Central Theatre, Passaic: Showplace of New Jersey

Passaic's "Showplace of New Jersey" was designed by John and Drew Eberson and opened on September 10, 1941. The primary policy of stage performances supplemented with film continues until January 20, 1944. During this period, the biggest bands in the country appear, including Ted Lewis, Louis Prima, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, Guy Lombardo, Vaughn Monroe, Gene Krupa, Les Brown, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, and the legendary farewell performance by Glenn Miller from September 24-27, 1942.

Sammy Kaye is a favorite and plays three different engagements. His "So You Want to Lead a Band" presentation is a big hit where members of the audience are selected to come up on stage to conduct his orchestra. The winner, selected by audience applause, would receive an autographed baton from Mr. Kaye. 

In addition, both the 3 Stooges (9/10/41, 9/11/42) and the Andrews Sisters (9/18/41, 10/15/42) played return engagements during this period. Other big stars include Chico Marx 1/29/42, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson 2/26/42, Bert Lahr 3/5/42, Martha Raye 3/12/42, Jack Haley 3/19/42, Peggy Lee 4/2/42, Gordon MacRae 9/17/42, The Ink Spots 11/19/42, Stepin Fetchit 1/7/43, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson 4/9/43, Alan Jones 5/14/43, Jerry Lewis 12/23/43.  Frank Sinatra first appears the week of October 8, 1942 and does a quick return engagement two months later during the week of December 17, 1942.

Henny Youngman is also an audience favorite. His Columbia short "Love in Gloom" played on the opening weeks program and he came back three times to appear on stage during this period: 10/9/41, 10/29/42 and 11/19/43.

The 20th Century Fox newsreel MARCH OF TIME is a popular monthly attraction throughout this period.


Frank Sinatra, "The Voice that Has Thrilled Millions", first appears the week of October 8, 1942 and does a quick return engagement two months later starting the week of December 17, 1942.  These are significant because of two key moments in Frank's career:  On September 8, Frank had made his final appearance with the Tommy Dorsey orchestra. His first appearance at the Central was only one month into his career as a solo artist.

The December 17 booking is also significant because two weeks later on December 30, he opened as an "Extra Added Attraction" at the New York Paramount. This was the now legendary appearance with thousands of screaming girls in the audience and Times Square. He was scheduled for two weeks but his appearance was extended for eight additional weeks, shattering all records at the 3,664 seat New York showplace. While the Paramount engagement is considered his "debut" as a solo artist, these two Central gigs are significant during this transitional point. His life - and career - would never be the same again.

"In January 1942, he tested the waters for a solo career by recording a four-song session arranged and conducted by Axel Stordahl that included Cole Porter's 'Night and Day,' which became his first chart entry under his own name in March 1942. Soon after, he gave Dorsey notice. Sinatra left the Dorsey band in September 1942. The recording ban called by the American Federation of Musicians, which had begun the previous month, initially prevented him from making records, but he appeared on a 15-minute radio series, Songs By Sinatra, from October through the end of the year and also did a few live dates. His big breakthrough came due to his engagement as a support act to Benny Goodman at the Paramount Theatre in New York, which began on New Year's Eve. It made him a popular phenomenon, the first real teen idol, with school girls swooning in the aisles."

Glenn Miller from September 24-27, 1942.

"The nation's entry into World War II occurred at the height of Glenn Miller’s popularity. Miller felt a deep, compelling obligation to bring his music to the servicemen and women fighting for their country. Only months before, they had danced to his band at the Cafe Rouge in the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York (phone: PA 6-5000), the Panther Room in the Sherman House in Chicago, or any of hundreds of nightclubs, ballrooms, and theaters from coast to coast. And that was Miller's motivation for seeking a commission. The Navy rejected his request, but not the Army Air Force. Almost as soon as Miller learned of his commission as a captain in September 1942, he disbanded his civilian orchestra and reported for duty on Oct. 7.

The civilian band’s final Chesterfield show aired on Sept. 24 from the Central Theater in Passaic, N.J. During the band’s rendition of "Jukebox Saturday Night", the Harry James-inspired trumpet solo was actually played by James, whose band would replace Miller’s on the broadcasts. They did some of their most popular songs, including "In the Mood", "Moonlight Cocktail", and "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo". And when they played their "Moonlight Serenade" theme for the last time, Glenn Miller's civilian orchestra disappeared into musical history. Miller had finally become a musical success, yet his orchestra had lasted a scant four and a half years."

