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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas and Theatres   » Was RKO ever in Saint Louis?

   
Author Topic: Was RKO ever in Saint Louis?
Adam Martin
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Posts: 1090
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted February 05, 2003 11:02 AM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin         Edit/Delete Post 
In a recent email discussion about the Village Square 6 in Hazelwood, MO, no mention was made of the existence of RKO.

I was working for AMC in St. Louis shortly after AMC took over operation of the RKO Theatres in the area. Village Square was one of the RKO's, as I remember training the new people for the Northwest Square 10 there and the theater was still accepting RKO gift certificates.

I specifically remember RKO gift certificates right after AMC came to town ... I'm not mistaken. I am just not certain who AMC took over to get these theaters. If it wasn't RKO, why the heck were we honoring RKO gc's?

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Darren Snow
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From: St. Louis, MO
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted February 06, 2003 03:02 PM      Profile for Darren Snow   Email Darren Snow         Edit/Delete Post 
I've pored over many old St. Louis newspapers in my studies, and I noticed that for a while in 1985 the Mid-America theaters were billed in the ads as "RKO-Mid America." So RKO must have hopped in bed with Mid-America for a little while, just before AMC took over the whole enchilada. Hope this helps.

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Jeff Leyland
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From: Lake Charles, LA
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted February 09, 2003 10:50 PM      Profile for Jeff Leyland   Email Jeff Leyland         Edit/Delete Post 
I started working for AMC at the Galleria in the fall of 1986. I remember being told that both the Galleria and the old Crestwood Mall 5 were RKO's under construction when AMC bought them out. The Crestwood was far enough along that it opened with an island concession stand.

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Adam Martin
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From: Dallas, TX
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 - posted February 11, 2003 05:46 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin         Edit/Delete Post 
Another question that begs asking, then, is "What, if anything, did AMC have to do with Mid-America?"

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Charles Van Bibber
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Posts: 18
From: St. Louis, MO
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted February 23, 2003 02:46 PM      Profile for Charles Van Bibber   Email Charles Van Bibber         Edit/Delete Post 
Darren in reading the tour of the St. Louis theatre in St. Louis you list it as originally at Orpheum Circuit house. I think this must be mixed up with the Orpheum in downtown St. Louis at 410 No. 9th St. The St. Louis was not built by the Koplars either. It was built by the Skouras Brothers as well as the Missouri and the Ambassador Theatres. I have checked this out thoroughly at the Mercantile and Main Library in Downtown. Also the St. Louis was known as no other name but the St. Louis and the Loew's Theatres never had anything to do with the St. Louis Theatre. The only other name that the St. Louis had and it now is the Powell Symphony Hall. The Koplars did had a hand in the Lyn Theatre just around the corner from the St. Louis and Missouri Theatres. (The Lyn was first opened as the Victoria and later became the Lyn and then the Sun). I grew up in the theatres in St. Louis. My grandmother was Ella Savage a 40 years employee of the Old Samuel Komm Theatres. I also worked as a manager for the old St. Louis Amusement Co. (Arthur theatres)until their demise.
Chuck

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Charles Van Bibber
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From: St. Louis, MO
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 - posted February 23, 2003 02:51 PM      Profile for Charles Van Bibber   Email Charles Van Bibber         Edit/Delete Post 
Mid America theartes was the decendant of the old Sanuel Komm Theatres, the Jablonov brothers married into the Komm family and carried on the theatre circuit after Sam dies. They were a local theatre chain with their headquarters in the old Holiday drive in on Page Blvd. AMC was the company that bought out the Mid America Chain. Other than that they had no ties with each other.
Another thing - the Crestwood 5 and the Crestwood Mall were two seperate theatres. The Crestwood 5 was a free standing theatre west of Crestwood Mall. It was oringally and single screen free standing theatre that they multiplexed the same as the Village Square theatre.

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Jeff Leyland
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From: Lake Charles, LA
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 - posted February 23, 2003 03:05 PM      Profile for Jeff Leyland   Email Jeff Leyland         Edit/Delete Post 
Actually, wasn't the one outside the mall a three? The one inside the mall was first a five screen that was later replaced in another part of the mall with the current ten screen. The five screen was down on the food court level.

