Kenmore Theatre

2101 Church Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11226

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Showing 1 - 25 of 64 comments

Tordini
Tordini on April 29, 2013 at 9:12 am

it was that LUGOSI poster that sent me here!

LugosiResearch
LugosiResearch on December 30, 2012 at 2:35 am

On Friday 23 February 1951, Bela “Dracula” Lugosi presented his in person Horror and Magic Stage show at RKO Kenmore. Currently I am conducting research on all things Lugosi; if anyone out there actually saw this show and/or has memorabilia (handbill, photos) related to this show, please contact Bill at Thanks in advance for any assistance! I already have an image of the full size poster for this show.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 21, 2012 at 2:52 am

I always loved that style of letters on the this RKO theater. I first saw them when I was 10 while waiting outside a bank for my grandmother to complete her business. (Reflections in a Golden Eye was playing…I finally saw it years later, and oh, boy, would that have changed my life if I’d seen it at that tender age!!) It was love at first sight for those block letters. I think the Kenmore used them all the way to its closing, but I’m not sure.

PeteMarriott
PeteMarriott on April 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I used to go to the RKO Kenmore as a child in the 70’s and 80’s. If I had Tens of millions of Dollars to spare I’d buy Modells out and rebuild the theater as a community landmark project. It’s sad it closed down the way it did but it’s even more sad what replaced it.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 17, 2011 at 12:57 am

This nighttime photograph of the Kenmore Theatre was taken in 1931 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto and Mann.

Astyanax
Astyanax on July 27, 2010 at 9:08 pm

I happened to walk by the Kenmore site a couple of weeks ago. The temperature was soaring and I missed walking past a theater lobby and getting a blast of cold air. What a pity that the Flatbush movie palaces are all shuttered, although there is slim hope for the Loews Kings. The urban turmoil of the ‘70’s was a major contributor to the demise of these theaters and although it is easy to blame population shifts and major crime, we also have to consider the lack of product. Apart from the occasional Star Wars / Lady Sings the Blues / French Connection / James Bond movies, Hollywood (and the breakdown of the studio system) could not come up with enough product to consistently sustain these venues. The blax-sploitation flicks and the kung fu movies were sure to attract the very element that would want to act-out the violence and the mayhem represented on screen. With the increased availability and affordability of air conditioning and color TV, why go out. All in all, I could have dashed into Models for a quick respite from the blistering heat.

Bway
Bway on July 27, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Does any ornamentation of the theater remain inside? I would like to visit the Models store to see the inside, but won’t bother if there’s nothing worth seeing inside.

GaryCohen
GaryCohen on December 26, 2009 at 9:20 pm

I was thinking about my above comment about never seeing anything very good or memorable at the Kenmore and I vaguely remembered seeing “From Russia With Love” there. Since this is one of my 5 favorite Bonds, I take back my previous statement.
I did read the previous statements about the eventual fate of the Kenmore and what it deteriorated into and it saddened me. It is so depressing what happens to these beautiful theaters when the ethnic makeup of the area changes. I grew up in East New York and I never really saw my local theaters, the Biltmore and the Kinema, go down the drain since my friends and I had already graduated into going to see movies at “Showcase” theaters in Downtown Brooklyn, Flatbush Avenue and Manhattan. And I stopped going to beautiful theaters like the Loews Kings, RKO Albee and Loews Metropolitan when the areas started changing and getting more dangerous. However I remember being Downtown Brooklyn for some reason in the 1970s and seeing the Albee reduced to showing 2 Kung-fu films. They did not even have a 1 sheet poster for these films so a little ad from the newspaper was cut out and put under the glass where the poster should have been. Utterly pathetic. The picture of the Loews Pitkin from 1970 showing this glorious, mini-Radio City showing 2 low-grade Japanese horror films was sad also.
But even sadder were the stories of murders, metal-detectors, bullet holes and barbed wire at the Kenmore. I have the utmost contempt for the naive, pathetic jerks who actually defend and rationalize this barbaric behavior. And I have little pity on those in the area who allow this type of behavior to take place and then cry and whine to the media about not having anyplace to see a movie when the theater finally gives up and just shuts down. Too damn bad for you.

