Egyptian Theater

3719 N. Teutonia Avenue,
Milwaukee, WI 53206

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suemommie on November 3, 2016 at 9:14 pm

I grew up in the ‘60’s on 25th and Ruby, one block off of Teutonia, walking distance from the Egyptian. When I was an early teenager, it was popular to go to the Saturday matinee (.75) to make out. Not make out in the present day sense; flouncing up and down the aisles with another friend,tossing your hair and subtly flirting in general, or trying to get a shy glance of your target crush. Saturday matinees were entirely teenagers, free from watchful eyes of grownups, so there was a lot of stealthy smoking going on in the bathrooms and up in the back of the balcony the “fast” kids were going at it hot and heavy necking and petting; two things kids today would think is hilariously old fashioned and dumb if they knew what it meant.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on August 4, 2013 at 5:08 am

Harley Cross was the first to play the Brilliantone Barton Theater Pipe Organ, a 2/9, manual/rank, keyboard/sets of pipes. It was shipped from the Barton factory in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1927. The late Jim Rankin mentions above, that the organ ended up in a residence, anyone have any further info?

wws3 on March 16, 2012 at 2:00 am

I grew up right across the street from the Egyptian Theatre, I remember going to the movies as a little kid and for 25 cents you could watch monster movies all Saturday Afternoon. Later on when I was 15 I worked at the theatre cleaning up, and also learned how to run the arch projectors, I still look for the marks on the screen when I am watch old films; the marks were given in the upper right hand corner on when to switch reels. I have great memories of that theatre, when no one was in the show house and we were cleaning up, some of us would go up on the cat walk at the very top of the show house and have light bulb fights with the burnt out bulbs. In the late 60’s the Egyptian had stage shows on Saturday nights, Ike and Tina Turner, Red Fox all of them played there before they were famous. I also played the drums with some musical groups between acts. It was a sad day when it was torn down.

senk1198 on June 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Does anyone know whatever became of the large “flaming urns” (as the late, great, and irreplaceable Jim Rankin so well described them above) that once graced the Egyptian’s balcony? These urns, which used brightly colored fabric and internal air blowers to simulate fire decades before this technique again became popular with similar home and business decorations, were once on the “wish list” of my high-school classmate and longtime friend John Pintar when he managed Milwaukee’s Oriental Theatre, back in the early 1980s (shortly before the Egyptian was razed), for restoration and installation in the Oriental. Were the urns among the artifacts from the Egyptian that ended up going to the City of Milwaukee for storage and possible use elsewhere? Or were they bought by private collectors or other parties, or just discarded or lost? —Scott Enk

senk1198 on June 17, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Another of the great scarab beetles is now restored and presides over the refreshment counter at Milwaukee’s Times Theatre. The Times, if I’m correct, is now owned by Larry Widen, whose famous, haunting photographs of the Egyptian’s interior in its last days alone make his and Judi Anderson’s books Milwaukee Movie Palaces and its update, Silver Screens, worth their price. Mr. Widen and his colleagues continue to do great work for the cause of theater preservation in Milwaukee, having hosted a panel discussion on the topic in early 2011. —Scott Enk

rivest266 on October 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Grand opening ad:
Open the microfilm box at
View link
and load it into the machine.
When you are done, kindly rewind.

godzilla1 on April 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm

hello people i just bought 1 of the 5 foot scarob beatles from
the egyptian theater milwaukee,where can i find pics of this theater
thanks for the help dan

Janlett on August 9, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Thank you Jim Rankin for your beautiful description of the Egyptian Theatre on Teutonia in Milwaukee. I was a small child (1954-55) when I regularly went to movies there (every Saturday for sure). What a beautiful theatre and I absolutely loved it. Thanks for the memories. I also went to the Oriental Theatre when we lived on Stowell Avenue in 1953-54; also a fabulous theater.

Janet Sturtivant

janbal on July 15, 2008 at 9:01 am

As a child, I was in awe of the beauty in the Egyptian Theatre. I wonder what happened to the decorations?

