Baker Theatre

41 West Blackwell Street,
Dover, NJ 07801

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The Baker Theatre opened on December 5, 1906 and was considered one of the premier entertainment showcases in New Jersey. It cost $75,000 to build the Baker Theatre which was known for its plaster ornaments and friezes, cast in New York City by the same company that decorated the New York Hippodrome. The Baker Theatre housed picture shows which were shown at 7PM followed by 5 acts of vaudeville at 8PM. A seven piece orchestra played for both the picture and stage shows.

The founder and builder, Mr. Baker died on November 16, 1910 at 87. His son, Henry O. Baker took the theatre over and in 1924 the theatre underwent extensive remodeling to make it fireproof. On June 30 three stores were demolished at 37 and 39 West Blackwell Street to make way for the new building and a new entrance. The entire theatre’s materials were constructed of brick, concrete, and steel. The project cost $100,000 which included a modern New York-style marquee. The Baker Theatre now had 1,600 seats, re-opening on December 22, 1924.

The theatre passed into the hands of Stanley Fabian. On March 18, 1929 the theatre showed its first talking picture “On Trial”. A few years later the theatre underwent yet another major renovation where the second balcony was eliminated and a projection room installed. Its current balcony was expanded and re-modeled. When it reopened it was called the New Baker Theatre.

Many stage and screen actors visited or resided in Dover. Silent stars Al St. John and Buster Keaton made motion pictures in Dover. Pearl White (“The Perils of Pauline”) also made several pictures in Dover. Rex Beach, author, was often seen in local stores. Many actors and actresses appeared in plays at the Baker including DeWolfe Hopper, Helen Hayes, Lillian Russell and Ethel Barrymore. Top vaudeville acts also appeared at the Baker including Abbott and Costello.

Presently, the Baker’s stage is the largest in northern New Jersey and boasts a 1500 square foot gigantic sunken hardwood floor. It also has marble staircases, multiple balconies, a video projection unit and a theater screen.

Contributed by Dave Bonan

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 1, 2007 at 12:36 pm

For once the bomb wasn’t on the screen:
http://tinyurl.com/2ldzvj

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on September 17, 2007 at 11:03 am

I just passed it the other day. The marquee had nothing really except one event. When I looked in the doors, it looked strangely vacant for some reason. Now I know.

teecee
teecee on March 16, 2008 at 3:45 am

According to today’s Star Ledger, the theatre is being used for filming the final scene of the upcoming movie “The Wrestler”

georgel
georgel on March 17, 2008 at 10:30 am

Rourke was ready to rumble in Dover
Film crew on location at Baker

BY JAKE REMALY
DAILY RECORD
Monday, March 17, 2008

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DOVER — The red neon lights on the Baker Theater’s marquee glowed at twilight Friday: “ROH PRESENTS RANDY THE RAM VS THE AYATOLLAH”

The West Blackwell Street theater was the scene of a climactic 20-year reunion bout between Randy “The Ram” Robinson, an aging wrestler with heart disease, and his longtime nemesis, The Ayatollah.

The match is a crucial scene in the film “The Wrestler,” starring Mickey Rourke as The Ram.

The film’s producer, director, actors and crew filmed at the Baker Theater last week, including a 13-hour session on Thursday. On Friday and Saturday night, a mix of wrestling fans, film followers, paid union extras and the generally curious watched the spectacle — actual professional wrestling matches along with the filming of “The Wrestler” finale.

The film’s production company employed Ring of Honor, a Pennsylvania-based professional wrestling league, to stage a series of real matches at the Baker Theater, and the crew filmed portions of the climactic scene between those matches.

Those who attended the Friday and Saturday night matches might appear in the final version of the film.

Setting the stage

Machines pumped fog, which filled the theater, and strobe lights periodically flashed. The stage was converted into a seating area with a steep red walkway running down the middle to the ring, which was constructed over the orchestra pit.

Rourke, in character, wearing tight lime green pants with an image of a ram’s head on each outer thigh, descended the walkway for his bout with The Ayatollah, played by professional wrestler Ernest Miller.

The Ayatollah, introduced as “The Beast from the Middle East,” came down a walkway wearing a white headscarf and brown cloak, with a snake charmer’s melody playing over the sound system. He waved a flag, apparently taunting the crowd.

Randy “The Ram” Robinson was introduced as “one of the all-time greats” and gave a speech to the crowd:

“You take your bites and bruises in this game. … You guys are my family. … Your cheers keep me young. They keep me alive.”

At one point, The Ayatollah choked The Ram with a flag pole, which The Ram ultimately snapped in half over his leg. The Ayatollah ended up out of the ring, and Rourke dove over the ropes to land on top of him. Later, The Ram executed his signature move, the Ram Jam, wherein he wraps his legs around his opponent’s neck while holding one of the ropes and throwing his opponent to the mat.

A fan looks on

Carlos Ramirez drove from New York City for the filming because he follows the work of Darren Aronofsky, director of “The Wrestler.” He read about “The Wrestler” on the Internet Movie Database and saw details about the Dover filming on the movie’s Web site, which features a dark, bloody image of The Ram on the index page.

At the theater, Ramirez, 22, immediately recognized Aronofsky, who also directed “Pi” and “Requiem for a Dream,” by his trademark beard.

“He doesn’t shave his beard until the last, final cut,” Ramirez said.

The director

Aronofsky, 39, wearing a gray scarf, a black and green “Ram” T-shirt and sporting a thick beard, at times offered direction to members of the audience while crew members sprayed the 55-year-old Rourke’s long stringy bleached blond hair and body, making it look like he was perspiring.

“We want people to know this is the climax,” Aronofsky said into a microphone.

Prepping the crowd for the moment after The Ram delivers a heartfelt speech, he said, “When I call action, if you could just be clapping a little bit. … If you want to cry, you can cry.”

After the take, he said, “Perfect. You guys are naturals.”

Outside help lured here

Ring of Honor was approached about working on the project at Baker Theater about four months ago.

“We loved the architecture,” Scott Franklin, the film’s producer, said of the theater. “It had a lot of character.”

The Baker Theater’s gold-leafed art deco architecture dates back to the 1920s, according to the theater’s Web site. Vaudeville performers, including Abbott and Costello, once performed on its stage, the site says.

Ring of Honor staff members said about 700 people came to the Friday night show and the league’s owner, Cary Silken, said he expected the theater to be packed again on Saturday night.

During Friday night’s matches, Marisa Tomei, playing a stripper who befriends Randy “The Ram” Robinson, filmed her entrance to the match in the temporarily closed-off theater lobby, Ring of Honor staff members said. Tomei won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1993 for her role in “My Cousin Vinny.”

On Friday night, Paul Sansevere, of Oxford, was scouting the show to see if he would take his two children, 8 and 10 years old, to Saturday’s filming. He decided he would.

“I want them to see how they actually make a movie,” Sansevere said.

georgel
georgel on March 18, 2008 at 4:38 am

History of The Baker Theatre

39 West Blackwell Street
Dover, New Jersey 07801
Construction date 1906
Architect style: Neoclassical commercial vernacular. Round-arched triple-window grouping with limestone lunettes and Corinthian columns is set slightly off-center on the façade. Not only does the Baker Theatre have the largest capacity of any theatre in Morris County, it was a culmination of a long line of 19th century “opera houses” and “lecture halls” that made Dover the unrivaled center for dramatic, musical and cultural events in the County.
Robert Guter/Dover Redevelopment Agency

THE BAKER THEATRE
“NEW JERSEY’S FINEST PLAYHOUSE”

When the doors of this new theater opened for the first time on December 5, 1906, it was considered the finest playhouse in the entire state and was labeled as the premier entertainment showcase in New Jersey. It seated 1,146 and was billed as the largest vaudeville playhouse in the entire region.

The Grand Opening program was Mr. Robert Mantell & Company in Sir Edward Bulwer’s Romantic play, RICHELIEU or THE CONSPIRACY. Prices for opening night were 50 cents, 1.00 and 1.50. Tickets went on sale at the theater box office the Saturday before the big event.

