Capri Theatre

1913 Elm Street,
Dallas, TX 75201

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 23, 2013 at 11:31 pm

As this house was called the Capri Theatre for more than a decade, from 1960 until its closing in the 1970s, isn’t that how it should be listed? Almost nobody under 60 is likely to remember it as the Melba.

rivest266 on October 23, 2013 at 10:52 pm

1926 and 1970 grand opening ads in the photo section for this cinema.

matt54 on July 23, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Can anyone comment on when the Melba vertical sign came down? It was still up as late as 1942.

perceval on April 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I remember this as the Capri in the early 70s as a kid. Of the classic theaters that used to line Elm Street, only it, the Majestic, the Tower, the Palace, and the Loews remained. Don’t remember seeing anything at the Palace.

The Capri was billed as “The world’s largest theater complex.” Of course, in the early 70s, a 7 screen theater wasn’t common.

I saw a lot of movies, there… Jaws, lots of Bruce Lee films, Godzilla movies… Hey, I was a KID.

In the hall leading to screens 4 – 7, there was a display of classic movie stars, W. C. Fields and the like, sitting in a cafe.

One by one, they closed, the Capri and Loews surviving the longest, though the Majestic was revived. Even as a kid, I preferred the classic movie theaters to the then trendy shoe box style theaters. It just didn’t feel like a real movie theater without the big marquee.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 19, 2011 at 1:46 am

Here is an updated link to the May 9, 1960, Boxoffice article about the newly renovated Capri Theatre, formerly the Melba.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on November 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm

From 1946 a movie for Duel in the Sunfeatured at the Melba.

TLSLOEWS on August 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Any photos of the Loews Melba?

fturner on July 3, 2010 at 6:34 am

Photographs of the Melba Theater from the Dallas Public Library’s Dallas/Texas History collection:
View link
View link

Photographs of the Capri Theater from the Dallas Public Library’s Dallas/Texas History collection:
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 23, 2010 at 11:19 am

Here is an article about the reopening of the Melba as the Capri in Boxoffice of May 9, 1960. There are two small photos. This article doesn’t give the date the house had reopened, but an April 18 Boxoffice item had said that the conversion had taken place that winter, and that as part of the project the Capri had been equipped for 70mm projection.

The Melba had ended its four-year run as a Cinerama house in 1958, when Tans-Texas Theatres renovated and reopened it as a first-run house. Boxoffice of June 8 that year said the first feature shown was William Castle’s “Macabre.”

jazzycat on June 22, 2010 at 12:05 am

Finally, I got in to comment… Anyway, to Jeanette’s info about the Early Birds; the organist at the Early Birds radio show was Bert Noyd. My father, Norvell Slater, was announcer, straight man & sang a hymn on the show. He played piano & sang on other programs as well as pioneered the longest running hymn program on radio. Those early days must have been fabulous with the big band, which I remember as a kid. Just out of this world.

matt54 on June 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Saw many films at the Melba, but my days only go back as far as when it was named Capri.

First film I remember seeing here was “The Alamo” in it’s reserved seat Todd A-O run; then “King of Kings” after it had ended it’s reserved seat 70mm run at the Tower next door; then “How The West Was Won” in Cinerama; then a re-issue of “Bridge On The River Kwai” in Cinemascope, but projected on the huge Cinerama screen without the masking being pulled back down for regular 2.35:1 widescreen; then a reissue of “The Longest Day” followed by “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

jamestv on June 8, 2010 at 12:04 am

When McClendon tripled this theatre in 1970, the balcony was twinned and the downstairs theatre later installed a silver screen to show 3-D. By catering to a black audience, this theatre was a huge success in the early ‘70’s but declined in later years. Because of the early success, they added 4 more screens in the basement of the adjoining McClendon building to make it a 7-screener. When you entered either of the upstairs balconey theatres, in the outer corner of the rear of each one you could see an original 3-strip Cinerama booth.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 2, 2009 at 4:36 pm

I THINK that is the Melba to the left of the Majestic in this image from ‘77:

View link

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on June 4, 2009 at 1:53 am

A view from 1950 of the Melba Theater in Dallas, Texas.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on April 27, 2009 at 1:06 am

Another old movie theater ad from 1949 for the Melba Theatre in Dallas.

