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Although I don’t live in KC anymore, I was happy to catch some glimpses of the remodeled Uptown when President Obama made a speech on his recent trip to KC. It looks Great! My compliments to Larry Sell and his efforts to keep this beautiful theater in good shape.
By the way. I live in New Orleans, now. So be looking for a 504 area code.
Mike. I’ll do that, I promise. When is the best time to call?
Mike. Where was the Capri Theatre you mention? I think I’ve heard of it, but I don’t find in KC listings here.
Mike. Did you ever work at the Plaza? The was a man with your last name there. He was an assistant mgr. But he left before I got there. I have heard his name mentioned. But I don’t know his first name.
Mike. You were talking about the sound system at the Plaza. I recall working there in 1956, when the film “Forbidden Planet” was playing. Back then, new shows started on Wednesdays and closed the following Tuesday.Well “Forbidden Planet” had one of the most stunning 4 track stereo soundtracks I’ve ever heard. On the Wednesday night show, it would knock your socks off. On Thursday, not so much. A lowly usher wouldn’t dream of going up to the projection booth to complain. So, I told my boss, the assistant mgr. He listens and says. “sounds OK to me”. So, I jumped about on Friday and he said the same think. On Saturday, he finally gave in and went up to the projection booth. The projectionist went to a relay rack, open the door and looked inside. He says, “Don’s right. there are 2 amps out. Will call RCA service co and get them out here Monday”. Monday night and Tuesday the movie sounded AWESOME again.
South Pacific did indeed play at the Tower in ToddAO.
The mgr at the time was Roy Hill, I think it probably ray for about a year or so. I know I saw “South Pacific” at the Tower when I was still working at the Plaza. It took me quite a while to get a pass to see it, even on a matinees. KCBE, the Disney movies you saw at the Esquire, may have been because the Esquire was in the FOX Midwest 1st run unit, with Uptown, Fairway and later, the Granada. If for some reason the Tower wasn’t running in the unit, the Esquire would be open and in the 1st run Fox unit. Disney movies always played 1st run at Fox. And they were Golden. Always a sell out on weekend matinees, especially. I can remember working at the Fairway, having the theatre sold out, and a double line from the box office, all the way to the back of the theatre in the parking lot and back out to the street. Those were the days.
Not that it matters much at this late date, but the Esquire didn’t get very good movies to show on that last 4 week run before we finally closed. “The Wreck of The Mary Deere”, for example. (Really ?) Also we had a hefty union payroll. For the life of me, I can’t figure why they needed a full time stage hand. There wasn’t any stage at the Esquire, No curtain, no movable masking. If we had been allowed to operate that theatre like they do today, I think we would have been there a lot longer that 4 weeks.
I can remember as a child, being downtown with mom, standing on the east side of Main street, watching them take down the Newman Theatre sign, and starting to put up the Paramount sign.
A lady I’m proud to call a friend, who worked in the theater business until a few years ago, got her start in the business at age 16, in the box office at the Fine Arts in 1941. She has work in New Orleans area theaters all her life. She retired from the box office at the AMC Clearview.
By the way, The Prytania was the first theater to open after Katrina hit. And the only show in town for some time afterward.
In response to tinydr’s comment on Mr Brunet’s age, I wouldn’t worry to much about the Prytania’s future. He has his son in the business with him, and I think as long as they can make a profit there, the show will go on.
I believe this theater had 4 screens. It may have been operated by General Cinemas, if I recall correctly.
Someone working in the feed store, had told me the name of the theater and that it closed in 1950. The marquee aside, the front doors and the lobby are pretty much intact today. You can tell just being inside that “once upon a time”….
Well, earlier this year, or late last year, CVS moved the drug store to Houma blvd and Airline drive. So, the location now sits empty. Wouldn’t it be nice if they would give back our theatre?
I wonder if this could have also been known as the Carver theater. It was operated by Fox Midwest for Black Patrons in the 1950’s.