GRAND OPENING! Of The Baker Theatre, Dover, N.J. Wednesday, Dec. 5th, By MR. ROBERT MANTELL and company in Sir Edward Bulwer’s Romantic Play, “RICHELIEU” or, “The Conspiracy.” Prices For the Grand Opening Attraction: 50 cents, $1.00 and $1.50. The Box Office of the new Theatre will be opened for sale of tickets Saturday evening, Dec. 1st at 7 o'clock. After Saturday the box office will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tel. 52 R.

Robert Mantell was a British-American actor born in 1854. He made his debut in 1876 and had his own company in 1905. Mantell was noted for his Shakespearean roles. His most noted roles included Moonbard, Merchant of Venice and Richlieu. He died in 1928.

The next day, the Dover Index Newspaper wrote the following:
“The Baker Theater opened last night under the most auspicious circumstances. There are 1,146 seats in the house and all by six were taken. Many of the audience attended in evening dress. The interior of the house was shown to its advantage by the glare of the hundreds of lights, the dainty tints of the decorations contracting most harmoniously. A special train over the Wharton and Northern Railroad brought forty people from along that line to the performance. Such was the crowd that the service of the trolley was by far insufficient, the transaction company failing to make any arrangement whatever for carrying the people, but running only the daily number of cars.
BAKER THEATRE ON THE SITE OF MC FARLAN PARK

William H. Baker constructed the new Dover Theater on property he purchased from the Henry McFarlan Estate at the western end of what was once Doverâ€\s pride and joy, the beautiful, “McFarlan Park.” The theater was built almost on the very site of the historic 1815 Losey-McFarlan mansion house and stables. McFarlan Park was the pride of the Village with flowering trees and gardens. Mr. McFarlan often displayed rare and exotic plants each year to the townspeople’s delight. Itâ€\s often been said that some of New Jerseyâ€\s first tomatoes were cultivated here, long before tomatoes were eaten by the public, believing them to be poisonous. They were referred to then as “Love Apples.” Also, tall shaded oak trees lined both sides of West Blackwell Street from Warren Street up to Prospect Street making this section of town a beautiful showcase.

When Henry McFarlan died in 1882, his family began to sell property lots in the 1890s and soon all the traces of the gardens and beautiful park were gone forever. As Susan Crittenden explained it in a letter dated 1913: “The heirs of the McFarlan estate sold off this beautiful homestead property, thus giving business an opportunity to creep into this part of the town. As business increased, trees decreased, and the glory of this portion of the town became a thing of the past.”

THE BAKER THEATRE, A MAJOR VAUDEVILLE PLAYHOUSE

By now, vaudeville was Americaâ€\s most popular form of entertainment and Dover was a major stop along the vaudeville circuit equal to that of many large cities. The vaudeville road shows brought great happiness and excitement to Dover. Estimates are that, when vaudeville “road shows” reached their peak in 1904, there were some 420 separate companies touring the United States and Canada. The acrobats, animal acts, the dancers, singers, the old time comedians and stage productions remained the popular form of entertainment from about 1875 to 1925. By 1919, there were reported to be more than 900 theaters in the country playing vaudeville, Dover being one of them.

At its peak, the Baker entertained Charles Champlin and Myrkle Harder who brought stock companies to Dover to play Broadway hits, such as “The Latest Rebel”, “The Old Homestead” and Bayard Viellerâ€\s “Within The Law” which opened on January 29, 1914 with Joe Garson.

Top national touring vaudeville acts turned up at the Baker such as regulars like Joe Cook, The Avon Company Four, Lou Costello, Vivian Phillips, Annina Green and Joe Frisco.

Joe Cook Lou Costello DeWolf Hopper Lillian Russell
Joe Cook was the famous comedian and Broadway star who also displayed a great deal of amazing juggling talents. Joe Cook appeared in “Rain and Shine” a musical comedy he performed on the stage and later in a motion picture. Mr. Cook was referred to as “The One-Man Vaudeville Show" and lived in nearby Lake Hopatcong. Mr. Cook bought his 17-acre lake front property in 1924 and it was long remembered as a “party house.” By now Joe Cook was a well known Broadway name and entertained some of the biggest names in show business such as Babe Ruth, the Marx Brothers, Mae West, Abbott and Castello, to name but a few. By 1935 his wife couldn’t take it anymore and left. In 1941 Mr. Cook was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, disappeared from public view and died in 1959.

Another local regular at the Baker was Patersonâ€\s very own Lou Costello who later made movies and early television shows with partner Bud Abbott. Lou Costello was born in Paterson on March 6, 1908. After finishing high school he worked as a carpenter at MGM and Warners. He went from there to stuntman and then to vaudeville as a comic often using his birth name Lou Cristillo. In 1931 while working in Brooklyn, his straightman became ill and the theatre cashier, Budd Abbott filled in for him. The two formed their famous comedy team and, through the 1930s, they worked burlesque, minstrel shows, vaudeville and movie houses. In 1938 they got national exposure through the “Kate Smith Hour” radio show.

Major famous theatrical stars appeared at the Baker such as Helen Hayes, Dewolfe Hopper, Ethel Barrymore and Lillian Russell, to name just a few.

Lillian Russell made her stage debut in 1880 and became an instant star performing in many of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. She became a household name and long remembered for being the first voice for Alexander Graham Bell when introducing his long distance phone service on May 8, 1890. Stationed in New York, Miss Russell sang to audiences in Boston and Washington.

DeWolf Hopper was drawn to the stage where he became one of the foremost comedians of his day in vaudeville, light opera and theatre. He was tall and possessed of a deep, sonorous voice that could be heard in every corner of the largest theatre. Despite the many roles he essayed in vaudeville, comic opera and even Keystone film comedies, he is forever identified with his recitation of “Casey at the Bat.”

The great magician, illusionist and escape artist Harry Houdini appeared at the Baker as did the world renowned George Burns and Gracie Allen.

George Burns met Gracie Allen in 1922 and established a vaudeville act with Gracie as the “straight man.” Several years later, they realized that it was Gracie who got the laughs, so the concept was reversed. Burns claimed he once bought some business cards from a Vaudevillian who was quitting the business and performed as “Willy Delight” until the cards ran out.

Burns & Allen received national exposure on the Eddie Cantor and Rudy Vallee radio show in 1931. In 1932 they signed on to CBS with their own show.

Houdini was born Erik Weisz in Budapest, Hungary on March 24, 1874. His family soon immigrated to America where the aspiring young magician selected his own name — Houdini. In 1899 impresario Martin Beck employed Houdini to work for the Orpheum (vaudeville) Circuit. Houdini performed his largest stage illusion in 1918, vanishing Jenny the elephant at New York’s Hippodrome.

The bookings for the 1907-08 season were as follows:

December 23 The Ninity and Nine

25 Nip & Tuck
26 Under Southern Skies

28 Little Tycoon Opera Company
30 Human Hearts
31 The Great Divide

January 1 Guy Brothers Minstreals
3 Happy Hooligan
18 Janey Junkins
20-25 Bennett Moulton Company

February 1 Thorns & Orange Blossoms
5 Rudolph & Adoeph
8 Are You a Mason?
15 Dr. Jekyle & Mr. Hyde
18 The Shadow Behind the Throne
22 Too Proud to Beg
24-29 Murray & Mackey Company

March 2 Our Friend Fritz
3 Elks Minstrels
7 The Planter’s Wife
10-14 Vitagraph Pictures
16 Rip Van Winkle
17 Vitagraph Pictures
18 Howes
20 Vitagraph Pictures
21 Panhandle Pete
23 Volunteer Organist
25 Vitagraph Pictures
28 Molly Brown
31 George Sidney in “Busy Izzy"
April 1 De Rue Brother Minstrels
3 Hottest Coon in Dixie
4 Pictures
8 Two Jolly Companions
10 Real Widow Brown
11 Pictures
15 His Honor the Mayor
18-25 Pictures
30 Business Men’s Carnival

May 1 Man of the Hour
2 Pictures
5 Professor Warford’s Opera

August 8 Mayor of Tokeo
12 Little Johnny Jones
14 What Happened to Jones
17 Under Suspicion
19 Billy the Kid
21 Funny Mr. Dooley
24 Montana
28 Mc Fadden’s Flats
30 The Squaw Man

September 2 The Train Robbers
6 Dan'l Sully Company
7 Through Death Valley
10 Red Feather
12 Lion and the Mouse
16 Buster Brown
18 The Shoemaker
21 David Harum
23 King Richard the Third
27 Gingerbread Man
30 Aubrey Stock Company

