Chatham Cinema

701 Fifth Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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Showing 1 - 25 of 55 comments

Baldtothebone
Baldtothebone on February 21, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I just came across this site, and it brought back so many memories. I also was an usher at the Chatham starting in 1968 until about 1970, and then again in 1971. I could tell a million stories of our escapades…and we were demons at times for sure. But first, I have to correct the seating number posted….647…it was 678..and I counted them many times.
I remember you Dan Clemente, and Ken Anderson…along with Dennis Mudry, Ben Cushion, Denny Gaber, Bill Kent, Nick Mamula, Jerry States, Leon Elkins. Jim Jackson and on and on. Adail Bouvy was a very good friend as well. George Pappas, George Gatto and Cathy Gatto, his daughter also worked there. Demon ushers??? We from time to time would have swearing contests while standing at the doors when the lobby was crowded, to see who could swear the loudest. It was hard to keep a straight face and looking innocent after letting one fly, and Leon Elkins would always win. During the movie, we would sit on the benches and throw quarters across the lobby at the sand filled ash trays. The clang of the side would alert Mr. Pappas, and the game would end quickly. Then we tried the candy “Dots” because they were quieter when they struck the metal sides of the ash trays. Another challenge was to pull the posts holding the ropes that separated the lower lobby, and see if you could get all of them to tip, without falling. Of course, someone would go too far, bang the post down, and here comes Mr. Pappas. I have so many stories, but a more serious incident happened when the popcorn machine caught fire just after the movie started. Bullitt I think was the movie, and there were at least 400 people in the theater. Not knowing any better, I grabbed the fire extinguisher and pumped it into the bottom of the popcorn stand, thinking I had put it out. But it was an electrical short, and I didn’t know to kill the breaker in the panel, and the lobby filled with smoke, so thick you couldn’t see 5 feet. There was no smoke in the theater, and the people never knew what had happened until they exited the theater. We also posted ushers inside and didn’t let anyone exit during the movie. Could you imagine if someone had yelled FIRE!…in a crowded theater?? That’s enough for now, and if any of my old usher friends want to contact me, aasrpghmembers at Ya Hoo dot com.

  Don Boehm
                
WarnerChatham
WarnerChatham on April 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Uploaded a seating chart for the Chatham Cinema….

shadysidebill
shadysidebill on April 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm

the chandelier that graced the lobby of this theater was imported specifically for this theater from Italy, along with a antique grandfathers clock, this was a very unique and classy venue to view films in the 1970’s. Other antiques included a conversation couch, which two people could actually be face to face with each other, hopefully enjoying a conversation about film. This was in the small alcove just outside the managers office. Could a theater with such a great past really survive today, especially with the lack of good films? The ability to stream movies on a computer/HD television via netflix, or roku, and how about the “fear factor” of being in downtown (actually uptown) Pittsburgh at night. Comments appreciated!

WarnerChatham
WarnerChatham on April 1, 2012 at 9:39 pm

There was a modern elegance to this theatre. Very classy. One of the unique features of it was the entrance from the parking lot, in addition to the main entrance. On my recent trip to Chatham Center, I tried to go to the theatre entrance from the parking lot. There was a wood barricade that blocked access from the parking area. There was a door in the barricade that allowed a view through a crack in the doorframe. You could see inside that they were using the rear entrance way as a junk area. There were paint cans, bags of sand, pieces of wood, etc. Very sad. If the theatre were to be reopened, many people standing at the lower Washington Place gate at Consol Energy Center could not help but see it. It is right there. It could be potential draw of business.

71dude
71dude on March 14, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Thanks. I was hoping someone would post pictures. I’d gladly go here if it was reopened with worthwhile older movies.

bill ayoob
bill ayoob on March 9, 2012 at 11:08 pm

hey WarnerChatham—just wondering who you are, because I also worked at the Chatham during the 80’s, as it’s manager. I also managed the Shadyside Theater, from 1972 until it closed, and managed the Fiesta also….I’m sure I can add some info on many of the downtown theaters, since I spent most of my early years managing most of these theaters. Just curious to see if you worked for me. I also keep in touch with the few managers that are still alive. You can email me at .

