World Playhouse

506 St. Charles Street,
St. Louis, MO 63101

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World Playhouse

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Opened as the Broadway Theatre in 1922, it shared its address with the Western Photo Play Corp. In February 1930 the newspaper advertisements briefly listed the theatre as the Cameo Theatre (formerly the Broadway), with the latest sound system. By 1936 mainstream movies were being offered at what had become the Hollywood Theatre.

A taste of what would later be shown at the theatre happened in February of 1937, when it screened an “adults only” movie titled “Ecstasy”. The theatre sat vacant through most of World War II, then became the Hollywood Newsreel Theatre during 1946 and changed names again after that as the World Theatre. It would convert to adult films for several years before introducing titillating stage shows featuring touring starlets such as future Russ Carman film star Tura Santana and operating under its final name World Playhouse.

When longtime owner Harry Wald was finally forced to close the World Playhouse in 1974, the building was slated for demolition. The theatre had switched back to movies by this time. The final movie playing at the closing on March 5, was “The Great Massage Parlor Bust”.

The local newspaper coverage of the closing of the World Playhouse was rather sentimental and tender. It reported that souvenir hunters were picking up last bits of debris.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

JAlex
JAlex on August 17, 2006 at 8:35 am

Sure wish dates of original entries were given…which came first, the CinemaTreasures or the CinemaTour entry?…with two different submitters and very similar copy.

The building permit for the Broadway was issued in 1910 and the architect of record listed as the firm of Duggan & Huff. Name changed to the CAMEO in 1930; to the HOLLYWOOD in 1931; to the HOLLYWOOD NEWSREEL in 1945 and, finally, to the WORLD in 1946.

Tillmany
Tillmany on September 29, 2008 at 12:51 am

There’s a nice nighttime view of the World, with all its neon, about five minutes into The Hoodlum Priest (1961), shown this week on Turner Classic Movies.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 12, 2012 at 11:34 am

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

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