Valley Stream Theatre

69 Rockaway Avenue,
Valley Stream, NY 11580

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Ed Miller
Ed Miller on June 27, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I can’t even begin to tell you how many movies I saw at the Valley Stream, from my childhood in the 50s. I still can’t quite accept the fact that it’s no longer there. I know, for a fact, that the last movie I saw there was Mel Brooks' “High Anxiety” in 1977. By that time I was a 27 year old adult living in Brooklyn, and I drove out to Valley Stream to meet my lifelong best friend to see the movie. It was a bitterly cold and snowy winter day, and there was only a handful of people in the theater. We were the only ones laughing at this comedy!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm

From the Long Island Librarry Resources Council’s Long Island Memories website – this view of the ground-breaking for the Valley Stream Theatre, dated circa 1926. Here is another image of the same.

Both of these are a part of the extensive Calderone Theatre collection of the Hofstra University Library. I must say, I was very disappointed that there were no more than these two images associated with this particular theatre. Perhaps the library contains additional photographs that have yet to be digitized. I must call and find out what kind of access one might be allowed for research purposes if not a student of the University.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Finally found a photo of the place! I found it in a group of public photos on the Facebook group called “I grew up in Valley Stream in 1970-2000.” Appears to be a newspaper clipping about The Rio – possibly the 8/6/94 article from Newsday that I posted about back on November 6, 2007.

Anyway, here is the image.

From the bunting and pennants that adorn the marquee, one would think the photo depicts opening day festivities, but the van on the left side of the image and the attire does not appear to be vintage 1925. Perhaps the theater was decorated for some sort of Village celebration or Holiday? Unfortunately, the scan blurs the left side of the picture and the titles on the side panel of the marquee are completely illegible.

Ih8plak
Ih8plak on March 25, 2010 at 11:33 am

Thank you so much….it’s been driving a couple of us crazy trying to think of the name.

fred1
fred1 on March 25, 2010 at 11:27 am

It was the Belair Theater ,operated by B.S. Moss

Ih8plak
Ih8plak on March 25, 2010 at 11:19 am

Does anyone here remember the name of the movie theater that was in the shopping center on Merrick Road in Valley Stream? The shopping center now has King Kullen, Lucille Roberts, Hunan Taste, etc.

formerprojectionist
formerprojectionist on December 16, 2009 at 1:56 pm

I saw quite a few interesting films at the Valley Stream. I saw The Brood (1979) and Prophecy (1979). I know they played Amin – The Rise and Fall (1981). And I remember seeing a midnight showing of the Exorcist there, it was raining outside and water was dripping in from the roof, I was in the balcony. A couple was screwing a couple of rows behind me and my friends. The place was very warn down. I went to the site as they were demolishing it around ‘97/'98. I took one last look in at the chandelier and roof. I was working for Henry at the Malvern and he told me they had already started ripping it up. By the way, Slipped Disc is also gone now…One of the sons who run the ice cream eatery down the street saw a double bill of Headless Eyes and The Ghastly Ones there back in the early seventies.

EcRocker
EcRocker on February 19, 2009 at 7:49 pm

I wonder if anyone who goes to this site may know where I can find an ex gf Laural betts. She was working as a ticket taker/usher back in the 70’s.

robboehm
robboehm on February 19, 2009 at 6:30 pm

For many years Century ran the Valley Stream. When they built the Green Acres they gave it up. Prior posting mention Skouras. I think the Century chain may have been a spin off from that because I remember a number of theatres being listed as Skouras/Century, among them the Lynbrook.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 7, 2007 at 11:05 am

I agree with you, Lost. Most books on theatrical architecture list theatres by the name under which they were opened. To decide upon the most popular (or even the longest running) name might require a judgment call that would still cause debate. I still think that would be preferable to the current policy – which is NOT adhered to 100% of the time, by the way… Otherwise, the Rivoli Theatre listing would be changed to the depressingly generic “UA Twin.”

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 7, 2007 at 6:28 am

It was definitely called Rio and definitely at the end of its run. I don’t think it was Rio Theatre, but simply “Rio,” but I can’t remember for sure. I actually saw a concert there in 1984.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 6, 2007 at 7:13 pm

I’m not sure about that, Lost. I think the articles in Newsday are simply referring to the name by which the theatre had operated in its final couple of years. Perhaps the name “Rio” was still up on that “dilapidated” marquee until the very end. My estimation is that the theatre survived as a late-run discount cinema until around 1982 or ‘83. It was definitely operating as a live concert venue under the Rio name by 1984 and I suspect those operations ceased within a year or two (or at most until 1987 when Re and Attiretano purchased the property with the idea of erecting a mini-mall on the site). The structure itself then sat vacant for 10 years before finally falling to the wrecker’s ball in '97.

If I ever find time to get to the library and look up that 2/4/90 Newsday, I’ll try and make a copy of the photo that ran with the article.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 6, 2007 at 2:13 pm

In case anyone has access to ProQuest or gets to a library before I can, an article in the February 4, 1990, edition of Newsday apparently includes a photo of the vacant Rio Theatre – as it is called in the story. The article refers to the stalled plans (apparently first announced in 1987) to convert the site into a mini-mall and mentions how the “dilapidated marquee that juts out over the sidewalk” is an eyesore that distracts folks passing by in cars from the existence of neighboring retail shops.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 6, 2007 at 2:03 pm

And finally this lead line from a Newsday article from January 22, 1997:

“After 75 years as a downtown Valley Stream landmark – the last 15 as an eyesore – the Rio Theatre is scheduled to be demolished.”

