Kenmore Theatre

777 Beacon Street,
Boston, MA 02215

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Stephen G. Esrati
Stephen G. Esrati on December 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I was an usher in the Kenmore in 1942-43. The building had been a gym before it was converted into a movie house. The ushers changed into their N.Y. World’s Fair uniforms at the screen end of the left balcony. During the war, women from IMAS, the Immigrants' Mutual Aid Society, an association of German Jewish refugees, sold war bonds and war savings stamps in the tiny lobby. The box office was free-standing and was freezing cold in winter. The ushers changed the marquee three times a week, Saturday night, Tuesday night, and Thursday night. The manager most of the time the theater was open was a Mr. Cohn.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 20, 2010 at 4:16 am

A fine three-page article, with plenty of photos, in and out, of the original Kenmore Theatre, appears in the “Modern Theatre” section of Boxoffice magazine in the June 4, 1955 issue, linked here:
View link

bliberman on August 28, 2008 at 5:52 am

Two standout memories of the Kenmore
1. “And God Created Woman” 1956 – Brigitte Bardot scandalized Boston in the first of her films to play the US. Even the poster outside the theatre was scandalous!
2. “Carry on Nurse” 1959 – the second of the “Carry On” series – absolutely side-splittingly funny in its day – made even more memorable because the management rewarded each patron a plastic daisy on exiting the cinema. (Spoiler: one scene utilized a daisy as a thermometer, one of the first memories I have of oft-used potty humor by the British.)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 19, 2008 at 9:44 pm

I suspect you are thinking of the later Kenmore Square Cinema, rather than this one which was torn down when you were still pretty young.

MPol on August 19, 2008 at 9:38 pm

the Kenmore Theatre was right in Kenmore Square, near B. U., as I remember. It was modern-looking, and I saw a number of films there, including the Charley Chaplin films, West Side Story, and many others. Too bad it’s not there anymore.

Chiefofservice on December 13, 2006 at 9:08 pm

Ron, I think is was a very small stage compared to the other theaters of that era, but then it wasn’t a big theater to begin with.

As you may have noted, I also worked at the Uptown, at Huntington and Mass ave. for about three years. That stage was big by comparison but I understand that it was used for vaudeville many many years ago.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 13, 2006 at 10:07 am

Bravo to you, Jim L, for taking some action. And how big was the stage at the Kenmore? And to Gerry DeLuca: here is what is posted on the Kenmore marquee in the MGM Report photo— only the right side of the semi-circle shows in the photo. In the center are 3 short words arrange vertically, but I can’t read them. On the right, top line reads Now Playing 3rd Year in NY; middle line reads “The Baker’s Wife”; bottom line reads Charles Boyer Irene Dunne. The title of the Boyer- Dunne movie may have been posted on the left side of the marquee.

Chiefofservice on December 11, 2006 at 3:59 pm

As an aside and apropos of nothing, let me add this bit of nostalgia. As stated in a previous post, I worked at the Kenmore in 1950 or thereabouts as an asst. mgr.before going into the Army in 1951.
One day as the opening credits were being shown prior to the movie starting, the curtains refused to open. As the Kenmore had no stage hands, as other theatres did in that era, and the curtain being controlled by the projectionists in the booth, I wondered how to open them before the picture actually started. Putting embarrassment aside I ran down the aisle, jumped up on the stage, and with the help of a patron, dragged the curtains open. The few customers in the audience gave me and my helper a round of applause.
First and last time I was ever on stage.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on December 11, 2006 at 3:15 pm

Ron, thanks for confirming Joe DiCarlo’s number on seats. The balcony was actually street level. I’d love to see a photo of the theatre, , if you’d care to reply. Thanks again for your reminicenses.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 11, 2006 at 2:37 pm

Ron, there has to be some kind of error or misreading there. The French film The Baker’s Wife (La Femme du boulanger) released around that time, certainly did not have Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. It starred Raimu and Ginette Leclerc. My guess is that they must have been showing a double bill of The Baker’s Wife with the Dunne/Boyer Love Affair.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 11, 2006 at 10:43 am