JimRankin on February 20, 2005 at 11:13 pm

Joe, thank you for those kind words; it is always rewarding to know that my efforts at description/history do bring alive one of our lost ‘treasures’ to others. I feel as you do that it was a tragic loss indeed, and you are right that no religious group would have been able to make use of such decor, even if they had the funds to restore and maintain it, and without any parking, its fate was sealed in that area of White Flight to the suburbs, something that occurred faster and more thoroughly in Milwaukee than in most cities.
Unfortunately, the architects never again got the opportunity to invest such imagination in a theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 20, 2005 at 6:35 am

Here is another theater that one could wish might at least have been saved by being converted to a church. But then perhaps the modest religious folk would have found the ornate, pagan-inspired decoration too lavish and strange a setting for their services- not to mention too costly to maintain.

But the description of this exotic architectural fantasy brings me astonishment, knowing that it was a mere neighborhood theater. There were certainly no theaters this splendid in the suburban Los Angeles neighborhood in which I grew up, despite the fact that several of our local houses were of the same era as the Egyptian. Suddenly, I feel retroactively deprived.

JimRankin on February 20, 2005 at 1:17 am

Miss Patsy’s intemperate scolding of Milwaukee is unwarranted, since the city had little reasonable choice. By the time the absentee owner stoped paying taxes on it, he and the tenants had let the theatre decay to the point that it would have cost a fortune to restore, and to what use even if funds were available? The neighborhood was then and is now in sad decay, quite unable to support a movie palace of this size and splendor. No one stepped forward to rescue the EGYPTIAN, and the city was faced with a wreck that housed only vandals and transients via illegal entry. As my description above makes clear, the place was a public nuisance and threat to safety. If it had not been demolished, it was only a matter of time before children, no to mention adults, would have been injured in there or outside as portions of the marquee and walls had already fallen.

Sad to say, this is the situation with the venerable KINGS in Brooklyn, the UPTOWN in Chicago, and any number of other wonderful Cinema Treasures soon to be lost to us. Milwaukee is not alone in putting off spending a small fortune to demolish old theatres when they become a public threat and no one comes forward to rescue them, but eventually they must do what has to be legally done. I hate to see any building destroyed, but I would rather that then see it entomb the unwary citizen!

Patsy on February 19, 2005 at 7:44 pm

To demolish an Egyptian themed theatre is a real crime! Shame on you, Milwaukee!

JimRankin on April 8, 2004 at 10:40 am

For those who love the Egyptian style, there are a number of theatres that have had that theme, and an entire special issue of “Marquee” magazine was devoted to them in their issue of: Vol. 29, #3; Third Qtr. 1997, and the issue features wonderful color covers of the EGYPTIANS in Milwaukee (in the form of a wonderful color painting by artist Mark Hylton of Columbus, OH) and Ogden Ut. The table of such themed theatres includes 45 examples of those now, or at one time, with us. An introduction and Prologue carry one to those ancient days, and individual articles on the Ogden and Hollywood help detail the existing examples. Many other photos are included.
To obtain any available Back Issue of either “Marquee” or of its ANNUALS, simply go to the web site of the THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA at:
and notice on their first page the link “PUBLICATIONS: Back Issues List” and click on that and you will be taken to their listing where they also give ordering details. The “Marquee” magazine is 8-1/2x11 inches tall (‘portrait’) format, and the ANNUALS are also soft cover in the same size, but in the long (‘landscape’) format, and are anywhere from 26 to 40 pages. Should they indicate that a publication is Out Of Print, then it may still be possible to view it via Inter-Library Loan where you go to the librarian at any public or school library and ask them to locate which library has the item by using the Union List of Serials, and your library can then ask the other library to loan it to them for you to read or photocopy. [Photocopies of most THSA publications are available from University Microforms International (UMI), but their prices are exorbitant.]

Note: Most any photo in any of their publications may be had in large size by purchase; see their ARCHIVE link. You should realize that there was no color still photography in the 1920s, so few theatres were seen in color at that time except by means of hand tinted renderings or post cards, thus all the antique photos from the Society will be in black and white, but it is quite possible that the Society has later color images available; it is best to inquire of them.

Should you not be able to contact them via their web site, you may also contact their Executive Director via E-mail at:
Or you may reach them via phone or snail mail at:
Theatre Historical Soc. of America
152 N. York, 2nd Floor York Theatre Bldg.
Elmhurst, ILL. 60126-2806 (they are about 15 miles west of Chicago)

Phone: 630-782-1800 or via FAX at: 630-782-1802 (Monday through Friday, 9AM—4PM, CT)