Hippodrome Theatre

720 Euclid Avenue,
Cleveland, OH 44114

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BigPolishDog1951 on July 27, 2017 at 5:38 am

I vividly remember watching “Goldfinger” on New Years Day the year of its release…I was a pre-teen, and I believe Mom picked me up after the show…But, sitting there when he gets his introduction to Honor Blackman, and utters her name, POOOSIE,and a wave, a tsunami, of unbridled and hysterical laughter swept over the entire audience……Later by a few years, a few of us ‘creatively cut school’(Cathedral Latin on 107th and Euclid)and ‘visited’ the pool hall located beneath the movie theater proper….Boy, was that adventurous !

LisaK on January 18, 2016 at 8:26 am

I was actually working downtown in the early 80’s at Ameritrust on the corner of East 9th & Euclid and watched the Hippodrome be imploded. So it wasn’t destroyed in 1975, it was 1981. I never got to go inside and I was quite young when it was demolished, but I do remember it being a very sad day and very sad thing to watch “history” being destroyed.

Norm Lindway
Norm Lindway on January 25, 2013 at 8:09 am

There are two pictures of the inside of the Hipp(Inside lobby and auditorium) in the book “Euclid Avenue, Cleveland’s Sophisticated Lady, 1920-1970” by Karberg and Toman, published by Cleveland Landmarks Press. Pictures of other downtown theaters are also in the book. Maybe someone can get permission to have these pictures scanned for inclusion in Cinema Treasures.

BobStanley on September 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I grew up in Cleveland and was a regular at the Hippodrome. It was literally like a palace. Plush red carpet, a grand sprawling marble stairway and there were gargoyle heads that lined the walls. The screen was huge and framed by heavy, thick velvet drapes that parted at the beginning of every movie to entertain you with coming attractions and instead of commercials you had a The Three Stooges short or a classic cartoon like Road Runner or Wood Woodpecker. I saw Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon 16 times their. Cleveland has a great deal to hang their heads in shame for tearing down this grand city treasure. No effort was made to save the Hippodrome. No words can express the anger and sadness I felt when Cleveland allowed the destruction of this irreplaceable treasure.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 20, 2011 at 5:56 pm

“I’d Rather Be Rich” 1964 Biggest Wednesday Opening in the History of the Theatre.BOXOFFICE Sept.7 1964.

chspringer on April 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm

WF, can you post the pictures or e-mail scans?

W Frisk
W Frisk on April 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I visited it right before demolition and it was a huge and complex place. The upper balcony looked across to a flat wall way above the proscenium. There was a stairway for the top balcony balcony that had a railing down the middle for crowd safety and winded up many flights of steps with no other doors until you actually got to the balcony. The rehearsal hall had been used by a radio station and was huge as well with South facing windows, so there was natural light, the West wall of that room was the wall the upper balcony faced since it was over the auditorium. I need to look at my pictures again which shows it was similar gargantuan size like the Philadelphia Met and the Auditorium chicago.

TLSLOEWS on August 5, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Interesting reading.

jtmcdaniel on August 5, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I’m not sure, but it seems likely. Most of the downtown buildings used steam purchased from Muni Light for heat, and I remember a mad scramble to install boilers when the sales were cut off. Adding a steam plant to an old office building that was constructed without provision for a boiler room was obviously pretty expensive, presuming you could find a place to put it, and were willing to spend the money. Sometimes they just closed the building and sold the land.

The steam pipes ran in a vault just under the sidewalks, which had a side benefit of keeping the sidewalks warm enough in the winter that the snow tended to melt off them.

Hibi on August 5, 2010 at 11:27 am

So the Hipp was heated by steam and had no heating system of its own?

jtmcdaniel on May 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I did wonder if at least part of the reason for shutting down the office buildings, and then the theater, was the need to install a heating plant after Muni Light stopped selling steam. For a time I lived in the little apartment building on Prospect behind the theater and I believe that came down at the same time as the theater. The last time I was there was a couple years ago and the place was still a parking lot. At the time I lived there (early ‘70s), it was one of only a couple places you could live downtown. Most of what are apartments now still had stores and offices in them back then.

