Prince Edward Theatre

36-42 Castlereagh Street,
Sydney, NSW 2000

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Prince Edward Theatre

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The Prince Edward Theatre opened on 5th December 1924 with the silent version of Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments”, which ran for 36 weeks. It was designed by the architectural firm Robertson and Marks, with marble staircases, a fountain, and a 16 foot crystal chandelier in the dome in the auditorium. The theatre had a Wurlitzer 2Manual/10Ranks organ which was opened by American organist Eddie Horton, who had come over from the California Theatre, San Francisco, California. There was a full orchestra, the Prince Edward Concert Orchestra, initially conducted by American conductor Will Prior, from Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre, Los Angeles, California. Stage presentation Prologues were also featured as part of the programme in the early years.

Bob Hope attended the opening of his film “The Seven Little Foys” in June 1955, which included an appearance on the stage. Almost every film screened at the Prince Edward Theatre was from the Paramount Studios.

It closed on 4 December 1965 with a re-presentation of “War and Peace, starring Audrey Hepburn. It was later demolished.

Contributed by Graeme McBain

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

leebee60
leebee60 on February 19, 2009 at 2:26 am

hi paul yes it was dallas and hudson rings a bell with me dallas was tall and had red hair.
hi david yes there was one married to les mcgrath she had left just before i started i wasnt there when you left i went on to work at the st james theatre oh what a let down lol oh and sandshoe sam mmmm i used to wonder if he was a flasher lol gosh this is so great finding out about the pe if we didnt want to go out the front because there was a guy we didnt want to see we would go up through the organ into the theatre and out the back way the people in the front row used to get a shock lol

leebee60
leebee60 on February 19, 2009 at 2:31 am

i often wonder about the girls my friend was june davidson and the 2 carmels the photos i will have to dig out and then scan them and email if you like i will let u know on here when thats done

Ianinsydney
Ianinsydney on June 18, 2010 at 3:24 am

Many of the light fittings from the Prince Edward are still in situ at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba. The organ is preserved at Marrickville Town Hall and it has been there for over 40 years now !
A photograph of the interior of the Prince Edward with the organ being installed in 1924 can be found in the Wurlitzer book. The latter is available through the American Theatre Organ Society

johngleeson
johngleeson on May 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm

The Prince Edward was at 36-42 Castlereagh Street and ran through the block with the back of the building (looking like another front) at 51-53 Elizabeth Street. It was very close to Martin Place and blocks away from the above map which has it on Park Street. In the 50’s the theatre installed a huge curved aluminum VistaVision screen. It was a one piece screen that had to be placed through the roof. Anyone who saw the premiere of Strategic Air Command on this screen will never forget the amazing sharpness and depth – the HD of its day.

Bill_C
Bill_C on August 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I was at the last night at The Prince Edward … it was sad … there were rats running all over the floor and the front of the proscenium from the demolition next door … the film was “Beckett” … a return season. This cinema and the St. James were national treasures and should never have been allowed to go.

KenR
KenR on August 31, 2012 at 7:41 am

While cleaning up today, found an old Theatre Ticket. It was for the final screening at the Prince Edward Thr in Syd, dated Sat 4th December (1965). The film that brought down the final curtain was the disappointing Paramount release of “War and Peace” ~ Great IB Technicolor and Cast, but a rather poor international co-production indeed. I see someone else (Bill C) has posted that it was “Beckett” (a better film to be sure) but, I and a lady friend were there, and it was sadly, “War and Peace” that ended this great Dream Palaces days (perhaps they may have screened several titles over different sessions on that day ~ maybe someone can clarify, and ease the confusion….?)

After the feature there were cheers and tears as a special Thr Tag was screened ~ “Thanking patrons for their years of support” ~ at the same time Streamers (and also Balloons I recall) were dropped from the ceiling.

A sad night for the Grand Days of Cinema. Pity about ‘War and Peace’ ~ maybe the sound vers of “Ten Commandments” could have been a better contender…considering it was the Silent vers that opened this fine Thr 41 yrs earlier,on the 5th of December 1924. But, even so, was good to share in the memory! K…………..

KenR
KenR on September 1, 2012 at 1:23 am

Johngleeson writes about a huge VistaVision Screen being installed into the Prince Edward. My understanding was that all films shot in ‘true VistaVision’ were screened in Australia on 35mm reduction prints with a 1.85 ratio ~ Indeed, the prints we screened in G.U.O. Theatres were all 35mm thick frame line reduction copies. At times, we would get the prints that were screened at The Edward and all were 35mm 1.85 W/S. Nor at any time did I see any ‘true VistaVision’ prints at Paramount Dispatch. Is this a miss-understanding by the comment poster? or for a short time, did The Edward (or any other Australian Theatre ever screen true V/V..?? (maybe a correction needed with this)

johngleeson
johngleeson on December 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm

You’re probably right Ken. The circuits fibbed about wide screen processes and I remember Paramount plugging the VitaScreen – sounds a bit like VistaVision. The screen was a big improvement though and made 35mm look better. Hoyts quibbled about Tood AO at the Paris which didn’t have it, and GU had their Wydascope.

ColP
ColP on August 26, 2013 at 12:00 am

Around 1945 – 1947 my mum took me to see my Grandfather, Alfred O'Brien who was the band leader, and my mum’s dad, at the Prince Edward. I was 5 to 7 years old at the time. I guess we saw a movie as well, but whatever it was, I cannot recall. The theatre was amazing to me at that age, with it’s marble circular staircase and the giant chandelier. And when grandpa came into view with the band playing on the elevator floor in front of the stage, I was very excited. I believe that Alfred O'Brien was one of the founding members of the Musician’s Union of Australia, and he was also a very good bike rider. He won a race called the Sydney 1000.Don’t know the year. Believe the prize was a thousand pounds? Would love to hear from anyone who may have known Alfred O'Brien at the Prince Edward.

Glee
Glee on March 27, 2014 at 10:56 pm

I am hoping to find any one that has photo’s from 1958 to 1960. I was Usherette, Stand girl,(Dressed in white ball gown Tiara etc) & Cashier. I have lost all my photo’s of the girls & would dearly love to see them again & any with myself in them. Along time ago but wonderful memories. Glee (Glennis)

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