Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Beacon Movie Theater

A movie theater operated at the location of The Beacon from 1925 to 1965.* The theater was built in 1924 as The Strand but renamed The Beacon sometime between 1938 and 1944 and was on the SE corner of Main St and S. Grove St in East Orange. 


From Film Daily, January 1936: "Acquire East Orange House: Abe Rotner and Sam Kantor have added a fifth house to their circuit. New aquisition is the Strand at East Orange which has been operated by the Ledirk Amusement Company. Kantor and Rotner have four houses in the Rockaways on Long Island."

During the 1940's and 50's The Beacon was operated by the Kridel family, a family that also operated The Plaza on North 7th Street in Newark and The Palace in Orange. 


My only vivid memory of attending a movie at The Beacon was seeing The Glenn Miller Story there in 1954. I was taken to see the movie one evening by some adult neighbors who knew I was a fan of Miller's music. It was a great experience but the sad ending with the playing of Miller's famous arrangement of Little Brown Jug made me cry and I remember hoping I could get myself together before the lights came up to avoid being too embarrassed. 

My favorite Glenn Miller tune was A String of Pearls and in 1958 I received a birthday present of a 45 rpm record with A String of Pearls on one side and In The Mood on the flip side. I set my automatic record player to play String repeatedly and while the record played I would use my father's bugle from his drum and bugle corps days to pretend to play Bobby Hackett's cornet solo, my favorite part of the song.

Above: From Red Bank newspaper, August 6, 1965


* The theater building and entire neighborhood were bulldozed in the late 1960's to make room for I-280.

Photos were  taken in October 1964 by Dr Sam Berg and are courtesy of the Newark Public Library.

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