Movie Theater Historian Vincent Astor To Speak at Main Library

Postcard courtesy of Vincent Astor

If I were a betting man, I'd wager that nobody in Memphis knows more about the history of old movie theaters in Memphis than my pal Vincent Astor.

The well-known actor, historian, and man about town has amassed an impressive collection of photos, postcards, and other images showcasing some of our city's long-lost movie and vaudeville theatres, and beginning next week, dozens of those images will be on display in the Memphis Room (top floor) of the Benjamin Hooks Central Library .

On Monday, October 1, Vincent himself will be in the Memphis Room from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to chat with anybody and everybody who wants to see the photo collection, and to answer any questions.

Ever heard of such theaters as the Ruby, the Palace, or the wonderfully named Amuse? Well, they operated in downtown Memphis in the early 1900s and in fact, if you look really hard, you can make out the lighted marquees for some of these establishments in this old postcard, showing Main Street around 1907 or 1908.

The postcard, by the way, came from the Dinstuhl family collection — yes, the candy-makers — because the Dinstuhls were also involved in the theater business in Memphis. In fact, the early Theatorium — one of our city's first "moving picture palaces" — is just out of the frame of this postcard.

"Memphis at the Movies: 1900-1929" will be on display in the Memphis Room through the end of November. Maybe I'll see you there.



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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

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