Peerless Theater

433 Myrtle Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11205

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The Peerless Theater from the Myrtle Avenue El (westbound)

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This was a small neighborhood theater on the north side of Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn. The Peerless Theater was opened in 1914. Located under the elevated rail line which ran from Metropolitan Avenue in Queens County to Sand Street Station in downtown Brooklyn, which was an elevated rail hub where one could transfer to trolleys and change for another El train which ran over the Brooklyn Bridge to New York. Some trains ran through over the Bridge on this line.

A surface trolley route, the Myrtle-Court line, ran by the door on the surface. It was riding these lines that I became familiar with this theater in the late-1940’s. At that time it was quite old and worn. It was far down on the distribution scheme and was part of the Interboro chain. The Peerless Theatre was closed in 1965.

Contributed by J.F. Lundy

Recent comments (view all 46 comments)

ezridr1
ezridr1 on August 14, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I also found this site by accident. Great website. Thanks for creating it. My Uncle owned the Daniels Candy Store on Myrtle Ave on the corner of Waverly. My cousin and family lived above the Candy store and I spent many a Saturday form 1948 to 1954, with my cousin at the Peerless, watching cartoons, serials like Flash Gordon and Don Winslow of the Navy ,plus a movie. We then would walk 10 yards to the corner and have a Lime Rickey or an Egg Cream at my Uncle’s Candy Store. We also played handball and “Heels” against the wall, which had a giant Shinola sign painted on the wall.

afm20
afm20 on October 26, 2013 at 1:19 pm

I also found the site by accident—I lived on Taaffe Pl as a kid,my father owned a small candy store there,went to ps 157,just down the street.Does anyone remember Tony’s Pizzeria on Myrtle Ave?,owned by Tony Creasia,a very close friend of my fathers—-left Brooklyn in 1947,moved to Ma.—hated it there,small town and got into many fights,made a shoe shine box,and got laughed at,they didn’t do things like that in the country—my mother sent me for chopped meat,and got laughed at again,they call it hamburg out here—anyway just a little note,to tell you,that you really can’t take the city,out of a country boy—Tony

Dancapp
Dancapp on July 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Great hearing from all the old Clinton Hiller’s… The Peerless was the place to be on Saturday mornings, cartoons (in color), free give aways (if you brought your baby brother) and ice cream rolls. Lived at 174 and 196 (1954-1975) the Peerless gave the neighborhood its unique character and a great place to grow up!

Bway
Bway on July 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Judging by the street view, it appears the Peerless Theater is now being used as a Church. Anyone have any idea what remains inside of the theater if anything?

lindie5150
lindie5150 on February 20, 2015 at 8:30 am

Wow, the Peerless – I grew up right around the corner at 153 Clinton Ave., went to Sacred Heart School, I remember Elkis Candy Store and Mr. and Mrs. Elkis wore weird shoes, we then moved up the street to 205 Clinton Ave. and after that to Flatbush. Anyone on here who lived in that neighborhood from 1954 to early 60’s? My name is Linda and my sister is Angela, practically our whole family lived on Clinton Ave., grandmother, great grandmother. This brings back many fond memories even though I was very young. Going to the Peerless was a big treat for us lol. Loved Brooklyn back then.

BHD4_
BHD4_ on July 14, 2015 at 6:49 pm

I see you folks remember the Peerless. Abraham Cohen emigrated from Krakow, Poland in the later part of the 1800s and married Ida Cohen in Brooklyn also from Krakow. They had three Daughters, Ruth, Gladys and Lillian and Lillian was my Mother. Abe was my Grandfather and he was the owner of the Peerless Theater and the most generous and kind man I ever knew. We lived at 210 Clinton Avenue in the Clinton Arms apartment with my parents Sam and Lil and my brother Robert. In 1954 we moved to Rockville Centre, Long Island where I live with my wife today and brought up our two kids. Yes the candy stand was under the screen on the right side. The ticket window was down the narrow lobby on the right side and there was a big fan on the right wall to cool off the theater you may remember. I was a little boy and when I went there I was treated like a king, free candy etc. Unfortunately my Grandfather closed the Theater in the early to mid 60s because he was robbed multiple times and beaten up a few times in his own place of business.

My wife and I went back there a few years ago and yes it’s a church. We went in sat down and heard the Sermon the Minister was giving. I told them my Grandfather owned the building and the Theater. They were very welcoming. The framed areas where the movie posters were still there painted over with Messages and Religious things tacked to them. The place did not look very well cared for.

I sat there thinking about my life and how I got from there to then. Burton Diamond

Dancapp
Dancapp on October 17, 2015 at 12:01 pm

I recently ran across an old map that had the Peerless site as a vaudeville Theatre… Does anyone know of the original owners or have posters (or what it was called) of the opening?