The Central's stage is set-up for big band performances.


Only three months after opening, they would switch to a supplemental feature film instead of a program consisting of selected short subjects. The first feature shown is TOP SERGEANT MULLIGAN starting on 12/25/41.

On 10/22/42, Universal's ESCAPE FROM HONG KONG is the first feature shown that is not from Monogram or PRC.

Up to closing in July 1943, out of 58 features shown, 53 were either Monogram or PRC. There was one from Universal (Escape from Hong Kong), one Hal Roach Streamliner released by United Artists (The Devil with Hitler), and three from 20th Century Fox: Man in the Trunk, Thru Different Eyes and The Loves of Edgar Allen Poe.

The Central would gradually build a strong following with an all-film program throughout the 1940's. The Warner Bros. acquisition in January 1944 helps and loosens the stranglehold by the other Warner Bros. Circuit Management theaters in town: the 2,600 seat Montauk, the 3,249 seat Capitol and the 1,035 seat Playhouse. By December 1953, the Central was selected as one of only eight theaters throughout New Jersey to open THE ROBE exactly as presented on Broadway in CinemaScope on the curved Miracle Mirror Screen with four track magnetic stereophonic sound.  

The first summer season of Broadway plays runs for 15 weeks, from 5/19 to 8/30/42. The second season only runs from 5/18 to 7/5/43 and then closes without notice for four months. The Central re-opens on November 3 "under new management" with the customary stage show and a Universal Sherlock Holmes feature. By the end of January 1944, the stage shows have ended and they go to an all film double-feature policy. The last feature to play with a live show is Universal's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.


9/10 (Wed) - Charlie Spivak and his Orchestra with Garry Stevens and Bunny Sawker, 3 Stooges, Sylvia Froos,

Wally Brown with Annetta Ames, Toy & Wing, The Star Dusters


9/18 (Thurs) - Andrews Sisters, Joe Venuti and his Band, Andy Mayo and Co, Chris Cross, Spencer & Foreman

9/25 - Bobby Byrne and his Orchestra featuring Dorothy Claire and Jimmy Palmer; Beatrice Kay; Hal Leroy; Carroll Howe; Grace Drysdale

10/2 - Tommy Tucker and his Band featuring Amy Armell, Herwin Somerville, Don Brown, Voices Three; Masters & Rollins; Bill Bailey; 4 Sensational Macks; Henry Armetta

10/9 - Johnny Long Orchestra featuring Helen Young, Bob Houston, Paul Harmon; Diosa Costello; Henny Youngman; Joey Rardin, 4 Coeds

10/16 - Jack Teagarden and his Orchestra featuring Kitty Kallen; Mary Small; Isabel Jewell; Patsy & Donald O'Connor; Roy Davis

10/23 - Al Donohue and his Orchestra featuring Phil Brito, Jean Gordon; Leni Lynn; Marc Balero; The Arnolds; Block & Sully; Joe & Ethel Turp

10/30 - FUNZAFIRE - the Crazy Show of 1941 featuring Benny Meroff and his Mad Band

11/6 - Charlie Barnet and his Band featuring Ford Leary, Bob Carroll, The Quintones; Bob Howard; Frank & Jean Hubert; The Wesson Bros; Martez & Dalita

11/13 - Ted Lewis and his Orchestra "Rhythm Rhapsody Revue" featuring Charlie Whittier, Blair Sisters, George Rodgers Dancers, Jean Blanche, Louise Glenn, June Edwards

11/20 - Louis Prima and his Orchestra featuring Leon Prima, Sol Marcus, Lily Ann Carol, Jimmy Vincent, Jack Powers and "Madcap", Frank Freorico; Barry Wood; Chuck and Chuckles; Buster West and Lucille Page with Chick Cagnon; Cortello's Hollywood Beauties

11/27 - Teddy Powell and his Orchestra featuring Peggy Mann, Dick Judge, Six Teddy Bears; Sibyl Bowan; Danny Drayson; Think a Drink Hoffman; 6 Honeys

12/4 - Will Osborne and his Orchestra featuring Marianne; Belle Baker; Johnny Mack; Martin Bros; Joe and Jane McKenna

