State Theatre

Main Street and Morgan Street,
Hartford, CT 06120

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HollyH on July 8, 2016 at 1:59 pm

I am just about to send 75 Hollywood autographed pics that my mother collected (all signed and “to Millie”) when she worked as the ‘concierge to the stars’ at the State Theater in the 1930’s and pre war 40’s. Great head shots of Mae West on a lounge, a young Louie Armstrong, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Sammy Kaye, the Andrews sisters the three stooges (with Curly) out to auction. Ozzie and Harriet (separately),Ruddy Vally, Ella, Lional Standish and so many many more. I heard many stories like the time she took Sammy Kaye to the roller skating rink and ripped her skirt then had to wear Sammy’s jacket wrapped around her to go home. She baby sat for David Nelson when Ozzie and Harriet went out to dinner. When my cousin went in to see Mae West she was on her lounge and said to my 5 year old cousin “come up and see me honey”. Great stories for great stars that performed at the State. It sat close to 4000 people and was a hub for Hartford night entertainment. Movies were only secondary to live performances.

DooWoGuru on September 19, 2015 at 11:08 am

have stories when my mom went to The StateTheatre in Over about he 50’s, we only the “white” people in the audience . I was a teenager, born in 1941. I went to the State Theater from 1955 and saw the last show, featuring Brook Benton a Connie Francis.

I have one story when I took my brother to introduce him to doo wop in the 50’s. The price jumped up ( also we walked from the south end (Vernon Street) to the north end of Hartford.

We got turned away. A man with a gray hair , limp, and goatee told the cashier to let us in for the money we had. When the show started he was the MC (The Hound Dog)

AndrewBarrett on June 20, 2014 at 4:43 pm

According to David Junchen’s “Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Pipe Organ” pg. 144, the State Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut originally had a Geneva theatre pipe organ, size not known or not given in the book, installed in 1926. The serial # of the organ’s blower was 19551. Does anybody know what happened to this organ and where it is today? Thanks!

hmorse on August 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Does anyone remember seeing Gene Krupa at the theater? I think I was about 10 when he played there at the intermission between two movies and he looked pretty stung out – I think on heroin.

LugosiResearch on December 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm

On Saturday 10 February 1951, Bela “Dracula” Lugosi presented his in person Horror and Magic Stage show at the State. Currently I am conducting research on all things Lugosi; if anyone out there actually saw this show and/or has memorabilia (poster, handbill, photos) related to this show, please contact Bill at I already have copies of the newspaper ads related to this show. Thanks in advance for any assistance!

stel_oc on September 26, 2011 at 8:56 am

Just wondering by chance if any of you remember John Wynn,He worked at the State back in the 1930’s, 40’s. He was my Grandfather. He use to bring my Mom and her brother there. My Mother remembers the State Well. She will turn 80 next June and would love to get more infor for her. please contact me at Thank-you

rvarrick on April 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm

DSchneebeeli,I worked at the State Theater from 1957-1960 and helped out your dad (Bill)backstage and also in the office with Ted Harris.
I still have his card from The Valley Kennels.He also worked at the Strand Theater in Hartford.Hope you read this and anyone else who worked at the State,please contact me at
Thank you.Robert Varrick

BillG on October 24, 2010 at 6:00 am

Hi. If anyone has any photos, newspaper ads, or other memorabilia from the 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll era, I’d really appreciate hearing fro you. Write to me at Thanks.

DSchneebeli on July 7, 2010 at 9:49 am

Wow ! The State Theater.I can’t hark back to my childhood without talking about the State, it is interwoven with my fondest of memories from my earliest recallections to the day the music died in 1960. My Father was backstage Manager and Maintainence Manager for the State from early 40’s to it’s demise in may ,1960. I spent every possible moment at the state, either backstate on the weekends or in the theater itself during the week I would help my father carry tins of film to the projection room, whick by the way was located high above the massive main floor via a catwalk in the domed ceiling.
I was always scaredd to death of that treck, but I hid my fears pretty well , as I did not want to let my Dad know. Ted and Sam Harris ran the State, myself,my brother, and 2 sisters, called them Uncle, they both could not have been more wonderful to us. (I was the youngest born in ‘47 my brother '45 and sisters were'44 and '43)
I recall on one occation My brother slammed my pinky in our backdoor and when he opened it the tip was just hanging by a thread, so my Dad ran my over to the State and Uncle Sam’s office where Her quickly got a needle and thread and sewed it back on. By the way 57 years later it still looks great. I was about 6 then. Another memory comes to mind, while Pat Boone was slotted for a weekend, He wanted to see Elvis perform on the ed Sullivan Show (in 1956) tv’s were not plentiful back then, so my father brought him to our apartment, for a viewing on our round screen Philco TV, Pat stayed for the entire performace had a few cookies and a cold drink and left with my Father to perform next door. (My sisters both thought Pat was DREAMY lol)I can close my eyes and see the backstage area, mostly painted in battleship gray(some of which was painted by yours truely) the 8 or so dressing rooms, one of which My father used as a darkroom to develope his many pics, He was an amatuer photographer also (Bill’s photo service) and That room was also used for many of the guys to just Jam. I also have great memories of those sessions. Ahhh yes the State Theater my playground growing-up. If you listen closely you can hear my Dad yelling out “5 minutes, 5 minutes till showtime…” As an aside the coffe that all the stars raved about that my father made for them was “Chuck full Of Nuts” brand LOL

sjmonday on July 1, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Mary Rohan and Bill Foley were teenagers in the late 1930’s who often were called to the stage at the State Theater to do the “jitterbug”. Does anyone have any memories of these events to share?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 23, 2007 at 9:58 am

