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It may be a ‘gay’ thing–a stereotype–but I have always loved going to the theatre to see plays and musicals but before that movies were my first love. I don’t know the first movie I ever saw but I remember as a child going to the RKO Pelham, RKO Fordham, The Globe and the Loew’s Paradise. The latter was special as it became a trademark of what was called movie palaces. There was a night sky above the auditorium with moving clouds, stars and the moon. It also had what was called a ‘wonder’ organ that was huge and played between shows.

When I became more mobile and was able to go downtown to Manhattan I found another world. There was the Roxy theatre seating over 5,900 people and years later, when it was torn down, there was an iconic picture in the papers and magazines of Gloria Swanson standing among the ruins. Many people believed it was the reason behind Steven Sondheim writing the musical “”Follies” with one of my favorite songs “I’m Still Here”.

Probably the most famous theatre in the world is the Radio City Music Hall which has the largest theatre pipe organ, seats 6,000 people, has been used for TV showings of the Tony and Grammy awards but when I was going there they had M-G-M and RKO movies with a spectacular stage show but the most spectacular being their Christmas show which still sells out every year, featuring live animals, recreating the Nativity and then Santa Claus and the Rockettes. The latter are known world wide.

Another theatre I remember is the Paramount which showed movies and famous entertainers. If you got there before 1 PM you only paid 55 cents to see the movie and such stars as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Benny Goodman and his orchestra, Tony Bennett among many others. At the same time there was the Capitol with the same format of a movie and a show where I remember seeing Josephine Baker making a triumphant return to New York after being a major star in Paris for years.

I’ve been to movie theatres all over the world but the one I remember most is the Chinese Grauman’s Theatre in Hollywood. California, which you may know as the theatre on Hollywood Boulevard where actors and actresses leave foot and hand prints. I remember it as seeing one of my all time favorite movies “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing” in the summer of 1955 in my Marine Corps uniform being invited to meet Jennifer Jones and William Holden.

Another unforgettable movie house was in Boonton, New Jersey. You walked in, went up some steps and had to turn around to sit and watch the screen. It was here I fell in love with Doris Day hearing her sing “It’s Magic” in the movie “Romance on the High Seas” in July of 1948!

I don’t recall when I first saw a play on Broadway but I was told I was taken to see the original production of the musical “Oklahoma” in 1943 when I was 7 years old and fell in love with the whole concept of live performances and Alfred Drake who played Curly

(To be continued)

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Posted June 30, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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