Peerless Theater

433 Myrtle Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11205

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Showing 1 - 25 of 39 comments

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?

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!

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

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.

taiello38
taiello38 on June 30, 2010 at 9:34 am

ALL I CAN SAY IS WOW!!!!!FOUND THIS SITE BY ACCIDENT…
LIVED AT 139 CLINTON AVE FROM 1940-1952…UL 2 0721..
DAD OWNED CLERMONT LOUNGE MA 5 8982…
ELKIS CANDY STORE ON CLINTON N MYRTLE..YES HE WAS A GROUCH…DANIELLS CANDY STORE ON CORNER OF WAVERLY…GOLDMAN GROCERY ON MYRTLE N CLINTON..SACRED HEART SCHOOL…THE PEERLES WAS CALLED THE"ITCH"….REMEMBER FRANK AND HIS BROTHER…OWNERS…DISHES ON SAT..THEY WLD WALK UP THE AISLES SELLING POPCORN…
ANYONE WANT TO TALK???

Bway
Bway on March 10, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Anyone know of any current photos of the interior?

Anyway, here’s a corrected link for the photo above, the link changed:

View link

Fixer3
Fixer3 on November 12, 2009 at 4:10 pm

ALL of the interior remains!

Bway
Bway on May 26, 2009 at 9:36 am

I would assume as a church, much of it’s interior remains?

Fixer3
Fixer3 on February 9, 2009 at 7:16 am

The first telephone number that I ever memorized was ULster 5-4826; Tony The Tailor; 437 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn 5, New York.That number was good from 1956 until December 31, 2002. Two doors East of the Peerless Theater. The theater is owned and operated by the “Reverend Lee”….and it’s just like new inside.

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on November 28, 2008 at 7:34 am

Thx for that interesting item of trivia, ken, although I believe it was upgraded in the late 1940s. I’ll try to check further on that. My home exchange a block away in 1946 was Main, and my cousin’s (who lived several blocks away on Cumberland) was Sterling. Ulster was another common to the Clinton Hill area.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 26, 2008 at 7:52 pm

Telephone number for the Peerless in 1940 was CUmbrlnd 6-2390.

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on December 10, 2007 at 6:34 pm

Very LARGE thx (as WABC DJ Big Dan Ingram used to say) to Fixer3 & Bway for posting those photo links to the Peerless Theater! With only two days away from being back in the borough for the holidays, those pix took me back many years. Wow!

Bway
Bway on December 10, 2007 at 8:09 am

Here is a photo of the old Peerless Theater taken in 1969, when from the old Myrtle Ave el. The theater IS in fact the same building as Ken Roe photographed in 2005, with links above…. It’s a spectacular photo of the old building, the old marquee abandoned, but still there….

View link

aa022467
aa022467 on December 2, 2007 at 7:01 am

Thanks, John C.
This brings back fond memories of, not only the theatre, but of my grandfather, who owned it and my early days in Bklyn. I’ll be sure to show this picture to my 92 year old mother and see if she can remember it.
Many thanks for the memories.
BobD

Fixer3
Fixer3 on December 2, 2007 at 6:39 am

Small problem: The late 1960’s photo of the Peerless (refered to in my previous post) did not come through as a link, so here it is:

View link

John C ().

Fixer3
Fixer3 on December 2, 2007 at 6:26 am

BROOKLYN, NY â€" My fatherâ€\s drycleaner/tailor shop was at 437 Myrtle and as a kid hanging out at dadâ€\s store, I would be given 75 cents to get out of his hair for a couple of hours at the Peerless Theater two doors down.

The building and the interior are today exactly as they were in the early 1960â€\s when the theater was open for business. Today the interior is even better than it was then because everything is well painted and maintained. The marquee was taken down in the late sixties as I recall, and the front doors were replaced at that time.

The people who lived upstairs had no sound problem because the seats and the screen were actually in a separate building that was 75â€\ down a 20 foot wide entranceway that also housed the ticket booth (on the right side). This area immediately behind the front doors was ostensibly for holding the throngs waiting for the next “sell out show.”

After you walked down the corridor, which is the same length and width as the stores to the right of the movie, you entered the theater proper at the last row of seats with the screen to your right. The wall at the back of the screen is actually on Waverly Avenue. The rear emergency exits lead to a courtyard that is behind Jive Turkey, 3 Stars Laundromat, Yes Cleaners and “Dooâ€\s” barber shop. There is a fire escape from some upper area by the screen that leads down to the courtyard but I wouldnâ€\t think that it could hold two pigeons at the same time these days.

The candy counter was under the screen so that management could save on a matron who, by law, had to be present whenever school was not in session in order to mind the kids. With the candy counter under the screen, the matron could do double duty as candy salesman and matron while remaining in compliance.

The place was never air conditioned but was instead cooled by two enormous, 5-speed electric fans. When the theater closed, my father bought them both and they cooled Tony The Tailor Drycleaners until 2002 when he closed the doors. They were discarded during the subsequent renovation by the present tenant.

