Ezella Theatre

7007 Superior Avenue,
Cleveland, OH 44103

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 17, 2010 at 12:41 am

Boxoffice of April 21, 1941, said that Scoville, Essick & Reif would rebuild their Ezella Theatre. Construction was scheduled to begin that spring. An earlier Boxoffice item about the project had given the seating capacity of the original Ezella as 600.

The introduction above and some comments on this page say that the Estella resembled the later Vine Theatre in Willoughby and the Mayland Theatre in Mayfield Heights. Both of those houses were originally built for the same circuit that operated the Ezella, and both were designed by Cleveland architects Paul Matzinger and Rudolph Grosel.

Though not all of the Scoville, Essick & Reif/Modern Theatres circuit houses mentioned in Boxoffice over the years are specifically attributed by the magazine to the firm of Matzinger & Grosel, a 1947 item did say that most of the circuit’s theaters had been designed by them. Given the similarities noted above, the rebuilt Ezella was most likely one of those Matzinger & Grosel designs.

Photos of the Ezella illustrated this article by decorator Hanns Teichert in Boxoffice of August 5, 1950.

buckguy
buckguy on February 27, 2010 at 12:52 pm

The Yale would have been at the end of Yale Ave, where it met St. Clair, just past Liberty Blvd/MLK.

The Ezella was part of a small business district that included an A&P and a Kresge (one of the few neigborhood Kresges’s to survive their big store closing round in the early 60s). The A&P survived into the early 1970s.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on April 8, 2009 at 2:53 am

Picture of the Ezella asa church from 1985:
View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 4, 2009 at 10:55 pm

That’s a pretty horrendous remodel by the church. It looks like they covered the marquee with tin and painted it brown. Also some kind of false brick front. I’m sure the theater looked better than this in its day.

spectrum
spectrum on May 14, 2008 at 2:13 pm

That films 101 webpage up above lists 62 films for 1946. It lists them as the 62 “most notable” films of the year. There were a lot more than 62 filsm released that year – generally there were considerably more movies per year back then than there are now (many more “B” movies, etc.)

simplexlover
simplexlover on August 25, 2006 at 12:07 pm

Thanks for the new Ezella information. It is my all-time fave nabe.
According to films101.com
http://www.films101.com/y1946r.htm
there were only 48 pictures released on 1948, not even close to a record. How about 160 films on 2004?
Please post anything else you remember about any of the theatres you mention.
Jim Somich

skokee
skokee on August 25, 2006 at 11:41 am

To Jim Basnik: When I was doing research for my book, I printed off the movie page of the Plain Dealer from microfilm, as it appeared on a Sunday in 1945. There were approximately 80 neighborhood theaters in the greater Cleveland area in those days, including several “seedy” downtown theaters that showed double features. Factoring in the eight first-run houses downtown (Palace, Hipp, Allen, State, Stillman, Ohio, Mall, and Lake) and the five theaters at E. 105th and Euclid, Cleveland had very close to 100 movie theaters at the peak of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

I have read in several sources that Hollywood’s all-time record year for new releases was 1946, but I’ve never seen the exact figure. Does anybody know what it was?

skokee
skokee on August 25, 2006 at 11:00 am

TO Jim Basnik, Jim Somich, et al: The Ezella Theater was extensively remodeled, modernized, and enlarged during the winter and spring of 1941-42. The old theater closed just after Pearl Harbor and reopened the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in 1942 — to be exact, May 29, 1942. The opening feature was “Two Yanks in Trinidad” starring Pat O'Brien, Brian Donleavy, and Janet Blair. The auditorium had 1380 seats. The theater closed sometime in 1969, after paring down to a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday operation in 1967.

The bingo game on Wednesday nights was called B-A-N-K-O and was conducted by the theater manager immediately after the first feature (if there was a double feature) or the first show (if there was only one feature).

The address of the Ezella was variously listed as 7007 and 7011 Superior Ave., depending on whether you were reading the movie ads in the Plain Dealer or the afternoon Cleveland Press. There was a citywide movie projectionist’s strike in 1945, and the Ezella was closed for a couple of weeks.

If you wanted refreshments at the Ezella in the early 40’s, you had to purchase them before you went in at the Ezella Sweet Shoppe next door west of the box office. The lobby concession stand was not installed until about 1946, at which time the Sweet Shoppe closed.

There was a navy blue, white-lettered “Cooled by Refrigeration” banner that hung from the bottom of the marquee (both sides) during the summer months. During the war years, “Buy Bonds” was posted on the front of the marquee. Yes, the Mayland Theater (which opened in the late 40’s) did resemble the Ezella, at least on the outside.