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Bill Gabel
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From: New York, NY
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted February 24, 2003 04:06 PM      Profile for Bill Gabel           Edit/Delete Post 
As of 1933 RKO had 4 houses in St. Louis. Three of them were
closed.
  • Grand Opera House (2225 seats) 6th & Market
    Missouri (3558 seats) Grand & Lucas
    Orpheum (2128 seats) 410 N. 9th St.
    St. Louis 3881 seats) 718 N. Grand Blvd.
The only one listed as open was the Missouri Theatre.
By the 40's the Orpheum Theatre (1800) was operated by Loew's.
It became the American Theatre when it became a legit theatre.
During the 40's the Missouri and St. Louis Theatres were operated
by Fanchon & Marco Service Corp. Both were operated by Arthur Enterprises Inc. during the 50's. The Missouri Theatre was dropped first, but the St. Louis Theatre stayed till the mid-60's
as a movie theatre. It became the Powell Hall.
In 1933 other theatre chains that operated theatres in St. Louis
were Warner with 21 theatres and Loew's with 2 theatres.

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Charles Van Bibber
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From: St. Louis, MO
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 - posted February 26, 2003 07:00 PM      Profile for Charles Van Bibber   Email Charles Van Bibber         Edit/Delete Post 
The following theatres were built for the Skouras Brothers in the order that they were build
1. The Grand Central
2. The Missouri Theatre
3. The St. Louis Theatre
4. The Ambassador
None of these theatres according to the book Missouri's Grand Theatres were RKO Theatres, Franchon & Marco bought the theatres or their leases and they later became part of the St. Louis Amusement Co, or Arthur Theatres, The Orpheum opened in 1917 and according to the book it opened as part of the Orpheum Circuit. Never mentions being part of RKO. Later became Loew's Orpheum and then Loew's and the American Theatre swapped buildings with the Loew's taking over the old American Building on North Grand and naming it Loew's Mid City and the Orpheum became the American.
If this incorrect someone please let me know.

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Adam Martin
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 - posted February 26, 2003 10:54 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin         Edit/Delete Post 
I will just interject at this point that Mary Bagley's book has quite a few inaccuracies. Darren could probably give more information on some of these issues better than I could.

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Bill Gabel
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From: New York, NY
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 - posted February 27, 2003 01:22 PM      Profile for Bill Gabel           Edit/Delete Post 
My info comes from original Film Daily volumes from MGM library, going back to the 1930's.

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Charles Van Bibber
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From: St. Louis, MO
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted February 28, 2003 08:41 PM      Profile for Charles Van Bibber   Email Charles Van Bibber         Edit/Delete Post 
I am assuming that from the replys that growning up in the theatres of St. Louis has no meaning and that the newsprint as far back as 1927 at the main library and the history of theatres in St.Louis at the Mercantile Labrary are all inaccurate. So from that I will keep my comments to myself. I have grown up in STL and have spent 58 years of my life here other than my college days and such inccuracies as the Shenandoah being the New Shenandoah, which is totally incorrect since the Shenandoah was located on South Grand and the New Shenandoah at 2227 South Broadway (Later named the Apache so that it would be listed at the top of the theatre listings in the newspapers) and that there was an American theatre in the 2800 block of 8th St. where there has never been a 2800 block of 8th street. I worked for Russ Bovim a long time Manager and Regional Manager of Loew's in St. Louis and an avid theatre man himself and according to him the Loew's had three threatres in it's St. Louis History, Loew's State at 715 Washington Ave., Loew's Orpheum and 410 North 9th Street, and the last was the Loew's Mid City at Grand and Olive (The former Shubert, American Theatre) and never had anything whatsoever to do with the St. Louis Theatre.

