Ritz Theatre

1503 E. 7th Avenue,
Ybor City, FL 33605

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rivest266 on September 24, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Ads started to appear for this theatre on September 25th, 1937 but it may have been opened before.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on December 31, 2015 at 9:00 am

50 years ago today was the final day of operation for the Ritz as a standard movie house. On January 1st 1966 the theatre reopened as the Ritz Adult featuring triple-X films and live burlesque stage shows.

MaryJaneMorganYoung on October 18, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Hello to the Ritz Theater. It has been about fifty years since I’ve been to the Ritz. My sister and I would walk in a side door around the corner of Seventh Avenue, in to the office door that was my father’s, who owned the Ritz with his mother, Katherine. We would go into the theater to see Swiss Family Robinson, Lady and the Tramp, etc., while he worked. After it was sold to a man named Leo or something like that, I think, is when the Burlesque shows began. Love the corner it sits on and the wonderful childhood memories I will always have to keep. Mary Jane Morgan Young

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on December 28, 2012 at 9:21 pm

A few more RITZ memories. Here are several triple features that played on the weekends. Most attractions are horror/sci-fi.

June 10 1961: “All In A Night’s Work” “Commache Station” “Village Of The Damned”

October 7 1961: “Atomic Submarine” “Konga” “The Last Sunset”

July 21 1962: “Journey To The Seventh Planet” “Treasure Of Pancho Villa” “Six Black Horses”

August 12 1962: “The Blob” “Blood Of The Vampire” “Tarantula!”

November 4 1962: “Beast With A Million Eyes” “Bride And The Beast” “Beast Of Hollow Mountain”

November 25 1962: “Monster Of Piedras Blancas” “Monster On The Campus” “Monster That Challenged The World”

December 9 1962: “Hypnotic Eye” “Mr. Sardonicus” “Burn Witch Burn”

January 6 1963: “The Fly” “The Deadly Mantis” “The Spider”

March 24 1963: “Vampire And The Ballerina” “Tormented” “Blood Of Dracula”

May 19 1963: “The Brain Eaters” “The Screaming Skull”
“Brain From Planet Arous”

June 14 1963: “Attack Of The Giant Leeches” “Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman” “Attack Of The Puppet People”

July 6 1963: “Black Sunday” “The Raven” “Day Of The Triffids”

August 4 1963: “Black Pit Of Dr. M” “Beast Of Yucca Flats” “Horror Chamber Of Dr. Faustus”

September 1 1963: “House Of The Damned” “Terror In The Haunted House” “Varan The Unbelievable”

September 6 1963: “Blue Hawaii” “Wild In The Country” “Follow That Dream”

September 28 1963: “Battle Beyond The Sun” “Brain From Planet Arous” “First Spaceship On Venus”

October 5 1963: “Fancy Pants” “Dime With A Halo” “Bye Bye Birdie”

December 14 1963: “Hand Of Death” “Alligator People” “The Manster”

December 22 1963: “Night Of The Blood Beast” “Dr. Blood’s Coffin” “A Bucket Of Blood”

February 29 1964: “Straight-Jacket” “Day Mars Invaded Earth” “Cattle King”

March 14 1964: “Reptilicus” “Viking Women and The Sea Serpent” “Snake Woman”

March 29 1964: “The Terror” “Curucu, Beast Of The Amazon” “The Mummy”

May 19 1964: “Maniac” “Homicidal” “Dementia 13”

August 9 1964: “The Slime People” “Castle Of Blood” “The Crawling Hand”

October 11 1964: “Horror Of Party Beach” “Mind Benders” “Curse Of The Living Corpse”

October 26 1964: “Bride Of The Monster” “Brides Of Dracula” “Bride And The Beast”

December 13 1964: “Battle Beyond The Sun” “Atom Age Vampire” “Masque Of The Red Death”

January 2 1965: “Twice Told Tales” “Witchcraft” “The Horror Of It All”