12/11 - Woody Herman and his Orchestra featuring Carolyn Gray, Billie Rogers, Frankie Carlson, the 4 Chips plus Don Rice, King and Arlina; Anthony, Allen and Hodge

12/18 - Glen Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra featuring Pee Wee Hunt, Kenny Sargent, Bob Easton, Ondee Odette; Dave Barry; The Morgan Girls; Maxine Sullivan (the last show with Selected Short Subjects as the screen attraction)

12/25 - Will Bradley, Ray McKinley; Lynn Gardner; Terry Allen; Bradley Boogie Woogie Trio; Hollywood's Little Tough Guys; The Stapleton; Harry Savoy with Helene Holden; Frances Faye - TOP SERGEANT MULLIGAN


1/1 - "Crazy Show of 1942" with Gertrude Niesen, Milt Britton; Tommy Rafferty; Tito; Joe Britton; Dave Van Horn; Robbins Bros and Margie; Jack Leonard - SPOOKS RUN WILD and March of Time "Main Street, USA"

1/8 - Sammy Kaye and his Orchestra featuring Tommy Ryan, Arthur Wright, Maury Cross, Charlie Wilson, Alan Foster, The Three Kadets, The Kaye Choir; Sue Ryan - RIOT SQUAD

1/15 - "Hollywood Sweater Girl Revue" with Mary Healy, Anne Nagel, Peter Lind Hayes; Lois Andrew, Evelyn Farney; Dolly Dawn and her Orchestra featuring The Playboys; Stuart Taylor; 3 Kim Loo Sisters - FRECKLES COME HOME

1/22 - "Earl Carroll Vanities" with Slate Brothers, Buster Shaver with Little Olive and George, Fay Carroll, Jeanne Devereaux, Anna Lee, Al Norman, Zerby and Wiere, The Wiere Brothers - BORROWED HERO

1/29 - Chico Marx; Johnny Woods; Smith Rogers and Eddy; The Baily Sisters; Kitty Carlisle - I KILLED THAT MAN

2/5 - Raymond Scott and his Orchestra featuring Billy Leach; Dorothy Collins, Benay Venuta; Willie Howard; The Billingtons - QUEEN OF THE YUKON

2/12 - "Spices of 1942" with Count Berni Vici, NBC All Girl Orchestra, Ross and Perre, Barr and Estes, Sandy Lang and Company, The 3 Flames, Paul Kirkland, Mary Poue, Eddie Barran, Charles and Van, Robert Douglas, The Six Marvelettes, Charlotte and Her Hammond Organ, Jerry on the Novachoral, The Beauty Artists Models, the Ten Dancing Dolls - MAN FROM HEADQUARTERS

2/19 - Bob Chester and his Orchestra featuring Betty Bradley, Bill Darnell and Cy Baker, Adrian Rollini Trio, Moore and Revel, Al Gordon's Dogs - THE ROAD TO HAPPINESS

2/26 - Bill Bojangles Robinson, Sonny Dunham and his Orchestra featuring Harriet Clark and Ray Kellogg; Ronnie Baker, the Carr Brothers - THAT MAN IN PARIS

3/5 - Bert Lahr assisted by Russ Brown, Frankie Masters and his Orchestra, Wilkey and Dare, Phyllis Myles, Lou Hurst, the Swingmasters, Billy Pritchard, Woody Kessler - PRIVATE SNUFFY SMITH

3/12 - Martha Raye, Ray Heatherton and his Orchestra, Condos Brothers, Nash and Evans - THE LAW OF THE JUNGLE

3/19 - Lou Breese and his Orchestra, Jack Haley, Rose Marie, "Skip" Morr, Barry Warren, Nita Norman, Bob Dupont - MR. WISE GUY

3/26 - John Boles, Stan Kenton and his Orchestra featuring Eve Knight, Red Dorris, Dixie Dunbar, Dave Apollon and Company - DUKE OF THE NAVY

4/2 - Benny Goodman, Peggy Lee, Art London, Shea and Raymond, Ambassadorettes - DAWN EXPRESS

4/9 - Connie Boswell, Johnny Scat Davis and his Orchestra with Gloria Van, Tony Cabot, Bob McReynolds, Pat Henning, Carl Emmy and his dogs - KLONDIKE FURY

4/16 - Ken Murray with Oswald, Del Casino and his Orchestra, Joan Edwards - TOO MANY WOMEN