October 1-7 Aubrey Stock Company
8 The Gypsy Girl
12 East Lynne
15 The Walls of Jericho
19 Metro. Moving Pictures
24 The Way of the Transgressor
26 Hadley’s Moving Pictures
28 Jas. O'Neill in Monte Cristo

November 1 My Wife’s Family
2 Passion Play
9 Robertson’s Pictures
14 The Girl in the Barracks
16 Clara Bloodgood in “The Truth"
18-23 Charles K. Champlin Company
27 Lynian Howe’s Pictures
28 The Great Wall Street Mystery
30 Mildred & Rouchlere

December 9-11 Yankee Doodle Stock Co.
12 His Terrible Secret
13-14 Yankee Doodle Stock Co.
21 Why Girls Leave Home

TYPICAL BAKER THEATRE PLAYBILLS BETWEEN 1909-1918

Typical early vaudeville shows at the Baker Theater included “The Favorite” MAMIE FLEMING and her excellent Company presenting a high-class repertoire, magnificent scenery, and costumes. The plays included, THE STREET SINGER, THE CITY OF NEW YORK, CARMAN, THE LIGHT HOUSE ROBBERY, WHY HE DIVORCED HER, MY UNCLE FROM JAPAN, YANKEE BESS, UNCLE TOM’S CABIN and others. Prices were 10, 20 30 and 50 cents.

Baker Theatre, All Next Week! Commencing Monday Matinee, Jan. 13, 1913, EARL D. SIDE presents “THE WINIFRED ST. CLAIRE COMPANY.” Presenting a Repertoire of Broadway Successes: Matinees: Monday – “Cutest Girl In Town,” Tuesday – “Girls,” Wednesday – “Way Down South,” Thursday – “The One He Loved,” Friday – “Mrs. Temple’s Telegram,” Saturday – “Lena Rivers.” Evenings: Monday – “The Turning Point,” Tuesday – “Little Grey Lady,” Wednesday – “Mrs. Temple’s Telegram,” Thursday – “Cutiest Girl In Town,” Friday – “The Road To Yesterday,” Saturday – “ Way Down South.” Prices – Matinees: 10 and 20 cents. Evenings: 10, 20, 30 and 50 cents. Seats Now On Sale!

The Dover Advance wrote the following: Perhaps the most imprortant theatrical event of the year is the introduction of Winifred St. Clair to us as the star of a large company of augumented players. Those that are well posted in the doings of the theatrical world know of Miss St. Claire and her reputation. She has gained fame and popularity in the west and middle states and immediately upon her introduction to the east she repeated her other successes. She now has the distinction of being the foremost star of the traveling stock organizations. In the support of Miss St. Claire are twenty two actors and actresses. Many of the former New York successes are among the plays presented by this company. Each play be it drama or comedy is mounted with a complete production. A car load of scenery and effects is one of the important assets of this attraction.

Other popular shows billed at the Baker included BILLY ALLEN’S “BIG MUSICAL COMEDY CO.” featuring GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS…who can sing…who can dance…who are pretty, with special scenery and electrical effects. LLOYD & CASTANO with Comedy, Singing and Talking. FLORENCE BOWES, singing Comedienne, CONROY & WAYNE presenting the comedy sketch entitled, “THE CLAIM AGENT.” The return of the CHICAGO STOCK COMPANY presenting the recent Broadway success “The Delightful New England Comedy "OUR NEW MINISTER” by DENMAN THOMPSON and HENRIETTA CROSMAN’S Big New York Comedy Success “SHAM.” Returning by popular demand, CHARLES K. CHAMPLIN and his splendid company presenting the latest New York successes “THE REFORMER,” “THE PRICE WOMEN PAY,” “THE MILLS OF THE GODS,” and “WHAT HAPPENED TO JONES.”

Billy Allen was the father of Steve Allen.
On December 12, 1912 the Baker presented “GET-RICH-QUICK WALLINGFORD” and on December 30th “MADAM BUTTERFLY.” Larry Boyd presents The Hedge Holmes MUSICAL COMEDY COMPANY “In Song plays of Brimful of Music, Mirth, and Wholesome Entertainment” 24 People, Special Scenery and Electrica Effects. As a special inducement Paramount will offer MAY IRWIN in “MRS. BLACK IS BACK.” Orchestra seats 30 cents, First balcony 20 cents and 2nd balcony 10 cents.

Judging from the length of its run, “Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford” was the greatest success of 1910. It opened in September and ran through the following years piling up 424 performances. Cohan and Harris, producers, also sent several companies on tour, and it was a popular play with the stock companies. Hale Hamilton, Frances Ring, Edward Ellis, Fay Wallace and Grant Mitchell were in the orginal New York company. Among the other big hits of the year were “Alias Jimmy Valentine, ” and “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.”

A vaudeville bill consisted of approximately eight acts presented in sequence:
1. The “Opening” was usually acrobats or animals; a “silent act” that would not be ruined by the bustle of the audience settling in.
2. Usually a “singing sister” or “dancing brother” act. The youngest of the vaudeville singing “Gumm Sisters went on to fame after changing her name to Judy Garland.
3. A comedy sketch or one-act play.
4. A novelty or dance act.
5. Reserved for rising stars or falling ones, to close out the first act.
6. After intermission came a "big” act involving a large set or bandstand.
7. “Next to Closing” was the star spot reserved for the headliner.
8. “The Closing” was reserved for boring or downright annoying acts that might encourage patrons to leave before the next show.

The popularity of vaudeville rested in the fact that there were so many possibilities in every show to find something to your taste. If you did not like the act currently on stage, you only had to wait a few minutes for something (hopefully) better to come on.

The Baker, Dover, N.J. VAUDEVILLE, Tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday, Mat. Wed. 2:30, BUCHANAN DE VENS CO. Comedy Sketch, “THE SUFFRAGETTS' BALL.” “LA PARISE,” Big Scenic Production with Posing Dogs. JEFF AND LA VERN HEALY, Singing and Pianologue. TWO ACROBATIC ZULUS, Comedy Acrobats. Plus, Exclusive Service Photo Plays,Tonight, Two-parts: “THE SWITCHMAN’S MISTAKE” and “A QUARTER BACK.” Coming Friday, Jan. 9th. JOHN W. VOGAL’S, BIG CITY MINSTRELS with two local boys, LEW VAN ORDEN and JOE PORPHY. Prices: 25, 35, 50 and 75 cents.

VAUDEVILLE WORTH WHILE! The Baker Tonight and Friday Night and Saturday, Matinee and Night. A “LUCKY 13” PEOPLE VAUDEVILL BILL headed by FRED LARENE AND CO. offering their Spectacular Electrical Novelty, VAUD AND ALLEN, Comedy Singing and Dancing. THE THREE COMIQUES, Comedy Acrobats. PIERRE PELITIER & CO. Presents the Comedy-Dramatic Playlet entitled: “THE 10:40 WEST.” Attractions For Next Week: Monday night: ROBERT WARWICK in “ALLIAS JIMMY VALENTINE,” Tuesday night: WILLIAM ELLIOTT, in “WOMEN AND WINE,” also Featuring GRACE CUNARD and FRANCIS FORD in “THE BROKEN COIN.”

RAYMOND F. WOODHULL NAMED MANAGER OF THE BAKER

On Thursday, May 29, 1913, the Dover Advance ran the following story. Raymond F. Woodhull was appointed manger of the Baker Theatre on June 1, 1913. Mr. Woodhull, a life long resident of Dover and better known as “Pete” was born with a theatrical business talent that made him suitable for such an occupation. As a child he took a deep interest in the show business and when a very young man he appeared on the stage as an amature black faced comedian, making a decided hit. For the past two or three years he has been writing and staging the minstrels for the Dover Lodge of the Elks and that he has made a decided success at this is well known by the hundreds of people in this section who have enjoyed the shows. Though he has held several responsible positions, we are safe in saying that the cocation of Mr. Woodhull hince boyhood should have been in the theatrical line. As the old saying goes, “he was just cut out for it.”