February 6 1965: “Evil Of Frankenstein” “How To Make A Monster” “Blood Of Dracula”

November 20 1965: “Help!” “Go Go Mania” “Having A Wild Weekend”

November 27 1965: “Curse Of The Faceless Man” “Curse Of The Werewolf” “Curse Of The Living Corpse”

December 11 1965: “Village Of The Giants” “Seven Ways From Sundown” “Love And Kisses”

This was the final program I saw at the Ritz. On January 1 1966 theatre transitioned over to running triple-X adult fare.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on December 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Some Ritz memories from Saturday, October 3, 1964.

“A Hard Day’s Night” finally comes to the Ritz on a triple feature program along with “He Rides Tall” and “Summer Holiday.” The Beatle film is scheduled to run as the third feature. During the running of “He Rides Tall” theatre begins filling with hundreds of teens and pre-teens and a few adults. As I turned to look around the theatre I notice that just about every seat was filled. There were several people standing against the side walls as well as the rear of the auditorium. This was the first time I had seen the Ritz at full capacity…sold-out to the walls.

Not very many are interested in watching the first feature. The audience is noisy. Many kids are talking and laughing among themselves. Suddenly the feature goes off the screen, the house lights are turned up, and the manager walks onstage yelling, “quiet…quiet!” The noise finally subsides and he makes the following announcement, “several people have come to me saying they can’t hear the movie because of all the noise you people are making. I’m warning you…if you don’t quiet down and this noise continues I will shut the theatre down and give everyone a refund.” He walks off the stage, the house lights are turned off, and the film continues.

Aside from some mild whispering the audience is fairly quiet through the remainder of the film as well as the second feature, “Summer Holiday.” Near the end of the film the house lights are turned up again, the manager and assistant walk onstage and stand near the right side of the screen watching the audience. The film ends followed by several trailers. The United Artists logo for “A Hard Day’s Night” then appears onscreen. The opening scene showing the running Beatles incites screams from several girls which are suddenly cut short by the manager’s raised arms with hands outstretched as a warning. They ran the entire film with the house lights turned up and the manager onstage.

I believe management made a poor decision in running the Beatle film as the last feature. Had they run it first many kids would probably have left afterwards and those who were interested in the other two features would have been able to watch them in peace and quiet.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on October 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on March 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Thanks Joe for the drawing and additional info. Evidently the Ritz was also known as the Rivoli at some point during the early days. I remember seeing a photo with the Rivoli sign on the building. The drawing is very intriging. It may have opened as the Haya and was later changed to Rivoli and finally Ritz. Or possibly Haya was never used. Probably the only way to determine for certain is checking the city directory to see what’s listed at that address around or about 1917. I’ll put this on my to do list.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 23, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Long-lost drawings of the Ritz Theatre by architect M. Leo Elliot were discovered a couple of years ago. Here is one of them.

Elliott labeled the drawing Haya Theater. According to this web page, the theater was built on the site of Ybor City’s first cigar factory, founded by Serafin Sanchez and Ignacio Haya in 1886. It’s possible that members of the Haya family were involved in the development of the Ritz Theatre.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 7, 2011 at 10:19 am

Nick. it was 100 times better than what I did on National Hills.heck, I stole your Idea.LOl.

Nunzienick on April 25, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Mike, Thanx for the plug & the thumbs up, I can use the extra publicity…LOL! Remember you also did a great job on the National Hills book! Andy, if you’re reading this and are interested in a copy I can send you one if you’d like. It’s just a booklet listing all the films I saw here along with some history of the theatre and several anecdotes that I recall from years ago. Just email me your address at and I’ll mail you a copy.

AndyCallahanMajorMajor on April 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Oh man, I’d love to get my hands on that book!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

thanks Andy,Nick put a book together on this Theatre and ,well, you would probably go crazy like I did when he ran me off a copy, did he did some hard work reserching as only Nick could do.

