66 Pennsylvania Avenue,
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The Cameo Theatre opened in early October 1972 with a Marx Brothers double feature “Horse Feathers” and “Duck Soup”. Opening special was $1.25 adult admission, every Monday and Tuesday.
By early-1973, it was showing R-rated movies as part of United General Theater chain, which also opened and ran the Waterford Cinema at around the same time, in the Waterford Shopping Plaza next to the Waterford Drive-In (that DI opened in August 1973).
The layouts and facades for both the Waterford Theatre and the Cameo Theatre were identical. Both were designed as pillbox strip-mall single-screen houses, each located at the far end of a row of businesses.
In mid-April 1973, the Cameo Theatre was showing “Carnal Knowledge” at night, and an 85 cent kids matinee on Saturday and Sunday with “Tom Thumb”.
In late-July 1973, the Cameo Theatre closed for renovations, wrapping up with a weekend matinee of “House of Wax” in 3D with Vincent Price. When it reopened over the first week of July 1974, under new owners (who also ran legit and X-rated theaters in Rhode Island and MA, some of them reputed to be Mafia-operated).
The Cameo Theatre showed one more R-rated double feature (Woody Allen’s “Sleeper” and “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex”). Then, on July 13, 1974, it debuted its first X-rated film, although it was a “soft” X, with “Last Tango in Paris”.
On July 19, 1974, the Cameo Theatre went full hardcore for the first time with a feature called “Forced Entry”. Shows were daily at 1:30, 7:30, and 9:00. The debut X-rated advertisement in the New London Day was huge, reading ‘Look! The Finest in Adult Entertainment! Just 10 minutes from New London, take 95 south to exit 74’.
At that time (summer 1974), other local X-rated theaters in Connecticut included the Palace Twin Theatre in Norwich (which sometimes showed regular films on one screen and X on the other), the Saybrook Cinema, the State Theatre in Jewett City (which had the area exclusive on “Deep Throat”, ie it was reputed to be a “mob-run” theater), the Capitol Theatre in New London (which showed X at night, kiddie matinees on weekends, and hosted rock concerts!), the Franklin Square Cinema, and the Groton Drive-In. The Groton DI (which survived far longer than Groton’s Bridge Drive-In, which closed in late-1973) would soon go X full-time. Soft X screened at the UA Groton Drive-In and Norwich/New London Drive-In that summer, and would soon play the Waterford Drive-In too.
The Cameo Theatre changed owners around 1983 and continued to screen porn until closing for good in 1985.
As of April 2012, a Post Office branch occupies the space where the Cameo Theatre formerly operated.
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