GaryCohen
GaryCohen on December 24, 2009 at 12:05 am

I went to the Flatbush Avenue theaters a lot during the 1960s and early ‘70s. And while I can remember seeing very good movies at the other theaters, I cannot remember seeing one very good movie at the Kenmore. I can remember seeing a mediocre western “Custer of the West” and a disappointing Robert Mitchum war film “Anzio” there. I just can’t remember seeing one great movie there. Isn’t that strange? I did go with my friends to the premiere of “The Lords of Flatbush” that was held at this theater. I remember that despite living in Brooklyn all my life I still could not understand one word Sylvester Stallone said. If you would have told me at that time that this guy would one day be the highest-paid star in the world, I would not have believed it. The Kenmore was a nice theater, I just don’t have any particularly good memories of the films I saw there.

Bway
Bway on May 4, 2009 at 5:48 pm

What’s the latest on this building? Is it gutted?

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on February 4, 2009 at 8:13 pm

On Friday January 26, 1962, the Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly-Joe DeRita) embarked on a three day promotional tour for their latest feature film, THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES. They were accompanied by “The Herculean Giant” (almost 8 foot tall Dave Ballard) and popular DJ Clay Cole, who was one of the stars of the co-feature, TWIST AROUND THE CLOCK.

On Sunday January 28, they appeared at the RKO Kenmore at 4:05 PM.

samshaber
samshaber on September 18, 2008 at 11:53 pm

Warren – could you ever re-post those old pics of the Pogany murals from the Kenmore? The link no longer works and I’m trying to research another mural he did at the back of the lobby of the Eldorado apartment building at 300 Central Park West. Would love to see the Kenmore murals to compare. Thanks so much! And reading these comments has been really interesting and made me wish I could’ve seen the theater.

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on July 10, 2008 at 6:15 am

In 1988 we had a twwenty year old manager at the KENNMORE he was paid 780.00 a week …That was pret good for 88

FormerFlixGuy
FormerFlixGuy on May 29, 2008 at 7:39 pm

I worked on the Loews side when Cineplex was absorbed and we were amazed at how poorly the theatre managers and assistant managers were paid compared to their counterparts at Loews, at least here in the New York market. The merit raise formula had to be re-worked for those managers to bring them in line with wages at Loews. The service staff was certainly not paid any more than the Loews staff and didn’t have the benefits or the incentives that the Loews staff did until they came on board after the merger. To say that they were the highest paid in the country couldn’t be true, at least not in my experience.

marie88888
marie88888 on May 29, 2008 at 6:42 pm

The Kenmore Theatre! I went to the Kenmore to see “King Kong” in 1976. My brother and I sat in the balcony. The place was huge and the lobby was beautiful, this was just before the theatre was chopped into a multi-plex cinema. In 1980 I went to a few movies there with my sister and friends and the cinemas were so small and the picture and sound was so limited. Memories… :–)

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on March 4, 2008 at 8:19 pm

I never saw the problems you mention Al.These must have come later.
The staff was the highest paid in the country for theaters as were the managers.Two times while i was dm the unions lost the vote to unionize staff.We had very good employee relations.At the time we also had the best theaters in the country and should have charged as such.
Corrupt unions that was not Cineplex Odeons fault.

The one mistake Cineplex had was paying to much as it got theater budgets in hot water.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on March 4, 2008 at 7:24 pm

More about that Mighty WurliTzer Theater Pipe Organ, Opus 1908, a 3 Manual/15 Rank shipped to this theater on July 17, 1928. It next went to Babylon New York. The organ then went to a residence in Erie Pennsylvania. Another Wurlitzer Opus 1961, a 3/11 had been shipped to the Wellmont Theater, Montclair New Jersey on September 29, 1928. It also went to the Erie residence. They both arrived in Erie in 1961 an were “OK”. If you know anything about these organs, please email us!

“Gee Dad, it "WAS” a WurliTzer/WurliTzer!"

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on December 30, 2006 at 8:15 pm

District Managers and upper management were certainly better paid than the competition but hourly staff was minumum wage and theatres managers were poorly paid and often disrespected. The union options were outrageously corrupt offers and rightfully rejected by everyone as pensions were being blatantly stolen by the union chiefs. (some were eventually arrested, then reinstated)

The projection union was a series of no shows and the stagehand unions were dead overhead as most employees were too old to find the stage, much less change a light bulb.