Fixer3
Fixer3 on October 9, 2016 at 11:22 am

Burton Diamond. I remember your mother, and her sister “Rose”….They had a small clothing store on the corner of Waverly & Myrtle…. They were my father’s landladies. I moved Lily from Myrtle Avenue to an apartment on (I think) Ocean Avenue…. She had a brother who lived in Yonkers…on a huge hill… I think that he was a dentist…..I still own the building that was Tony The Tailor…. I am Tony’s son. Where do you live?

rewriteman
rewriteman on February 6, 2017 at 12:39 am

What a wonderful surprise, stumbling across memories more than six decades old. Thanks, everyone, for contributing details about our beloved ”Itch.” We lived on Washington Avenue, just a few doors off Myrtle from the early 40s till June 52 when the family moved to Long Island. From the mid-40s to very early 50s, my sister, Ginny, and I along with probably a half dozen of our friends, routinely spent Saturday afternoons in the sometimes raucous but always comfortable and familiar Peerless. I passed the theater, in shadow beneath the el, every weekday as I made my way to class at Sacred Heart (would anyone today allow a first- or second-grader to walk that far unattended?) But come Saturdays, clutching my quarter allowance, I headed for the Peerless with my crowd. For 12 cents, we got at a minimum two feature films, a cartoon and, most importantly, a serial (or “chapter,” as we called those black-and-white, episodic stories of Nyoka, Rocketman, G-Men [who] Never Forget, Superman and our other matinee heroes). On the best Saturdays, the top feature was a comedy like the Bowery Boys or Abbot and Costello while the undercard, the “second”—and in we boys’ estimation, the better—film was most often a western, war flick or other shoot-em-up. We got more than movies. The 20-foot-wide lobby had great posters and photo stills, most of them advertising the week’s upcoming features (any film, the way I remember it, stayed in the theater no more than a couple of days). The first poster frame on the left, my favorite spot, was a vertical rectangle reserved for the current serial, so it sat there for at least 12 or 13 weeks and most often 15. At our ages, those months were a lifetime before the new artwork went up. For no practical reason, I liked to pick up a copy of the Peerless program for the upcoming week when I found them stacked at the ticket booth. It was a small (maybe 4 x 6) flyer, of marginal print quality and it came in a variety of colors: black one week, purple another). It included artwork and display type that promoted the upcoming, albeit brief, appearance of films. For me, the back page was the focus of my interest since it highlighted the Peerless’ Saturday matinee. The program’s front must have featured Sunday, maybe Monday (two films). Inside, double features were scheduled for Tuesday-Wednesday and Thursday-Friday (again, this is 60-plus years of reconstruction; corrections welcome!) As others have noted, the snack stand was located under the screen, at the foot of the right aisle. A small bag of potato chips cost, I think, a nickel, but they came with something other theaters didn’t provide: the matron added a small but strategic tear somewhere in the center of the bag. That kept young snackers from inflating their empty bag and punching it to achieve a loud bang. Just past the screen and refreshment stand were the double exit-only steel doors that opened onto to Waverly Avenue. Kids who left early armed themselves with rocks then directed noisy but brief fusillades against the metal. The memories still burn bright with me, and I’m glad to see they do as well with so many others. That was some neighborhood that we all called home!

Gerry_R
Gerry_R on August 11, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Ahhh – the Peerless Theater.

It had as much influence, if not more – than other parts of my early life. Ages 5 through 8 or 9. I lived on Waverly Ave, number 119 …. Third floor. I was allowed, encouraged, to go to the movies nearly every Saturday, and almost always went alone. This started at age 6. It was only around the corner … The world was thought to be a safer place then, so, my mother used the movies to get me out of the house in order to get on with her house-cleaning.

At the time I went there, It cost 35 cents for a child to get in … adults were 50 cents !

In those years, there was no movie rating system. So I got to see movies that were never meant for a 6 year old. Often saw 2 movies, plus a coming attraction or two, and usually 2 cartoons. The day of the weekly serial was already passed, didn’t take part in that phase of entertainment. I saw “ The Monster of Piedras Blancas ” on my first solo outing. A very scary movie for a little kid. I remember being terrified when I got home and I ran …. No, I flew ! – up the two flights of stairs, through the dark hallways, to get to our 3rd floor apartment ! I also saw things like Psycho …. The Tingler ….. Journey to The Center of The Earth …… Escapade in Japan….. A variety of Westerns and Monster Movies, with the occasional Sci-Fi flick thrown in. The Ten Commandments …… Old Yeller … My Mom’s favorite, The Nun’s Story …. The Shaggy Dog too. Anything and everything. I usually just went to the movies, and whatever happened to be playing, whether I understood the story or not – there I was !

One promotion the theater ran, as I remember : every Friday night, they offered a set of dinnerware, piece-by-piece, super cheap. In order to get the whole set, you had to go every week. One week might be the cups, the next week, the saucers, the following week soup bowls … you get the idea. My folks got a fair number of those dishes as I recall – they were a green-and-white streaky print design, and somewhat heavy too. Cheap China. ( Lots of businesses gave things away like that, especially gas stations; they were know for giving items out drinking glasses. I remember we had accumulated set of glasses with illustrations of long forgotten, antique 1910- 1920 cars, like . )

We went to the movies many Friday nights – because the place was air-conditioned. Our apartment was an oven,and you did anything you could to get away from there during the dog-days of summer.

I liked that the theater had 2 candy counters, one being inside the theater at the bottom of the screen, so you wouldn’t miss any of the movie. The one in the lobby had the better candy selection. Of course they had a matron working the theater too, a elderly lady wearing a uniform, and going around with a flashlight, helping you find your seat …. And keeping the little devils in line.

I remember being on a first name basis with the ticket lady in the lobby. One Saturday, I had a rash, some sort of an allergic reaction. She allowed me to leave the theater, run home, put some lotion on the itch, come back to the movies and she was fine with it all. That would never happen today… No hassles – I was just a neighborhood kid from around the corner.

In the summer of 1961, we moved to the Midwood section of Brooklyn, and I went to both the Midwood Theater and the Kent Theater. But that’s a different story, for another time.

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