4/23 - Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians with Carmen, Lebert & Victor & Rose Marie Lombardo featuring Kenny Gardner, Calgary Bros (Saturday night show is broadcast on CBS) - GIRL'S TOWN

4/30 - Blue Barron and his Orchestra featuring Clyde Burke, Jimmy Brown, Charlie Fisher, Billie Cover, "Tiny Wolf", 3 Blue Notes, the Glee Club, plus Billy Gilbert, Four Samuels, Val Setz - MAN WITH TWO LIVES

5/7 - Vaughn Monroe and his Orchestra featuring Marilyn Duke, Ziggy Talent, Turnbull, Ray Conniff, Gil Maison and Co, 4 Arnout Bros with Sister Nolly - SO'S YOUR AUNT EMMA

5/15 (3 days only) - Mitchel Ayres and his Orchestra with Meredith Blake, Warren Covington, Johnny Bond, Harry Terrill, Beatrice Kay, Al Bernie, Paul Remos and his Toy Boys - BLACK DRAGONS

5/19 (Tuesday) - new Summer policy "Broadway stage plays at popular prices" - Canada Lee in NATIVE SON with John Berry, Sydna Scott

5/26 - PAL JOEY with Vivienne Segal, George Tapps, David Burns and Vivian Allen - entire NY cast

6/2 - Charles Bickford in JASON, with Nicholas Conte, NY cast

6/9 - CAFE CROWN with Sam Jaffe, Morris Carnovsky

6/16 - JOHNNY 2x4 with The Yacht Club Boys, Jack Arthur, Leonard Sues, Leonore Lemmon, Victoria Cordova

6/23 - WATCH ON THE RHINE with Joseph Holland, Zamah Cunningham,

6/30 - BROOKLYN U.S.A. with Eddie Nugent, Julie Stevens, Irene Winston

7/7 - THE MOON IS DOWN with Conrad Nagel, Art Smith, Maria Palmer

7/14- GUEST IN THE HOUSE with Eugenia Rawls, Richard Beach, Celeste Holm, Louise Larabee

7/21 - WATCH ON THE RHINE "returned by demand" with the same cast

7/28 - ESCAPE ME NEVER with Elisabeth Bergner, Edward Trevor, Reynolds Denniston. Staged by Theodore Komisarjevsky of the Moscow Art Theater

8/4 - THE CORN IS GREEN with Ethel Barrymore

8/10 - MY SISTER EILEEN with Georgette Leslie, Betty Furness, Leo Chalzel, Gwen Barlau

8/18 - CANDIDA with Jane Cowl, Tom Powers, John Craven, Ellen Hall, Stanley Bell

8/25 - PYGMALION with Sylvia Sidney, Philip Huston, Edgar Mason

9/4 Friday - PAUL WHITEMAN and his Orchestra with Dolly Mitchill, Larry Neill, Murtagh Sisters, Buddy Weed, Mike Pingatore, Bert Wheeler, Francetta Malloy, Hank Ladd - LET'S GET TOUGH

9/11 - 3 Stooges, Dick Rogers and his Orchestra with Betty Barr, De Val Mario and Lee, Barry Wood - BOMBS OVER BURMA

9/17 Thursday - Horace Heidt with Frankie Carle and the 30 Musical Knights, Fred Lowery, Donna and her Don Juans, Gordon MacRae, Ollie O'Toole - RUBBER RACKETEERS

9/24-9/27 (4 days only) - Glenn Miller and his Orchestra with Marion Hutton, Skip Nelson, Tex Beneke and the Modernaires - SMART ALECKS

10/1 - Gene Krupa and his Orchestra with Ray Eberly, Anita O'Day, Ames & Arno, Johnny Downs - SHE'S IN THE ARMY

10/8 - Johnny Long and his Orchestra with Helen Young, Gene Williams, The Four Teens, The Knight Sisters, Nan Rae, Mrs. Waterfall. EXTRA! Frank Sinatra - FOREIGN AGENT

10/15 - Andrews Sisters, Will Osborne Orchestra, Wesson Bros, Jerry and Turk - PHANTOM KILLER

10/22 - Charlie Spivak and his Orchestra, The Stardusters, Garry Stevens, Dave Tough, Don Cummings, The Acromaniacs, Ramona - ESCAPE FROM HONG KONG (Universal)

