Ambassador Theatre

776 Saratoga Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11212

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Ambassador Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Now one of the many forgotten movie theatres of Brooklyn, the Ambassador Theatre first opened in 1926, and was built and owned by Hyman Rachmil & Samuel Rinzler, aka the Supreme Circuit. At that time, they ran seven other large neighborhood theatres in Brooklyn, including the Capitol, Carroll, Congress, Sheffield, Stadium, Stone, and Supreme. Not surprisingly, William Fox purchased the Supreme Circuit during his late-1920’s rampage to dominate the industry.

After Fox’s bankruptcy at the onset of the Depression, most of his theatres in the Greater New York-New Jersey area were placed under the debtors-controlled Metropolitan Playhouses, which created three circuits— Randforce, Skouras and Prudential— to run them. All of the Brooklyn theatres (with the exception of the downtown Fox) went to Randforce, which was to be run by Sam Rinzler, one of the former owners of Supreme.

So the Ambassador Theatre reverted to its original ownership and remained under the Randforce banner for the rest of its life, or close to it. I don’t know if the Ambassador Theatre was still operating by the 1970’s, when the Randforce name was replaced by that of its parent company, United Artists Theatre Circuit.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

hdl37
hdl37 on March 21, 2006 at 9:17 am

who knows the names now.

hdl37
hdl37 on March 21, 2006 at 9:37 am

Mildred Pierce comes to mind.
I went to bathroom 5 times and bought candy 2 times.

joeh53
joeh53 on August 25, 2006 at 5:16 pm

I used to go to the Ambassador every Sunday in the early 1960’s. A double feature was 35 cents. On special events, like when I saw the “Three Stooges” in person and “Chubby Checker” it would be 50 cents.

It was a great theatre with a smoking balcony. To an 8 year old it looked enormous. The concession stand was to the left as you entered the theatre. Right next door to it was a delicatessen…it sold great knishes. Across the street, on Saratoga Ave., was another restaurant. On the opposite side of the theatre, on Livonia Avenue was a toy store. Betsy Head park was just one block down Livonia and Saratoga. A few blocks away was the big shopping area of Pitkin Avenue.

You definitely could not hear the IRT # 2 train. The last stop on this train in Brooklyn was New Lots Ave. (intersecting with Ashford Street).

Although the neighborhood was quickly changing for the worse, I was able to walk to the Ambassador from 245 Amboy Street (between Dumont and Blake Avenue) all by myself and my younger brother with no fear or concern. With just $2.00, my brother and I were able to purchase tickets, buy popcorn, soda and candies.

I have great memories of the Ambassador. I believe by the very early 70’s it was closed. It’s a shame that it was torn down. Although by the late 60’s it looked horrible on the outside.

I do have a photo of the corner across the street where the restaurant was, ca. 1961.

Taureg
Taureg on April 1, 2007 at 12:28 pm

I went to the Ambassador in the ‘50s and also, less frequently, to the Pitkin. At the Ambassador there was a children’s section, with a matron who did not hesitate to shine her flashlight on boisterous kids,, and that was where we were required to sit. The Saturday show included two movies (if I remember correctly) and cartoons and a newsreel. I went with my brother, who was two years older than me. We walked from Hegeman Avenue and East 98th Street, near Beth-El (Brookdale) hospital. There were no problems with crime at that time.

You could not hear the IRT – but, then, if you lived near the IRT, as many people did, you learned not to hear it. I went there quite often growing up – one of the treats was that it was air conditioned (air-cooled?) in the summer. The luncheonette across the street was the Murder Inc. headquarters in the 1930s and 40s.

My older cousin took me to a rock and roll show at the Paramount when I was a child – I remember standing on the seat.

PKoch
PKoch on April 2, 2007 at 3:41 am

Thanks, Anna Stern and Jose, for posting your memories.

Anna Stern, what rock and roll acts did you see at the Bklyn Paramount as a child, and what did you think about them ?

jackmartin
jackmartin on June 12, 2007 at 11:58 am

I went to the Ambassador theater in the 1940s. I was thirteen plus at the time.
Saturday morning my mother would give me twenty five cents and I would walk
from Rockaway Parkway to Saratoga and Livonia avenues,(we didn’t own a car).
The admission was ten cents for cartoons, a serial usually Flash Gordon or Dick Tracy or Buck Rogers,Movie-Tone News,two feature films, the first was a western the second a comedy or musical.
In between films there would be a raffle for a schwinn bicycle.
Come to think of it I never saw anybody win (hmmm :–))
After the movie I would go next door to Goldfrieds deli and spend the balance
of my fifteen cents for two hot dogs and a bottle of Pepsi (five cents each)
So from 10-am to 5pm on saturday my mother knew where I was and in good
hands of the matron with a flaslight walking the aisles to make sure nobody
got out of hand.

These kind of saturdays were probably some of the best days of my life.
To bad the younger generation of today don’t experience those kind of days.

PKoch
PKoch on June 18, 2007 at 6:21 am

Thanks, jack martin, for posting your Ambassador Theater movie memories from the 1940’s. They are very special and important, and I enjoyed reading them.

Was the roar of the IRT el on Livonia ever a distraction ?

Have you looked at the images of the Ambassador Theater on nycsubway.org that I’ve posted links to, in my post dated May 12, 2004 near the top of this page ?

jackmartin
jackmartin on June 22, 2007 at 7:17 am

The roar of the IRT going by never distracted us,except when the victim was laying on
the floor and was just about to tell us who (shot,stabbed,hit him with a club,threw him down the stairs)
And then we would try to read his lips.

jackmartin
jackmartin on June 22, 2007 at 7:20 am

Viewed the pictures on nycsubway.org but can’t really see the theater.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 23, 2009 at 8:31 am

Here’s a 1953 view of the marquee: View link 349

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