George W. Newman Theatre

1 Williams Plaza,
Rutherford, NJ 07070

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Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on October 29, 2013 at 10:51 am

I’ve run across a reference that may not be accurate. It says that Wurlitzer organ opus 1117 (10 ranks) was moved to the Rivoli (Rutherford NJ) but there’s no date when that might have happened. Opus 1117 had originally been installed at the Regent in Kearny NJ in 1925. Seems odd that the Rivoli would sell opus 482 (9 ranks) and buy the used 1117 which was only 1 rank bigger. That’s a lot of money and hassle for 1 rank. Wonder if the Rivoli and the Regent were owned by the same company?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 13, 2010 at 11:35 pm

A 1985 article in the Rutherford News Leader said that the Rivoli was built in 1922, and was designed by architect Abram Preiskel. Preiskel was also for many years a partner in the operation of the Rivoli Theatre with Harry Hecht, as mentioned in Boxoffice Magazine of September 20, 1941.

Indirect confirmation of 1922 as the Rivoli’s opening year is found in a September 14, 1946, Boxoffice article about a Mr. William D. Waldron, which mentions that he had been managing director of the Rivoli in Rutherford for nine years when, in 1931, he finally got the city to allow movies to be shown on Sunday.

NannyDeb
NannyDeb on September 7, 2009 at 11:59 am

I just was here last night (9/6/09) and had a very strange experience. I am hoping it was because it was Sunday night of Labor Day weekend. I went to see the 7:00 showing of “Shorts” with my granddaughter and thought it be fun to go to a theatre that I went to as a kid since I grew up in the neighboring town of North Arlington. We had the only 2 tickets for the 7:00 showing which was sort of neat to be in Cinema 2 alone and feel like it was our own private theatre. Cinema 1 was suppose to show “The Time Travelers Wife” and they did not even show it since not even 1 ticket was sold for this movie. GI Joe played with a couple of people in there and Glorious Bestards played also with a ghost audience. Afterwards we walked around and looked into what use to be the old Rivoli and it is still in need of major renovation from what I could see. It was sort of eerie being there with basically no one around. My 10 year old granddaughter thought it was really cool. I just hope that on other nights they have a much larger attendance because if not I have no idea how they will be able to maintain keeping the doors open.

fotogbill
fotogbill on March 29, 2009 at 8:29 pm

I was just informed of the Wurlitzer Opus 482 from the Rivoli in Rutherford, NJ and I would like to contact the present owner. Can anyone suggest a way to contact this person or company? Please reply directly to I would be interested in it’s purchase and return to the Rivoli / Williams Center

wurl240
wurl240 on March 26, 2009 at 2:16 pm

The Wurlitzer Opus 482 from the Rivoli did go to Spokane, WA. years ago. The console, featured in a 1924 Wurlitzer sales catalog, is
now stored in the San Francisco Bay Area. Anyone interested in
putting an instrument back into the Newman-Rivoli…? The organ was
separated from the console 30+ years ago.

AndrewBarrett
AndrewBarrett on September 19, 2008 at 2:55 am

It would be nice if, as part of the theatre renovation, they could buy back the original organ! It is currently listed for sale by a gentleman up in Washington state:

View link

Perhaps the GSTOS chapter of ATOS can get involved?

BergenCountyFilmCommission
BergenCountyFilmCommission on March 25, 2008 at 6:04 am

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and all films presented by the Bergen County FIlm Commission at the Williams Center will be screened in the Rivoli. The only time we will screen in other areas of the Williams Center will be during our 3-day September 26-28 Reel Jersey Film Festival. This festival will access all the screens in the Williams Center including the Rivoli to showcase not only classic films but also present day filmmakers from around the country and the films of high school students based in Bergen County. This is “Reel Jersey Film Festival: A Celebration of American Film Past, Present & Future.”

Hope to see you in the Rivoli of the Williams Center this Thursday night at 7:30PM (March 27th) for Baby Jane and on Friday, March 28 at 7:30PM for An Evening of Vaudeville with Uncle Floyd which will include a screening of restored Vitaphone vaudeville shorts.