IMPROVEMENTS AT THE BAKER

Stairways changed, new ladies retiring room, children’s nursery, check room and gentlemen’s lounging apartments and being added to the Baker Theatre. Mr. Baker says he is not going to leave a stone unturned in the way of equipment to assist his new manager, Mr. Woodhull, in making the season 1913-14 the “biggest ever” at the Baker. The old so-called “peanut heaven” or gallery will be eliminated, and orchestra chairs will replace the present benches, thus making the second balcony uniformly seated back to the picture booth. At the first landing on both sides, door lead to the ladies retiring rooms and children’s nursery, which will be in charge of matrons on all big attractions. Under the new plan Mr. Baker, Mr. Woodhull and Mr. Hicks will all have private offices together with a special apartment for traveling managers. From a glance at Mr. Baker’s booking sheet, the people of Dover will be permitted during the coming season to witness some of the best New York productions without the long ride on the theatre train to the big city.

On Tuesday, August 12, 1913, John Philip Sousa and his world famous band came to Dover for one show only,

The Baker Theatre, Tuesday, Aug. 12th, Matinee Only! Special Engagement: SOUSA And His BAND! JOHN PHILIP SOUSA, Conductor. The World Famous Model Soloists: MISS VIRGINIA ROOT, Soprano: MISS MARGEL GLUCK, Violiniste: HERBERT L. CLARKE, Cornetist, SOUSA’S BAND compares only with SOUSA’S BAND! First Appearance in Dover! Concert begins at 2:15. Prices: 35, 50 and 75c. Seats Now Selling!

The Dover Advance wrote the following about the John Philip Sousa Band, John Phillip Sousa has traveled farther and given more concerts than any other musician. In the tours of Sousa and his band during the past twenty-one years, they have covered over 600,000 miles and given over 9,000 concerts, and Mr. Sousa has personally conducted the band wherever it had appeared. Sousa and his band have been heard all over the world by millions of people, for the audiences they have delighted have often been vast in numbers, even exceeding the almost incredible figures of 100,000 persons in one day.

Sousa is proud of the fact that, in all of these years, he has kept his band up to the highest standard. There is but one Sousa’s Band, and a Sousa concert always means the hearing of the finest players and soloists that the highest salaries can command. When it is announced that this unequalled organization will be here at the Baker Theatre on August 12, with Miss Virginia Root, Miss Margel Gluck and Herbert L. Clarke, it is an assurance that the people of this city may expect to hear the same class of entertainment that has made the name of Sousa so famous throughout the world.

The Baker Carefully Selected VAUDEVILLE! Tonight, Friday and Saturday, Evenings: 7:30 and 9:00. Saturday Matinee: 2:45. Heading The Bill: JOHN B. COOKE and His Company, Presenting His Most Successful Playlet: “THE SWAG” Cooler Than The Street! A Big Scream: ‘THE HARDTS" Burlesque Strong Act. The Well Known Minstrels, GREEVE AND COE, Comedy Musical Act. The All Around Favorites, THE HARRISON-WEST TRIO, Featuring BUSTER WEST. Coming Friday, “PERILS OF PAULINE” More Thrilling Than Ever! Special Housewives Matinee.

The Baker Theatre – DOVER, NEW JERSEY – TONIGHT! – MISS BESSE DAINTY, with Himmelein Associate Players, In The Famous “THE BLUE MOUSE.” Friday Matinee, Ladies Only! “THE LITTLE GIRL THAT HE FORGOT.” No Men Admitted! No Girls Under 17! Friday Night, The feature Bill of the Week, “THE TRIUMPH OF VIRTUE” Tango Dancing Contest Immediately After Performance. Saturday Matinee, “CINDERELLA” or “WHEN ALL THE WORLD WAS YOUNG.” Saturday Evening, CLYDE FITCHE’S Famous Play, “THE CITY.” Prices: Mat. Adults 20 cents. Children 10 cents. Evening 10, 20, 30, 50 cents.

The Daily Advance wrote the following on February 6, 1914: Tonight Himmelein’s Players headed by Miss Besse Dainty, will be seen in one of the wittiest comedies of the day. “The Blue Mouse” is without an equal as a laugh producer and people who like comedy should not miss seeing Miss Dainty and company tonight in the sparkling comedy of New York Life.

The Baker Official Opening of the 1916-1917 Season! Tonight, The management proudly presents as the inaugural offering of the Baker’s Eleventh Season, The Celebrated American Comedienne: MAY ROBSON, Herself, And Her Excellent Company in Her Latest Success: “THE MAKING OVER OF MRS. MATT,” by JAMES FORBES. Direct from the New Nixon Theatre in Atlantic City, where Miss Robson entertained thousands of the “city folks.” Prices: 25, 50, 75 cents, $1.00, a few $1.50. Curtain Call: 8:20. Carriage Call: 10.45.

Mae Robson was born in the Australian bush. When a young girl she was brought to England and put in a convent at Highgate and later she studied in Brussels and Paris. At sixteen she ran away from home and married a boy of eighteen and they sought a home in Texas, near Fort Worth. After several years of hardship, she found herself in New York, a widow with three little children to support. She crocheted woolen hoods and designed dinner cards. Two of the children died, the sale of cards declinded and she went on stage.

Her first appearance was in “The Hoop of Gold.” She played “Tilly” a London slaxey and made a hit. But for all that, she had to paint dinner cards for two more years. Then she acted Miss Ashforth in “The Private Secretary.” Later she became a member of the Lyceum and of the Empire companies. Noteworthy among her many creations are “Liberty Hall,” Brundy in “Gudgvons,” Miss Prism in “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Miss Gemoit in “Bohemia,” Mrs. Voskins in “Lord and Lady Algy,” Miss Yesrsuma, with her three legged dance in “The Poet and the Puppets,” and Queen Elizabeth in Paul Kestor’s “Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall.” For a short time Miss Robson was one of the fun maker at Weber’s Theatre. Since 1907 she has been a star in “The Rejuvenation of Aunt Mary.”

WILLIAM H. BAKER DIES AT 67

William H. Baker died on November 16, 1918 at the age of 67. The theater was taken over by his son Henry O. Baker who later became partners with Raymond F. Woodhull.

Around this time, motion pictures were just beginning to arrive on the scene and a typical nightly performance at the Baker featured a short motion picture starting at 7 p.m. and was followed by 5 acts of vaudeville at 8:00 pm. The last show for the night ended at 11 p.m..

For three days at the Baker with celebrated film stars Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Frank Keenan in “THE RINK, AMERICAN ARISTROCRACY” and “THE GRIMSBY’S BOY. ” Harold Lloyd in the “LONESOME LUKE” Comedy and BLISS along with four acts of Vaudeville with the Baker Orchestra.

On December 30, 1920, The Baker presents THE BOSTON ENGLISH OPERA CO. in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Merriest of Comic Operas, “RUDDIGORE” on special tour after 200 times in New York with the company’s own orchestra and beauty chorus.
By the early 1920s, in addition to the regular vaudeville acts and the silent motion pictures, the Baker began to book major theatrical productions that made full use of the theatre’s five-story flyloft, back-stage and under-the-stage dressing rooms for the stars and Morris County’s largest stage area, that hosted dozens of actors and dancers along with tons of scenery, all on stage at the same time.

The Baker Theatre, First Show of Season! A Fragrant Romance Studded With Tunes and Catchy Song Numbers! Bristles With Scintillating Dialogue! THE MERRY MUSICAL PLAY “BUDDIES” Direct From One Year Engagement in New York! Laughs Galore—Songs A Plenty! Delightful As A Spring Zephyr. Picturesque Stage Settings. An Exceptional Cast Of Metropolitan Artists! Prices: Orchestra, $2.00, 1.00. 1st Balcony, $2.00, 1.50, 1.00. 2nd Balcony $1.00. Seats Now On Sale!

The Baker Theatre, Special!!! Today, Tomorrow, Saturday Special!!! On The Stage. A Musical Comedy In Ten Big Scenes! WILLIAM B. FRIEDLANDER’S “DANCING HUSBANDS,” with CHARLES MARSH and MAX STAMM. MARTHA VAUGHN and HER GANG, MARTIN and LAKE, CLAY STERNS, ANDY VICARI, in A Riot of Song, Dance, and Fun! A Whale Of A Show! No Advance Prices.