The Liberty Theater was actually owned by Loew’s in the 40’s. The Yale was on St. Clair at E. 89th St., and there was a very small, run-down, fourth-run movie house, called the Superior Theater, on Superior at E. 83rd or E. 85th (north side of Superior), with practically no lobby. Their claim to neighborhood fame was that the gave out dinnerware to the ladies one night a week. Rumor had it that an occasional rate was seen scurrying through the auditorium, though I could never confirm that.

I lived in a rat-infested apartment building at the corner of Wade Park Ave. and Giddings Road from 1941 (when I was 4) to 1948 (when I was 11). Since the Ezella changed programs three times a week — on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday in the later 40’s — I was often there three times a week, usually with my mother. Admission was 20 cents for her, a dime for me. When we moved out to Euclid in 1948, it was in time to be in attendance at the opening of the Lake Theater in the late summer of 1949.

Ten years ago, I wrote an as-yet-unpublished memoir called “The Ezellaration of Richie”, essentially about various aspects of my childhood and how the Ezella and happy movie endings of the 40’s got me through a difficult growing-up process.

Rick Jasany

skokee
skokee on August 25, 2006 at 11:00 am

TO Jim Basnik, Jim Somich, et al: The Ezella Theater was extensively remodeled, modernized, and enlarged during the winter and spring of 1941-42. The old theater closed just after Pearl Harbor and reopened the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in 1942 — to be exact, May 29, 1942. The opening feature was “Two Yanks in Trinidad” starring Pat O'Brien, Brian Donleavy, and Janet Blair. The auditorium had 1380 seats. The theater closed sometime in 1969, after paring down to a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday operation in 1967.

The bingo game on Wednesday nights was called B-A-N-K-O and was conducted by the theater manager immediately after the first feature (if there was a double feature) or the first show (if there was only one feature).

The address of the Ezella was variously listed as 7007 and 7011 Superior Ave., depending on whether you were reading the movie ads in the Plain Dealer or the afternoon Cleveland Press. There was a citywide movie projectionist’s strike in 1945, and the Ezella was closed for a couple of weeks.

If you wanted refreshments at the Ezella in the early 40’s, you had to purchase them before you went in at the Ezella Sweet Shoppe next door west of the box office. The lobby concession stand was not installed until about 1946, at which time the Sweet Shoppe closed.

There was a navy blue, white-lettered “Cooled by Refrigeration” banner that hung from the bottom of the marquee (both sides) during the summer months. During the war years, “Buy Bonds” was posted on the front of the marquee. Yes, the Mayland Theater (which opened in the late 40’s) did resemble the Ezella, at least on the outside.

The Liberty Theater was actually owned by Loew’s in the 40’s. The Yale was on St. Clair at E. 89th St., and there was a very small, run-down, fourth-run movie house, called the Superior Theater, on Superior at E. 83rd or E. 85th (north side of Superior), with practically no lobby. Their claim to neighborhood fame was that the gave out dinnerware to the ladies one night a week. Rumor had it that an occasional rate was seen scurrying through the auditorium, though I could never confirm that.

I lived in a rat-infested apartment building at the corner of Wade Park Ave. and Giddings Road from 1941 (when I was 4) to 1948 (when I was 11). Since the Ezella changed programs three times a week — on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday in the later 40’s — I was often there three times a week, usually with my mother. Admission was 20 cents for her, a dime for me. When we moved out to Euclid in 1948, it was in time to be in attendance at the opening of the Lake Theater in the late summer of 1949.

Ten years ago, I wrote an as-yet-unpublished memoir called “The Ezellaration of Richie”, essentially about various aspects of my childhood and how the Ezella and happy movie endings of the 40’s got me through a difficult growing-up process.

Rick Jasany

skokee
skokee on August 25, 2006 at 10:59 am

TO Jim Basnik, Jim Somich, et al: The Ezella Theater was extensively remodeled, modernized, and enlarged during the winter and spring of 1941-42. The old theater closed just after Pearl Harbor and reopened the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in 1942 — to be exact, May 29, 1942. The opening feature was “Two Yanks in Trinidad” starring Pat O'Brien, Brian Donleavy, and Janet Blair. The auditorium had 1380 seats. The theater closed sometime in 1969, after paring down to a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday operation in 1967.

The bingo game on Wednesday nights was called B-A-N-K-O and was conducted by the theater manager immediately after the first feature (if there was a double feature) or the first show (if there was only one feature).

