Hurricane Strikes Times Square

Motion Picture Herald, November 20, 1937:

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“Giant electrical illumination featured front of New York Astor Theatre for the two-a-day date on ‘Hurricane’ measured 75 feet in length and 40 feet high, letters from 14 to 24 feet. Two large palm trees swaying in breeze and other storm effects created by staggered flasher system were used. 14,000 bulbs were said to have been employed in the display.”

The Hurricane 

 

Legendary theatre historian,  Cezar Del Valle celebrating 20 years of theatre talks and walks, 1996-2016. Currently accepting bookings for historical societies, libraries , senior centers, etc.  Details of independent walks will be published this fall.

Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres. The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.

Currently editing and updating the third edition of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, Volume I.

Selling  on Etsy and Amazon

RKO Cleans UP Flushing

Motion Picture Herald, June 19, 1948:

flushing

“Sol Sorkin with his broom brigade, ready to clean up the town, and also the box office of the RKO Theatre, Flushing, New York. Sol is right in the middle, wearing a broad grin, and surrounded by his gang”

 

Legendary theatre historian,  Cezar Del Valle is celebrating 20 years of theatre talks and walks, 1996-2016. Currently accepting bookings for historical societies, libraries , senior centers, etc.  Details of independent walks will be published this fall.

Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres. The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.

Currently editing and updating the third edition of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, Volume I.

Selling  on Etsy and Amazon

 

 

 

Jane Russell Underwater on Broadway

Film Bulletin, February 21, 1955:

underwater_pe

“RKO showmen, who have been promoting ‘Underwater’ in a great big way during recent weeks, really gave the Superscopic a smash ballyhoo by erecting the largest movie sign to light up Broadway in the past 10 years, covering two corner walls of the building housing the Mayfair Theatre.

“A 50-foot figure of Jane Russell is mounted on a colored background of ocean, 85 feet wide by 81 feet high. The famous form is hand-painted on lucite with dramatic lighting directed from behind.

“Construction of the mammoth spectacular  received extensive press breaks and coverage by TV and radio.

underwater_pe close up

 

“A striking comparison in size can be made as workman puts the finishing touches on La Russell’s lips.”

 

 

 

 

 

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres. The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.

Currently editing and updating the third edition of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, Volume I.

He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2016: historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc

Now selling  on Etsy and Amazon

Human Billboard Lights Up Hollywood Boulevard

Exhibitors Herald-World, July 6, 1929:

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“Probably the first human billboard ever constructed for exploitation of a motion picture was erected to publicize the opening of the M G M’s ‘Hollywood Revue of 1929’ at Grauman’s Chinese theatre.

“This sign, the letters of which were formed by living girls in scanty costumes, was erected on the busiest boulevard of Los Angeles and for five blocks in either direction the streets were roped off to traffic.

“The sign measured 40 feet in length and 35 feet high, was set on a silhouette of Hollywood’s skyline, base with an effigy of Grauman’s Chinese theatre placed in the center.  The letters in the sign spelled Hollywood Revue and were of the raised type covered with silver cloth with the girls in the channels. The whole sign was lighted with colored lights and made a striking appearance.

Bessie Love acted as master of ceremonies and pulled the cord which unveiled the display. Thousands of people who had gathered to see the display gave a thundering applause which was recorded by the newsreel photographers.”

The Hollywood Review of 1929

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres. The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.
He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2015: historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc

Now selling “vintage” on Etsy

Jungle Monsters Battle To The Death in Denver

Complete publicity tagline for “White Pongo”:  “JUNGLE MONSTERS BATTLE TO THE DEATH AS A WOMAN WATCHES IN TERROR!”

Showmen’s Trade Review, February 9, 1946:

Pongo_pe (Large)“Here’s how the Rialto Theatre, Denver, designed a special front to sell PRC’s double horror bill, ‘White Pongo’ and ‘The Missing Corpse,’ with understandable emphasis on ‘White Pongo.’

“The impressive front carried jungle foliage with huge cut-outs of apes to point up the film’s eerie motif.”

White Pongo
Ray “Crash” Corrigan once again dons the gorilla suit to play White Ponga, the name of the albino ape throughout the film.

The Missing Corpse

An industry joke back in the 1940s was that PRC stood for Pretty Rotten Crap and not Producers Releasing Corporation, a poverty row studio turning out a film in a week or two on an extremely low-budget.