The Baker Theatre, Dover, N.J. One Performance Only! Friday Evening, Dec. 3rd, 1920, MADGE KENNEDY (Herself) in “CORNERED,” A New Play by DODSON MITCHELL. Staged by JOHN McKEE, With A Brilliant Broadway Cast including: NETTIE BOURNE, MORGAN COMAN, EDWARD FIELDING, FRANK GRAYSON, JOSEPH V. TULLER, NATALIE MANNING, THOMAS GUNN, FRANK PATTON, AMELIA GARDNER, ELMER CORNELL, TOM WALSH, TIMOTHY KANE, ALICE DONALDSON, LESLIE AUSTEN, THERESE QUADRI, ROBERT FORSYTH, EDITH FORD. See This Wonderful Show Before It Starts Its New York Engagement at The Astor Theatre Next Monday Night! Meet MADGE KENNEDY Face To Face. Note: No one will be seated during the first act, as the dialogue is important to the proper understanding of the play. “CORNERED” is an Electrifying, Comedy-Drama, Laughs, Suspense and Thrills! Prices: 50 cents to $2.00. A Few AT $2.50. Curtain at 8:30.

The Baker Theatre, Dover, N.J. Now Showing! Today, Tomorrow and Saturday. A Special Washington’s Birthday Program of Vaudeville, presenting JIMMY SHEARER, Favorite of Station WGCP and His Radio Pals in a Novelty Offering “AT THE MIKE” and 4 Other Big Acts! Special! All Kiddies attending the Saturday Matinee will receive a present from Mr. Shearer.

Former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson and his “troupe of vaudeville entertainers” appeared at the Baker on February 9, 1922 to explain why he deserved another chance to regain his title.

Attention! Reader of the Saturday Evening Post. You will be delighted with the Paramount Picture Version of CAPPY RICKS featuring as “Matt Peasloy” the star of stars Thomas Meighan. Cast includes Agnes Ayres. Added feature number one: First showing in New Jersey of the OFFICIAL MOVIE CHATS. Added feature number two: “NEIGHBOUR NELLIE.” Our excellent Orchestra at all performances.

George Burns and Gracie Allen appear at the Baker on September 6th & 7th 1923.
The Baker Theatre. Be Sure and See THE PRIDE OF PALOMAR “A Picture You’ll Like” Our Excellent Orchestra At All Performances! TONIGHT and FRIDAY EVENING, Performances At 7 & 8:30. A Sparkling Ensemble of Big City VAUDEVILLE presenting as its headlinger “THE EXPLORERS” A Spectacular Laugh-Fest That You Will Enjoy Because It’s Different! BURNS & ALLEN, City Circuit Comedians in a Gala of Laughter, “FIFTY-FORTY.” FARRELL & HATCH, Singing Their Own Songs in Their Own Way, FRANCES WOODWORD, GLORIA SWANSON in her new Paramount Picture Romance “MY AMERICAN WIFE.” Coming Soon! “THE PRIDE OF PALOMAR.”

A column in the Dover Advance called “The Baker Theatre Footlights,” on September 6, 1923, the following was written about the upcoming show featuring Burns and Allen: “With the passing of Labor Day comes the end of the vacation period, the return of the school pupils and the settling down of the older folks for a fall and winter of work and recreation. And along with all the rest of the end-of-summer activities we find the Baker Theatre in full sway for its 1923-24 season. The management states that its bookings indicate the finest layout of any season in its history and should supply the most exacting show-goer with satisfying indoor amusement. An ingenious and original act entitled, "The Explorers” will headline the vaudeville for the balance of the current week commencing tonight. This screaming laugh festival is presented by five people, is embellished by elaborate scenery and costumes, contains an abundance of song and dance and its ridiculous plot is centered around the discovery of King Tut’s much advertised last resting place. Last week, “The Explorers” headlined the bill at one of Broadway’s leading vaudeville houses and elicited the approval of the public and press critics. Another big city feature act will bow to Dover in the personages of Burns and Allen who will spread wholesome mirth with their standard vehicle, “Fifty-Forty.” A noveltyby Francis Woodward will open the show at each performance while the picture department will have as its crowd-attracting magnet, the glorious girl of the screen, Gloria Swanson in her recently released Paramount film-gem “MY AMERICAN WIFE.”

While attending secretarial school, Gracie was invited by her roommate to Union Hill, New Jersey to see if she was interested in working with either member of an act that was splitting up. The act was George Burns and Billy Lorraine, and she chose George. In 1922, they made their first performance at the Hillstreet Theatre in Newark, New Jersey where they were paid $5 per day. George saw that the audience not only found Gracie’s character funny, but they fell in love with her, and he did too. He immediately changed the act to give her all the funny lines and played her straight man. They became a hit. George Burns called Gracie “Googie”, while she called him “Natty.”

The Baker, Our Escellent Orchestra At All Performances! Big Time VAUDEVILLE, introducing THE SHUFFLE ALONG FOUR, Direct From The Show! HOLMES, WELLS & CO. in “AN OLD FASHIONED BRIDE.” NORTON & WILSON, RIKOMA. The Best In Photoplays! Introducing PARAMOUNTS Greatest of Thrills and Suspense Drama, “FOR THE DEFENSE” starring ETHEL CLAYTON. Yes! MARION DAVIES in “WHEN KNIGHTHOOD WAS IN FLOWER” will be here soon!

VAUDEVILLE BEGINS A DECLINE

By the early 1920s most of the vaudeville theaters presented vaudeville shows in conjunction with a movie. Theater owners, like Woodhull & Baker became convinced that it was the motion pictures, and not so much the live shows that were drawing the crowds, yet vaudeville acts were still popular.

The Baker Theatre – Tonight and Tuesday Matinee and Evening! 3 Performances Daily 2:30 P.M., 7:15 and 9 P.M. THOMAS A. EDISON’S, Genuine Talking Pictures! Projected by Trained Mechanicians from the Edison Laboratory on His Latest and Most Wonderful Invention: THE EDISON KINETOPHONE. Presenting one and two part Features, Including: Monday: EDISON’S MINSTRELS, ANNIVERSARY OF JERRY & MANDY, TEMPTATION OF FAUST, TWO SHAMROCK’S FROM IRELAND, CHIMES OF NORMANDY, DEAF MUTES (by Rupert Huges) MRS. MURPHY’S HORSESHOE, Band Selections and Many Others! Tusday: JOHN J. MCGRAW (2 parts,) AFTER COLLEGE DAYS, JULIUS CEASER, BONNIE SCOTLAND, SINGING SOCIETY, Band Selections and Many Others! Prices: 10 – 15 – 25 cents. Friday Matinee and Evening: The 4th Episode of THE PERILS OF PAULINE, More Thrilling Than Ever!

Movies became so dominate at the Baker that co-owner Raymond Woodhull became national president of the Motion Picture Theatre Owners of America. Mr. Woodhull visited many cities and theatres around the country and made addresses in Oklahoma City, Dallas, Kansas City, Columbus, Ohio and Chicago. He would bring together exhibitors who would assemble all the wares at convention halls. He also helped develop early trade practices under the auspices of the Federal Trade Commission.

In January 1924 the Baker bill announced that due to the production CLINGING VINE starring IRENE DUNN, all vaudeville performances for the 7th and 9th will be omitted because the stage must be cleared for the program. Instead the following picture program: BAKER LATEST NEWS, SPAT FAMILY COMEDY in “ROUGHING IT”, and the film play supreme, “THE SNOW BRIDE” with ALICE BRADY.

Saturday, January 12th. Matinee 2:30. Evening 8:20. Seats for Both Performances Now on Sale. “The High Water Mark of Our 1924 Season: HENRY W. SAVAGE’S Magnificent Musical Comedy, "THE CLINGING VINE,” with IRENE DUNN and the Original N.Y. Production. Our excellent Orchestra At All Performances.

One Night Only, Tuesday March 4th. Direct from POLI’S THEATRE, WASHINGTON, D.C. “The John McCormack of Musical Comedy…America’s Leading Irish Actor-Singer: WALTER SCANLAN in "THE BLARNEY STONE.” Hear Mr. Scanlan’s New Songs. HEAR HIM SING: “Kitty,” “Minstrel’s Prayer,” “When I Kissed The Blarney Stone,” “Shamrock Flirtation,” and old favorites. A Gorgeous Four-Acts Musical Comedy Gem of Youth, Love and Sunshine. Seats on sale Wednesday, February 27th at 10 am. NOTE: Curtain promptly at 8:20.