The address of the Ezella was variously listed as 7007 and 7011 Superior Ave., depending on whether you were reading the movie ads in the Plain Dealer or the afternoon Cleveland Press. There was a citywide movie projectionist’s strike in 1945, and the Ezella was closed for a couple of weeks.

If you wanted refreshments at the Ezella in the early 40’s, you had to purchase them before you went in at the Ezella Sweet Shoppe next door west of the box office. The lobby concession stand was not installed until about 1946, at which time the Sweet Shoppe closed.

There was a navy blue, white-lettered “Cooled by Refrigeration” banner that hung from the bottom of the marquee (both sides) during the summer months. During the war years, “Buy Bonds” was posted on the front of the marquee. Yes, the Mayland Theater (which opened in the late 40’s) did resemble the Ezella, at least on the outside.

The Liberty Theater was actually owned by Loew’s in the 40’s. The Yale was on St. Clair at E. 89th St., and there was a very small, run-down, fourth-run movie house, called the Superior Theater, on Superior at E. 83rd or E. 85th (north side of Superior), with practically no lobby. Their claim to neighborhood fame was that the gave out dinnerware to the ladies one night a week. Rumor had it that an occasional rate was seen scurrying through the auditorium, though I could never confirm that.

I lived in a rat-infested apartment building at the corner of Wade Park Ave. and Giddings Road from 1941 (when I was 4) to 1948 (when I was 11). Since the Ezella changed programs three times a week — on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday in the later 40’s — I was often there three times a week, usually with my mother. Admission was 20 cents for her, a dime for me. When we moved out to Euclid in 1948, it was in time to be in attendance at the opening of the Lake Theater in the late summer of 1949.

Ten years ago, I wrote an as-yet-unpublished memoir called “The Ezellaration of Richie”, essentially about various aspects of my childhood and how the Ezella and happy movie endings of the 40’s got me through a difficult growing-up process.

Rick Jasany

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on March 6, 2006 at 6:18 pm

The organ then had to be in the old Ezella – installed in 1926. The “new” Ezella was a contemporary of the Mayland, which was built in the 1940s.

rogers
rogers on March 6, 2006 at 6:10 pm

TO: Jim Basnik: If you went to the Norwood, you probably also remember the Yale Theatre – which was a bit further out St Clair Avenue on the same side of the street. Seems like it was in the 8000 block, but I could be wrong about that. It was roughly the same size as the Norwood – maybe just a bit larger. As for Clark’s Restaurant being across from the Liberty, you’re right! Ditto for being across from the Kieth’s 105th.
To Bryan Krefft and SimplexLover: There was an earlier, much smaller Ezella Theatre on the same site, thus the difference in the seating capacity. Modern Theatres, Inc. built the “New Ezella' after tearing down the old one. I’m not sure when all of this took place. But I do remember hearing some of the neighborhood old timers talking about it.
TO Lost Memory: The "new” Ezella Theatre never had an organ — that I’m sure of! I’ve been over virtually every inch of the place and if ther’d ever have been an organ installed on the premises, I’d have known about it!

simplexlover
simplexlover on February 10, 2006 at 9:41 am

No. All my records show it at E105th & Superior. Would you like the phone number? GArfield 2222.

wheelgrabber
wheelgrabber on February 10, 2006 at 9:30 am

Does anyone know the exact address of the Liberty Theatre? It was a couple of buildings west of East 105th Street on the north side of Superior. Also, wasn’t there a Clark’s Restaurant accross the street? There was a Clark’s accross from the Keith’s 105th, but I’m pretty sure there was one accross from the Liberty as well.

simplexlover
simplexlover on February 8, 2006 at 10:05 am

To the best of my knowledge, the Ezella was never upgraded in seating capacity. The 1400 figure sounds about right. The Ezella was all on one floor, with no balcony.

wheelgrabber
wheelgrabber on February 8, 2006 at 7:31 am

The correct address for the Ezella is 7007 Superior Avenue. Currently the building is occupied by “The Original Glorious Church of God in Christ Apostolic Faith Inc.” I’m not sure the marquee can fit all that!

wheelgrabber
wheelgrabber on February 2, 2006 at 9:31 am

I grew up in this “seedy” neighborhood from 1948 to 1970. Actually, I thought it was a great place to live. I spent many a Saturday afternoon in the Ezella. I never realized it had an organ. It must have been long gone by the time I started attending movies there. Another theatre I visited quite often was the Norwood which was on St. Clair Ave. a couple of doors East of Norwood Road. Next to this theatre was the “Norwood Sweet Shop” with an old fashioned soda fountain. Sadly the theatre was demolished in the mid 60’s I believe. The “Sweet Shop” building still stands but I believe it’s closed. Does anyone have further information about the Norwood Theatre? Also, is there definitive list of all Cleveland area theatres past and present?

jsomich
jsomich on January 5, 2005 at 5:29 am

Here’s an interesting Ezella anecdote:

The floor layout was such that the concession stand was in the lobby before the ticket-taker. The usher taking tickets had to keep track of kids who had already paid their admission, but were out for a second stab at the concessions. They were pretty good at it!

