New Oakland Theatre

213 Atwood Street,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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The New Oakland Theater, bombed April 30, 1934

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A theatre in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. The New Oakland Theatre was built in 1931 adjacent to the Oakland Theatre. The new theatre was operating at least by July 29, 1932, when the Lebanon Daily News reported that Lina Basquette, Hollywood actress fell off the stage of the New Oakland Theatre while appearing in a vaudeville tour with Jack Dempsey, the one-time heavyweight champion boxer. It was damaged by a time-bomb on February 26, 1932. It was time-bombed again on April 30, 1934, allegedly due to labor disputes. There were four theatres bomber that evening; they were the Arcadia Theatre, 823 Ohio Street, North Side, the New Oakland Theatre, 213-215 Attwood Street, the Atlas Theatre, 206 Perrysville Avenue, North Side and the Colony Theatre, 7209 Broadway, West Park. At the time of the bombing, it is apparent in a press photograph that the old Oakland Theatre was still ‘For Sale’. The very fact that the original Oakland Theatre was also missing its façade suggests that it may also have been bombed. The Pittsburgh Press reported on May 10, 1934 that the police had arrested four suspects, while ten more suspects were outstanding. There had been a rash of theatre bombings in America in the early-1930’s, and at least 17 theatre bombings took place in Pittsburgh. In fact just a few days before the bombing, on April 21, 1934, the New Oakland Theatre had been smoke bomber during a movie screening, resulting in 8 persons injured, and panic ensued. In spite of these attacks, the New Oakland Theatre did make a comeback, and movie listings appear in newspapers through the 1930’s and into the 1940’s.

In 1941, it was reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp took over the New Oakland Theatre from Tom Gilbert. By October 26, 1943, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Warner Bor. Circuit Management Corp. had promoted the New Oakland theatre manager Phil Katz to the Center Theatre at N. Craig Street & Center Avenue. Billboard magazine from August 12, 1944 lists the theatre under ‘Magic’, and it reported that the manager of the New Oakland Theatre was then Madeline Kelly, the former Mrs. George Marquis.

The New Oakland Theatre was still open in 1952 but had gone from listings by 1955.

Contributed by jrs99cinefile, Jason Vanderhill

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

jflundy
jflundy on June 7, 2008 at 6:04 pm

This theater was closed and gutted in the early 1930’s. Here is a photo of it after it had been gutted on 26 february 1932:

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Jason Vanderhill
Jason Vanderhill on December 21, 2015 at 4:32 pm

The Oakland Theatre was built during the Great Depression by Adolph Zukor, the founder of Paramount Pictures. On December 13, 1930, the Evening News of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania announced ground had broken the day prior on the new $3,000,000 theater. Based on the comment above, it looks like it didn’t last long if it was indeed gutted by February, 1932. I’ve added a photo of the New Oakland Theatre, which also shows the original Oakland Theatre right next door. In the photo, you can see both the old Oakland Theatre and the New Oakland Theatre buildings, and note the spelling of the word Theatre is consistent with both venues. The New Oakland Theatre was operating at least by July 29, 1932, when the Lebanon Daily News reported that Lina Basquette, Hollywood actress fell off the stage of the New Oakland Theatre while appearing on a vaudeville tour with Jack Dempsey, the one-time heavyweight champion boxer. The photo I’ve added shows the New Oakland Theatre was time-bombed on April 30, 1934, allegedly due to labor disputes. There were four theaters bombed that evening; the Arcadia Theater, 823 East Ohio Street, North Side; the New Oakland Theater, 213-215 Atwood Street, Oakland; the Atlas Theater, 2603 Perrysville Avenue, North Side; and the Colony Theater, 720 Broadway, West Park. In this same photo, it is apparent that the old Oakland Theatre is still for sale, and movie posters are hanging over the building’s facade, along with a for sale sign beneath. You might just be able to make out the movie poster at the top left; it is for the 1933 MGM film Dinner at Eight, which featured eight stars including Marie Dressler, Lionel & John Barrymore, Jean Harlow and others. The fact that the original Oakland Theatre is also missing its facade could suggest it too was bombed. The Pittsburgh Press reported on May 10, 1934 that there had been a rash of theater bombings in Pittsburgh in the early 1930s, when at least 17 theater bombings took place.

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