New Merry Widow Theatre

1739 Chouteau Avenue,
St. Louis, MO 63104

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Showing 18 comments

JAlex on June 4, 2017 at 9:20 am

A few errors in the overview. Theatre did not open in 1937, but on March 21, 1942. There was no fire in 1947. Theatre ceased operation on May 13, 1956, not in 1955.

JAlex on June 20, 2016 at 9:26 am

Ameren Corporation (the local electric company) intends to renovate this building as offices. Ameren headquarters across 18th street from this structure.

rivest266 on February 23, 2016 at 3:32 pm

March 20th, 1942 grand reopening ad in photo section.

spectrum on November 27, 2010 at 8:19 am

From the 2010 google aeriel views it is still standing. Bricked up in front except for a single door. No clue what’s inside, the the front is still in decent shape.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 30, 2010 at 11:11 am

Further to Joe Vogel’s comments, the musical show “The Merry Widow” was a huge international mega-hit. It played in London at Daly’s Theatre (site of the West End Vue cinema) and in New York at the New Amsterdam Theater on W. 42nd Street when that house was still new. It’s still performed today by various opera companies and is available on CD and on DVD.

TLSLOEWS on July 6, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Thanks Joe,it sounded like to me the the widow was glad her husband died.But there is always a story behind the names,thanks again.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 9, 2010 at 4:36 pm

There have been a couple of comments remarking on the theater’s name, so it might be useful to note that Franz Lehár’s operetta “The Merry Widow” had its premier in Vienna in 1905, the year before this theater’s forerunner was opened. The composer’s “Merry Widow Waltz” became one of the most popular songs of the period, so the name would have been familiar even to people who had never seen the operetta.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 17, 2010 at 11:39 am

I left Columbia 1 and 2 in NOV.1980.I left Georgia Square Cinemas I II III &IV on DEC 1983,dowdeyla, most theatre folks remember stuff like that.OF course you wrote this 2005,so i am probably writing to myself.

TLSLOEWS on March 18, 2010 at 4:53 pm

What a strange name.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 31, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I use Google’s advanced search page, putting the name Boxoffice in the top field, following a specific word (one word of a theatre name, a city name, a person’s or a company’s name, etc); a multi-word phrase in the second field; and the domain in the bottom field.

So, searching this theater for example, I used[quote]louis boxoffice
new merry widow[/quote]in the respective fields. Searching a theater with a more common name it’s better to put both name and location in the exact wording field thus: strand boston (or strand at boston; strand theatre boston; boston strand, etc.) Keep the theater name (or other term) ahead of the name Boxoffice in the first field, too, as Issuu’s internal search will fetch pages with instances of the first word of a field only, and the name Boxoffice appears on virtually every page of each issue of the magazine.

Once you fetch an issue of the magazine at Issuu, single words entered into the site’s search box will find the individual pages on which that word appears, but it won’t find a word that’s been spilt with a hyphen onto two lines of an article. It will find only the halves. It’s not case-sensitive, though, so don’t worry about capitalizing.

You can also find a specific issue of the magazine at Issuu by entering its date in Google’s exact phrase field, as: August 07 1943.

ThomasRossi007 on January 31, 2010 at 9:31 am

Mr. Vogel,

How do you access multiple issues of Boxoffice on ?
When I search for Boxoffice, it only shows three pages of issues, but I notice in your postings you somehow can access many, many more issues such as the one with the former Route 4 Paramus, NJ theater. Issuu does not have a contact field for me to ask this question.

Thanks Very Much.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 31, 2010 at 7:53 am

The Merry Widow Theatre occupied four different locations over the years, according to an article in Boxoffice of August 7, 1943. The first was a 99-seat nickelodeon opened in 1906 by George and Harry Hayes. It was at the corner of Chouteau Avenue and Dillon Street (the exact location is from a later Boxoffice item.) The Hayeses later moved the theater to a 250-seat location down the block. At an unspecified date, a new operator, John P. Murphy, opened the third Merry Widow, now with 485 seats, at 1435 Chouteau Avenue.

Sam Komm opened the New Merry Widow Theatre on March 21, 1942, reported in Boxoffice of March 28 that year. He had taken over the third Merry Widow a few months earlier.

The name of the theater was the result of a contest held by George and Harry Hayes in 1906, and was the submission of nine-year-old Lester Bona, who went on to become a film distributor.

I’ve been unable to find anything in Boxoffice about the 1947 fire. It isn’t mentioned in this web log post about the Merry Widow, either.

JAlex on November 7, 2005 at 4:36 am

Theatre closed in May, 1956. Structure opened for business in March, 1942 and was called the New Merry Widow as it replaced the (Old) Merry Widow in the 1400-block of Chouteau.

Address of New Merry Widow was 1739 Chouteau. The architect was Jack Shawcross.

In newspaper ads it was called the New Merry Widow until 1951 when the “New” was dropped.

cummins1937 on June 26, 2005 at 4:51 am

In january of 56, I graduated from high school and in March of 56, I joined the USAF. Never went back.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 26, 2005 at 12:18 am

“Smultronstället” (Wild Strawberries) in Stockholm and “Grand Illusion Cinema” in Seattle were also named after movies.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 26, 2005 at 12:07 am

I’m wondering if the original owner named this theatre after Lubitsch’s The Merry Widow of 1934 with Jeanette MacDonald or perhaps because he just liked the Franz Lehár operetta. (The name Komm sounds German.) I’m trying to compile a list of movie theatres that were actually named after real movies. So far I have a “Ben-Hur Drive-In,” in Indiana, “Accattone” in Paris after the Pasolini film, a “Cinema Paradiso” in Florida.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on June 25, 2005 at 5:26 pm

I’m wondering why you left in March of 1956, and if you stayed in the theater business, or went onto other things. It’s interesting that you remember even to the month, after nearly 50 years.
I’d guess that you’ve got a lot of theater history to tell us about.

cummins1937 on June 25, 2005 at 4:06 pm

Merry widow did not close in 1955. I ushered there until I left in March of 1956. The concession stand was also accesible from the inside of the theatre. The manager at that time was Bob Lawson. The candy girl was Pat Patterson. There were also balconies on each side of the projection booth, but there never used to my knowledge.