Byham Theatre

101 Sixth Street,
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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Showing 1 - 25 of 83 comments

WarnerChatham
WarnerChatham on April 2, 2012 at 11:19 am

I did some fill-in work here, when I wasn’t working at the Warner or the Chatham. I remember seeing “Star Trek – The Motion Picture” here in 1979. I understand that movie was originally supposed to play at the Warner. However at the time Star Trek – TMP was released (December 7, 1979), the Warner was still doing good business with “Apocalypse Now” and they didn’t want to change features yet. The Warner ended up getting “The Black Hole” on December 21st for its 1979 Christmas release.

edblank
edblank on November 18, 2011 at 4:00 am

Thank you for your kind comments, Rivoli. As it happens, my high school graduation 50 years ago was in Loew’s Penn. Just finished staging my 50th reunion weekend, but not there. Sure spent a lot of hours at the Penn from about 1948 to 1964 (when it stopped being a moviehouse)watching MGM, United Artists and Paramount first-run films. I’ve read with interest your remarks on many Pittsburgh and Manhattan theaters.

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 17, 2011 at 6:57 am

Mr.Blank, Thank you very much for answering my question. I figured it was a business decision, which makes sense.
Mr. Blank, I must tell you I enjoyed reading your columns and reviews when I lived in Pgh, and thanks to the internet, I have been able to read all the ones I missed.
I moved from NY to Pgh in 1973 to attend Point Park. During that time I was also very fortunate to be under contract to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and to dance w/ CLO for many years.Needless to say ,I am familiar w/ Heinz Hall. My father, from Uniontown, knew it as The Loews Penn

I took advantage of the “bargain matinees” when ever I could and enjoyed my movie going in Pgh that way. I moved back to NY in 1978 returning only to work 2 more seasons at CLO, and then in a tour that played the Syria Mosque. I then returned for a visit in 1999, and got quite depressed at how much Pgh had changed and lost-especially the movie theatres.

Again Mr Blank, thank you for the info.

edblank
edblank on November 14, 2011 at 4:59 am

The two main roadshow (reserved-seat) moviehouses were the second and final of the two theaters here known as the Nixon (“Oklahoma,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” “West Side Story,” “The Sound of Music” and many others) and the Warner (“The Ten Commandments,” “Gigi,” “Ben-Hur,” “Hello, Dolly,” all of the Cinerama films).

Occasionally a roadshow opened elsewhere Downtown, as when “Cleopatra” went into the Penn or the Fulton nabbed “El Cid,” “The Longest Day,” “Lawrence of Arabia” (when its just-begun run at the Nixon was interrupted by a major fire)and “Funny Girl.”

By the 1960s, almost all first-run theaters in Pittsburgh were owned and operated by the Stern family’s Associated Theatres, whose holdings also included several art houses in the city’s East End neighborhoods.

Associated began booking major roadshows into such theaters as the Squirrel Hill (“My Fair Lady,” “Doctor Zhivago,” “Becket”), the nearby Manor in Squirrel Hill (“Star,” “Doctor Dolittle,” “Fiddler on the Roof”) and the King’s Court in Oakland (“A Man for All Seasons,” “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” and “Oliver”).

By diverting these normally prestige pictures into smaller theaters such as the art houses, Associated could keep its larger Downtown houses free for shorter-run commercial pictures that open big and flame out faster.

There was less to lose by playing fewer art pictures in the East End. Associated could be pickier about which art house hits played here while the aforementioned art houses were occupied for months at a stretch by roadshows.

They found that while audiences from the southern, western and northern sectors of Western Pennsylvania may not have frequented the art houses when art films played there, audiences from those sectors WOULD make the trek to the East End neighborhoods for “event films” such as “My Fair Lady” and “Doctor Zhivago.”

By the early 1960s, almost all Downtown Pittsburgh moviehouses

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm

A question, for anyone. I know that the Roadshow engagements of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, WEST SIDE STORY, and FUNNY GIRL played downtown. But,can someone explain why the Roadshow engagements of STAR!, OLIVER!,THE LION IN WINTER and others played in Shadyside or Squirrel Hill?

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 12, 2011 at 3:30 pm

The Fulton and The Fulton Mini. Bargain matinees, I believe I saw The Story of O and Fritz the Cat here

James Kastner
James Kastner on July 27, 2011 at 12:56 am

k2, You are correct, it was 1961 and the premiere of EL CID was on Feb. 8, 1962. I loved that silver/blue curtain! You can read more about the former Fulton Theatre it in my recently published book: “Where The Movies Played In Downtown Pittsburg(h). I had my first job there in 1968. James W. Kastner

k2
k2 on July 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I believe the theater was renovated in 1961 for the reserved seat engagement of “El Cid.” It is that renovation which gave it a light blue interior with light blue/silvery curtains matching the seats.

James Kastner
James Kastner on February 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Deadone, I have an original newspaper clipping of the “Invitation” to the world premiere of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD at the Fulton Theatre in 1968. I was the sole usher posted in the balcony that night and still recall George Romero addressing the audience from the stage of the Fulton. I could send you a scan of it. I have not been on the site for years, and I feel that Ron3853 and ChuckO have done a SUPERB job of listing movies that showed at the Fulton and Fulton Mini Theatres. In writing my book “Where The Movies Played In Downtown Pittsburg(h)”, I found this flip/flop of films booked into those two theatres to be the most nerve racking research that I did. An original drawing in my book has the George Romero Festival advertised on the marquee of the Fulton. I can send you a scan of the original photo that I took. I was so excited to read all the info posted on the Fulton and Fulton Mini. My book is in the final stages of publication this month and will be available through RoseDog Books. In it I tell the whole story myself, then 17 years old, and the night I ushered at the living dead!

carolgrau
carolgrau on January 31, 2010 at 6:47 am

Your right Ed sorry.. I di know all the time I was a projectionist at the Fulton IU had to go i the Theatre off of Sixth Ave. We went into the lobby up a incline towards the main entrnce to the auditorium and up on the right side was a stairwell that led to the balcony and to the booth.. I left there in 84 and can’t remember any street names witch is obvious.. Once again sorry…

edblank
edblank on January 31, 2010 at 5:59 am

Please, folks. No guessing. It only garbles clarification despite good intentions.