See www.bergencountyfilmcommission.org for a full calendar of our listings through April. We will soon add our calendar for September through December 2008.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 24, 2008 at 5:39 pm

This is great news. At last the Rivoli, where I spent several hundred hours of my childhood and teen years, is open for movies again.

Is “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” being shown in the Rivoli on 3/27, or at one of the other Williams Center screens?

BergenCountyFilmCommission
BergenCountyFilmCommission on March 24, 2008 at 2:56 pm

The Bergen County Film Commission is proud to call the Williams Center and “The Rivoli” its new home. This commission, created in late 2007 by the Bergen County Board of Freeholders, is an all volunteer commission patterned after the successful Fort Lee Film Commission. The Chair of the new commission is Nelson Page and the Executive Director Tom Meyers, both of the Fort Lee FIlm Commission. This commission has started, since January 2008, a series of retrospective film programs in the Rivoli through the use of a newly purchased digital projector. Film programs are scheduled throughout 2008 -visit www.bergencountyfilmcommission.org We hope to have 35MM capability in The Rivoli for the September 26-28 Reel Jersey Film Festival which will access all 5 screens of the Williams Center. The Bergen County Film Commission will assist Bergen County and the Williams Center Board in the renovation of The Rivoli.

bmiloche
bmiloche on January 20, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Although the George Newman Theatre / Rivoli Theatre in Rutherford has a long way to go on its restoration project. A 17' x 30' movie screen was donated by Nelson Page and installed in January 2008 for the Silent film presentation of “Steam Bill Jr.” to be held on January 25, 2008 and a Conn electronic theatre organ has been donated to the Bergen County Film Commission for use in the Williams Center. even though the Conn organ is electronic it is the first “THEATRE ORGAN” to play in the Rivoli / Williams Center since the removal of the Wurlitzer pipe organ many years ago.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on October 15, 2007 at 12:35 pm

Check out the Rutherford forum at nj.com (http://www.nj.com/forums/rutherford). Then search for “Williams”. You’ll see lots of backlash against the cleanup and restoration of the center, which will cost taxpayers in Rutherford lots of money. This doesn’t affect the cinemas, as they are still open and will soon face competition from their next city neighbor East Rutherford, with the Xanadu megaplex opening next year.

KAP
KAP on December 5, 2006 at 5:42 pm

I recently went to the Williams Center (2006) and the main theater is still needing restoration. The seating is much smaller than the Rivoli. Yesterday we sat in Palaces now we sit in boxes, that’s progress I guess.

teecee
teecee on August 11, 2005 at 3:39 am

update on the renovations:

The Record (Bergen County, NJ), March 18, 2005 pL02
Arts center given $750,000; Freeholders contribute to renovation of The Williams. (LOCAL) Zinnia Faruque; Special To The Record.

Byline: ZINNIA FARUQUE, SPECIAL TO THE RECORD

RUTHERFORD – The Williams Center for the Arts is getting a face-lift, with the help of the freeholders.

On Wednesday, the freeholders presented the board of trustees for the Williams Center with a $750,000 check, which will go toward the rehabilitation of the not-for-profit performing arts and cinema complex in downtown Rutherford.

“The Williams Center for the Arts is a historic site,” said Freeholder Chairwoman and Rutherford Mayor Bernadette McPherson.

“For many residents, it has been their first experience with culture … their first experience with seeing a movie. I know that can be said for my children,” said McPherson, who remembers taking her daughter to see the Disney-animated movie “Little Mermaid” at the Williams Center years ago.

Estimating the renovations at $3 million to $4 million, McPherson said the freeholders want to revamp the county-owned building, which has been neglected for many years.

In the past, capital improvements to the building were the responsibility of the not-for-profit center.

The first phase of renovation will begin in the summer to replace the roof. In the following months, new seats, carpeting and lighting will be installed for the two movie theaters.

The target date for reopening the theater will be mid-October, said McPherson.

The center’s board and the freeholders want to return the theater back to its glory days.

