Saturday, August 17, 2019
Entertainment

Palace and Majestic Theaters

Laurel and Hardy’s comic antics in “Way Out West,” was being viewed by hundreds of area residents the summer of 1937.

Since the theaters opened to the public in 1922, the grand building in downtown Bridgeport became the place to be seen.  By 1939, the Majestic Theater had a special party to celebrate the theater’s “Ten Millionth patron,” a landmark occasion celebrating the 17th anniversary of the Majestic.

Mrs. Richard G. Rossbaum of Stratford was the purchaser of  the 10,000th ticket to be sold at the theater.  Mrs. Rosenbaum won free tickets for the next six months.

When the theater originally opened on November 4, 1922, Eddie Cantor was on stage in a revue called “Make It Snappy.”  The theaters were built by Sylvester Poli.  Poli hired the foremost theater architect of the day, Thomas Lamb.

For many years, the Majestic featured “follies,” which used Bridgeport talent from the local dancing school.  In 1934, Loew Theaters bought the Poli Theater and both the Palace and the Majestic began to show movies.  Films were shown around the clock, so that workers in the area could see movies when their work shifts ended.

In 1972, when factories started to close and workers were more temped to stay home and watch t.v., the theaters closed.

Over the years, the theaters have stood as a monument to Bridgeport of the 20th century.  The theaters are virtually intact inside, however funding for restoration has not occurred.  The Waterbury Palace, also a the Poli/Lamb creation, looks very much like the Bridgeport theaters.  The Waterbury theaters were restored in 2003.  To visit the site of the Waterbury Palace and see what the Bridgeport theaters could look like if restored visit http://www.palacewaterbury.com/index.shtml

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Mary Witkowski
Mary K. Witkowski is the former Bridgeport City Historian and the Department Head of the Bridgeport History Center, Emeritus. She is the author of Bridgeport at Work, and the co-author with Bruce Williams of Bridgeport on the Sound. Mary has had a newspaper column in the Bridgeport News, a blog for the Connecticut Post, and a weekly spot on WICC. She continues to be involved in many community based activities and initiatives on local history and historic preservation.