Memory of the Beacon Theater

The Beacon Theatre was located one block from where I lived on 74th Street & West End Avenue. The theatre was built in 1926 and showed silent movies(before my time). It maintained its ornate and gilded look through the decades.

This was our neighborhood movie theatre and we loved going there. We watched all the Bob Hope movies as well Abbot & Costello comedies.

My sister Joan and I would go to the Saturday matinees by ourselves and sit in the separated children's section. This area was overseen by a stern matron with a strong flashlight. One false move and you were out in the street. Regardless of her devotion to quell even the tiniest sound from our area, the children's section was in constant motion and giggles.

There was always a double feature and it was a great way to spend a rainy or snowy afternoon. During the intermission there was an organ player followed by the manager selling plates on the stage. During the war years there was always a canister passed around for donations to various charities, mostly Red Cross.

Every theatre ran at least one cartoon, usually Mickey Mouse, Popeye or Betty Boop. Our favorite candies were of course Peanut Chews,Goobers,JuJubes &,Mary Janes . No popcorn no drinks.

My Uncle Herman(Dad's brother), lived in the attached Beacon Hotel. It was always a treat to visit him. He was a divorced, very dapper gentlemen with a very cool bachelor pad that catered to my 13 year old fantasies. It was The Esquire Magazines with the famous scantily clad "Esquire Girls" paintings that brought me back to visit time and again. The magazine prepped me for Playboy many years later.

As we got older Joan and I gradually elevated our theatre venues to the two theatres on 81st & Broad- way. RKO and Loews. This was the gathering place through High School. If those balconies could talk it would be XX rated. The hottest babe was Barbara Siegel, daughter of the infamous Bugsy Siegel. She lived across the street from me. If all the "balcony" stories were even half true, they were savory indeed.

All of this was left behind after entering college. The BeaconTheatre declined and I think was closed for a long spell. It was great to see that landmark revived to its original splendor as a popular stage show theatre and concert venue.

 

Don Herzog ‘45

P.S. 87 1945

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