There are two windows on the right wall (facing the screen) that were shaded but open during the summer. They were too high to see in from the hidden courtyard, but I could always HEAR the movie while standing in the shade of my fatherâ€\s gigantic fig trees that were planted against that wall.

Those fig trees had to be the biggest fig trees in the state. The courtyard was closed in on all four sides and was heated, year-round by the window mounted exhaust fans from the laundromat and the drycleaner. They must have thought that they were in the Mediterranean because they extended so high that we couldnâ€\t reach the topmost fruit with the Peerlessâ€\ marquee ladder that we also “acquired” when they closed the doors!

So itâ€\s all still there…and better than ever. If you stand in the courtyard on weekends, you can be treated to the sound of a full gospel choir!

Thereâ€\s a short angle photo of the Peerlessâ€\ marquee available on line. The photo was taken from the north side of Myrtle Avenue facing east from the middle of Clinton Ave. with the old Myrtle Avenue El coming toward the camera on its way to “Bridge & Jay”. I see a 1968 or 1969 Buick parked at the curb. The el came down in 1971, so that should give you an approximate date. The photo is located online. Thatâ€\s the Peerlessâ€\ marquee just to the right of the sign that says “CIGARS”.

John C ().

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on May 27, 2007 at 11:02 am

210 was right across the alley from me at 196. You had 13-14 stories, with speedy elevators, but our much older building had only 5, all with staircases. Somewhere in my family photos, I have one that was taken on Mother’s Day, 1947. It showed the brand new Clinton Hill Apartments directly across the street: all the windows had big white X’s on them.

‘53-'54 were the years we kids atarted attending the Peerless in earnest. There was a candy store on the corner of Clinton & Myrtle, but the guy was a total grouch. We never bought much of anything there, as there was a much friendlier store at the Vanderbilt Ave. station. There might have been a radio & TV repair shop next door, and then Louie’s Barber Shop adjoining the Peerless at 433 Myrtle.

You mentioned the projectionist’s ladder on the far (wall) side, exactly as I’d remembered it. Can’t recall any other theater of that era having no balcony and a ladder up to the booth. Smokers got the last three rows or so – center, left and right.

In a novel I’ve just completed, I “borrowed” a description of the art deco green, orange and yellow sconces mounted on the walls near the blade fans for summer use. Always reminded me of a cool sherbet.

The screen was postage-stamp size until 1954. CinemaScope had been available to major theaters for a year or so when the Peerless closed for a time for renovations. The new screen did not appear wide enough to fit the CinemaScope category, but it was considerably larger than the one it replaced. I think this occurred soon after the screening of “Them!” (To this day I still check the horizon if I hear a car’s squeaky fan belt a block or two away.)

Glad you’re aboard, BobD, and I encourage you in your efforts to get other family members to sign up for and to enjoy this great CT website! Thx!

aa022467
aa022467 on May 27, 2007 at 3:44 am

Brooklyn Jim, did you live in the heighborhood and, if so, where. I lived in 210 Clinton Avenue a floor above my grandparents. Since I move from there in 1954, at the age of 8, I do not have that many memories as to what stores where on the same street. My basic memories are of the movie theater itself. At that young age, it seemed enormous. It was like a family in the theater…everybody treating each other as family members.
I’ll try and get other family members to join in the memoriesa of the Peerless.

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on May 26, 2007 at 6:52 am

Welcome, BobD! Finally a “Peerless” relative has surfaced!

This neighborhood theater, as you know, was for years an inexpensive but major staple of entertainment for hard-working middle class folks who lived anywhere from the vicinity of the Brooklyn Navy Yard right up through the range of Clinton Hill Apartments (to Greene Ave.), Pratt Institute and Fort Greene Park itself. Unfortunately, many of the old residents, including some I grew up with, are no longer with us. The Peerless page, therefore, fails to generate the massive response as found for such other popular theaters as the Ridgewood, RKO Madison, Radio City Music Hall, etc.

If you go back about a month or so of news entries on CT’s home page, you’ll find one entitled “Peerless Memories” from John C., whose relatives owned the tailor shop next store.

And thanks for sharing your memories with all of us CTers! Hope to read more of your recollections in the near future!

aa022467
aa022467 on May 26, 2007 at 5:27 am

I’m so glad to hear all the memories of the Peerless Theater. I have special memories, since my grandfather was the owner. It was pure delight to have him pick me up from school and take me to theater so I had someplace safe to be while my mother was ou and about. Fanny was the cashier; Frank ran the concession stand, and oh thoose great mello rolls ice cream. Good and Plenty; Turkish taffy which we used to break apart on the arm of the chair. To me, as an 7 year old, the theater seemed so large. I remember my grandfather pulling down the ladder to go up to the projection booth. Just think…. 2 movies. a newsreel and cartoon all for 20 cents, and I didn’t have to pay anything…ownership privileges.
Long live the memories!!!!!!!!!

