Paradise Theatre

1717 5th Avenue,
Moline, IL 61265

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Paradise Theatre

The Paradise Theatre opened in 1929 and was owned by Brotman, M. & Sons. The theatre seated 850. It was located in the 1700 block of 5th Avenue with the Illini Theatre in the next block one way and the Le Claire Theatre in the next block the other way. It was the smaller of the the three theatres on 5th Avenue. The Paradise Theatre closed in 1981 and was demolished in 1983.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

milesrich on June 28, 2008 at 2:58 am

It was owned and operated by the Brotman family, not Bartman, and was open into the early 60’s.

frogfarmer on January 15, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I was an usher at the Paradise 67 – 69. Owners at that time were Abe and Barney Brotman. Quite a pair. They had a falling out years earlier and would not speak directly to each other. It was up to one of the employees, usually the cashier, to repeat what one would say to the other, even f they were in the same room together.

The theater had a high curved ceiling with a blue background with clouds and sparkle point stars. A row of lights along the top of the walls would softly illuminate the ceiling. The screen was mounted a few feet back from the front of the stage that was used for live shows in the early years. There also was an orchestra/piano pit in front of the stage which was covered by a plank floor. The theater had a small balcony section, if I remember correctly, only about 10 rows deep. I only remember one occasion we used the balcony for seating. Mostly it was just for storage.

Our busiest times were on the weekends when kids could get in for a dime and adults fifty cents before 5 pm. After that it was a $1.10 for adults and a half a buck for kids.

During that time we were a second run theater. After the big guys had the films (The Fort in Rock Island, The Capital and RKO in Davenport) we would get them. Twice a week trips to the Greyhound Depot to drop off one set of film cases and to pick up the next.

Entering the theater you would be in a tiled foyer. On the right was the box office. After you bought your ticket you would enter the carpeted lobby where the doorman would take your ticket, rip it in half and give you a stub. If you turned to the left, you would find the concession stand where we sold the usual theater staples. If you wanted a soft drink, you would have to use a vending machine that dispensed the drinks in paper cups.

After getting your grub you would turn around a be facing a wall with a display of upcoming feature posters. There were two single doors, one to the left and one to the right that led into the theater itself. Further to the left and right were curved staircases that led to the balcony and restrooms, ladies to the left and men to the right. Also at the top of the stairs on the right side was the door to the projection booth.

The booth had the original twin carbon arc 35mm projectors and a glass slide projector that was only used when a problem happened to display a please stand by type of message. I was lucky enough to be befriended by one of the projectionists who would allow me to come in on my days off and help run the projectors, splice coming attraction trailers together and just hang out.

One thing I’m sure most people didn’t even notice was that the back side of the theater, facing 4th Avenue and the railroad tracks, was painted. By the time I worked at the Paradise the painting was worn and faded, but still proudly proclaimed “The Paradise Theater – Home of Singing and Talking Pictures”.

Sorry for being so long winded but I just have fond memories of the place. After all, the Paradise is where in December of 1968 I met a certain young girl who, after some serious wooing and courting, became my bride. Still together after all this time. Still sharing memories of the Paradise.

cinejim on June 7, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I was “lucky” to have been a projectionist at the Paradise in the fall and winter of 1976 after I closed the Bel-Air Drive In for the season. The old Simplex projectors and Peerless lamp houses were so worn out the other operator and I kept busy just keeping a picture on the screen. Abe & Barney were quite the pair to work for, but they had stories of the old days that I enjoyed listening to for hours when one or the other wandered up to the booth. RIP Abe and Barney.

TLSLOEWS on June 7, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Another day in Paradise.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 8, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Thank you,CINEJAM your work in the booth with hundreds of other men made theatre managers lives a lot easier.i appreciate the work and alway keeping a white hot picture on the screen with Carbons,not a light bulb.

TomBarrister on September 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I remember taking a date to the Paradise in 1969 or 1970. The Boston Strangler was playing (after showing at two other theaters on its first and second runs). I can still feel the nail marks in my arm, where my date gripped it whenever a violent scene was on the screen. The theater was run down even then, but downtown was still fairly safe to walk in. The YMCA wasn’t far from there, if I remember correctly, nor was the New York Store and Walgreens.

DavidZornig on November 13, 2017 at 8:26 pm

1935 photo added, credit Roberta Fertel via the Retro Quad Cities Facebook page. Original marquee featuring “The Last Days Of Pompeii”, released in the U.S. October 18, 1935.

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