10/29 - Tommy Tucker and his Orchestra with Amy Arnell, Kerwin Somerville, Donald Brown, the 7 Fredysons, Rolla & Verna Pickert. EXTRA! Henny Youngman - BOWERY AT MIDNIGHT

11/5 - FUNZAFIRE OF 1943 with Benny Meroff, Eddy Fens and his orch, Bea Wain - ONE THRILLING NIGHT

11/12 - Shep Fields and his Orchestra with Ralph Young, The Gaudsmith Bros, 3 Winter Sisters, The Merry Macs - ISLE OF MISSING MEN

11/19 - The Ink Spots, Lucky Millinder and his Orchestra featuring Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Trevor Bacon, Tab Smith, Peg Leg Bates, Gordon & Rogers - 'NEATH BROOKLYN BRIDGE

11/26 - Les Brown and his Orchestra with Roberta Lee, Hal Derwin, Butch Stone, 4 Town Criers, Dick and Dot Remy, Ben Beri, The Hackensack Gossip - THE DEVIL WITH HITLER (UA) and March of Time: THE FBI FRONT

12/3 - Sammy Kaye and his Orchestra with Tommy Ryan, Arthur Wright, Nancy Norman, Billy Williams, 3 Kadets, Kaye Choir, Ray English, Sterner Sisters - TOMORROW WE LIVE

12/10 - BOMBSHELLS OF 1943 with Hal Sherman, Lowe, Hite & Stanley, Vic Hyde, Val Setz, Martin & Allen, Richards & Carson, Curley Van, Sunny Hudson - THE YANKS ARE COMING

12/17 - Sonny Dunham and his Orchestra with Dorothy Claire, Ray Kellogg, Cy Reeves, The Claytons, EXTRA! Frank Sinatra - PRISONER OF JAPAN

12/24 - Bobby Byrne and his Orchestra featuring Virginia Maxey, Jerry Burton, Buddy Clark, Bob Easton with Ondee Odette, Borrah Minevitch & his Harmonica Rascals - MAN IN THE TRUNK (20th Century Fox)

12/31 - BEST FOOT FORWARD with Joy Hodges, Mary May, Four Franks, Betty Ann Nyman, Maureen Cannon - RHYTHM PARADE


1/7 - Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra with Sammy Woods, Velma Middleton, Joe Garland, Louis Russell, Bill Bailery, EXTRA! Stepin Fetchit - PRIDE OF THE ARMY

1/14 - 4 DAYS - Ray Kinney and his Hawaiian Orchestra with The Aloha Maids, Maymo Holt, Alfred Apeka, Arren Broderick, Bob Bromley, Fritz & Carroll - KID DYNAMITE

1/21 - 4 DAYS - Vincent Lopez and his Orchestra with Karole Singer, Sonny Skyler, Gerry Larson, Don Rice, 6 Marvelettes - SECRETS OF A CO-ED

1/28 - 4 DAYS - Vaughn Monroe and his Orchestra with Marilyn Duke, Ziggy Talent, The 4 V's, Paul Winchell, 3 Murphy Sisters, Johnny Mack - BOSS OF BIG TOWN plus Disney cartoon DONALD GETS DRAFTED

 2/5 - 3 DAYS - Duke Ellington with Betty Roche, Jimmy Britton, Rx Stuart, Johnny Hodges, Ray Nance, Patterson & Jackson, Lillian Fitzgerald, Jigsaw Jackson - YOU CAN'T BEAT THE LAW

2/12 - 3 DAYS - Jerry Wald and his Orchestra with Lillian Lane, Johnny Bond, Billy Rayes, Primrose and Gold, The Pied Pipers - LADY FROM CHUNGKING

2/19 - 4 DAYS -  Bobby Sherwood and his Orchestra with Lucille Linwood, 4 Bob-ettes, Shirley Wood, Bill Covey, Jack Zoot Sims, Dick Noel, Sharkey the Seal, Britt Wood, Ballard & Rae, SILENT WITNESS

2/26 - 3 DAYS - Ina Ray Hutton and her Orchestra with Stuart Foster, The Coletons, Jan Murray, Rubinoff and his violin - MAN OF COURAGE