BAKER THEATRE UNDER MAJOR RECONSTRUCTION

On April 21, 1924, Baker and Woodhull, announced the theater will be completely remodeled and will reopen in the fall after elaborate improvements. The farewell performance will take place on Saturday evening, May 3 with the elaborate screen achievement, BEAU BRUMMEL, with John Barrymore in the stellar role. After that for the next three or four months the theater will be in charge of experts who will transform it into a theatrical playground that will stand out as one of north Jersey’s points of interest.

According to a report in the Dover Advance on April 21, 1924, BAKER THEATRE TO BE COMPLETELY REMODELED. The Baker Theatre will be practically torn down and in its place erected a “theatre beautiful” that will take its place near the top of the list of footlight places. Messrs. Woodhull and Baker say: “We are going to give you a place through which you will conduct your friends with genuine pride."
A two-story building at 37-39 West Blackwell Street was demolished over night when a crew of workmen razed it to make room for a new modern structure and entrance to the new Baker Theater. The three companies of the building, namely, Dover Wall Paper Store, Holland Store and Dover Cigar Company moved out on Monday, and just as soon as the last articles were removed, the process of destruction commenced. A three-story fireproof structure will be erected, facing on Blackwell Street, to contain stores, offices and apartments. Entrance to the stores will also be provided through the lobby.

On November 24, 1924 it was announced that the Baker Theater was near completion. The interior Decoration to be a handsome work of art. Elaborate designs forming a brilliant array of artistic molds fashioned to suit the most critical will greet the spectators. The conveniences afforded theatergoers will be equal to the best in the United States. Manager R. F. Woodhull, who has traveled extensively during the past few years, visiting theaters in every section of the country, has given the work his personal supervision.

A touch of Broadway has been installed at the entrance in the form of the very latest design of marquise. Many sparkling lights will envelop the entrance.

All parts of the theatre behind the proscenium-arch are protected from fire with an automatic sprinkler equipment, which would automatically operate and extinguish a fire in its incipiency. The equipment installed is of the very highest type and commands the highest prices in its line by the AUTOMATIC SPRINKLER CORP. OF AMERICA, New York City. In order to provide an even dependable warmth throughout the Baker Theatre, the proprietors have installed a “Richardson” Boiler No. 256, Sectional Type. The modern structural steel framework was fabricated by the Dover Boiler Works. Over two thousand Edison Mazda Lamps give light to this theatre provided by B. S. Woodman, 49 N. Sussex Street, Dover. The Hardman Grand Piano used in the Baker was purchased from Nunn Piano Company of Dover. The New Baker Theatre was designed by REILLY & HALL of New York City, designers of The Sheridan Square of New York, The Tivoli of Newark, The Wellmont of Montclair, The Park of Newton, and The Coney Island Theatre and Office Building. Art glass door panels, ceiling panels and exit panels, also brass and iron railings were furnished by WM. A. DAUNT CO. of New York City. Sixty tons of plaster, twenty-five tons of plaster paris, one hundred barrels of lime were consumed in plastering this building by DONALDSON & HEWES of New York City. About three thousand feet of pipe, five hundred fittings and nearly a ton of lead were used in the plumbing work by THE KERR CO. of Dover. Painting and Wall Papering was performed by HARRY L. IKE, INC. of Dover. Cut Stone was provided by DONALDSON BROS. INC. of Harrison, N.J.. Draperies and Scenery for the new Baker was furnished by LANDISH STUDIOS of Newark. The theatre lobby display frames, box office, etc. furnished by S. MARKENDORFF of New York City. The theatre was insured by BAKER & RIEGER, INC. of Dover. Stage Department Heads were: CHARLES WILLIAMS, Stage Manager, JOHN GLATTLEY, Stage Electrician, MATTHEW GLEFFI, Master of Properties.

THE NEW BAKER THEATRE
1924

Henry O. Baker and R. F. Woodhull Present for Your Recreation and Approval, The New Baker Theatre, Dover, N.J. America’s Very Latest Exemplification of Modern Theatre Creation, Offical Opening, Monday evening, December 22nd, 1924 at 8 o'clock. Promenade and Inspection from 7 until 8. Brillant Vaudeville & Ensemble, Newest Performences. Reserved Seats on Sale Thursday, December 18, at the office of Baker & Rieger at 10 a.m.

On Friday December 26, 1924 the Dover Advance ran the following headline news:

NEW BAKER THEATRE MARKS MILESTONE OF PROGRESS. Prominent Speakers Term It a Theatre of Refinement at Official Opening. “An important part of municipal life,” “a milestone of progress for Dover,” “a theatre of refinement,” were a few of the phrases bestowed by men of prominence at the official opening of the new Baker Theatre on Monday night, when every one of the 1,594 seats were occupied by interested spectators, including visitors from far and near. The handsome new amusement house places Dover in the first rank of towns with up-to-the-minute entertainment facilities. Henry O. Baker and Raymond F. Woodhull, joint owners, were showered with congratulations on their achievement in building a monument to themselves for which the amusement-loving population owes them a debt of gratitude. The exquisite beauty of the theatre impressed every visitor, and on all sides were heard exclamations of pleasure and amazement at the transformation.

The opening ceremonies comprised brief addresses, followed by headline vaudeville acts and the motion picture “North of 36”. Recalling the days when the Baker Theatre was first opened in 1906, Rosewell S. Bowlby, superintendent of the local schools, said that he was decidedly impressed at the wonderful transformation.

As president of the National Motion Picture Theatre Owner’s Association, M. J. O'Toole, of Scranton, stated that “This new Baker Theatre outshines any of its kind that we have had the pleasure of visiting.” “It very clearly reveals to the people of this vicinity that the owners have a cherished belief in the future of Dover,” he concluded.

Mr. O'Toole introduced Mayor Frederick Breidenbach of Newark. Responding to the introduction, the mayor said “only one theatre in his city equaled to the new Baker Theatre.”

Mr. Woodhull, speaking on behalf of Mr. Baker expressed his appreciation of the kind greetings and extended, “It is with a degree of pride that we offer you this theatre as a place in which you may find entertainment. It is your theatre, and if you like it, be proud of it.”

HENRY O. BAKER and R. F. WOODHULL presents The NEW Baker Theatre “America’s Very Latest Exemplification of Modern Theatre Creation” Programme: Orchestral Entrée…Mr. Sparnon and Orchestra. EARL GATES CO. “ARTISTIC BITS OF ODDS AND ENDS,” MARGARET PADULA “SONGS AND A STUDY OF BOYS.” (Palace Theatre Favorite.) MORGAN AND SHELDON “RADIO SALESMAN,” The International Star, ELIZABETH BRICE assisted by FRANK KESSLER and THE KESSLER SYNCOPATORS. The Companion Picture to “THE COVERED WAGON,” “NORTH OF 36,” from the famous novel by Emerson Hough. An Epic Drama of Pioneer America. Cast includes, JACK HOLT, ERNEST TORRENCE, LOIS WILSON, NOAH BEERY, DAVID DUNBAR, STEPHEN CARR, GUY OLIVER, WILLIAM CARROLL.

The FORMAL OPENING program featured K. H. SPARNON and his BAKER THEATRE ORCHESTRA with selections from “The Dream Girl” by Victor Herbert and Piano Solo, “Nola” by Mr. Sparnon. Speakers included MR. ROSWELL S. BOWLBY, Sup’t of Dover Public Schools, HON. FREDERICK BREIDENBACH, Mayor of Newark, HON. WILLIAM H. HOSKING, Mayor of Dover and MR. M.J. O'TOOLE, President of the Motion Picture Theatre Owners of America.

The “live” stage show included, EARL GATES & COMPANY featuring “The Clinging Vine.” MARGARET PADULA “Songs and A Study of Boys.” MORGAN & SHELDON “The Radio Salesman.” The International Star, ELIZABETH BRICE assisted by FRANK KESSLER and THE KESSLER SYNCOPATORS.

The main attraction was JACK HOLT in The Companion Picture “NORTH OF 36” from the famous novel by Emerson Hough. An Epic Drama of Pioneer America.

Now vaudeville acts became the “warm-up” to the motion pictures.

