Star Art Theatre

1205 N. 3rd Street,
Harrisburg, PA 17102

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Star Art Theatre

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The Royal Theatre was opened prior to 1914 and was located on N. 3rd Street, with seating listed at 352. It had closed by 1932 still a silent theatre. By 1934 and thru 1936 it was listed as the Star Theatre (Closed) and had opened by 1937. No information on owners/operators.

The theatre from what info I found closed by the late-1950’s. It went over to screening adult movies from around 1960 as the Star Art Theatre. It was closed at the end of 1976.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

JohnMessick
JohnMessick on March 1, 2010 at 12:14 pm

As a kid I remember the Star Art as being an X rated movie theater.

1posterfan4sure
1posterfan4sure on March 2, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Oh what a colorful past this little theater had. The Star wasn’t always an adult theater. It was simply a very small neighborhood house in an area of town that if you didn’t have to be there, you probably shouldn’t be. It catered to the local audience with second-run movies. I recall it played double-features a lot of the time. “A Star feature means double entertainment!” the ads used to say. I think it opened and closed a few times over the years. I only saw the Star once or twice in my lifetime, before the switch to what the owners euphemistically called “art” films.

That would have been around 1961, perhaps as early as 1960. The Star became the Star-Art, “Home of Unusual Art Films.” They showed what at the time were quaintly called “nudies.” In many ways the Star-Art was a pioneer of the genre. Russ Meyer’s “The Immoral Mister Teas” played there for quite some time. Nudies at the time had little more than a little skin and titillation, and not much of either. There was no actual sex. They were just teasers. Many mainstream Hollywood pictures of today are infinitely more graphic.

There was an audience for those movies and the Star-Art prospered. A lot of cities tried to shut down theaters like the Star-Art. York was battling the Southern into the 1970s before they gave up. Harrisburg just didn’t seem to care as long as the theater was in a shabby neighborhood. For those of us who were teenagers at the time, the Star-Art held a real mystery, but none of us would have dared go there.

As the movies turned to graphic nudity and sex, the Star-Art went right along, but encountered competition it would have never thought possible, from the Senate on Market Square and even from some suburban theaters. The Star-Art finally unreeled its last flick at the end of 1976.

Ironically, the Third Street area where the Star was once located has become “Midtown,” a very trendy residential area for young professionals.

Ross Care
Ross Care on April 22, 2014 at 9:40 pm

One of the twin theaters in Park City Mall in Lancaster (Pa.) eventually showed porn. The other one screened regular films.

I seem to remember the Star was also known for showing obscure B movies, westerns and such, during the ‘50s (much like the downtown Rio).

As I’ve noted elsewhere, the Senate was where I first experienced the Disney features (including the reissue of FANTASIA)and the great UI science fiction films of the ‘50s, some in 3-D. Also the first CinemaScope films in Hbg. (that the State did not get).

I have nothing against porn but I hated to see the beloved Senate go that route. I often wanted to go in to see what my old favorite theater was like before it closed but I did not want to blight some of my favorite movie memories.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 28, 2018 at 8:40 pm

In 1914, 1205 N. 3rd Street was the address of a house called the Royal Theatre, which had been operated by Isaac Marcus for several years. According to an article in the October 10 issue of Motion Picture News, Marcus had just opened the new National Theatre at Sixth and Duaphin Street in September.

Marcus was still operating the Royal in 1927, when the December 15 issue of The Evening News noted that he had just leased two other theaters, the Rialto and the National, to Mr. and Mrs. George Krupa, theater operators from Lancaster. The article also said that it was possible that the Krupas would also lease the Royal at a later date.

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