3/5 - 3 DAYS - Ciro Rimac and his South American Orchestra with Alzira Camargo, Mechita Virella, Charly Elenita, Elton Britt, Jerry Lester - THRU DIFFERENT EYES (Fox)

3/12 - 3 DAYS - Tony Pastor and his Orchestra with Stubby Pastor, Johnny Morris, Norton Sisters, The Oxford Boys, 4 Juggling Jewels, Little Tough Guys (Hally Chester & Harris Berger Direct from Hollywood) - THE  


3/19 - 3 DAYS - Bob Allen and his Orchestra with Paula Kelly, Randy Brooks, Arlene Harris, Dave Apollon and Company, Buddy & Judy Allen - NIGHT FOR CRIME

3/26 - 3 DAYS - Joe Marsal and his Orchestra with Adele Girard, The Smoothies, Angie Bond Trio, Johnny Burke, 4 Whirlwinds -  CLANCY STREET BOYS

4/2 - 3 DAYS - Hal McIntyre and his Orchestra with Helen Ward, Al Nabel, Oscar Davis, Doris Dupont, Jud Canova - THE PAYOFF

4/9 - 3 DAYS - Ozzie Nelson with Harriet Hiliard and Frank Gaby, Charlie Carrer - QUEEN OF BROADWAY

4/16 - 3 DAYS - Beatrice Kay, Ben Cutler and his Rainbow Room Orchestra, Gene Baylos, The Three Rays - THE CRIME SMASHER

4/23 - 3 DAYS - Stan Kenton with Red Dorris, Dolly Mitchell, Johnny Morgan, Al and Connie Fanton, Mitzi Green - CITY OF SILENT MEN

4/30 - 3 DAYS - Sammy Kaye with Tommy Ryan, Arthur Wright, Billy Williams, Nancy Norman - MY SON THE HERO

5/7 - 3 DAYS - Lanny Ross, Van Alexander and his Orchestra with Phyllis Kenny, Val Harris, Ralph & Marie Carnavale - BABY FACE MORGAN

5/14 - 3 DAYS - Allan Jones, Betty McGuire and her Orchestra - SPY TRAIN


5/25 - Sylvia Sidney, Luther Adler in JANE EYRE


6/8 - Canada Lee in NATIVE SON

6/15 - Margie Hart in CRY HAVOC with Florence Rice, Flora Campbell

6/22 - Julie Haydon in STAGE DOOR

6/29 Glenda Farrell in BIOGRAPHY with Dean Norton

BIOGRAPHY plays one week until July 5 and then the theater closes for four months until November 5 when it re-opens under new management. Little cast information is known about these stage productions because the paper is devoting most of its written space to news about the war.  The only entertainment news is usually the syndicated Hedda Hopper column.

11/5 - Clyde Lucas and his Orchestra with Teenie Reilly, Paul Lewis, Cliff Edwards, The Berry Bros, John Masters, Rowe Rollins - SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH

11/12 - Connie Boswell, Wally Ward & Company, 3 Samuels, Chester Dolphin, Buddy Page - FIRED WIFE

11/19 - Carol Bruce, Henny Youngman, Buddy Page, 6 Marveletts, Neal, Stanley & Marti - DR. GILLESPIE'S CRIMINAL CASE

11/25 - Ada Leonard and her Orchestra, Nan Rae and Mrs. Waterfall, Mildred Bailey, Sunny Rice, Buddy Page and Orchestra - THE IRON MAJOR

12/3 - Buck and Bubbles, Allen & Kent, Paul Sydell & Spotty, Kim Loo Sisters, Buddy Page and Ban - THE MAN FROM DOWN UNDER

12/10 - Bob Allen and Orchestra with Randy Brooks, Jimmie Costello, Sally Joy, Low, Hite & Stanley - PARIS AFTER DARK

12/17 - EARL CARROLL VANITIES with The Three Sailors, Seiler and Seabold, Barney Grant, Costello Twins, Barbara La Rene, Barbara & Dardy Mofffett, Burt Jason, Harry Blue, Bob Robson, Gaudsmith Bros - TORNADO

12/24 - Louis Prima with Leon Prima, Lily Ann Carol, Jimmy Vincent, Madcap, Eleanor Teeman, Jerry Lewis, Keaton & Armfield - THE CROSS OF LORRAINE

17 year old Jerry Lewis backstage with Louis Prima.