CSWalczak on April 20, 2010 at 8:57 pm

From an architectural/acoustical point of view, the Hippodrome might well have made a great opera house, but Cleveland (though home to a renowned symphony orchestra) has never really had the same or even a similar opera history as other cities of its size and potential resources. Caruso did appear at the Hippodrome in 1911 during one of the NYC Metropolitan touring performances; the Met also played the Hippodrome the following year.

Historically, Cleveland opera lovers have more or less counted on touring opera companies over the decades, especially the Met, which had a regular run for many years at Public Hall. Since the rebirth of Playhouse Square, a local company has played at the State. But during the time when the Hipp might have been available or ripe for opera house conversion, there really was no local company that would have been able to really make use of it as gargantuan as it was or raise the funds necessary to make it a true opera house.

jtmcdaniel on April 20, 2010 at 8:29 pm

A far better fate for the Hipp would have been conversion to an opera house. An acquaintance in New York (I can’t remember his name, but he ran the Palace) once mentioned that the American Society of Architects once included the Hipp on a list of the ten most acoustically perfect theatres in the world, and some old accounts suggest that Caruso, who appeared there with the Met, absolutely loved the place. One problem they had, aside from not being on Playhouse Square, was that the stage was too big for most straight plays or even musicals, even after it was cut back. I did a number of shows for Dennis Zack back in the ‘70s, and he used one of the big rehearsal halls built over the auditorium to prepare his shows (he presented them at the Little Theatre in Public Auditorium), and you could look down onto the stage from the rehearsal halls. The rehearsal halls were the same size as the original stage; we used a little space in the middle of one to rehearse.

CSWalczak on December 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm

The Carter was close to Pick-Carter, but not adjacent – it was on east side of 9th Street between Euclid and Prospect, whereas the building that housed the Pick-Carter is on the south side of Prospect. An office building occupies the site of the Carter Theater.

buckguy on December 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm

I last visited the Hipp as a teenager in ‘70 or '71. Rumors of its closing circulated for years, so it was almost a surprise when it finally happened. The place was a dump in its closing days, but the huge screen and the size of the (closed) balconies were evident. the seats functional but very old and the clientele had become fairly marginal. In its last years, it played mostly drive-in type fare and blaxploitation films.

As for the location, the Euclid/Prospect split was the most profound. The Playhouse Square theatres were surrounded by upscale retail like Halle’s, Bonwit-Teller, Sterling Linder, Peck & Peck, Milgrim, etc. there were a few theatres on E 9th, which was a marginal area until the Erieview urban renewal program of the 1960s. There was at least one near Public Square, which i believe became retail. I think it was an S&H Green Stamp redemption center for most of the 60s. Near the Hipp were the upscale Taylor department store (converted to offices in 1962) and a lot of midrange retail like Bond’s, Richman Bros, Burrows (blooks & stationary), along with the Euclid, Colonial, & Taylor arcades which had service oriented businesses. prospect was always low end retail including pawn shops, credit jewelers, furniture stores (Bing’s, later used as the downscale Bailey’s department store), Kay’s huge used book store (the stock was sold to Powell’s in Portland), army-navy stores, the famous Record Rendevous, etc. The Hipp marquee on Prospect was gone by the late 60s, although I believe there was an entrance to the office building.

