre had been a onetime dance hall and silent movie house before it was remodeled as a movie theatre by the Meyer brothers of Biloxi and had 400 seats, according to a newspaper article announcing its opening. The Meyer brothers also operated the Meyer, Avenue and Harlem Theatres in Biloxi.
The Joy Theatre was located at 1624 East Howard Avenue, Biloxi, MS. When first constructed, the theatre remained open for only a short time and was then closed. Later, the building was purchased by a new owner from J. J. Yeager. The new owner remodeled the Joy and operated it for a few years. On Dec 31, 1955 an ad appeared in the local newspaper advertising a bankrupcy sale by the courts for the building and all contents. The operator defaulted on his mortgage and Yeager foreclosed on it. The Joy never was reopened.
The Meyer Theatre opened on May 17, 1940. It’s opening picture that evening was “Alias The Deacon” with comedian and radio humorist Bob Burns. The Meyer was designed by local architect Jack Fayard and had 400 seats in the main auditorium and 200 seats in the balcony. The wood frame 40 by 110 feet building was sold in January 1960 by the Meyers family to B & D Theatres of Biloxi, who were opening several old closed theatres in the area, for the sum of $60,000.
Henry Meyers actually opened the 525 seat Harlem Theatre on July 5, 1941.
The Bay View Theatre opened on November 30, 1946 with “Caesar and Cleopatra” with Vivian Leigh and Claude Rains. The building was designed by the firm of Collins and Collins at a cost of over $60,000 dollars. The building was 50 feet by 100 feet and cooled by a 40 ton air conditioning unit. It closed around 1959 and converted to Bay View Bowling, which opened on January 19, 1960. It burned down in December of 1964.
The Royal Drive In screen tower was still standing when I passed through Meridian in May 2011. Still looks like the pic posted above.
I passed by the old Royal Drive In in May. The screen tower is still standing and the entire site is over grown. The colorful shell of the screen tower has faded.
One main thing I remember about the Gulf was its booth. It was small and cramped. There was just enough room between machines for a small size person to fit during change overs. The projectionest, Leroy, who worked the first shift, being a large man, had to be very careful in squeezing between the machines and many times would push the machine running out of alignment and the picture would go off the screen and partly on the left wall until he got it straight again.
When looking at the picture above, the Paramount would have been located in front of the white van, to its left was the Paramount Cafe and to its right was the Woolworth store and then Brumfield Drug. As kids we always went first to the Brumfield Drug store to purchase candy before going to the Paramount. A small jewery store was located in the Paramount to the left next to the cafe. The jewery store closed when the Paramount was remodeled in the 1960’s and the lobby was expanded into its space. I remember the Paramount’s booth was small and crampted and when you looked out the port holes, you were looking downward to the screen and stage.
If you look closely at the blue sign on the right in the photo, it says “Hardy Court” on it. This is what remains of the sign and bill board that was located at the entrance to the parking lot for the Hardy Court Cinema which was located to the left in the blank area of the picture before the big building that looks like a house.
I was stationed at Fort Hood in 1965 and 1966. I remember going to this theatre. It was fairly new and I don’t think it had been open too long. If I recall correctly, it was called the Killeen Theatre back then and not the Center. Anyone familiar with this old theatre?
When looking at the Google photo, the Legion Theatre’s entrance was about where the white car is parked.
Philbert, you brought back memories of “Noah’s Ark” for me. We played it on a double feature back in about 1956 along with a little British comedy with Donald Sindon and Diana Dors called “An Alligator Named Daisy”. The only memorable thing about “Ark” was the flood scenes. The Diana Dors comedy made up for “Ark” and we had a fairly good run due to “Daisy”. We normally never played double features, that was one of about only three double features that I can recall. Could never understand why our booker stuck “Ark” on us. It was orginally scheduled as a single attraction for those three days. “Daisy” was added only two days before the scheduled run. Guess someone had second thoughts. I remember we ran “La Dolce Vita” for a week to fair business. We always pulled a picture early if it did not do good. We actually got sued for doing that with “Spartacus” in 1960, and wound up putting it at our second run house for a two weeks to settle with the distributor and brought it back two months later at that second run house on a double feature for three days.
Thanks RonnieD, you brought back memories from the past for me. I too was stationed at Fort Hood, in 1965 and 1966. Like you I kept a record of all the movies I saw on post as well at the Ritz, Sadler and the newly opened modern Killeen Theatre in Killeen. I just wish I had kept those lists. I remember the loud clatter of the projectors while viewing King Solomon’s Mines and other features at the Ritz. Growing up in the theatre business, I always heard all the sounds from the booth there. The Ritz and the Texas always played double features and the films were usually from the late 1940’s and 1950’s at that time. I remember they had heavy curtains covering the door to the auditorium to keep light from the lobby off the screen and the auditorium was pretty dumpy. But I caught a number of older films at the Ritz that I had never seen. It was always packed on weekends. I never went to the Texas, but thought it probally was about the same as the Ritz.
That new theatre that was opened was the elegant Strand Theatre, later to become the Paramount in the 1930’s.