12/31 - Lionel Hampton, The Hampton Sextette, Bobby & Foster Johnson, Jones & Pearl - AROUND THE WORLD


1/7 - Dante the Magician, with Mor Yo Miller - HAPPY LAND

1/14-1/20 - Tommy Tucker and his Orchestra, Don Brown, Kerwin Somerville, Bud Kimker, Harry Savory, Helen Holdon - PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (first color feature shown at the Central)

1/21 - NEW POLICY - 2 FIRST RUN FEATURES - Claudia/Gangway for Tomorrow

1/27 - Riding High/So's Your Uncle

2/3 - Government Girl/Sing a Jingle

2/10 - Flesh and Fantasy/She's for Me

2/17 - Swing Fever/Calling Dr. Death

2/24 - For Whom the Bell Tolls

3/2 - Cry Havoc plus news, comedy, cartoon

3/9 - Phantom Lady/Moonlight in Vermont

3/16 - Jane Eyre plus March of Time "Naval Log of Victory" plus cartoon, news

3/21 - Dumont award presentation

3/23 - Higher and Higher/Escape to Danger

3/30 - The Uninvited/Hi Good Lookin'

4/6 - Ladies' Courageous/Hot Rhythm

4/13 - Song of Russia

4/20 - The Bridge of San Luis Rey/Henry Aldrich - Boy Scout

4/27 - The Imposter/Chip off the Old Block

5/4 - The Heavenly Body/Passport to Destiny

5/11 - Snow White

5/18 - Lost Angel/Slightly Terrific

5/25 - This is the Life/Yellow Canary

6/1 (4 days only) - Knickerbocker Holiday/Lady, Let's Dance

6/5 (3 days only) - Seven Days Ashore/Detective Kitty O'Day

6/8 - Cobra Woman/South of Dixie

6/15 - The Song of Bernadette

6/22 - Three Men in White/Ghost Catchers

6/29 - The Hour Before the Dawn/Ladies of Washington

7/6 - Up in Mabel's Room/Attack

7/13 - Song of the Open Road

7/20 - The Adventures of Mark Twain/March of Time Underground Report

7/27 - held over

8/2 - Christmas Holiday

8/10 - held over

8/16 - The Little Foxes/Ball of Fire

8/23 - And the Angels Sing/Timber Queen

8/31 - Wing and a Prayer/Dixie Jamboree

9/7 - Music in Manhattan/Seven Doors to Death

9/14 - Bill of Divorcement/Winterset ("Re-released for your pleasure!")

9/17 - Are These our Parents?/A Wave, A Wac and a Marine

9/21 - Dangerous Journey/The Big Noise

9/24 - Leave it to the Irish/Voodoo Man

9/28 - Wilson

10/12 - Mademoiselle Fifi/When Strangers Marry

10/16 - Swing Hostess/Shadow of Suspicion

10/19 - Sweet and Low-Down/My Pal, Wolf

10/26 - Atlantic City/Voice in the Wind

11/2 - Maisie Goes to Reno/Heavenly Day

11/9 - The Kid from Spain/Dead End ("2 Revival Attractions")

11/16 - Till We Meet Again/Henry Aldrich's Little Secret

11/23 - An American Romance/The Great Mike

11/30 - R -  Waterloo Bridge/The Adventures of Kitty O'Day

12/7 - R - The Cowboy and the Lady/Topper

12/14 - The Great Moment/The National Barn Dance

12/23 - Rainbow Island/Rogues Gallery

12/31 - Experiment Perilous/Moonlight and Cactus

To be continued...


Here's an image that shows the original roof sign that was removed in the late 1940's. When lit, the sign could be seen for miles.

February 19, 1964, after the roof sign and vertical blade were removed.

Playing SOLDIER OF FORTUNE in July 1955 and the Montauk is playing

The same view in February 2007.

Image courtesy of Jack Theakston.

The Erie railroad station and tracks in 1956 and after removal in 1979.

A parade in June 1963. The huge vertical sign would be gone by early 1964.

The original blueprint for the vertical sign. It must have been quite beautiful at night with green and
gold fluorescent tubes and flashing lights.

The original nautical-themed murals on either side of the stage were painted with Stroblite fluorescent colors and lit with
black light for a glow-in-the dark appearance. By the 1960's, these had been covered over with wallpaper.

A hot ticket on August 11, 1964.

