Princess Theater

169 S. Main Street,
Memphis, TN 38103

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Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on March 29, 2014 at 12:26 pm

There is reference to the Princess having a Kimball organ. In David Bowers “Encyclopedia of Automated Musical Instruments” p. 551 is a reference to the installation of a Reproduco organ (probably a photoplayer) at the Princess. There is no date: maybe it preceded the Kimball.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on December 12, 2012 at 11:46 pm

There is additional information about and pictures of the Princess on this webpage.

zzralph
zzralph on December 12, 2012 at 1:51 pm

My wife and I were in the theater watching ‘Dirty Harry’ the night Mary Pearcy was shot at the Malco. Policemen everywhere and we could not exit through the front. Had to find out what happened on the news.

vastor
vastor on August 11, 2011 at 9:54 am

The Princess probably had that reputation because it stank. It had a men’s room but it was easier to use the storm drain in the alley on the south side. The Princess was legendary because of that and convenient because the concession stand was outdoors. It stank even after it closed, inside and out, and during demolition. I remember hearing from people I knew that it was a “colored theatre” on Main St. It had some upper levels because my father bought some of the fire escape stairs for a project of his. Also some of the balcony rails from Loew’s State. That’s how I got my mementos from the State and a glimpse of the ruins of the Princess. BTW, Mary Pearcy was shot in the boxoffice of the Malco in late 1971, just before “Hair” reopened the stage in January 1972. It was an attempted robbery. After that, the bulletproof glass was installed which remains today. Malco did not use the window facing Main ever again. I was at the theatre before and after and I will never forget that night.

ghsong
ghsong on November 27, 2010 at 10:21 pm

this theater was still in business when i was a boy of 11 or 12.this would have been in 1967 or so.in those days it was still safe and accepted for kids to ride the bus downtown and see movies at the malco,loews state etc…however we were warned not to go to movies at the princess as that was where the perverts hung out.i have no idea if that reputation was warranted or not.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 18, 2010 at 9:53 pm

There was a photo of the concession stand in Boxoffice, June 1960:
http://tinyurl.com/ycbewra

AndrewBarrett
AndrewBarrett on February 20, 2008 at 6:42 am

According to Bowers' “Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments” page 551, there was a Reproduco organ made by the Operators Piano Co. installed at the Princess at one time.

Backseater
Backseater on May 18, 2007 at 9:55 pm

I heard that about the Malco cashier too, from Bill Kendall. Sorry I don’t have more details. I do know that when I came back to Mempho in 1972, the Malco/Orpheum had bulletproof glass installed in the box office.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on April 23, 2007 at 6:56 am

The cashier at the Malco (Orpheum) a half-block south was killed by a gun man around the time of the 1968 riots. I never heard anything about a murder at the Princess, but it certainly isn’t beyond the relm of possibility.

bauhaus
bauhaus on April 22, 2007 at 3:51 am

Wasn’t there a murder in the Princess?

LeeAnders
LeeAnders on February 17, 2007 at 8:58 am

Hi, Will, Yes I was in Memphis in the early 50’s – in fact, lived in apartment complexes near Main street – on the north end of town. Memphis was such a different place in those days. A much nicer place. What did the Princess look like – as I remember, much smaller front than the others on main street. The ticket window was on the left front, and I believe the concession stand was actually to the outside left, just behind the ticket window. It may have been just inside the doors – to the left. I don’t remember a balcony level to the theatre, as most of the larger ones had – just the one level. It had the standard size screen – and most, if not all, movies, were in black and white. Cartoons, however were in color. Yes, I remember also the Strand, and the Malco. They were more upscale, and therefore more expensive – never having much money, I frequented the Princess, when downtown. The Suzzore, did have a balcony, and before I left Memphis, in 1955, the theatre began serving blacks – in the balcony. (Before that time, blacks had their own movie theatres in the Beale street area) Rumor had it, that Mr Suzzores had been involved in an automobile accident, apparently injuring a black individual or family, and they sued, eventually gaining part ownership in the north main street theatre – I don’t know if that’s factual or not – but as a kid, I remember the problems it caused, as the black kids began throwing items, from the balcony, down on the white patrons below. In retirement, I eventually moved to NE AR, near Memphis, and sometimes visit Memphis, and stroll along the main street areas. Nothing is the same (nor should it be, I guess) but it is depressing to me – and sad – to see what Memphis has become.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on February 16, 2007 at 10:23 am

Lee, THANK YOU for writing. Please write in with ANY memory of what the Princess looked like. Same for the Suzore. Thus far, no photos or descriptions have turned up for either hall. Sometimes childhood memories can be vivid.

If you were downtown during the early ‘50’s surely you went to the Strand, the two Loew’s theatres and the Malco. Hope you’ll reminisce about all of them.

LeeAnders
LeeAnders on February 16, 2007 at 5:52 am

From 1950 through 1955, as a child, I enjoyed many an afternoon at the Princess theatre. Usually always showing was a double feature cowboy movie, several cartoons, movie previews, and of course, the latest ‘News Reel’. The news reel was kind of like watching the afternoon news on TV – except most of us didn’t own TVs in those days. Child admission was a dime, adult was 25 cents, popcorn, a dime, candy and coke was 5 cents each. Back down Main Street, on the north end, was another neighborhood movie theatre favorite – named ‘Suzzore Theatre’. Very similiar to the Princess. While urban renewal and redevelopment, most times are good, it’s difficult to return to a ‘Main Street’ that is no longer as we remember. In the 50’s, Main Street, Memphis, was a nice place to visit and spend time – no more – it’s really sad.

LeeAnders
LeeAnders on February 16, 2007 at 5:50 am

From 1950 through 1955, as a child, I enjoyed many an afternoon at the Princess theatre. Usually always showing was a double feature cowboy movie, several cartoons, movie previews, and of course, the latest ‘News Reel’. The news reel was kind of like watching the afternoon news on TV – except most of us didn’t own TVs in those days. Child admission was a dime, adult was 25 cents, popcorn, a dime, candy and coke was 5 cents each. Back down Main Street, on the north end, was another neighborhood movie theatre favorite – named ‘Suzzore Theatre’. Very similiar to the Princess. While urban renewal and redevelopment, most times are good, it’s difficult to return to a ‘Main Street’ that is no longer as we remember. In the 50’s, Main Street, Memphis, was a nice place to visit and spend time – no more – it’s really sad.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on November 8, 2005 at 5:40 am

The Princess was torn down about 1972 to make way for a parking lot. It was razed during the same urban renewal sweep that destroyed the Strand and the Lowe’s State: a dark time when about 10 blocks of historic buildings, mom & pop businesses and several churches were lost to “progress.” The empty wasteland remained for 20 years. Only in the 1990’s did redevelopment take hold on the south side of downtown.

Backseater
Backseater on October 10, 2005 at 8:48 pm

I never went to the Princess, but walked and drove past it many times. It was on the West side of Main Street across from and a little North of Loew’s State. I don’t remember how it looked, but do recall the many wierd multiple bills on the marquee. They might have two westerns, a science fiction space opera, and a Roger Corman horror movie showing continuously. A popular joke was that if you were really down-and-out, you could always get a job at the Princess carrying the dead cowboys and monsters off the stage. Ah, memories.