Kenmore Theatre

2101 Church Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11226

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Showing 1 - 25 of 69 comments

jinchelsea on October 4, 2015 at 4:38 pm

I was an usher, relief cashier and doorman, and eventually a phone receptionist in the mid-1960s. A fascinating building, still holding all the backstage stuff and dressing rooms all over the theatre for when it had been a vaudeville house earlier in the century. You always knew where the local cops were if there was a problem; the cops had their own “cards and beer” room in an old dressing room at the top of the theatre, where they hung out every day.

Being an old theatre, nothing was automatic, including the screen and the curtain, and as an usher, we had to close the curtain after each film (we were still in the days of double features) and actually adjust the size of the screen for widescreen (Panavision had pretty much replaced Cinemascope by then, but same idea) and the old 4:3 size. The old vaudeville signs on each side of the stage, which had been used to announce each act, were still visible but no longer in use. Some times I would be on the pay phone talking to a friend on the mezzanine level, and would forget to open the curtain or adjust the screen when the film began!

As an usher, mostly in the balcony, I had to make sure that two customers were NOT sitting in one seat, and when they were, I had to quietly go up to them with my flashlight and ask them to stop (lol, as if) and it was not unusual to find used condoms and wrappers on the floor! And yes, we sold separate loge tickets upstairs on Saturday nights, and I’m not too sure that the extra 25 cents always made its way down to the office…

Finally I was promoted to a “desk job,” where I spent the time answering the phone (Good evening, RKO Kenmore, may I help you?). By this point in time, autoanswerers were already in fashion, so people were surprised to hear a human voice on the line. Most were appropriate calls, some cranks or kid pranks or heavy breathers, and some people called every day because they were lonely. I was also given the chance to rifle through the file drawers, loaded with posters and stills from earlier films, when theatres actually used “ballyhoo” or in-house advertising and made up their own signs and posters from the ad materials provided by the distributor. This was how I really started my career as a poster collector, which has grown to over 5,000 posters, but that’s another story…

shorty11 on July 27, 2015 at 10:42 am

moose i was a kid at the capitol and we were there every saturday , there was a movie dont think it was a karate movie , yet i can recall there were women who wore chastity belts and they would expolde if a man tried to remove them by any chance do you remember the title of that movie , had to be about 77 or 78

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 31, 2015 at 4:27 am

British art film “PRIVILEGE” played at the Kenmore?

Moose on May 29, 2015 at 6:38 pm

I worked here for several week in the fall of 1967. Hired by to be a theatre manager. The Kenmore was a beautiful theatre. What I remember most is the movie “Privilege” being shown and a couple asking for a refund, and I accommodated them as they had just recently arrived. Privilege is definitely an unique movie that can be viewed on You Tube.

theatrefan on February 7, 2015 at 12:44 am

Yes, they had the same RKO block letters on the theatre marquee when they closed this theatre in 1999. White letters on a black background. They titles of the films were still visible years after that, before they started to gut the place inside. I was inside recently, it does not look like there is anything left.

Tordini on April 29, 2013 at 9:12 am

it was that LUGOSI poster that sent me here!

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 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 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 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 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 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 on May 4, 2009 at 5:48 pm

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

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 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 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 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 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 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!"

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez 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.


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.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez 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.