Darby Theatre

13 Chester Pike,
Darby, PA 19023

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Wendy Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Fire at the Wendy Theatre

The Darby Theatre was one of two single-screen movie houses operating in Darby, Pennsylvania, during the mid-20th century. It operated with 1,000 seats until it was destoyed by a fire in the late 1940’s.

The theatre was rebuilt, reopening as the Darby Theatre with a seating capacity of 500. It was later renamed Wendy Theatre and this too was destroyed by on June 25, 1959, even though 300 firemen responded to the blaze.

Contributed by Gus JaFolla, George Quirk

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 13, 2007 at 10:28 am

Film Daily Yearbooks 1941 thru 1950 list two theatres in Darby PA. The Parker Theatre is one, the other is the Darby Theatre, 13th Street & Chester Pike with a seating capacity given as 1,000.

It states above that there were two theatres in Darby, I presume the Wendy Theatre be the same as the Darby Theatre.

gjx629 on January 15, 2007 at 9:50 am

Although I read a recent AOL thread naming this theatre the Wendy, I’m tending to agree with the previous comment that it may actually have been the Darby Theatre. As there is no intersection of 13th & Chester Pike, I believe the address was meant to read “13 Chester Pike” as that is the site I am thinking of. Also of cinematic note, W.C. Fields was believed to have been born a few doors up at the old National Hotel at what would have been 1 Chester Pike.

Radioinactive on April 11, 2007 at 8:04 am

The theater was known as the Darby originally, it was damaged by a fire and then renamed the Wendy which ultimately was destroyed by fire also. It was located where the Sharon Savings bank is today. The Parker was just up the street, later became Delco Catering Halls, and today is the location of a Walgreen’s.

monchie on February 19, 2008 at 10:52 pm

I remember this theatre as the Wendy circa the mid 1950s, when I was 5-7 years old. This was the only theatre within walking distance of our house, and I remember that they had kiddie matinees on Saturday afternoons complete with a bicycle giveaway contest to the holder of a lucky ticket number.

I will never forget the night we heard the sirens screeching loudly and relentlessly, and my mother went out and discovered that the Wendy was on fire. I was just devastated…even at 7 years old, I sorta knew the Wendy would never be rebuilt. After all, indoor theatres were obsolete and were quickly being replaced by drive-ins. (This was 1958, June IIRC.)

Ironically, one of the last movies — perhaps the last — I saw at the Wendy was “Bambi,” with its heartbreaking forest fire scene. And though I didn’t actually see the fire as it was going on, and I wasn’t a really gifted junior artist, I drew a picture of the Wendy and surrounding stores in flames, probably inspired by “Bambi.”

miragirl on February 22, 2008 at 9:25 pm

I also remember the night of the Wendy Theatre fire. Even tho we lived about ¾ of a mile away, we could smell the smoke. My girlfriend who lived around the corner from it, called me and I went to her house and we went to the fire and sat on the curb across the street watching sadly but happily munching potato chips as we watched. The firemen kept telling us to move back, we would, and then we would sit back down again. We were 12 yrs old and didn’t have a clue as to how sad it really was.

Radioinactive on February 18, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Here’s a picture of the Darby Theater in 1923



Radioinactive on February 26, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Here’s some pictures of the Wendy Theater the day after it was destroyed by fire in 1959.




kencmcintyre on July 20, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Here is another view of the 1959 fire from Temple University’s urban archives:

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