The Carter was probably adjacent to the Carter Hotel (later Pick-Carter) which was converted to senior housing in the 1970s, and I think is still known as Carter Manor. The Carter was a respectable hotel but not in the same class as the Sheraton-Cleveland on Public Square or the Statler Hilton, further down Euclid near halle’s.

chspringer on May 7, 2009 at 11:01 am

Great photos. In a couple of the exterior shots you can see a staircase going down to below the lobby. There was a Chineese restaurant located in the basement.

woody on January 23, 2009 at 2:35 am

some amazing photos on flickr
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great exterior shot
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zabriskie on January 23, 2009 at 12:33 am

I saw GOLDFINGER in those big crowds at the Hipp. i was home from college for Christmas i think. It was so packed we sat in the balcony. Also saw BECAUSE THEY"RE YOUNG there (Dick clark, Tuesday Weld, wow!) Big hits at the Hippodrome were IMITATION OF LIFE (World premiere), PILLOW TALK, PORTRAIT IN BLACK, TAMMY AND THE BACHELOR.

dave-bronx™ on December 4, 2008 at 3:44 pm

From The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History…..

The HIPPODROME THEATER was located in an 11-story office building at 720 Euclid Ave. Designed by Cleveland architect John Elliot, the “Hipp” featured exceptionally good acoustics, a lavish interior, grandiose spaciousness, and a second entrance on Prospect Ave. Considered to be among the world’s great playhouses, it attracted performers such as Enrico Caruso, Sarah Bernhardt, W. C. Fields, Will Rogers, Al Jolson, and John McCormack. The auditorium had boxes, 2 balconies with elevators, and seating for 3,548. The stage was equipped to handle large-scale productions and spectacles such as operas. The world’s 2nd-largest, next to the Hippodrome in New York, it measured 130' wide, 104' deep, 110' high, and could be lifted to 4 different levels by hydraulic jacks. On one level was an 80x40x10-ft. water tank used for water spectacles. The theater was built in 1907 by an operating company headed by Max Faetkenhauer at a cost of $800,000. After several years, theater operations were leased to B. F. Keith. In 1922 Walter Reasoner took over operations, followed by RKO in 1929. Remodeling in 1931 made it the largest American theater devoted entirely to motion pictures. A large portion of the stage was removed, while the main floor was lowered and a new mezzanine added to increase seating to above 4,000. In 1933 the theater went bankrupt, and operations were taken over by Warner Bros. In 1951 it became part of the Telenews chain, and in 1972 the property was purchased by Alvin Krenzler. The last of the major downtown movie houses to close, the Hipp’s downfall came when the office space was closed and the theater’s revenues proved insufficient to support the building. The Hippodrome was demolished in 1981 to make way for a parking lot.

Norm Lindway
Norm Lindway on July 5, 2008 at 12:20 pm

The Hippodrome was the first in Ohio to show The Robe in Cinemascope, other Cinemascope pictures followed. There are two photos and some info on the Hipp in a book called “Euclid Avenue, Cleveland’s Sophisticated Lady-1920-1970 by by Karberg and Toman, published by Cleveland Landmarks Press 2002 website www.clevelandbook.com Barnes and Noble, Borders, Jobeth and other bookstores should have copies.

nonsportsnut on November 8, 2007 at 10:18 pm

Re: Joe DeRita being married while playing at the Roxy. I have located a Marriage in July 1935, during Joe’s 31 week engagement at the Roxy. He was also in the area at the Columbia Theatre (Toledo?) working for Sam Manheim, and at the Cameo Theatre (Akron?) for Dick Ziesler. Does anybody have any information on Burlesque at those theatres, or any additional information on Joe DeRita?
You can email me direct at:
Frank Reighter

nonsportsnut on October 7, 2007 at 2:13 pm

I’m trying to find information on the Roxy Burlesque in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Joe DeRita, the “last” third stooge of the Three Stooges, was featured there, and married a dancer/chorus girl there, Bonnie Brooks. The Three Stooges Fan Club is trying to find out whatever happened to Bonnie Brooks
You can email me direct at:
Frank Reighter

leejames59 on September 14, 2007 at 2:26 pm

My grandfather (Sid Dannenberg) was the greneral manager of the Hippodrome for several years in the mid to late 1930’s. He personally hired Lew Wasserman as an usher, later to become the President/CEO of MCA then MCA/ Universal who for several decades was known as the most powerfull man in Hollywood.
My mother always had some great stories from her childhood!