A sad photo of the State Theatre in the process of demolition can be seen in the “Images of America” volume Hartford, Volume II on page 62.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 23, 2007 at 9:30 am

Two period photos (1940s?) of the State Theatre can be seen in the “Images of America” volume Hartford, Volume I on page 43. One of the pictures shows the vertical marquee. Another has a large mob of patrons circling the entrance area. Perhaps I should scan and post.

metoo on April 21, 2006 at 6:00 pm

My father had been an usher at the State Theater in Hartford during the 30s.
He often spoke about it. He said that he saw all the big stars there. I remember him speaking of Bela Lougosi (who did the Dracula character for the ushers).
Before the State was torn down, we went there on a Sunday. No one was around. It was sunny out. My father took his 35mm camera and took lots of color slides of the whole area.
The person who wrote about the I-84 ramps is right in a sense. Today, you have the insane ramps where I-84 meets I-91 where the State Theater was (you used to have to drive off the highway and take a few streets behind G. Fox, in front of WTIC AKA Constitution Plaza to get to ther other highway).
The Hartford Civic Center ripped the center out of Hartford. All the shops and apartments were torn down. What a mistake! One winter morning the roof fell in! Hartford has office buildings. There is no reason to go there.

anexwaterburian on August 18, 2005 at 8:16 am

Joe Mulhall, now known as Ken Griffin, was a teen-aged disk jockey on WWCO, WATR, and WBRY in Waterbury in the 1950s. He recalled the days of live performances at the State Theater in the early 1950s in his 2002 autobiography “A Great Face For Radio”:

“Hartford’s State Theater was the largest venue in the world to me, with over 3000 seats. I would beg and plead with my poor parents to drive every Sunday from Waterbury to Hartford for their Sunday super-show. They had real stars every week and we would see every one, and wait at the stage door with autograph book and pen in hand. I filled up two books with autographs of stars like Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, and Carol Burnett.”

AlLarkin on June 7, 2005 at 1:45 pm

Remember seeing Fats Domino at the State. We were seated back in the second half of the auditorium. I recall that I had a better view of Mr. Domino on a 17" TV while watching him on the Ed Sullivan Show. He did rock (and Roll) the house,though. The State’s marquee(s) impressed me. They had several smaller ones instead of the bigger ones other theaters had at the time. This was definitely a unique theater. Binoculars definitely needed.

Dixieland on April 25, 2005 at 9:49 am

I used to work as an usher at the State Theater in Hartford in 1956 and 1957 when Ted Harris was the Theater Manager. He booked all the Alan Freed Rock and Roll events. I saw Micky and Silvia, Paul Anka, Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry, Danny and the Juniors, Little Richard, too many tyo remember them all. It was outstanding. Ahhh youth.

shinestar on April 9, 2005 at 7:24 pm

I was born and raised a Jew in the North End of Hartford, CT. I was a teen during the 50s and vividly recall the beginning of rock and roll. The State Theater played a huge roll in my teens. My friends and I were allowed to attend matinees where we always sat in the front row, which meant cowboys, Indians, and horses falling in our laps during the movie. The movie part of the program included a newsreel and 1 or 2 cartoons. But they were the opening act for the piece de resistance: the stage show. We saw every major star of the time performing the original songs such as Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Etta James, The Crystals, The Platters, and Mickey and Sylvia. I was very impressed with the clothes they all wore and the dance steps. I can still see Sylvia in her sparkling silver formal with matching strappy sandals, and I can still do her little dance from “Love is Strange”. When Pat Boone came to town, we didn’t go because, even then, we understood his covers took money from people like Little Richard. I think the only star who didn’t come to town was Elvis. We weren’t big enough for him but that was okay with us.

The only reason the theater was demolished was to make room for I-84. Hartford High and the block surrounding it was also demolished for that reason.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on February 9, 2004 at 5:28 pm

The State was known as the premier performance and concert venue in Hartford. It was only used as a movie theatre as a secondary attraction to its live shows.

richardg on February 9, 2004 at 4:57 pm

Although I never saw the State, I knew of its existance. A friend of mine performed there in the 1950’s. I was in Hartford around 1980, but the theatre was already gone. I can vividly remember the picture that my friend, Charlie Gracie, had of the State theatre with his name on the marquee. I’ll bet he still has the picture and I’ll submit it if this feature ever gets back on line.

William on November 19, 2003 at 6:03 pm

The State Theatre was located at 70 Village Street and in listing from the 50’s it seated 3064 people.