STARTING Monday Ev'ng, Dec. 29th. Annual Engagement of Dover’s Favorite Company, CHICAGO STOCK CO. Opening Production Mon. Eve. SIR PERCY BEAUCHAMP says “One time the Chambaw of Commerce from Pwovidence, Roade Island came ovah heah; from time to time one of them would remawk in a loud voice, "SO THIS IS LONDON!” And then they would all laugh uproariously And So Will You When You See…GEORGE M. COHAN’S Newest Comedy, Spoofing The British! Tuesday Matinee and Night, “THE ALARM CLOCK,” By the author of “The Bat.” Wednesday Matinee and Night, “THE OLD SOAK,” Raymond Hitchcock’s Famous Success. Thursday Matinee, “SO THIS IS LONDON,” Thursday Evening, “POLLY PREFERRED” GUY BOLTON’S COMEDY of the Movies. Friday Matinee and Night, “THE WHITE SISTER,” F. MARION CRAWFORD’S Dramatic Hit! Saturday Matinee and Night, “GETTING GERTIE’S GARTER,” A Laugh Festival by Mr. Hopwood. Matinees at 2:30. Evenings at 8:20.

The Season’s Best Comedy Show, Today, Friday, Saturday. 5 GREAT BIG LAUGHING ACTS 5. Of High Class VAUDEVILLE presenting BENNETT & MEYERS “SONG AND DANCE MOMENTS.” VERA “BILLY” POST, “THE WITTY BOY-GIRL.” Direct From The Palace In New York City, MIDDLETON & SPELLMEYER & CO. “LONESOME LAND,” GORDON AND GATES “MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING,” KUMA & COMPANY offer “AN ORIENTAL ILLUSION NOVELTY.” THOMAS MEIGHAN in A Paramount Picture, “WE’RE ALL GAMBLERS.”

Six of the Greatest Hits of New York’s Leading Theatres will be presented here by CHAS. H. ROSSKAM, Justly Famous CHICAGO STOCK CO. INA CLAIR’S success “GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE.” MARY BOLAND’S Big Hit “MEET MY WIFE.” IRENE CORDONI’S Sensation “LITTLE MISS BLUEBEARD” a Refreshing Comedy Cocktail. New York critics said: “It’s great entertainment, tuneful, cheering, amusing.” “It’s daring, it’s delightful, it’s naughty and it’s nice.” Here is a play all Morris County will surely enjoy. R. F. Woodhull, Manager.

BAKER THEATRE SOLD

On September 16, 1926, the ownership of the theater changed hands from Baker and Woodhull to the Stanley-Fabian Corporation. According to newspaper reports, the change meant no change in policy. The new owners are the largest theatre holding company in America and should be an added valuable asset to the amusement-loving public, as the company owns 225 theaters.

Negotiations between Jacob Fabian and R. F. Woodhull have resulted in the sale of the Baker Theater. The Baker is now a part of the Fabian theatres in New Jersey and will be under the direction of The Stanley Company.

Bookings of pictures and vaudeville acts assure Dover and the vicinity the presentation of the best offerings in both fields. The biggest stars of the screen and the best vaudeville acts are now within the reach of The Baker.

These photoplays and large acts are now possible because of the purchasing power of The Stanley-Fabian Corporation. The programs of latest cinemas will continue as before for the first half of the week while the second half will be devoted to screenplays and vaudeville. Mr. Woodhull, who was former president of the Motion Picture Theatre Owners Association of America expressed supreme confidence in the type of entertainment which will continue to hold forth at The Baker. “The Fabian chain of theatres in New Jersey, said Mr. Woodhull, is one of the most progressive in the United States, and that means in the world. Mr. Fabian reiterated the beliefs of Mr. Woodhull. "I want to emphasize the fact that the Baker will not be considered one of the many theaters, but a separate theater. And I promise the Baker Theater the highest entertainment obtainable.”

The Fabian circuit includes many of the finest and largest playhouses in New Jersey. These include the Mosque, Branford and Rialto in Newark, the Fabian, Regent and Garden in Paterson: the New Montauk, Capital and Playhouse in Passaic; the Ritz and Regent in Elizabeth, and others in Orange, East Orange, Hackensack, Pomption Lakes and Ridgewood. The Fabian circuit is part of the Stanley Corporation of America which includes theaters in New York, New England, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. A total of 225 theaters.

Important Announcement! Concerning the New Ownership of the BAKER THEATRE, Dover, New Jersey. Effective MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 20th, THE STANLEY-FABIAN CORPORATION will have the pleasure of including THE BAKER THEATRE of DOVER among its vast chain of representative theatres throughout New Jersey. The policy will continue as heretofore. Programs will change twice weekly. The first three days will be devoted to the ultimate in motion pictures and the last three days, a combination of Select Vaudeville and De Luxe Motion Pictures. INAUGURAL STANLEY-FABIAN ATTRACTION, Three Days, Starting Monday, Sept. 20th. The Thrilling and Mighty Romance Acclaimed by Press and Public as Being One of the Outstanding Productions of the Year! THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, with a supporting all-start-cast. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sept. 23, 24, 25. RIN-TIN-TIN, “The Wonder Dog” in A HERO OF THE BIG SNOWS!

The Baker, Dover, N.J. Thursday, Friday, Saturday RAYMOND GRIFFITH, “YOU’D BE SURPRISED” A Paramount Picture. 4 ACTS OF SUPERIOR VAUDEVILLE! THE FIVE MUSICAL ROSES starring the GARNET SISTERS The Dainty Misses of Song! BROWNING & BRACKEN, Two Pals From the South! CLAUDE-FONDAU-LUCILLE, DARING FEATS IN THE AIR. K.H. SPARNON and The Baker Orchestra At All Performances.

The Baker, Dover, N.J. Today, Fri. Sat. On The Screen: DOROTHY GISH in “NELL GWYN.” Five Supreme Acts Of High Class VAUDEVILLE, presenting HOWARD NICHOLS “HOOPS MY DEAR.” O'NEAL AND OLIVER “SYNCOPATED SONGSTERS,” CRANE WILBER, Star of Stage and Screen, and SUZANNE CAUBAYE, Creator of “NUMI.” TAYLOR & BOBBIE “EASY PICKINGS.” “BEHIND THE WALLS,” an Unusual Novelty With Seven People.

Today, Fri., Sat. On the Stage—– VAUDEVILLE, AL H. WILSON “World’s Champion Laugh Provoker” SMITH and WARE “Southern Steppers” Alice – KERR & ENSIGN – Jack in a “high C” scream “FIDDLE UP.” MARIE’S COMEDY CIRCUS, “A Clever Group of Four-Footed Friends.” On the Screen — “THE EAGLE OF THE SEA.” A Paramount Picture with FLORENCE VIDOR and RICARDO CORTEZ.

THE BAKER AND DOVER BECOME A MOVIE SET

On April 28, 1927 in was announced that youthful Doverites will be portrayed in movie roles to be filmed at the Baker Theater and around town.

The photoplay, “A Dover Romance” will include the making of scenes upon the Baker stage and exterior shots of important points in our community. The public will be given their first view of how a motion picture is made on those nights, when the camera will register the action of the story. Frank Melford, Hollywood director, who has been with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for more than three years will have charge of the casting and directing of the movie. He will be assisted by A. M. Orlick, formerly of Browning Studios. Mr. Melford is bringing with him as cameraman, Irving Browning, who has had 10 years experience with Universal, Pathe, Mayer, Loew, Metro-Goldwyn and Warner Brother and has directed many famous motion picture stars.

The movie will star Rose Zatagotsky, as Mabel Clifton, heroine, and Layton Northrap as John Harmon, “hero”. The film will be shown at the Baker the week of May 1, 1927.

Rose Zara (Zatagotsky) Phillips was barely into her teens when she starred in her first, and only, movie made by a duo who would later become two of Hollywood’s most prominent directors. When she made the silent movie in the North Jersey town of Dover, the Roaring ‘20s were in full swing. The flapper was queen of the decade; the Charleston was the dance and the public’s fascination with motion pictures was only beginning. “We heard two big Hollywood directors were coming to Dover to show the locals how movies are made and audition local people for parts, said Rose Phillips. The movie was "A Dover Romance” and the big Hollywood directors were George Cukor and Clarence Brown.

Cukor who died in 1983 at the age of 83, was best known for directing “The Philadelphia Story,” “Little Women,” and a series of Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn movies. He won the Academy Award in 1964 for the musical, “My Fair Lady.”