Named for the poet/physician William Carlos Williams, who lived two blocks away, the six-story center was originally constructed in the 1920s as The Rivoli, a live vaudeville theater.

The domed theater reverberated with the voices of Abbott and Costello, as well as the swing music of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Today, under a chandelier twinkling with 60,000 pieces of Czechoslovakian crystal, the live theater has recently staged opera performances, such as Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” and Verdi’s “Rigoletto” by the Hudson Opera Company.

Below the stage house, in the basement, are movie theaters that feature mainstream films, such as “Hitch” and “The Pacifier” this week.

Born in 1883, Rutherford native William Carlos Williams was inspired by encounters with his patients – the immigrants and natives of North Jersey. He found poetry in the everyday lives of working people. Williams won a Pulitzer Prize for his poetry in 1963, the year of his death.

Jane Fisher, executive director of the Rutherford Public Library, said the library is teaming up with the center and the town to hold a William Carlos Williams poetry symposium in the fall, which could include a performance of a Williams play at the center.

“It is the cultural gem of this town,” Fisher said of the center, which is across the street from the library. “We are so lucky that we have a performing arts center that is right there, smack in the middle.”


E-mail:

CAPTION(S):

PHOTO – KEVIN R. WEXLER / SPECIAL TO THE RECORD – Frank Covello, silhouetted at left, an architectural draftsman, and Bob Culek, architect for the county, reviewing a blueprint of the Williams Center for the Arts on Thursday at the historic Rutherford complex.

Article CJ130470422

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 10, 2005 at 4:14 pm

In this ad, you can see that the Rivoli had its own theater organ, played on Friday and Saturday nights. I never heard the organ myself since I always went on Sunday afternoons. I went to the show in this ad – as described above, it was the first movie I saw by myself, at the age of 8. Times certainly have changed …

View link

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 8, 2005 at 4:13 am

Here’s an ad from when the Rivoli was showing a great film classic of the 1960’s:

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Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 8, 2005 at 4:06 am

The main auditorium has been renovated but it was also made smaller. It doesn’t stretch as far back as it used to when it was the Rivoli. And, as far as I know, they don’t show movies in there (the biggest disappointment). At least the beautiful chandelier is still intact.

RobertR
RobertR on July 8, 2005 at 2:20 am

I went to a movie convention back in the 90’s that was held in the main auditorium. Is it still not renovated?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 8, 2005 at 1:49 am

I was wrong about the year “The Sound of Music” played the Rivoli for many months. It was 1967, not 1966. Here’s a Bergen Record ad announcing the engagement:

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teecee
teecee on July 5, 2005 at 9:54 am

A Wurlitzer organ, opus 482, was installed in the Rivoli Theater on 12/12/1921.

davidcapo
davidcapo on August 30, 2004 at 6:42 pm

I grew up about a mile away in Carlstadt and would walk to the Rivoli as a kid. Saw many films there including A Hard Day’s Night, Help, French Connection, Take the Money and Run, They Shoot Horses Don’t They?

My sister took ballet classes in studio above the theatre and I would have to go there and wait while she took her lessons. I was able to climb out the front window and stand inside the aforementioned pre-1966 marquee.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 9, 2004 at 9:53 am

They had a great old-fashioned marquee which was hit by a truck sometime after 1966, when the theater featured the exclusive area showing of “The Sound of Music” for most of that year. They replaced the marquee with a smaller, abstract red one that didn’t hold any letters – a big disappointment compared to the one they had.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 9, 2004 at 9:35 am

My family moved to Rutherford when I was 8, and I spent an incredible amount of time in the Rivoli. The first time I ever went to a movie all by myself was there: “The Great Escape” in 1963. Nowadays my friends who have kids would never dream of sending an 8-year-old to the movies alone. I guess it is a much different world.

One of the highlights out of the hundreds of movies I saw there: “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964, with big speakers installed in the back of the theater for that engagement only, and the teenage girls in the audience screaming for The Beatles as if it were a live concert.

Thanks, Warren, for posting all the facts about it. I can still see that chandelier in my mind …