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on March 29, 2007 at 7:27 am

Your 6/05 Peerless pix are much appreciated, Ken! They are also most illuminating regarding the acoustics question I’d posed last June 13.

My memory was correct about the two stories of apartments over the Myrtle Ave. entrance. Access was under the 2nd maroon canopy at far right. But the angle from which you shot that photo reveals a much shorter end to the rear of the apartments (left side) than I’d remembered. The small apartments would barely make it lengthwise over the projection booth. (The Peerless had no balcony: the projectionist had to climb a metal ladder at the far north end of the theater to enter the booth.)

From your view, just beyond the original four doors, (now newly redesigned, at least since the early ‘90s), I can recall the large lobby area and all the colorful displays for upcoming features. Up the ramp to the right was the ticket booth: admission for kids was 20-cents up to 1958. A man took our tickets, ripped them and deposited half in a glass and wood stand. We then continued up the ramp, past the restrooms on the right and windows at left showing yard space.

At the projectionist’s booth were the black curtains. We entered the seating area by making a sharp 90-degree turn to the right. The floor began to slope toward the screen, concession stand under the screen and exit doors at Waverly Ave. The middle rows had the most seats, maybe 20-22, and two side rows of 5 seats each. Old art deco sconce light fixtures (soft green, orange and yellow) were mounted on both north and south walls.

Back outside in your view, I still miss the shadows of the Myrtle El train. We kids had learned to tell time by how the shadows fell, regardless of season! The small marquee hung where the white church sign is now. Immediately to the left was Louie’s Barber Shop, now gone, too, along with ol' Louie.

The Waverly Ave. shot revealed no structure above it, so the loudness of the sound system would not have affected the apartment dwellers as severely as I’d previously thought, though the renters may still have used noon-5:00 P.M. on Saturdays to do their weekly shopping or to go visit Aunt Matilda.

Damn good job, KenRoe! And big thx for jogging my aging memory vaults!

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 28, 2007 at 9:27 am

Here are a couple of photographs I took in June 2005:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kencta/437810268/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kencta/437811997/
Sorry it’s taken so long to post them!

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on June 13, 2006 at 10:39 am

Just thought of something about the Peerless, and I’m not sure how common it was regarding other small outlets in other neighborhoods.

There was a door to the immediate right of the 4 main doors by which we frenzied ones gained admittance to the kiddie matinee virtually every Saturday. This door was exclusively for the apartment dwellers who lived on the two floors directly above the theater.

I’d never given this much thought until now, but I’m wondering how acoustically soundproofed those apartments were. The sound system of the Peerless was quite loud – it hadda be to drown all 400 of us out at fever pitch! The theater opened at noon all week long and ran features until midnight, or an hour or so before. If the walls were thin plaster and the floorboards made of wood, how did those people ever cope with the incessant noise emanating from below?

Color me curious, George.

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on June 13, 2006 at 7:03 am

Growing older is a real experience, JoeB. I can sometimes recall the minutest detail of something 50+ years ago, but I’m not always lucky enough to remember what I ate for dinner last night!

Do you remember which other dumps had concession stands under the screen? I always figured that’s where they put the guy who played the piano in the silent era…

Here’s an site that’ll bring back some memories for all you guys who are real life members of the Myrtle Ave. el Q-car set c. 1969:

www.nycrail.com/bmt/historical_myrtle_el.htm

Photog Michael Littman put up some 50 B&W shots, some evocative and others artsy, but all good, that knocked me on my tiny heinie. About ¾ of the way down on the left is a “widescreen” shot at track level, with the tracks bearing slightly toward the left, which was where the Peerless was. When I first saw this pic, I immediately e-mailed the URL to my boyhood pal Tom, now in Jersey. He, too, knew that it was where we crossed over countless times to the other side of Myrtle without ever having to cross the street physically and dodge traffic, and where we traded a lot of Scoop, Look ‘n’ See and Wings (“Friend or Foe?”) cards back then without being bothered.

As for the DVD you asked about: The guy who puts these up on eBay, Alan I. Zelazo, is over in Morris Plains, NJ. Generally, you can get his titles on a single bid. The one I referenced about the Peerless is on the Myrtle Ave. El DVD. So when you get to eBay’s opening page, search for Trolley DVDs. SubwayAl’s material is there. Get back to me if you run into any snags. Good luck obtaining your own time machine!

Goodheart
Goodheart on June 12, 2006 at 5:01 pm

BrooklynJim, It’s amazing how well you recall most of the films that you saw at the Peerless Theatre.
By the way I was in a few ‘dumps’ that also had the concession stand directlty under the screen.
And I miss that clanky Myrtle Ave el, which I use to see go by from my window on Stockton St. through an empty lot.
By the way I would appreciate some info on how to obtain that DVD you mentioned.

JoeB