Universal Weekly December 27, 1932:
“The entire theatre front is a replica of “The Old Dark House!’ Giant cut-out heads of Karloff peering over the roof with weird green and red lights in the eyes! Two banks of flood lights crisis-crossing the display at different angles causing spooky shadows! Under the marquee and in the lobby green and red lights flashing on and off cross each other at angles! The whole eerie display flooded with green and amber lights!
“Tha is a brief description of the front and lobby design by Eddie Helwig, manager to sell ‘The Old Dark House’ at the Rivoli Theatre, Paterson, N.J. and follows along the idea suggested in Universal’s practical press sheet. Several character heads, cut-out from the posters were used on the display. The upper part of the ‘house’ appeared over the marquee and the lower part under, taking in the box-office. It was all cut-out of beaver board and painted by the theatre artist.
“During the running of the trailer, a week in advance of the opening, at the point where the weird noises and lighting occur, Helwig turned the house lights off suddenly, sweeping the house into total darkness for a few moments. It was a very effective stunt as it started the patrons talking about ‘Dark House.’ A lobby amplifier was used during the run to ballyhoo the thrills and mystery of the picture.
“Helwig’s campaign resulted in the Rivoli’s best opening in months. Albert S. Nathan, Universal exploiter, assisted.”
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.