Bongopete on April 23, 2009 at 5:45 pm

I saw ‘2001’ at the Capri and once you saw it on that large curved screen it always suffered in comparison when seen on a traditional movie screen. The Capri also had a huge billboard sized McCall ad for ‘2001’ on the backside of the theater.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on March 15, 2009 at 8:11 pm

An old movie theater ad from 1949 for the Melba Theatre.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on March 10, 2009 at 4:11 am

A vintage Elm Street postcard showing the “LBA” portion of the Melba Theatre’s vertical sign.

matermama on December 16, 2008 at 9:52 pm

Just wanted to tell more about the Melba Wurlitzer. The first one was installed in 1922 Opus 235 was a 3 keyboard (manual) 11 ranks of pipes (70 or so pipes in each rank). After a small fire in the theatre which damaged the console, the management ordered another console, Opus 503 (3/11) and it was installed in 1927. Mr. Wright told me in my interview of him in 2003 that he removed the organ in 1974 and it is still installed in his home here in Dallas. It is played for private functions. He also stated he and several others had tried to restore some of it in the theatre in the 1950s but it had been covered over by the large screen in the early 50s. It was never on a lift (that was the Palace organ). Several organists played it including Jack Caldwell,Lawrence Bolton, Caezar Borea, Lloyd Hill (known as Wild Oscar), J. D. Carlisle & Mr. LePere in the 1920s and several others as well on into the 1930s. Even Jerry Bacon played the organ a few times in the 1960s but it was rare. When the Kid Show was moved from the Palace to the Melba, Inez Teddlie played a Hammond that was brought in.
There were dozens of organists in Dallas during the theatre organ years. I have lists of them in my “Street of Dreams, A History of Dallas' Theatre Row” and “The Theatre Organ Murders” books. I was fortunate to have several interviews of several of them before they passed away. Dr. I Q was broadcast over a station in Houston (KTRH)and often was re-broadcast as if it was coming from a Dallas theatre as was also done in other cities. Norvel Slater was the featured organist for the Early Birds radio show for many years. Weldon Flanagan, the Palace organist from 1948 to 1969 was featured in live radio and TV broadcasts from the Palace. He and I are good friends and I’ve seen and have many articles about his performances. I saw him myself from 1948 until the Palace closed in 1969. There will be an article about Weldon coming out in the January 2009 issue of the Theatre Organ Journal of the American Theatre Organ Society.
Jeanette Crumpler

Raymondlepere447 on April 25, 2008 at 12:56 pm

After months of searching, I have discovered the Mighty Wurlitzer from the Melba theater has been bought by a Dallas family and they spent 10,000 manhours rebuilding it.It was placed in the Melba in 1921. The owners are Gordon and Evelyn Wright of Dallas bought the instrument in 1978 They are members of the North Texas Chapter of the American Theater Organ Society. Raymond Le Pere

Raymondlepere447 on December 20, 2006 at 1:58 pm

Sirs. Thanks for the old pix of the Melba. My father, Raymond Le Pere, was the organist for the Kiddie Club for several years. It was always a thrill for him to place me on the organ bench and ride up from the pit with him as he performed his miracles on the Wurlitzer. He also play for the radio show, Dr. I.Q.(..12 silver dollars and a box of Mars candy for bar for the lady in the balcony with the right answer…)On weekends, he was intermission organist at the Majestic and Palace theaters. Do anyone know where the Melba organ ended up? Thanks, Raymond Le Pere

legsdiamond on November 7, 2005 at 8:42 pm

This theater was divided (I don’t really know how because I was never in the ‘big’ theater') and the whole complex spilled over into a building next door as a 6-screen plex that was billed as ‘the largest theater in the world’ on a big painted mural on the rear of the theater on Pacific St. I was always so impressed by that stat.

My fav. memory of the Capri 6 is that when I made my dad take me to see one of the sequels to the “planet of the apes' series in one of the smaller theaters, actors/ushers dressed up like apes walked up and down the aisle doing their ape thing. It made a big impression on a 10 year old boy in the early 70’s….

This 6-plex became the home for every blaxploitation picture that Hollywood ever made. Some you’ve heard of; some you never will.

This theater was owned by Gordon McLendon, as were many of the cities most interesting and comfortable theaters (Casa Linda, Park Forest, Preston Royal, and the crazy drive ins—-Gemini, Astro, Apollo, the list is long)…

He shoulda hung on to this gem, the Melba/Capri.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 3, 2005 at 5:25 pm

The Hope Theatre became Loew’s Melba Theatre when that circuit took control in around 1926/27.

arapaho48 on January 10, 2005 at 1:36 am

Thanks, Charles. Fantastic ads and photos, particularly of the Melba at night. I haven’t seen a photo of the theater in decades and it really took me back! You don’t happen to have any photos of the Rialto Theater, do you? (It was about four blocks down Elm Street, past the old Palace and next door to the Capitol.)