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres. The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society Final volume published in September 2014.

He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2015: historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc

Now selling “vintage” on Etsy.

 

Hollywood Premiere on the Bowery, 1924

Universal Studios decided to stage the première of Fools Highway far from the glittering lights of Times Square. Instead, they selected the Atlantic Garden, a seedy movie house, at 50 Bowery, that normally offered a steady diet of tenth-run photoplays. There were reasons for this rather odd choice.

highwayFrom AllPosters.Com

Based on the novel My Mamie Rose, the film centered along the Bowery at Pell Street during the 1890s. The neighborhood reconstructed on the back lot with the “L,” the street cars and buildings. From old photographs, Steve Brodie’s saloon and other resorts along the Bowery recreated.

Established by William Kramer in 1858, the Atlantic Garden was formerly among the most notable of the old haunts. A large hall extending back to Elizabeth Street, it could hold more than a thousand people while offering a variety of events and amenities. As the Garden’s best years faded into the past, it became a Yiddish theatre and then a boxing arena before turning to motion pictures in 1919.

Atlantic-GardenOn February 29,1924, a bit of that past would be recaptured with the opening of Fools Highway starring Mary Philbin.

The Sun and the Globe, February 28, 1924:

“Elaborate preparations have been made for putting the Atlantic Garden, one of the landmarks, of the Bowery, back into the period when it was a popular eating and entertainment establishment.

The Sun and the Globe, March 1, 1924:

“Members of the Universal staff greeted us and showed us to a picturesque bar on side of the lobby. ‘This,’ they said, ‘is a replica of the old bar of the Atlantic Garden of the olden days. Have a drink?’”

Among the invited guests were George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, Jessie Lasky.and James J. Walker (standing in for Al Smith, whose official duties kept him away). The Sun and the Globe reported a rumor of notable gangsters in the audience.

The air of nostalgia continued with a stage presentation featuring performers that had once graced the stage of the Atlantic Garden. Harry Von Tilzer sang a few favorites, accompanied by a ladies’ orchestra, two members of which had played in the first ladies’ orchestra at the Garden.

Maude Nugent, who wrote Rose O’Grady, led the audience in singing “this heart-hymn of Irish America.”

Composer Charles Lawler “swept the crowd with tears and memories with his famous ballad ‘The Sidewalks of New York.’’’

In terms of publicity the evening had been a triumph, but the reviews for the film were less than ecstatic.

Excerpts from the Sun and the Globe, March 1, 1924:

“Along about 10 P.M. the picture started . A few rather interesting views of the old Bowery –all sets in the Universal studios—were shown. For some reason these didn’t excite us. We waited patiently for the story to start; the picture got half over, and still the story hadn’t started.”

With Hollywood gone, the old Garden sank back into its misery, closing in 1928 as a “cheap Bowery restaurant.” In that year the exteriors altered on Elizabeth Street and on the Bowery. The interior gutted with only a few architectural elements remaining. Those were lost in a 2013 battle for preservation.

The Lo-Down

The Bowery Boogie

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society.

He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2014, historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.

The Brooklyn Theatre Index, Volume III

Update April 2014

Integrative Ink is now formatting for publication:

The Brooklyn Theatre Index Volume III
Coney Island Including Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach

The book will be available in June 2014, just in time for the summer at Coney Island.

Bowery

 

Excerpts from the New York Sun, October 31, 1931:

“In the old days the music halls of the Bowery ran early and late. The girls on a stage at the rear could be seen from the street, but only their legs were visible. A curtain drop shielded the rest of the body. If you wanted to see more you went inside at the earnest solicitation of a barker who would not permit a crowd to block the entrance.”

“If you wanted to see more of the Bowery girls and witness their performance you entered and took a seat to be waited on at a table by a waiter who wore an apron and whose arms were bare. He was a busy fellow working on commission, and if you did not buy his beer fast enough to suit him, he did not hesitate to tell you some persons were waiting to take your seat.

“The show in these places would not satisfy today, but it was the real thing then. There were other places of entertainment outside these girl shows. Motion pictures then a little crude were shown, and Stauch’s dance hall had one of the largest floors in the country, where music was supplied by two bands.”

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society.

He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2014, historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.