The mens room was in the basement and you had to go down a couple flights of stairs to get to it. I remember the scale that gave you your weight and fortune for a penny!

The Ezella was the first place I ever had “Buttercup” popcorn. The cost was 25 cents a cup! A lot of money in the 50’s, especially when regular popcorn was just 10 cents a box.

Just inside the theatre there was a “pop” machine that served drinks in paper cups. A dime, I believe. Sometimes the machine malfunctioned and the cup would not drop. Your wonderful pop just squirted into the drain!

It was not unusual for the Ezella to have special kiddie matinees on weekends and an “adult” show at night. It was not unusual for me to go to the kids show on Saturday and back with my parents that night. If the show changed on Sunday maybe back for the Sunday show too!

Like many nabes during this period, the Ezella featured a Bingo night, live onstage. You got your bingo card from the ticket taker.
Prizes were often pots and pans. The cards were perforated…you just “pushed out and bent over” the tabs coresponding to your letters and numbers as they were called. Just one more incentive for you to go out to the movies!
I remember the big “Bingo Board” on stage and the “machine” that spit out the numbers. Always seemed magical to me.

rogers
rogers on January 4, 2005 at 11:21 pm

TO: Jim Somich; It was great to see the picture of the Ezella! That’s the first time I’ve seen it in almost 50 years. Of course it looks nothing like it did when I worked there. I used to change the marquee and keep the light bulbs under it changed, too. By the way: One of the hairiest jobs I had at the Ezella was to change the bulbs in the auditorium lights. We did that using an A-ladder, and it was the biggest A-ladder I’d ever seen. When you changed the lights down front, (next to the stage), you had to put that ladder up as far as it would go. The job was not for the faint of heart, I can tell you!

jsomich
jsomich on January 4, 2005 at 10:53 pm

I would love to hear all your stories about the Ezella Theatre. Here is a current picture of the marquee (taken just last week).
www.maxxgen.org/ezella/ezella.JPG

jsomich
jsomich on January 4, 2005 at 10:41 pm

Actually, I think the projectionist at the Ezella was ROY Fitzgerald (Gail’s father). Emerson was also in the union (and was Roy’s brother), but I think he worked mostly for the Cleveland Public School System. It’s been a long time.

rogers
rogers on January 4, 2005 at 9:20 pm

TO: Jim Somich: You’re right on target with your info! I started at the Ezella in 57. Bill Nobbe was the projectionist at that time. But I remember that Local 160, IATSE had several members by the name of Fitzgerald. I don’t remember Emerson Fitzgerald, and he was not at the Ezella after 1957. I did know a Tom Fitzgerald, who was the senior operator at the Lake Theatre, E. 222nd and Lake Shore Blvd.

jsomich
jsomich on January 4, 2005 at 4:21 pm

I was in the Ezella booth in the 50’s and found a Simplex “4-Star” sound system. Since the Ezella opened some time in the 30’s this was probably “original equipment.”

The “Panatar” anamorphic attachments were made by the company that became Panavision. They had the unique capability of being adjustable as to the amount of “spread.” Actually, they weren’t all that bad.

DC for the Peerless MagnArcs came from a motor-generator set that was mounted just outside the projection room.

There was a slide projector that could be used for “announcements.” The operator could write a person’s name on a slide and super it on the bottom of the movie screen.

The Ezella was never equipped for stereo sound.

The main projectionist at the Ezella during this period was Emerson Fitzgerald. I went to high school with his daughter Gail.

All in all, the Ezella put on a pretty good show for a nabe.

I started going there in the late 40’s.

rogers
rogers on October 1, 2004 at 5:05 pm

Dave: I heard that the name “Ezella” came from the family of the Essex brothers. Supposedly, it was either the maiden name or middle name of Essex’s grandmother. (I don’t know if that’s factual or not.) The only other place in the Superior-E. 71st area with the same name was the Ezella Cleaners & Laundry, which was probably established after the theatre opened.