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Kenmore Theatre has an exterior photo taken in May 1941. There was a semi-circle marquee with 3 rows of black letters on a white background. Movie was “The Baker’s Wife” with Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne, with the notation “Now Playing 3rd Year in NY”. On the roof was a huge sign which read “Theatre KENMORE Theatre”. To the left of the entrance was one store, which has a “To Let” sign in the window. The Report states that the Kenmore is on Beacon St., that it has been a MGM customer for 2 years, that it was built in 1939, is in Good condition, and has 636 on the main floor and 60 balcony seats, total: 696 seats.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 11, 2005 at 10:57 am

It was a very popular uptown cinema with emphasis on art-house product. I went there several times mostly in mid- and late- 1950s. It was just outside Kenmore Square and was located at the bridge over the Boston & Albany RR tracks. The street level was higher than the main floor level, so one went downstairs to the orchestra floor. It had a very modern look, both inside and out. The railroad tracks became the route for the Mass. Turnpike extension in the early-1960s. The right-of-way had to be widened considerably to accomodate both the new highway and the old railway route. So the Kenmore was closed and demolished.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on August 24, 2005 at 11:13 am

The Kenmore had a total of 695 seats which included the handful at street level, which might be described as a balcony. After purchasing tickets and entering the lobby, one would go down a flight of stairs to the main auditorium. One would have to visit the site, (now the Mass Pike) to get a feel for how that occurs. It’s near the bridge that goes over the Pike near Fenway Park. The Kenmore was owned by Louis Richmond, who was a friend of Mickey Redstone, Sumner Redstone’s father. Before Louis Richmond died, he suggested Mickey Redstone build Drive In Theatres, on 6 sites. Redstone followed the advice, and this was the beginning of Redstone Theatres, now known as Showcase. So we can credit Louis Richmond for his role in Mickey Redstone and later Sumner’s success.

Thanks to Joe DiCarlo, for the information. He worked for Louis Richmond and managed the Kenmore in the 1950’s. The theatre first became successful with it’s engagement of “Marty”. (he remembers the seat count, as they sold every one of them during successful engagements.)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 20, 2005 at 6:04 am

According to Donald C. King’s new book The Theatres of Boston: A Stage and Screen History, the Kenmore opened around 1939, with 65 seats at street-level and 636 in the lower level. (I’m having trouble picturing what this looked like.)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 18, 2005 at 2:54 am

A while after it had opened in New York in August of 1947, Vittorio De Sica’s film “Shoe Shine” played at the Kenmore for seven weeks. That shattering neo-realist movie about the aftermath of World War II and life in a boys' prison was distributed at the time by Lopert Films, Inc.

Chiefofservice on March 22, 2005 at 8:31 pm

The district manager of the Richmond Stern circuit which included the Kenmore,around 1950 or so was a man named Joe Sandler.

I left Boston for good in 1951 to go into the Army.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on March 22, 2005 at 5:06 pm

The Manager who ran this theatre in the 1950’s, was named Joe DiCarlo. He also managed the Cinerama, and joined General Cinema in 1965, becoming the manager of the Shoppers World Cinema in 1966, later a District Manager.

Chiefofservice on July 19, 2004 at 2:08 pm

Around 1950 I was the assistant manager for a little while at the Kenmore Theatre in Kenmore Square. It was an art house and one picture I remember playing there was “The Red Shoes” This theatre was owned the Richmond Stern Company which had a few other theatres in their chain around greater Boston, one of which I remember was the Mattapan in Mattapan which was later closed and turned into a Chinese resturant.

Jim L

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on March 16, 2004 at 1:46 pm

I was there only twice, I believe in 1958 and 1959, for Jacques Tati’s MY UNCLE and Jack Clayton’s ROOM AT THE TOP. It was a much more spacious theatre and with much better sight lines than its follow-up, the Kenmore Square Cinema, would be.

William on March 16, 2004 at 10:57 am

The Kenmore Theatre seated 650 people.