AndyCallahanMajorMajor on January 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Here are my pictures from December 2010.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 31, 2010 at 10:26 am

Great Shot.You ain’t nuttier than a fruit cake.Sending a letter down.Thanks again for all the great pictures,ihave one FRAMED.

Nunzienick on December 19, 2010 at 4:01 pm

This photo is from the collection of Henry Fontanills. Here’s a great shot of several young boys standing onstage in front of the screen during an Optimists Club event in December 1937. Click
on photo and “view all sizes” to enlarge to super size: View link

Nunzienick on November 4, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Ah yes! The changeover warning bell…something you’ll never hear in today’s multiplexes. The Ritz had a bell on each projector that was loud and clear. Whenever I heard the “ding!” I’d get set to look for the cue marks and anxiously watch the changeover. I also loved hearing the flap flap flap of the film as the reels ended their rewind. Now everyone on CT will know I’m nuttier than a fruitcake.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 4, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Yeah, Nick THE IMPERIAL is using DVD’s projected on the big screen.I saw a bit of a movie and it didn’t look so bad,just no bell ringing in the booth to warn the projectionist{Bill} a change over is coming.“what’s A change over!” Lol. Hey, some folks on CT probably don’t know.

Nunzienick on October 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm

For the first time in nearly 28 years The Ritz will be showing a movie! A costume party and screening of “THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW” along with a live cast will take place on October 22, 2010 at 11:00 PM. As far as I’m aware no movies have been shown since the theatre closed as an adult house in 1982. I contacted the Director of Marketing and was told that theatre seating will be placed in The Grand Ballroom although it will be limited seating on a first-come-first-serve basis. I asked if the movie will be on film or DVD projection and the answer was, “I believe it’s on DVD.” Just as I suspected since all film projection equipment was stripped out years ago. Nevertheless it’s nice to know a movie (even though it isn’t film) will be shown on a screen in the former theatre auditorium.

Nunzienick on September 2, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Great bird’s eye view of The Ritz marquee in 1958 showing an interesting double feature program:
View link

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 31, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Nick, you also sent be a copy of those glasses on your story{book} you wrote on the RITZ. You get TISLOEWS address and we will mail him my NATIONAL HILLS BOOK and your RITZ book for the one low price of $10.95.LOL. Yep, it is Clint’s Birthday he is on TCM all day. Special of his career at 10 pm I think.

Nunzienick on May 31, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Ahh..but what a nice sickness. I wasn’t aware it was Clint’s birthday today. Hard to believe he’s 80 already. I understand one of his earlier roles was an uncredited brief spot in 1955’s TARANTULA (which I saw at the RITZ.) He played the leader of the jet squardron that bombs the giant spider with napalm. He was wearing an air mask that covered much of his face but if you look closely there’s no mistaking his eyes.

TLSLOEWS on May 31, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Thats cool nice,your sicker than Mike and I,LOL,by the way did you know today is Clint Eastwoods 80th birthday.Just kidding about the sickness that is.

Nunzienick on May 31, 2010 at 1:20 pm

May 27, 1961…my first day at the RITZ and the first of many visits. After “13 Ghosts” had ended several kids either tore or discarded their ghost viewers (idiots!) But I kept mine and here it is 50 years later. Treasured memories!
View link

Nunzienick on May 14, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Yes tlsloews…we’re puttin on the Ritz! We had a GREAT time when Mike was in town! I only wish we could have seen the inside but I doubt we would’ve been able to get in during that time. It’s much easier now as the Ritz is being used for all types of events several times a week. By the way, I just left a comment on the Tampa Theatre page. Rosa Rio, the lady who played the organ for silent film showings passed away today. She would have been 108 in two weeks.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 14, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Really, Nick and Charlie {his retired Projectionist friend} they took me and my sons on a day long tour of old theatres.My two daughters swam with Charlie’s family while we went on the adventure of TAMPA,It was great.