Brown, 97, died on August 17, 1987, was nominated for six Academy Awards in his 40-year career including such films as “National Velvet” and “The Yearling.”

“A Dover Romance” was a story of a poor boy, the girl who loves him and the wealthy older man she marries.

The outdoor scenes were filmed during the day. The indoor scenes were staged in the Baker Theater at night and the public was charged admission for the privilege of watching a movie being filmed. “There was so much publicity. Everybody on the street followed the camera and followed us” Ms. Phillips said. “We had to supply our own wardrobe. Mr. Cukor was so happy to see me wearing such elegant clothes. After the day’s filming we were sent home for dinner and warned to wear the same clothes to the theater that night.” To this day, the film “A Dover Romance” cannot be located.

BAKER THEATRE UNDERGOES ANOTHER RENOVATION

A few years later, the Baker underwent yet another major renovation. On February 18, 1929 it was reported that the Baker Theatre will install “Talking Pictures”, one of the most significant events in the history of the motion pictures. The coming of talking and sound pictures have revolutionized the entire motion picture industry and Manager Samual Roth of the Baker is please to introduce the presentation of the newest attractions of this type made by companies in Hollywood and New York City. Beginning with the synchronization of music and screen action, the sound process reached perfection with the synchronization of speech and action. Manager Roth has been quietly installing the equipment which is necessary for the presentation of these films. The management has gone to great expense to wire the theater and attach the various mechanisms that are essential for perfect synchronization. Electrical and projection engineers have been at work for the past several weeks.

Jacob Fabian, head of the firm that acquired the Baker Theatre two years ago is well known in the theatrical industry. “Every natural sound that nature has created will be recreated in the sound films” said Mr. Fabian.

The theater presented “The First Talking Picture in Morris County” on March 18, 1929 showing Warner Brother’s, “ON TRIAL” starring PAULINE FREDERICK, BERT LYTELL and LOIS WILSON. The Warner Brother’s Vitaphone Production appeared for five days with two showings per night.

Vitaphone was a pioneering sound-on-disc system sponsored by Western Electric and first used by Warner Brothers in 1926. Vitaphone is important to vaudeville history in that many early vaudevillians recorded their act on Vitaphone for Warner Bros. Between 1926 and 1930. In many respects, the Vitaphone system helped “kill” vaudeville, as audiences turned away from the medium to the entertainment of sound motion pictures, and vaudevillians discovered that one performance of their act for Vitaphone meant that it was no longer “fresh” for vaudeville audiences. B. F. Keith actively discouraged vaudevillians from signing contracts with Vitaphone and Warner Bros., and in March 1927 banned “name acts” from appearing in talking pictures under penalty of blacklisting by the Keith circuit.

Baker, Dover, N.J. 5 Big Days Starting Today, Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., Fri. Warner Bros. Present “ON TRIAL” A 100% Talking Picture! With Pauline Frederick, Bert Lytell, and Lois Wilson. It’s New! It’s Different! It’s Sensational! The First Talking Picture In Morris County! A Warner Bros'. Vitaphone Production. Prices Admission for This Engagement: Matinee, 15 and 25 cents. Evening, 25 and 50 cents. Two Complete Showings in the Evening at 7 and 9 o'clock.

DOVER YOUTH – POPULAR VAUDEVILLE STAR

Dover Youth Wins Fame in Theatricals was the headlines on December 26, 1924 in the Dover Advance. Harry Van Orden now appearing on the Keith Circuit. Mr. And Mrs. Lewis Van Orden and Harry Van Orden, Jr., known on the vaudeville stage as Van Tyson and Van, spent a few days last week with Harry’s parents Mr. And Mrs. Harry Van Orden of Garden Avenue in Wharton. They came to Dover direct from Nashville, Tenn., to complete details in the constrution of a new house on West End Heights where they intend to make their home when they come to Dover. Harry has been traveling with his uncle and aunt for the past year appearing in various parts of Canada, on the Pacific coast and throughout the Middle West and much of Florida. This week the group played at the Royal Theater in New York City.

The training given to Harry by his aunt and uncle, who are famous vaudeville artists, has made it possible for him to join the B.F. Keith circuit and perform in such cities as Montreal, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, and Nashville to name but a few.

As vaudevlleâ€\s popularity began to fade and when economic hard times hit, something had to be cut. It was usually the vaudeville troupe that found itself back on the street. And with them went the stagehands, as well as the musicians. Times became tough for the vaudeville performers except for those who went on to radio and motion pictures.

BAKER BECOMES “SMALL TOWN” MOVIE THEATER
The Baker continued to entertain vaudeville acts through most of 1929 with little mention of the actual acts and performers appearing. Most of the Baker’s bills now became advertising for the latest movies. By the middle of 1929 The Baker began to book vaudeville acts only on Saturdays. Major motion pictures like Al Jolson in “The Singing Fool” with Davey Lee. The Marx Brothers in “The Coconuts” with Oscar Shaw and Mary Eaton. Pauline Frederick in “Evidence.” “Manhattan Cocktail” a Paramount Picture starring Nancy Carroll, Richard Arlen and Paul Lukas, became the main attraction to the Baker. Interesting enough, as the Baker faded vaudeville acts completely out by the end of 1929, the nearby Playhouse Theatre, known exclusively for their motion pictures began to book vaudeville acts in addition to their regular motion picture shows.

By 1930, both the Baker and Playhouse, along with most vaudeville theaters around the country had been converted into motion picture houses. From about 1930 on, vaudeville theaters struggled to stay alive while the motion pictures and the radio began to absorb many of the leading vaudeville acts and talents. These new medias continued to take a larger share of the skilled labor pool in the entertainment industry through the 1930s. By 1931, the Palace Theater in New York was the only remaining large vaudeville playhouse in the nation.

Over the next 30-years as other competing movie theaters opened in Morris County and in the surrounding communities, The Baker found the competition to be tough as patrons began going elsewhere. With lower attendance, The Baker began to book second run movies and in many cases, movies that other nearby theaters refused to play. The Baker eventually became a small town movie house that featured Saturday Matinees that continued to draw large crowds of kids.

By the 70s, nearby malls opened multi-screen theaters driving customers out of Dover. On August 1, 1978 a fire alarm sounded at the Baker due to an electrical circuit problem. The fire department responded but was not needed. Following an inspection the next day, the theater was closed. A sign on the door read, “Closed-Reopen Soon.” The original Baker Theater never did reopen after that and its long, wonderful history will long be remembered. Ironically enough, the very last picture to be shown at the Baker was titled “The End.”

The theater was sold to Richard Rossi around 1980 and was renamed the Stargate. Rossi attempted to make the theater a rock concert hall attracting top name rock groups to the venue, based on the Capitol Theaterâ€\s success in Passaic. When that venture failed, Rossi closed the door to the auditorium for the next 16-years, living off the rents the apartments and restaurant brought in.

In 1998, new interest in the theater developed as the downtown business district began to grow with the arrival of the Chester Lionâ€\s Club Flea Market.

Rossi renamed the theater at this time to Hot Tropics and then later to the Baker Ballroom. Again, failing to make the theater a success, he sold the old playhouse to new investors, Lee Levitt and Joe Luddey in 2004.

The new owners renamed the theater back to the Baker Theater, invested thousands of dollars in improving the auditorium and today plays host to numerous concerts, weddings and banquets.
In 2008 Global Reach International took over the day to day operations of the Baker Theater as a non profit organization. Global Reach was established in 2002 as a non profit organization registered in and operating out of Branchville, N.J. The purpose of the establishment is raising funds for a currently operating orphanage in Nepal. One of the founders is a former Peace Corps volunteer, Bill Sansone. Global Reach International is located at 341 Route 206, Branchville, NJ 07826. Phone is 973-948-4101, email address is

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on April 14, 2008 at 12:52 pm

FYI Justin, cut and paste extremely long links into www.tinyurl.com for the sake of bandwidth.

TheNewtonTheatre
TheNewtonTheatre on March 1, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Hello Everyone…

We are looking for photos, comments, and history of the Newton Theatre…
Please stop by the Friends of The Newton Theatre page at:

View link

or:

http://www.thenewtontheatre.com

Thanks!

Thank you!

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