Loew's State 1921-2021 - 100th Anniversary - update!
Today is the anniversary of the opening of Loew's State Theatre, 1515 Euclid Avenue at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. Marcus Loew brought a trainload of film celebrities to town on February 5, 1921, to celebrate the opening of one of his finest houses. The theatre designed by Thomas Lamb boasted 3,500 seats in a huge auditorium and a massive lobby with four huge murals by James Daugherty.
The entire opening day Plain Dealer special section along with some other info can be found here.
From The Plain Dealer, February 25, 1923.
From Variety, March 1, 1923.
From Motion Picture Herald, April 7, 1934.
From The Plain Dealer, September 28, 1934.
From The Plain Dealer, May 7, 1937.
Loew's publicity director Milt Harris was behind this garden display in the lobby, held with the cooperation of Halle Brothers department store and the Cleveland Electrical League, from Motion Picture Herald, March 19, 1938.
Wizard of Oz promo in the lobby, from Motion Picture Herald, August 26, 1939. The girl in the chair would read from the book, the contest angle was to create the longest word using letters in the title.
Marx Brothers At The Circus ballyhoo, from Motion Picture Herald, November 11, 1939. The neighboring RKO Palace marquee can be seen in the distance.
From The Plain Dealer, February 16, 1940.
A street ballyhoo, from Motion Picture Herald, September 28, 1940.
Creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster appear in the lobby for a Superman picture tie-in, from Motion Picture Herald, October 25, 1941.
The Loew's - Cleveland Press Women at War exhibition, from Motion Picture Herald, April 24, 1943. During the war the lobby was used for a number of displays and War Bond sales activities.The second floor of the Loew Building above Loew's State and Ohio Theatres was the home to Cleveland's Stage Door Canteen, 1943-45.
The war years meant brisk biz for downtown houses, from Film Daily, September 14, 1943. Although Salute to the Marines was actually at Loew's Stillman, while So Proudly We Hail at the State.
Heavenly Body - War Stamp tie-in, from Motion Picture Herald, April 20, 1944.
Since You Went Away marquee treatment, from Motion Picture Herald, November 11, 1944.
From The Plain Dealer, December 30, 1944.
Three tube rocket launcher on display, from Motion Picture Herald, July 14, 1945.
Tank in the lobby, from Motion Picture Herald, July 14, 1945.
New box office, 1947, from the Cleveland Public Library.
View from the top of the balcony, from the Cleveland Public Library.
From The Plain Dealer, June 26, 1952.
Three big pix in 24 hours, from Boxoffice, January 3, 1953.
Savage display, from Boxoffice, January 24, 1953.
From The Plain Dealer, June 8, 1953.
Vid-opera flop, from Boxoffice, November 20, 1954. By this time most of the downtown houses had a television installation to show closed circuit sporting events, usually boxing.
Loew's State and Ohio, July 25, 1956, from the Cleveland Memory Project. Note the attractions, Bob Hope at the Ohio, Paul Newman at the State, both Clevelanders. The streamers hanging from the vertical sign, stuffed in a box inside the window above the marquee. There was a small room there, where the marquee letters were stored. The letters were long gone by 1972, but the old streamers remained.
From The Plain Dealer, November 10, 1957.
From Boxoffice, December 7, 1957.
From Boxoffice, March 16, 1959.
From The Plain Dealer, November 17, 1961.
Beginning of the end, from Boxoffice, November 14, 1966. Following the Cinerama conversion the house would be dark for weeks at a time in between engagements.
From The Plain Dealer, February 5, 1967.
From The Plain Dealer, November 8, 1967. This picture was a major flop. I recall tons of promo material from this all over the place.
From The Plain Dealer Action Tab, July 26, 1968.
From The Plain Dealer, February 4, 1969.
A society party to benefit the Cleveland Playhouse was held in Loew's State on January 23, 1970, this was the last actual event held in the State prior to the restoration effort, from the Plain Dealer, January 18, 1970.
One of James Daugherty's murals "The Spirit of Cinema - America" in the lobby of Loew's State graced the cover of Life magazine on February 27, 1970. The accompanying story was about the major studios selling off old props and backlots.
A Serendipitous encounter...
In early 1970 a young man working for the school board was looking for a place to use as headquarters for bond issues 11-12-13 stumbled upon these buildings. Soon after Ray Shepardson formed the Playhouse Square Association. It was an uphill battle, few people thought that any of these theatres would ever open again. There were only a handful of those who thought differently, Ceil Hartman, Ralph Smith-Smitty, Bert LeGrande, Victor Villimas, and a couple others. I joined on March 25, 1972.
From The Plain Dealer, May 25, 1972.
And the battle was on.
From Variety, August 8, 1972.
Less than a year later the massive lobby of Loew's State was transformed into the Playhouse Square Cabaret. A show Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris opened on April 18, 1973 for a three-four week run, it ran over two years.
Ray Shepardson at the opening of Brel, April 18, 1973, from the Cleveland Memory Project.
The lobby of Loew's State during Brel, big enough to be a theatre itself, photo by William Gesten/Foto Arts Inc.
Other shows followed...Led by director Fran Soeder, the talented cast, included Patty Johnson, Mark Passerell, Claudia Conrad, Chris Ritchey and Ralph Gunderman were uproariously funny in the best show that summer.
View from the Coca-Cola stage, 1975, photo by William Gesten/Foto Arts Inc.
Both Loew houses were in serious disrepair, we worked with what we had and somehow made it work.
From The Plain Dealer Action Tab, February 22, 1976. This was one of my favorites.
Tom and Bob Bindernagel in the State, from the Plain Dealer, August 18, 1976.
The winter and spring of 1977 saw big names grace the temporary stage in front of the real stage.
More shows and renovations would follow over the next several years. Today Loew's State is part of one of the largest performing arts centers in the country.