Surf Theatre

1154 Boardwalk,
Ocean City, NJ 08226

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Showboat Theatre (Later the Surf) 1929

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in the late-1920’s after the great boardwalk fire. Advertised as a fire proof building. The theater was originally vaudville but then changed to movies. The Shriver chain operated the theatre in the 1970’s. It closed in the early-1980’s and is now an enclosed shopping mall.

Contributed by TC

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

kencmcintyre on March 9, 2007 at 1:53 pm

Here is a 1929 postcard of the Showboat:

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on December 4, 2007 at 8:59 am

This is an exterior view of the Showboat Theater and here is an interior view circa 1934.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on June 13, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Here is a recent view of the Surf Mall. The “Related Websites” link should be removed since it no longer works.

TheaterBuff1 on June 13, 2008 at 7:43 pm

As always, thanks for the great photo link, Lost Memory! This particular photo looks to be straight out of a film noir movie…with a whodunnit clue perhaps offered up by that mysterious ladder silhouette at the upper right. Do you know, by chance, if the man who’s running this Surf Mall now is the same man who owned it when it was last a theater? In both cases it looks to be his style.

Mts83 on June 14, 2008 at 6:27 am

Thanks for the comments on my photo from Flickr! (Lost Memory Posted) The next time I’m over there I’ll try to get a daytime exterior shot, or perhaps interior.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on June 14, 2008 at 8:47 am

That is a great photo. I don’t know who operates the mall. The ladder is a mystery. Maybe work was being done above the marquee when the photo was taken, or the ladder is just stored up there for some unknown reason. We’ll have to see if the mysterious ladder turns up in future photos. Stay tuned.

TheaterBuff1 on June 14, 2008 at 10:50 pm

Yes, it was a great photo, Mts83, though it would be cool if that building could one day be a theater again. But an awful lot would have to change for that to be, at least if the effort were to be successful. Meantime, it will be interesting to see the interior shots you hope to get the next time around.

As for the mysterous ladder silhouette in the last photo, suggestive of something you’d see in a film noir movie, it got me to wondering, how many movies were filmed on location there in Ocean City? I can name two, EDDIE & THE CRUISERS and TATTOO, the latter starring Bruce Dern, but any others? For with Ocean City once having been a vacation spot of choice for actress Grace Kelly and the actor Errol Flynn before her, you would think a lot of major films were shot there over the many years, though those are the only two I’m aware of.

jlaymon on July 19, 2008 at 9:08 am

I worked as a projectionist (occasionally) at the Surf in the late 1970’s, just before Shriver’s let go of the lease and Al Kazmark(?) then leased it for rock films.

When I was there, the theatre was owned by the Frank company but operated by the Shriver company. Unfortunately, the Frank company was not about to do any maintenance on the building when a competitor was operating it. So the roof leaked terribly and there were times when we would rope off the first 10 rows of seats because of standing water.

But the building was interesting. It was never meant to be a palace, but there was a very large stage with ropes and sandbags along with a very old dimmer panel. I remember those dressing rooms too. And the spotlight (MT). I remember playing with that too.

The projection room had a large fireproof battery room attached to it to provide clean power for the original sound system (long gone). And from the proj room you could walk through a door out onto the roof of the marquee. That was pretty cool. Start the movie and then check out the girls on the beach!

There was no air conditioning, but there were 2 or 3 very large fan rooms on the roof that exhausted hot air from the ceiling.. Those fan blades were giant.

Anyway, I included a little history of it on my web page:

Thanks for the memories!

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 30, 2009 at 9:47 am

Here is a photo of the Surf Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 23, 2009 at 8:16 pm

The year given for this photo is 1985.

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