Esquire Theatre

310 W. Wisconsin Avenue,
Milwaukee, WI 53202

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Promotional matchbook, TELENEWS Theatre; Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Telenews opened in 1947, and stood on Wisconsin Avenue. The theater was renamed the Esquire Theatre after the era of newsreel theaters came to an end. It closed in 1981 and was later demolished to make way for the Reuss Federal Building.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

JimRankin on February 15, 2006 at 2:14 am

Thanks for a wonderful Comment, Mr. Zimmerman. It is the first-hand reports such as yours which bring alive the vibrant history of our theatres. If you are still in the Milw. area and would like me to add your E-mail address to my list of those receiving occasional bulletins about local theatres, just click on my name in blue below and you will be taken to my profile page where under Contact you will find my address; just send off a message and all will be set. And welcome to this CT forum. If you click on “MILWAUKEE” in brown above you will see all the MKE theatres now listed here, and we would welcome your comments on any of them. Don’t see a name listed? Feel freeb to add the theatre/cinema yourself (due to peripheral neuropathy destroying the use of my hands, I will not be writing any more long descriptions/histories). Perhaps you can take over.

kencmcintyre on February 17, 2007 at 7:53 am

This is a 1940 photo, but it does not identify the city in which the Esquire was located:

fmbeall on June 15, 2007 at 8:24 am

Ken, this is actually a photo of the grandest Esquire of all – the one in Chicago. Pictures and an article on it is in Marquee, Vol. 21 #4, pages 12-13.

kencmcintyre on June 15, 2007 at 8:44 am

Thanks for the info.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on August 10, 2007 at 2:18 pm

Here is a partial photo of the Esquire. View link

The movie appears to be LITTLE DARLINGS, which would place the photo sometime around 1980. Many of these “transit fan” sites have good pictures of theatres too! These sites have vintage buses and streetcars photographed by then-well-known landmarks.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 12, 2010 at 2:37 am

I think there might be an error in the architect field. Boxoffice of February 2, 1946, attributes the design of the Telenews Theatre, then about to begin construction, to Milwaukee architect Richard Philipp (though the item misspells his name as Richard Philip.) Richard Philipp (1874-1959) was a well-known Milwaukee architect who, from 1906 until about 1938, practiced in partnership with the even better-known architect Peter Brust.

I’ve been unable to find any other source confirming the attribution in Boxoffice, but a thorough Internet search fails to turn up an architect named Ralph Phillips at all. There might have been a transcription error of some sort in Jim Rankin’s notes, turning Richard Philipp into Ralph Phillips.

rivest266 on October 10, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Mark, That 1947 ad that you mentioned can be seen on this page at
View link

rivest266 on October 16, 2010 at 3:49 pm

October 22nd, 1965 opening as Esquire ad is at View link
larger ad from October 21
View link

DavidZornig on February 13, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Photos of the Esquire, Strand & Wisconsin Theatres in below 2/11/16 link.

DaveT on February 21, 2016 at 8:31 pm

I worked for Mr. Luedtke in the early seventies at the Esquire. A truly old-school man with customer service sensibilities that are missing today. He would stand by the entrance (I was an usher) and tell the patrons as they entered that there was ‘good seating on the left or the right" We had two entrances to the theatre. He enjoyed customer interaction and when he stood in the lobby he would rock on his feet, from the balls of his feet to the heels. He was also full of what might seem dated witticisms like “There’s no sense hitting your head against the wall because it feels so good to stop” when a task seemed particularly onerous. Mr. Luedtke expected that every available seat in the house would be filled with patrons when a movie like “The Graduate” was shown, and thus he would make sure that the ushers went into the theatre and asked people to move over to create added space. He kept tabs on ticket sales from the cashier. Cleanliness was important to Mr. Luedtke and so the usher spent a portion of his time cleaning the theatre between shows, vacuuming the lobby and picking up debris in the waiting area in the basement. The usher was expected to perform light maintenance as part of his job duties, which included but was not limited to standing on a twelve foot ladder in the lobby to change lights in the ceiling, or shoveling the sidewalk in front of the theatre(not much of a job with the marquee awning). Perhaps the best job was changing the marquee sign when movies changed. As noted in previous comments, the marquee was accessed from a small door on the second floor. Getting out on the marquee was a treat in that it offered a unique perspective on Wisconsin Ave. There was more than one occasion during the year and a half I worked there when Marquette University’s basketball team would win a big game, the dorms would empty, and a flood of students would come down the avenue, chanting and blocking traffic while they inexorably moved to the lakefront. I will add comments as I think of them. As with the best times in life, the camaraderie of the employees and the firm but friendly guidance of Mr. Luedtke are a great memory. All for $1.75 an hour. Yeah, I still have a pay stub.

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