Maplewood Theatre

155 Maplewood Avenue,
Maplewood, NJ 07040

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Maplewood Theatre

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Opened on March 15, 1927 with Rudolph Valentino on “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, the Maplewood Theatre began showing movies in addition to live performances in the 1940s.

The theatre was enormous and was one of the largest in New Jersey. It was cut into three and later four screens in the late-1980’s and early-1990’s.

“It is my general recollection however that the extravagent interior is still under modern covering… and a small part of the ceiling (with egg and dart moulding) can be seen peeking out of the dropped ceiling in one of the rooms. It is a candidate for restoration for sure, and it is in a very progressive town that gets behind these sort of things. The theater is still a huge success as a 4-plex and there is little chance of it going out of business.”

Contributed by John

Recent comments (view all 34 comments)

kencmcintyre on November 28, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Here is a photo of Tallulah Bankhead in front of the Maplewood in 1940. The photo is from Life Magazine:

JerseyChris on January 19, 2009 at 9:04 am

I grew up in Maplewood and have many fond memories of going to the movies at the Maplewood Theatre during the 1970’s, when it was one big auditorium. I especially remember going to Saturday matinee or having pizza at the Roman Gourmet before or after a show. I recall as a very young kid, during which must have been the very late 1960’s or maybe 1970, of seeing live singers before the movie began -I think it was a Christmas show. Great memories!

moviebuff82 on March 26, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Starting tomorrow, Monsters vs Aliens will be shown in 3D.

kencmcintyre on April 11, 2009 at 11:16 am

Here is another life photo, circa 1953:

poland626 on January 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm

I think I overheard the manager talking about having Clearview start to buy this theater but I’m not sure. This was a few months ago, like October

The only good theater, IMO, is the one that has the 3D projection. The screen isn’t the biggest but it has the best sound in the whole theater and every other screen has crappy sound quality but I still go here because it’s the closest place with big screens.

John on November 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I posted some pictures including a handbill from 1936, some exterior shots from 60’s/70’s, an interior shot from about 5 years ago (Manager let me pop a ceiling tile and shoot the original ceiling)… and best of all, Bill Bojangles Robinson on stage in the 1940’s. Yes, that is Mr. Bojangles, and the show is “The Hot Mikado”. Glory days of the Maplewood Theater were the early 40’s that’s for sure.

John Fink
John Fink on November 26, 2011 at 8:03 pm

@Poland – – this is one of the rare downtown ones Clearview didn’t buy. Clearivew as an operation has gotten better, and spends resources upgrading the concession areas, bathrooms, and seats – – but never on correcting major mistakes made in the projection room when subdividing theaters. So many of the theaters they buy were poorly built/subdivided that you’d have a better experience in a discount house.

John on January 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Remember or hear family tales about the Maplewood Theater’s glory days? The Durand Hedden House and Garden Association wants to hear from you! In preparation for a forthcoming exhibit, Durand Hedden is collecting pictures, ephemera, and anecdotes about the Maplewood Theater’s 86 year run. Did you happen snap a Polaroid when Ghostbusters was playing? Found something on eBay you want to share with the world? Even as much as an old ticket stub, we want it! Stories and memories are also welcome. Contact or 973-763-7712 to help make this exhibit a success.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 26, 2015 at 3:47 pm

How did the exhibit go?

John on May 14, 2016 at 5:51 pm

The exhibit was… astounding. The original blueprints were found and used to build a three dimensional model of the auditorium. A Wurlitzer Style E Console (same as it originally had) was on display, with actual recordings of the organ from 1927 made by Edison Records and never released! The National Park Service had found them. The exhibit covered every decade, even the dark and dank 70’s and 80’s era… with a few highlights like when they managed to get Jaws and sell the place out every night. The theater manager in the 80’s saved the posters, including the Ghostbusters poster that hung out front for months. (Not a poster, THE poster from THIS theater). The best had to be the 1940’s when the theater brought back the lives shows and ran through a different show every week with A-names in the cast like Helen Hayes, Ethel Barrymore, Tallulah Bankhead, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Robeson, Teresa Wright (who lived in Maplewood!) among endless more. The climax was the first revival of the thus-far-failed Porgy and Bess where Cheryl Crawford cut down the opera into a musical which was moved to Broadway after leaving Maplewood. Amazingly, there were photographs of these productions from the Billy Rose Library… as well as huge clippings binders reviewing every show. The exhibit was simply everything this theater deserved and more.

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