The concessions workers unions disappeared after collecting dues and never represented anyone.

Even in the leaner years, Cineplex bonuses were paid only to upper level executives (those mainly responsible for the losses) and lower level employees got screwed out of all raises and bonuses. The rotten apples were mostly Americans based in Toronto.

Longislandmovies, you were not there during the butter topping media scandals. There is a book in that alone about how a company can abuse their customers and employees and get away with it in NY.

Cineplex Odeon was a nightmare employer and a price gauging enterprise that made customers pay for bad leases, corrupt unions, and poor employee relations.

Cineplex was indeed odious, but not for Cinema Treasures purposes.

CINEPLEX ODEON WAS A BEACON OF CINEMA PRESERVATION WHO KEPT CINEMAS GOING LONG PAST THEIR DUE DATES AND AGAINST ALL ODDS. LET’S GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT IS EARNED.

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on December 30, 2006 at 2:24 pm

One area i have to stick up for C.O. was they were a great employer by industry standards ,managers were paid well over other chains as were the concession people.Twice while i was dm the union vote went down to defeat the only non union chain at the time in ny.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on December 30, 2006 at 12:22 pm

The Alpine, Kingsway and Kings Plaza were among their most profitable theatres. The Fortway and Kenmore barely broke even and the Metropolitan produced huge losses.

Much of the Kenmore income came from the dubious tenants along Church Street, not the box office. I say dubious because the jeweler barely had any jewels and the bridal shop never paid the rent. The fish store in the corner often had as many cats as fish on the premises.

Theatrefan
Theatrefan on December 30, 2006 at 11:49 am

Didn’t Cineplex Odeon also come in and take over the Loew’s Metropolitan once Loews Theatres didn’t want to run it anymore?

Cineplex Odeon ran the Fortway, Kenmore, Kingsway, Metropolitan for many years when no other chain would come near these older houses in Brooklyn.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on December 30, 2006 at 7:28 am

I think your contempt is misplaced.

The Kenmore would have closed in 1988 if Drabinky had not insisted on taking it over and prolonging it’s life. Say what you wish about the man and his business sense, he kept theatres going way after they were profitable busineses and the Kenmore rarely broke even.
It often cost more to heat and cool this place than the total box office takings could pay for.

RKO was selling everything. United Artists was not taking over any old houses and Loews and City Cinemas wanted nothing to do with Brooklyn.

Cineplex Odeon was a bad employer, landlord, and an overly agressive operator in many ways, but it was a friend of preservation.

The Kenmore lasted as long as it did thanks to gory violent movies and Drabinky’s obsession with market share. Remember, it was Loews who shut it down.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 29, 2006 at 3:58 pm

Sometimes, when I look back at history, I think that Cineplex Odeon operation = death for the theatre when Cineplex leaves.

frankie
frankie on July 27, 2006 at 4:37 pm

I lived in the neighborhood from ‘68 to '76, when all those movie theaters were open. I took my 2 kid sisters to see “Airport” at the Kenmore in '70. Heart-breaking to see all the violence & destruction. Last thing I saw there was Lily in “Incredible Shrinking Woman.”

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on February 28, 2006 at 8:41 am

Sorry for the delay on this, br. When I left NY, little work had been done that could damage the Kenmore interior aside from that associated with the thankfully rather cheap quading efforts. The chandelier was intact and most auditorium features were worn but otherwise untouched. The lobby mirror wall was intact and the balcony level trimings were still impressive aside from the occassional bullet hole. Aside from some the corridor dry wall coverings (a Cineplex Odeon norm here and at the Met) which allowed elements behind to remain, the place was quite delicately refurbished. The upstairs lobby ceilings were worn though beautifully intricate but the bathrooms were all beat to death. A massive (and scary) basement and backstage area remained with some dressing rooms. The coal furnace was still being fed by human hands and serviced by a coal shoot from the sidewalk.

I am not sure what damage has been done since, but I can assure you Cineplex Odeon did little harm. For all their faux marble crimes in Manhattan, their Brooklyn conversions were generally reseating and cleaning if only for cost reasons.