When I lived in Topeka in 1960, Fox Midwest was running the Orpheum and it was showing 2nd run movies, usually a double feature. The Grand, Jayhawk and Dickinson were all running 1st run features.
I can remember a trip to the Dickinson to see a atrocious wide screen version of “Gone With The Wind”.
I lived in the 900 block of Topeka blvd, and had 4 great theaters to pick from to go to the movies back then.
My mother told me when I was a child, that her mother used to refer to the Regent as “the smelly feet theatre”.
I know that Fox got some relief from the feds around 1960 or so, from the anti-trust suit in the 1940’s. The acquired the New 50 drive in, and one in the Topeka, Ks area. I can’t recall the name of the drive-in in Topeka, but I did work there as assistant concession stand manager. But it was a part time job, and I couldn’t support myself on what I was making. So, I had to drop it in favor of my day-job. And it was Fox Midwest, not Intermountain.
This add must date back to the mid 1940’s. The Rockhill and the Waldo were divested in the consent decree and Fox Theatres that happened in about 1946.
I have a story to tell about the Tower. In 1958, I was the assistant mgr. at the Fairway in Fairway, Ks. The manager I worked for, R. Hill, had been the manager at the Tower for a number of years. He was there doing the runs of “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific”. One of his other duties was the advertising of the theatres in the KC Star. He did the group ads for all the Fox theatres and the display ads for the first run unit, The Tower, Uptown, Fairway and the Granada. He had also been doing this while he was at the Tower. One day, he needed some mats, I believe they were called, for some ads he was doing. So of this stuff was still stored at the Tower. Mr Hill went down to the theatre, and he said as soon as he unlocked the front door, he got the creepy feeling he was not alone there. He hollered out, and soon heard someone running and a loud crash. He turned around, went and locked himself in the Box Office and called the KCPD.
The police came and inspected the building. The loud crash he had heard was someone breaking thru one of the auditorium emergency exits. These doors had all been braced shut with 2x4 wedged under the panic bolt so the doors couldn’t be opened from the outside. The door in question, had its 2x4 broken by the unknown person leaving in a hurry. A inspection of the theatre showed that someone had been living in the place. There was a bed roll, some food, dirty clothes, etc.
What they couldn't figure out is how this guy was getting in to the theatre. A Fox maintenance man who knew the theatre well came down and really looked around. There was and iron ladder on the outside of the stage area that went up to the roof of the building over the stage. The intruder had climbed up to the roof, found a skylight over the stage that wasn't locked, climbed thru that to a catwalk over the stage and climbed down a ladder to the floor of the stage. Talk about nerve.
The skylight was secured and that was that. I don't think Mr. Hill went down to the Tower alone again.
I can remember going to the Uptown on Sunday afternoon’s. Alberta Byrd used to give organ concerts and play request for about 30 min. before the show would start. This was probably around 1949 or so.
By the way, not that matters that much today. But the Esquire was not at the corner of 12th and Grand, but was in the middle of the block. That picture above shows the alley in the middle of the block on 12th st between Grand and McGee. The address at the top of the page, 211 e 12st is correct. The Tower had exits which came out in that alley on the west side of the auditorium, and on McGee st on the east side.
To KCB3Player. Yes, indeed, I was working at the Esquire during that last short run. And, if memory serves me, the Esquire was owned by Elmer Rhoden, who did also own the Waldo. I can remember that after we spreed mothballs on the wool carpet runners in both aisles, the mezzanine, the lobby and the balcony we loaded all the concession supplies into our cars, and took them out to the Waldo. The manager their took them and invited us to stay and watch the show. They were playing “Lil' Abner”, which I hadn’t seen before.
Under the stage in the Esquire, there was a connecting door, which came up in the engine room in the Tower. I went in there once, when it was closed up at the time. I can remember the managers office was upstairs and the mezzanine above that long lobby the Tower was famous for. I never went backstage though, and I can’t remember for the life on me, whether there was still that big Todd-AO screen that they had put in the for ‘South Pacific".