Friday, February 5, 2016

Loew's State Theatre

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. 
From the Plain Dealer, January 30, 1921.
From the Plain Dealer, January 31, 1921.
From The Plain Dealer, February 5, 1921.
Loew's State, the first theatre to open at Playhouse Square, from The Plain Dealer, April 3, 1921.
From Wid's Daily, February 5, 1921.
Grand Lobby 1921, Cleveland Press photo from the Cleveland Memory Project.
Opening night crowd. Marcus Loew is to the left of the X man on the stair landing. From the Playhouse Square archive.
Rear of auditorium, from Moving Picture World, May 14, 1921.
 Auditorium, from Motion Picture News, March 19, 1921.
Stage and proscenium, from Motion Picture News, March 19, 1921.
Auditorium side wall, from the Cleveland Public Library, The sunburst curtain at the top covers the organ loft.
Original coat check tag. There was a ring of these in Mr. Ryder's Shop back in 1972, each of us had one, unsure of what happened to the rest. Ryder's Shop was in the space now occupied by Kennedy's.
From Moving Picture World, May 14, 1921.
The opening attraction, from Motion Picture News, July 10, 1920.
Meanwhile, held over for an extra day, from The Plain Dealer, February 7, 1921. I wonder if they walked from the State to the Stillman, and from the Park to the Alhambra? Or if they used cars from Cleveland Cadillac, like they did at Union Depot? So close together, a block or two, although they would make more of a splash popping out of Cadillacs.
The entire opening day Plain Dealer special section along with some other info can be found here.
From The Plain Dealer, February 6, 1921.
From The Plain Dealer, February 13, 1921.
From The Plain Dealer, March 6, 1921. The Park was Loew's big uptowner at 10209 Euclid.
From The Plain Dealer, April 11, 1921.
From Exhibitor's Herald, May 21, 1921.
From The Plain Dealer, October 3, 1921.
From Motion Picture News, December 17, 1921.
From The Plain Dealer, November 27, 1921.
From Exhibitor's Trade Review, December 31, 1921.
From The Plain Dealer, December 25, 1921.
Christmas prologue, from Motion Picture News, February 11, 1922.
From The Plain Dealer, May 28, 1922.
Lee and Jake's ill fated venture in vaude comes to Cleveland, from Variety, September 22, 1922. Loew was having a problem with an overseated Cleveland, having acquired the neighboring 3,000 seat Allen a few months earlier, there was a problem trying to fill all those seats. With the 3,500 seat Keith's Palace months away from opening next door, the 4,000 seat Hippodrome a few blocks down the street, and William Fox constantly talking about building a new house in the same area, the Shubert deal looked like a good bet, it wasn't. By the time the following spring rolled around Shubert Vaude was just a bad memory. 
From The Plain Dealer, September 24, 1922.
 From Variety, October 6, 1922.
From Variety, November 3, 1922.
From The Plain Dealer, February 11, 1923.
From The Plain Dealer, February 25, 1923.
From Variety, March 1, 1923.
Auditorium, c.1923-25, note the addition of ceiling vents, from the Theatre Historical Society/Playhouse Square Archives.
From The Plain Dealer, March 4, 1923. Loew puts the State back on the map.
Bread - Star Bakery tie-in, from Exhibitors Trade Review, October 4, 1924.
Radio comes to Loew's State, from The Plain Dealer, December 7, 1924. The studio was located at the top of the grand stairs, in the northwest corner. This was later used as a publicity office, and later to store liquor for the mezzanine bar during the run of Brel. It was later removed.
From The Film Daily, December 22, 1924.
Boffo biz, from Variety, February 11, 1925.
From The Plain Dealer, February 27, 1927.
Talking pictures arrive at the State, from The Plain Dealer, March 29, 1928.
Early sound installation, c.1928, from the Theatre Historical Society/Playhouse Square Archives.
From The Plain Dealer, September 16, 1928.
Grand Lobby, 1929, Cleveland Press photo, from the Cleveland Memory Project,

