Cameo Theatre

25-15 Steinway Street,
Astoria, NY 11103

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This small, cheaply built theatre (by the architectural firm of Phinean & Zolat) first opened in 1941 and was located at the very top of the Steinway Street shopping area, not far from its intersection with Grand Central Parkway. The Cameo Theatre was on the opposite side of Steinway Street from its nearest and much larger competitors, Loew’s Triboro Theatre and the Skouras Astoria Theatre.

The Cameo Theatre played last-run of all the theatres in the Astoria section of Queens, with program changes several times per week. To cater to Astoria’s large immigrant population, the theatre later started showing Greek and other foreign-made movies under the new name of the Olympia Theatre. When that failed, the Olympia switched to XXX porno before finally being closed due to complaints from Astoria’s many churches and religious groups.

The building was converted into stores, with residential apartments above. In more recent years it has been converted into a medical centre, with offices.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

astorian
astorian on May 29, 2007 at 11:16 pm

The Olympia was not closed due to complaints, but due to an arson fire that gutted it.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 1, 2007 at 4:31 pm

The Cameo Theatre first opened on December 11th, 1941, just four days after guess what? The “modern playhouse” was operated by the Island Circuit, which already ran the Ditmars Theatre over on 31st Street. The bookings at both theatres were from three to four weeks behind Astoria’s leaders, Loew’s Triboro and the Skouras Astoria. The addition of the Cameo gave Astoria four cinemas in the Steinway Street shopping district. The Cameo was the only one on the east side of Steinway Street: www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/astcameo.jpg

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 1, 2007 at 7:19 pm

On the day that the Cameo first opened, this was the competition on Steinway Street: Loew’s Triboro, “Appointment For Love” (Margaret Sullavan, Charles Boyer) & “This Woman Is Mine” (Franchot Tone, Carol Bruce); Skouras Astoria, “The Maltese Falcon” (Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor) & “Law of the Tropics” (Constance Bennett, Jeffrey Lynn); Skouras Steinway, first Astoria run of two “B” movies, “Nine Lives Are Not Enough” (Ronald Reagan, Joan Perry) & “Moonlight in Hawaii” (Mischa Auer, Leon Errol), PLUS a stage revue, “Stars Over Broadway,” featuring Glenn & Jenkins, Robert Field, the Byrne Sisters, the Gonzales Trio, and Elsie the Cow (who sure got around in those days).

Dave55
Dave55 on August 5, 2007 at 1:46 am

In the sixties the Olympia would get most of the Elvis movies first..Being an avid Elvis fan at the time I rember this theater well

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 1, 2007 at 3:43 pm

A recent B&W photo of the site can be found in a full-page article about Queens theatres entitled “History on Celluloid” by Juliet Werner in the Aug. 30-Sept. 5 issue of the Queens Tribune. Ms. Werner seems to have borrowed most of her text from CT, but adds that “today the building houses a store with apartments above.” This article also has recent B&W photos of the exteriors of the Midway in Forest Hills, the Boulevard in Jackson Heights, RKO Keith’s in Richmond Hill, and the Ditmars in Astoria. The photo of the Ditmars, now a branch postoffice for the USPS, suggests that the exterior retains a smidgen of the theatre’s decor. Some of these photos might be viewable at the weekly’s website: www.queenstribune.com but my own attempts to find them proved unsuccessful.

GerardC
GerardC on April 24, 2008 at 2:41 am

The listed address of this theatre is incorrect. It should be 25-15 Steinway St.(with a zip code of 11103)– 22-15 Steinway is north of Astoria Blvd. This theatre is south of Astoria Blvd. It is located between 25th Ave and 28th Ave on the east side of Steinway St. It was gutted around the late 80’s / early 90’s (don’t remember exactly when) and became an electronics importer / exporter store. I remember being inside and one could not tell it used to be a theatre – When this store closed down it sad empty for a long time, then appeared to totaly rebuilt again to its current configuration as a medical center on the first floor and I believe more offices above.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 28, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Here’s a new link to the 1941 grand opening ad mentioned in my two posts above on 8/1/07:
View link

robboehm
robboehm on March 11, 2009 at 1:26 pm

As a summer temp letter carrier I had the opportunity to see the theatre before it would open each day. In the late 50’s it seemed well maintained and a cozy if austere space.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 27, 2009 at 3:34 pm

In June, 1960, the cinema was being advertised as the New Cameo, suggesting a recent renovation and/or change in management. This double feature consisted of WB reissues. The rival Loew’s Triboro had the first Astoria showing at regular prices of “The Ten Commandments,” while the Skouras Astoria was presenting the first area showing at regualar prices of “South Pacific” (accompanied by the short “Fabulous Las Vegas”): View link

robboehm
robboehm on March 21, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Interestingly, if you look at the CT listing for the Cambria in Cambria Heights, there is some discussion about the Cameo being known as the Cambria for a period of time. No reference to that here though even in the AKA portion.

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