The legendary Fillmore East on New York's Lower East Side had closed on June 27, 1971. For a brief period before the Capitol Theatre on Monroe Street began doing concerts on a regular basis, the Central filled the void for a rock venue. The Capitol had nearly 1,000 more seats but the Central had a larger and better equipped stage which was still intact from the big band days.

Sunrise Productions brought in the first concerts to the Central with The Chambers Brothers on June 25 and Alice Cooper on July 1, 1971.

Stu Green of Midnight Sun wrote the following in 2009: "In Spring, 1971, my brother, Rick Green, and I attended an Alice Cooper show at the Central. Although the concert was sparsely attended, we could see that the theater was perfect for rock shows. Seating capacity was about 2,900. The first show promoted by Rick was the Allman Brothers at 8 and 11pm on Friday, September 10, 1971. We hired production and staff alumni from the Fillmore East. See Factor did sound. Candace Brightman did lights. Arthur Berman, ‘Fat’ Joe Golden, and Kim Yarborough worked security. The Allmans were the hottest band in America at the time, and both shows sold out well in advance. Tickets were $4.50 and $5.50.

We quickly followed up with concerts starring the Beach Boys, Savoy Brown, and Pink Floyd. We still have the Pink Floyd contract in our archive. The band earned $1750 to headline, and that fee included a quad PA system they brought with them. Shortly thereafter, John Scher purchased the Capitol Theater around the corner. The Capitol was about 10% larger than the Central, and Scher was a tough competitor. He was also tighter with Premier Artists, the #1 booking agency."

Concerts at the Central over the next several years include:

June 25, 1971 - The Chambers Brothers, Third World

July 1, 1971 - Alice Cooper, The Grease Band

September 10, 1971 - The Allman Brothers, Redbone

November 3, 1971 - Pink Floyd

November 12, 1971 - The Beach Boys

December 2, 1971 - Savoy Brown, Atomic Rooster

The Capitol begins their regular concert series on December 16, 1971 with Humble Pie and the J. Geils Band.

December 23, 1971 - The Original English Company

December 28, 1971 - Carly Simon, Boz Scaggs

March 16, 1972 - Badfinger

March 26, 1972 - The Beach Boys

April 6, 1972 - Procol Harum

June 16, 1972 - Dave Mason, Buzzy Linhart

July 14, 1972 - Golden Night of Rock and Roll

May 18, 1973 - Looking Back

November 24, 1973 - Charlie Rich, Skeeter Davis. Lester Flatt

April 26, 1974 - Rock and Roll Reunion

The final concert at the Central was Musique on December 15, 1978.

During the 1970's, Kung Fu, Blaxploitation and horror films were the usual attractions on screen. The audiences were not always respectful of the Art Deco interior and management stopped doing maintenance to remove graffiti and repair broken seats.

Playing a grindhouse double-feature starting on December 14, 1977.

On April 14, 1978, the Bergen Record reported on a plan to demolish the Central along with several other
buildings in order to provide more downtown parking.

The final presentation was ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ, closing on September 4, 1979.

November 3, 1979

Shortly before demolition began.
Images courtesy of Acquackanock Times.

The downstairs Ladies Lounge in 1941 and after is was stripped of fixtures in 1979 shortly before demolition.

There were two drinking fountains; one in the balcony lounge and another in the basement lounge, seen on the right.
Both used fluorescent Formica inlays and when illuminated with black light, the designs would glow. Architect John Eberson
used this decoration in other theatres, included the one pictured in this advertisement at the Farragut Theatre in Brooklyn.

An original 1941 carbon arc spotlight was left in the projection booth.

The theater was in excellent shape and the walls were very solid in order to withstand the vibrations from proximity to the Erie railroad tracks. For that reason, the south wall over the occupied diner was taken down by hand, one brick at a time. Here's a view looking west from the projection booth. You can see the platform for the 24 sheet display board on the south side of the facade.

Here is what replaced the "Showplace of New Jersey" in 1979. Somewhat ironic when you consider the Central Theatre stood for
just 38 years from 1941 to 1979. The McDonald's has now been standing on that spot for 40 years. Progress?

Image courtesy of Jeffs4653 on Flickr.

Here's all that remains of the Central Theatre: the bottom section of the south wall has been painted gray and sits behind the Dunkin' Donuts at 11 Central Avenue.