The January calendar page of the 2010 Pittsburgh calendar, as linked above, is more “artist’s conception” that anything. It is the view one might see of the theater building from Fort Duquesne Boulevard. There is no First Street, and if there were, it would be perpendicular to Fort Duquesne Boulevard and five blocks closer to the Point. (It almost certainly existed a century or more ago, but not near this spot.)

To sort this out: As indicated above, the playhouse known as the Gayety became the Fulton, a moviehouse, for several decades. It is/was on Sixth Avenue, with a major exit onto Fort Duquesne Boulevard. Later in that era, the Fulton Mini (a shoebox of a cinema) was installed on the corner (Sixth Avenue at Fort Duquesne)of the building but also facing on Sixth. The Mini had multiple names that changed with ownership; they included Fulton II and Fulton Annex.

The Boulevard of the Allies is many blocks away.

When the Fulton Theater and the entire lower levels of the Fulton Building were renovated as the Byham Theater (used 99 percent of the time for live stage presentations), the main Fulton auditorium was left essentially intact, but the shorter-lived Fulton Mini became part of the lobby – indeed the box office, still with its entrance on Sixth.

The several stories of offices above the theater(s) were converted into the Renaissance Hotel.

Those former Fulton Building offices above the theater once housed the Associated Theatres chain, which morphed, through circuit sales, into Cinemette and then Cinema World.

There were also screening rooms on the ninth and later 10th floors.

Other film-related offices included what little was left of Paramount’s Pittsburgh presence.

carolgrau
carolgrau on January 30, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Wrong answer,,, The entrance to the Fulton was on 6th street. The Mini entrance was on Blvd Of The Allies.. To get to the Mini booth you had to go down to the high rise. up to the third floor through a hallway the down one flight of steps.. The booth door was on the first landing… The Fulton was one of my regular jobs and I know I went in through the entrance on 6th, just as all the customers did…

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm

This is the building next to the Byham. it says Fulton Theater on the arch.
http://tinyurl.com/yctatyv

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 30, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Here is an item about the Fulton in June 1952, from Boxoffice magazine. I don’t think the film has any connection to the later television show.
http://tinyurl.com/yddy2f4

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 25, 2010 at 1:59 am

Eleven drawings of this theater are digitized and available for viewing at the LOC’s online collection (search using the name Fulton Theater.) The building was designed by the New York architectural firm Dodge & Morrison.

carolgrau
carolgrau on November 7, 2009 at 8:55 am

I ran Natalie Woods brainstorm in 70mm here, and I remember running Purple Rain here also. I was one of the main projectionist at the Warner for 5 days a week the other 2 days I would the Fulton all these shifts were open to close. I also worked the Fulton Mini. The main booth had as number one projector a Simplex X-L and a peerless magnarc lamp Projectors 2&3 where Norelco AAII’s with Ashcraft Mighty ninety lamps, later replaced with strong 2500 watt bulbs. Wasv always one of my favotite theatres.

71dude
71dude on April 15, 2009 at 6:50 pm

This picture is from Nov. 1983:
View link

Ron3853
Ron3853 on November 17, 2008 at 11:08 am

Since Greensburg was a city for which I had an interest of the theaters and films they played for the mid-60s, I can tell you that I believe the Greensburg Public Library has from 1967 on. If you attempt to get the information from the Tribune-Review, they will make you pay for it. If you can’t find it there, you will have to go to Harrisburg (as I did) and use the microfilms at the Pennsylvania State Library.

I know that the Manos is now the Palace Theater, but I don’t know the location or eventual fate of the Cinema, which opened in 1965.

71dude
71dude on November 17, 2008 at 10:49 am

Do you guys know how I can find free archives of Greensburg theater listings from the late 70’s and the 80’s?

Ron3853
Ron3853 on October 29, 2008 at 6:18 am

I have the films that played in PGH First-Run theaters from 11/26/1957 through 12/31/1981. My problem is finding the time to post it, plus I used the Friday editions of the Pittsburgh papers and looked at the listings which may or may not be totally accurate in the case of multiplex cinemas, such as the Bank Cinemas, Fulton, and Manor, etc.

ChuckO
ChuckO on October 29, 2008 at 6:13 am

From the microfilm at Hillman Library in Oakland. The only problem is that the Pittsburgh movie grosses aren’t included in Variety every week. Sometimes Pittsburgh is included for three or four weeks in a row, then might disappear for two or three weeks. I’m doing the best I can from that, personal memories, old reviews and listings in the Pittsburgh Press Weekender section (appeared every Thursday) to determine which films played in which Fulton auditorium from 1979-1984. I think after I’m done I can probably get it to about 90 percent accurate. Of course, there’s always the chance the two films switched auditoriums during the week, but at least it will be a semi-accurate record of which films were in which auditorium at the start of a week. I’m also trying to get a record of what played at the other Downtown Pittsburgh, Oakland and Squirrel Hill theaters (Warner, Fiesta, Gateway, which closed in 1980, Bank Cinemas, Chatham, Kings Court, Manor and Squirrel Hill) from 1979 thru 1986.