The owner at the time is notes as Steve Lerner of New Jersey, who had worked out permission from the village to demolish the building and remove it from the tax rolls for 36 months while he decided what to do with the site.

Here is a photo of the “improvements” Lerner finally decided to build. Ugh.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 6, 2007 at 1:56 pm

An article was published in Newsday back on August 6, 1994, reporting that a local businessman by the name of Dan Lehner had an interest in restoring the Valley Stream Theatre for use as a late-run discount cinema. The owners at the time, Edward Re and Joseph Attiretano, had planned to demolish the theatre and build a mini-mall on the site – but the zoning board denied their permits due to a lack of adequate parking space and the property went into foreclosure. The theatre is described as being vacant and is referred to as the Rio in the article. The article also notes that Lehner had specifically planned this as a late-run house because the theatres at Green Acres Shopping Mall had exclusive rights to all first run releases in the area at the time. Lehner is also notes as having invested in theatre restoration projects in Hempstead and Greenport, Long Island.

An earlier article from October 3, 1985, notes that the theatre was already a vacant and run-down target for grafitti artists and that the adjacent alley and parking lot where hang-out spots for rowdy teens – according to complaining retailers along Rockaway Avenue.

I could not access the entirety of either article online wihtout paying a fee – I’ll have to get to a library when time permits to follow up – but I thought I’d report these facts here all the same as they offer some sort of rough time line for the building’s demise.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 2, 2007 at 9:41 pm

Hey Bloop… Sorry for delayed response (haven’t been online in a long while). You’re so right. The only “off years” I have are a Daily News from 1978 (no idea why my grandfather save that one) and a bunch from ‘85 due to the Mexico City Earthquake and '86 due to the Mets’ World Series victory (my grandfather was a huge Mets fan). Also have some from ‘92 when my daughter was born. That’s it. I know somewhere I have more from my grandfather’s collection – including the very last edition of a defunct NY paper (the Herald perhaps?) from the late 1950’s. I can remember that it had ads for that evening’s Giants game – which unbelievably started at 8:45 that evening! Games probably breezed by in an hour and 45 minutes back then! Anyway, I have to dig that up one of these days and upload some images from it.

Bloop
Bloop on July 2, 2007 at 6:29 pm

EdSolero; I collect old newspapers (Newsday, Daily News, NY Post)(because of the movie ads only) and the funny thing is, they are so hard to find EXCEPT FOR these years:-1963 (Kennedy shot), 1968 (The other Kennedy shot), 1969 (Man on the Moon), 1974 (Nixon Resigns), 1977 (Elvis Dies), 1980 (Lennon Shot). LOL . I’m too familiar with all the movie time tables from those years because I find them over and over again! I actually identify movies with deaths now! “Orca” = Elvis Dies, etc. So;according to newspapers people saved because of their importance: NOTHING HAPPENED in 1964, 1965,1966,1967, 1970,1971,1972,1973,1975,1976,1978,1979,etc. LOL….

RobertR
RobertR on September 24, 2006 at 4:11 pm

Just in Nassau County 19 theatres played this in holiday matinee.
View link

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 20, 2006 at 4:06 am

That’s funny that several folks have mentioned the John Stamos show here! My gal’s very first concert ever was that very John Stamos show here when the place was called Rio. She’s much younger than I (by almost a decade) and grew up only a few blocks away on the other side of Merrick Rd and remembers the theater only as a concert venue.

blkdog
blkdog on June 19, 2006 at 12:40 pm

“The one and only movie I saw here was in 1978 for "High Anxiety”. "

I SAW THAT THERE ALSO! As well as those Disney flicks like Apple Dumpling Gang and Escape to Witch Mountain. My sister saw John Stamos there before it closed.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 31, 2006 at 6:24 am

Here’s a movie clock from the Post a little over a year later that shows the Valley Stream – now listed independently from the RKO Century Theaters – showing a double bill of “Arthur” and the Chevy Chase fiasco “Under the Rainbow”, both originally released in the summer of ‘81:

NY Post 3/8/82

I don’t see either the Mineola or Hempstead (the other RKO discount houses listed in the 1980 ad I posted yesterday) anywhere in the movie clock. I assume RKO had closed them sometime in ‘81, while the Valley Stream fell into independent ownership.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 30, 2006 at 6:56 am

I found an old Newsday from 12/9/80 that I had saved due to the news of John Lennon’s murder. It seems the RKO and ALMI chains used to run block ads for their theaters in the paper (though not in the NY Post or Daily News judging from copies I have of those publications from the time). In addition to a block covering all of RKO’s first run theaters (an image of which I posted on the Lawrence, Rockville Centre and Keith’s Flushing pages here), there was also the following ad for their discount houses:

RKO Discount and ALMI Theaters

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 9, 2006 at 8:40 am

Here is a new link for the photos in my Feb 24th post.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 24, 2006 at 10:44 am

What was once a glorious 1920’s vaudeville & movie house is now this dreary little brick medical facility:

Former Valley Stream Theater site

At least some things stand the test of time (directly across the street from the old theater):

Slipped Disc

formerstreamer
formerstreamer on January 20, 2006 at 1:20 pm

The RIO was great. I saw Metallica there in 1983 in support of their first album and tour. The theater was short lived as a music venue but it tied in nicely with Slipped Disc while it was there.