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Charles Van Bibber
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From: St. Louis, MO
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 - posted February 28, 2003 09:40 PM      Profile for Charles Van Bibber   Email Charles Van Bibber         Edit/Delete Post 
A few other inaccuracies that I would like to mention
1. The St. Louis Theatre is listed AKA Loew's, Missouri
The St. Louis opened as the St. Louis and remained until the
the last showing of "Sound of Music" and then became the
Powell Synphoney Hall
2. Stdium Cinema I is listed as 101 No 6th Street, The
Stadium Cinema I faced Chestenut Street and had a Chestnut
address and was on the east side of 6th St. therefore making
it on the even side of the street numbers. It had a sister
theatre one block west the Stadium Cinema II also facing
Chestnut St. They were both built in the Stadium Cinema
garages I in the East garage and II in the West garage.
3. The Savoy and the Crown were the same theatre. They were
in Jennings, Mo. a suburb of STL. Owned and operated by the
Wehrenberg Theatre chain. After beeing remodeled the name was
changed from the Savoy to the Crown.
4. The Mikado and the Victory theatre were the same theatre. It
opened as the Mikado and after the war was renamed the Victory
5. The Sun theatre opened as the Victoria, renamed the Lyn, then
the Sun and later became the Lyn again. Went from a German
Stock Co. to movies to Burlesque to movies to a Church for a
revivalist.
6. The Princess Theatre on Pestalozzi was an indoor/air dome the
same as the Melba Theatre on South Grand. During Summer
Months when the weather was hot the movie moved outside.
6. To correct my address listed in my last post of the American
Theatre, the address listed in the tour is 2408 South 8th
Street. I lived in the 2400 block of South Broadway, South
8th Street ended in downtown STL There is no South 8th Street
past Soulard.
7. I do stand corrected on the Crestwood Theatre. the free
standing Crestwood Theatre was a three screen, originally a
single screen and later divided into a multiple in the main
auditorium and a small theatre added to the rear of the
building.

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Jerry Alexander
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Posts: 1
From: St. Louis, MO
Registered: May 2003


 - posted May 31, 2003 10:50 PM      Profile for Jerry Alexander   Email Jerry Alexander         Edit/Delete Post 
Just joining the forum, I found this subject to be most interesting...and many inaccuracies were found in the posts.

The Bagley book was mentioned as a source. Alas, that is a most unreliable source. Likewise, one cannot rely on theatre information in "Midtown: A Grand Place To Be!" by Jean Eberle.

Loew's in St. Louis: In addition to the State, the Orpheum and the Mid-City Loew's also operated the Garrick from 1919 to 1921.

What theatres did the Skouras Bros. build? They definitely did
NOT build the Missouri, the St. Louis or the New Grand Central Theatres. The Missouri was built byFamous Players-Missouri (Paramount); The St. Louis was built by Metropolitan Theatre Corporation, consisting of Harry & Sam Koplar, Sam Hamburg, Jr. (a Koplar brother-in-law), David Sommers and Emil Strauss; the New Grand Central was built by the Rex Amusement Company (Edmond Koeln, Wm. Sievers, and Theodore Rassieur). This information is not from a book, nor from clipping files, but from newspapers of the time.

Orpheum/RKO: The St. Louis was never operated by Loew's. As mentioned above it was owned by Metropolitan Theatres and leased to the Orpheum Circuit. Orpheum/RKO bought the house from Metropolitan in 1929, but reneged on the mortgage in 1933 putting the house again under local ownership. Orpheum/RKO also operated, for various lengths of time, the Missouri, the Grand Opera House, the Rialto and the Orpheum.

The American (movie house): Correct location is 2400 South 12th Street. Building still there, a grocery store.

The Savoy/Crown: Not in Jennings, but Ferguson.

The Mikado/Victory: Not renamed after World War II, but in February, 1942.

The Stadium I: Located at the northwest corner of 6th & Chestnut...on the site of the old Capitol Theatre where the first Vitaphone sound film ("Don Juan") was shown in 1926. "The Jazz Singer", incidentally, had its first-run at the New Grand Central.

The latest St. Louis misinformation just appeared in the Post-Dispatch on May 26th in the article on the Columbia Theatre on Southwest. No way did Houdini or Ted Healy and the Stooges appear there. Problem stems from the fact there was a Columbia Theatre downtown which was a prime vaudeville house until it closed in 1926--the same year the Hill venue opened. The Hill Columbia did have vaudeville--but just on weekends like many nabes did at the time.

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Dan Akers
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Posts: 12
From: St. Louis, MO
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted January 02, 2004 03:41 AM      Profile for Dan Akers   Email Dan Akers         Edit/Delete Post 
YES, RKO was in St. Louis. They actually bought the Mid-America chain and used the name RKO Mid America Theatres. The run was very short lived. If I remember correctly it was under 18 months that they had the chain before selling to AMC Theatres. Hope that clears things up a little. I happened to work for all three of them from 1982 to 1988. Also to answere Adams question about the gift certificates, I belive that AMC honored them for about a year after they bought the chain from RKO.

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