WarnerChatham
WarnerChatham on March 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm

@rivoli157. You’re welcome! I’m glad you like the pictures. I will be posting more.

I understand some people from Duquesne University were looking at the Chatham recently. It would be an ideal location for them. Of all of the theatres left downtown, it is the only one that hasn’t been gutted (like the Warner, Gateway, or the Fiesta). It still has the basic structure in place, even though it needs a lot of work. I know a group of people have recently re-opened the Hollywood in Dormont. Perhaps the same thing might happen for the Chatham Cinema. I would really like to see that happen.

rivoli157
rivoli157 on March 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm

WarnerChatham, thank you so much for sharing your photos of the Chatham. So many memories came flooding back. They are great shots.

Another memory of mine, driving just about all night from Beckly,WVA and then catching a matinee of THATS ENTERTAINMENT in 1974. I really do wish that the Chatham could be restored and re-opened, there is a built in audience from the Apt tower and hotel.

WarnerChatham
WarnerChatham on February 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm

@csepe: I am not sure what is left of the Fiesta. The Art Institute was using it for classrooms for some time. I am not sure if they just covered up the slanted floor, or if they gutted the whole auditorium. The escalator and front lobby were still pretty much the same, but beyond that, it was pretty much modernized. In don’t know if it could easily be converted back to a theatre. The Chatham needs new seats and some TLC, but it probably would have a better chance. Now if somebody rich would just buy the place…..

csepe
csepe on February 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm

@ WarnerChatham: I just showed Polanski’s TESS to a class on Wednesday morning! And now you’ve reminded me that I saw it first at the Chatham. I, too, would love to see what the space of both it and the old Fiesta look like because neither are being used for anything. That’s a genuine waste. The Mayor keeps saying he’d like to have movies downtown again and hinted that he’d like the Warner to be overhauled (don’t hold your breath – the grandeur of that palace is gone and can never be replaced or duplicated). But the Chatham and the Fiesta are there for the renovation, and would be much, much cheaper to do.

WarnerChatham
WarnerChatham on February 17, 2012 at 4:57 am

I was an usher at the Chatham for some great movies like Excalibur, Tess, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was a very classy theater, as were the people who came there.

I was at Chatham Center recently, and I asked the security guard if there was any way that I could see the inside of the theater. He told me that the seats were removed, and that the entire theater needed a lot of work. He said it would be better for me to remember it the way it was.

The rear entrance from the parking lot is boarded up and the front of the building is bricked up. Such a waste. It’s too bad they can’t use it for something.

WarnerChatham
WarnerChatham on February 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm

I used to work at both the Chatham and the Warner in the early 1980’s. I will be adding some pictures soon of both of these great old theatres, along with the other downtown movie houses. I also have some old photos of the Greater Pittsburgh Drive-In I will be adding.

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I saw my very first film in Pittsburgh here. “Happy Mothers Day,Love George”, August 1973. My parents drove me from NY to Pgh as I was going to begin college here. We stayed at a hotel in Monroeville, but came downtown for dinner and a movie

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

some other films I saw at the Chatham, Thats Entertainment, Young Frankenstein, F.I.S.T. and Mame

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 12, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I lived in the Chatham Towers Apartments from 1976-1978 and would often just get in the elevator on my floor, ride down to the parking garage, and enter the theatre to see the current film playing-never had to go outside. In 1977 I believe, I was dancing with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and 20th Century Fox had a Gala Benefit Premiere for The Turning Point at the theatre. I recall all of us got dressed up in our finest to attend as guests. It was one of the few times I entered through the front doors. I returned to Pgh for a visit in 1999 and was so upset to find this theatre and all the others gone

csepe
csepe on November 27, 2010 at 3:32 am

I saw YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and GANDHI at this theater. I’m with Ed — it was a great place to see movies, and a wonderful time in which to see them, too. I hope somebody posts some pix.

kenanderson
kenanderson on August 4, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I was an usher at the Chatham Cinema. Interesting job with great people and everyone wore a tux. Classy job with very little pay but a wealth of humor fed by suppressed laughter and fear of an instant loss of a job for sitting down in the lobby when a customer was anywhere near.
Usher behavior was generally professional other then the times when the fear of Mr. Pappas became so stressful for one usher that he simply sat down on the floor, legs sprawled across the aisle in the dark and using a flashlight to direct the customers OVER his legs with a professional warning of ..“ Watch your step. watch yourstep, watch your step..”