Front of Loew's State, January 30, 1931, George Mann photo.
 Outside lobby decor, from Motion Picture Herald, July 16, 1932.
From Motion Picture Herald, July 1, 1933.
Loew's ad from The Plain Dealer, February 8, 1934.
H.M. Addison's Moulin Rouge promo in the Grand Lobby, from Motion Picture Herald, April 7, 1934.
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.
From The Plain Dealer, August 17, 1939
Meanwhile out in front, from Motion Picture Herald, September 2, 1939. 
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.
From The Plain Dealer, June 28, 1943. 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.
From The Plain Dealer, September 6, 1943.
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.
 Spar recruiting display, from Motion Picture Herald, April 1, 1944.
Heavenly Body - War Stamp tie-in, from Motion Picture Herald, April 20, 1944.
From Motion Picture Herald, May 27, 1944.
From Showman's Trade Review, August 12, 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.
From The Plain Dealer, August 16, 1945.
From The Plain Dealer, May 17, 1946.
New box office, 1947, from the Cleveland Public Library.
View from the top of the balcony, from the Cleveland Public Library.
Angela Lansbury appeared at the World Premiere, from the Plain Dealer, February 27, 1947.
From The Plain Dealer, June 26, 1952.
Queue for Johnnie Ray, from the Cleveland Memory Project.
From The Plain Dealer, December 31, 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.
From The Plain Dealer, March 25, 1955.
From The Plain Dealer, July 22, 1956.
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.
Loew's State, 1958, Cleveland Public Library photo. Note the billing of W. Ward Marsh, Plain Dealer film critic.
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, July 2, 1967.
From Boxoffice, July 17, 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 Boxoffice, October 7, 1968.
From The Plain Dealer, December 20, 1968.
From The Plain Dealer, January 25, 1969.
From The Plain Dealer, February 4, 1969.
The End, from The Plain Dealer, February 9, 1969.
From Boxoffice, February 17, 1969.
This appeared to be the final word, from the Plain Dealer, September 9, 1969. "It is very unlikely that the State Theater will ever reopen again as a place of entertainment." "The State will not be used as a theater again." Michael Miller. 
From the Plain Dealer, October 8, 1970.

Meanwhile...

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.
Ray Shepardson leading a tour through Loew's State in 1970. From CSU Alumnus, Winter 1974.

However, the future looked bleak.
From the Plain Dealer, February 2, 1971.
From The Plain Dealer, May 25, 1972.
From The Cleveland Press, May 25, 1972.

And the battle was on.
From the Plain Dealer, May 26, 1972.
Junior League to the rescue, Plain Dealer, June 3, 1972.
From Variety, August 8, 1972.
From the Plain Dealer, September 9, 1972.
From the Plain Dealer, December 23, 1972. We started working in the Ohio days later, December 26th, just doing a general clean-up and appraisal of what exactly we had.
From the Plain Dealer, March 8. 1973.
L-R David Frazier, director Joe Garry and business manager Ceil Hartman at the opening of Brel, from The Plain Dealer, April 19, 1973.
Smitty, Ralph Smith working on one of the chandeliers from the Commodore Perry Hotel in Toledo that arrived a few weeks before Brel opened which we installed in the grand lobby. From The Plain Dealer, April 19, 1973. Smitty was quite the character, worked with him for several years.
Smitty and Veralynn Bosko, from The Plain Dealer, April 19, 1973. Veralynn worked at the law firm that incorporated the Playhouse Square Association in 1970, and was an early volunteer at the Allen, c. 1971-72.
From The Plain Dealer Action Tab, June 1, 1973. The place that was on the verge of demolition a few months earlier, is suddenly the hottest spot in town.
Ray Shepardson at the opening of Brel, April 18, 1973, from the Cleveland Memory Project.
From The Cleveland Press, April 26, 1973.
The lobby of Loew's State during Brel, big enough to be a theatre itself, photo by William Gesten/Foto Arts Inc.
Lanie Hadden, from CSU Alumnus, Winter 1974.
The Brel cast (l-r) David O. Frazier, Providence Hollander, musical director David Gooding,Terry Piteo and Cliff Bemis, photo by William Gesten/Foto Arts Inc. 

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.
Another Hit! From The Plain Dealer, July 6, 1975.
From The Plain Dealer, July 21, 1975.
From The Plain Dealer Action Tab, February 22, 1976. This was one of my favorites.
From The Plain Dealer, August 1, 1976. French Feelings with David Frazier and Marge Adler ran in the lobby of the State in July and August 1976.
Rick Trela headed up the early restoration effort, photo by William Gesten/Foto Arts Inc.
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.
From The Plain Dealer, February 13, 1977.
From The Plain Dealer, April 3, 1977.

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.

Below, a few photos from recent visits.
The Grand Lobby.
Mezzanine.
Back of auditorium.
Mezzanine Ladies Room, this was used as the Brel dressing room.
Mezzanine Men's Room, Flemo lived here in 1973.
View from stage. 
Dome.
View from projection room.

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