kellygirl606
kellygirl606 on July 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I never knew Adele but I did work with Chuck. I believe they were cousins.

carolgrau
carolgrau on July 16, 2010 at 11:15 am

Kellygirl,,,, How are you dear??? Mungo here, I really miss all of you and never forgot anyone..After I left PGH. in Eighty Four I became a somewhat famous blues drummer for the late Bo Diddley, and in o four I teamed up with Virgil Gibson Virgil was the former leadd singer with the original members of the Platters, My e-mail is Please keep in touch…

edblank
edblank on July 16, 2010 at 10:55 am

Any idea of the whereabouts of Adele Bouvy, who seemed to be George Pappas' main assistant during most of the theater’s operating years?
I think Adele might have been Chuck Bouvy’s sister. Very nice lady.

kellygirl606
kellygirl606 on July 16, 2010 at 10:44 am

I worked as a cashier at the Chatham Cinema from ‘82 until it closed in '85. Alice Laporte was the manager and Cindy Celich was her assistant. Chuck Bouvy and Mungo were the projectionists. There was a sweet elderly couple, Heddy and Fred, who seemed to work there forever. Heddy ran the candy stand and Fred was an usher. So many wonderful memories.

SusanD
SusanD on March 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm

My Chicago friend Catherine (who used to be on this site) says Chicago’s McClurg Court was like this place.

71dude
71dude on February 20, 2010 at 12:52 am

1984:

01/01 Scarface
02/10 Rear Window
03/16 Vertigo
04/20 The Man Who Knew Too Much
05/11 The Trouble With Harry
06/01 Once Upon a Time in America
06/22 The Natural
06/29 Notorious/The Man Who Knew Too Much
07/06 The Lady Vanishes/Spellbound
07/13 Rope
07/27 Meatballs Part 2
08/03 Joy of Sex
08/10 – 08/30 CLOSED
08/31 Dial M for Murder
09/14 North by Northwest
09/28 A Star Is Born
10/05 Silk Stockings
10/12 South Pacific
10/19 Places in the Heart
10/26 Body Double
11/09 Oh, God! You Devil
11/16 CLOSED
12/14 The Cotton Club

1985:

02/01 CLOSED
02/08 Mrs. Soffel
02/22 The Mean Season
03/01 The Sure Thing
03/08 CLOSED
03/29 King David
04/12 – 04/21 Bizet’s Carmen
END

71dude
71dude on February 11, 2010 at 12:14 am

1983:

01/01 The Dark Crystal
01/21 Gandhi
03/25 The Outsiders
04/15 – 06/09 CLOSED
06/10 Octopussy
07/08 Hysterical
07/15 Breathless
07/22 Class
08/05 Get Crazy
08/12 Cujo
09/02 Flashdance/Raiders of the Lost Ark
09/09 Nightmares
09/23 Tootsie/The Survivors
09/30 The Lonely Lady
10/07 The Final Option
10/14 – 10/27 CLOSED
10/28 The Wicked Lady
11/04 The Osterman Weekend
11/21 – 12/08 CLOSED
12/09 Scarface

71dude
71dude on February 2, 2010 at 11:17 pm

1982:

01/01 Neighbors
01/15 French Lieutenant’s Woman
01/29 The Story of O (X)
02/19 They All Laughed
02/26 Ragtime
03/05 Heartland
03/19 Porky's
04/30 Montenegro
05/14 – 05/27 CLOSED
05/28 Rocky III
07/09 Little Darlin’s (X)
07/16 Tara, Tara, Tara (X)
07/23 Taboo (X)
07/30 Night Shift
08/20 Zapped!
09/03 Diner
09/10 Texas Chainsaw Massacre
09/17 Butterfly
09/24 The Tempest
10/01 CLOSED
10/15 Not a Love Story
10/29 It Came from Hollywood
11/05 The Missionary
11/19 The Empire Strikes Back
11/29 CLOSED
12/17 Honkytonk Man
12/29 The Dark Crystal