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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

Liberty Theatre: 1935

Liberty Theatre: 1935

"1935 or 1936. Saint Charles Street. Liberty Theatre, New Orleans." Now playing: Wheeler and Woolsey in "The Rainmakers," with a product tie-in. Large-format nitrate negative by Walker Evans, Resettlement Administration. View full size.

 

St. Charles Street Memories

In about 1961 I lived for some months on St. Charles Street about two blocks toward Lee Circle from this theatre. I remember attending movies here and at a nearby theatre on the same side of the street--perhaps? the St. Charles that Vic and Natly refer to. There was a Chinese laundry, a real one, across the street from this theatre; shirts starched, folded, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. 25¢ a shirt as I recall.

The photo caption has it right. In at least those days it was St. Charles Street between Canal and Lee Circle; only on the other side of Lee Circle going toward the Garden District and beyond did it became St. Charles Avenue. I worked way out Prytania Street and daily took the street car to and from work.

Yes I am

I would just like to say that it is great to see that my second cousin Bob Woolsey has not been forgotten. He was a great comedian and I love to see that his work is still inspiring and motivating conversation and interest in older movies, which have a tendency to waste away into oblivion. My father was Bob's cousin and I only regret that I never had the opportunity to meet him or any of his children or grandchildren. As the title states yes I am and will alawys be not only related to Bob Woolsey but one of his biggest fans!

Jonni (Woolsey) Murakami

Fox News Not the Fox News of Today (sort of)

Well it is and it isn't! The Fox News in this photo was a newsreel (usually weekly) made by 20th Century Fox pictures. As 20th Century Fox (Rupert Murdoch's News Corp) also owns the Fox News Channel (a modern day incarnation of course) it could be argued there is a direct hereditary link.

"Whoa-OO-ooah!"

Back in the 50s, they showed some Wheeler and Woolsey movies on TV. For, at least, a month, after seeing them, my little brother and I would repeat that line as often as we could. We thought it was hilarious.

Who came first?

Woolsey or George Burns? They look like twins to me.

Morton's Salt Tie-In

As an old PR and Product Promotions man, I love the tie-in between the movie title and Morton's "It rains when it pours" Salt. I wonder if a salt packet giveaway was part of the promotion? I once proposed to the people in charge of raising funds for the mausoleum clean up for Captain "Bully" Robinson in Newburgh NY ("the man who introduced goldfish to America") that they give away samples of Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Crackers as a promotion gimmick.
The cemetery folk were not amused. In my opinion, Wheeler & Woolsey were far lesser lights than either Laurel & Hardy or Abbott & Costello, more on the scale of Wally Brown & Alan Carney, at best.

Wheeler and Woolsey

Just about forgotten these days, Wheeler and Woolsey were on a par with Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello back in the day. Bob Woolsey was a patrician-looking fellow who played his scenes with a wry detachment; his trademark was an exclamation that transliterates, roughly, as "whoa-OO-ooah!" (It was Really Funny in the 30s.) He died in 1938 of a kidney disorder. Bert Wheeler was a salt-of-the earth guy, kinda the Chico/Abbott/Cheech member of the duo -- but he also sang, and had a surprising pop-tenor way with a song that holds up quite well. He went on to play a lot of TV character parts before his death in 1968. A sample of their repartee, thanks to Wikipedia:

The Wheeler & Woolsey pictures are loaded with joke-book dialogue, catchy original songs, painful puns, and sometimes racy double-entendre gags:

WOMAN (coyly indicating her legs): Were you looking at these?
WOOLSEY: Madam, I'm above that.

WOOLSEY (worried about a noblewoman): She's liable to have us beheaded.
WHEELER: Beheaded?! Can she do that?
WOOLSEY: Sure, she can be-head.

FLIRT: Sing to me!
WHEELER: How about "One Hour With You?"
FLIRT: Sure! But first, sing to me!

Tax

Wow, a one cent tax on a 15 cent ticket. Looks like the tax man was well into it even then. Well at least the kids ticket at 10 cents wasn't taxed.

Fox News

No indeed the Fox News of 1935 had nothing in common with the present day opinionated and distorted "Fox News." The old Fox Film Corp. had a newsreel division that was called Fox Movietone News and movie theatres regularly played these newsreels before the feature. People got their news a little later in those days but it was generally better journalism than we see today.

Vive La Liberté

The Liberty was adjacent to the St. Charles, at 420 St. Charles Avenue, between Poydras and Gravier. This is the heart of the Central Business Disctrict, so this is one part of the old city that was razed. At the site are the immense Hotel Intercontintal and the Pan-Am Life Building.


View Larger Map

Fox Movietone News

This would have been Fox Movietone News, newsreels that had evolved from Lee De Forest and Theodore Case's pioneering sound-on-film process they developed in the early to mid-1920s. The cursive word is "Also."

Fox News

I had no idea Fox News went back that far. I can read the 'selected shorts', but what is that slanted word in cursive letters? Of course, this may not be the same Fox News we have today. I do recall these kind of news clips from my kid days at the Saturday movies in the 50's. I think they were presented as World on Parade, or something similar.

The March of Time

Seventy years before we had Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, Fox News gave us Lew Lehr and Lowell Thomas.

Six adult tickets please...

"I'm gonna be a sport and treat you all, and I will still get 4 cents back from my dollar."

Wheeler and Woolsey

It's thanks to these guys that we have the phrase "acquired taste."

 
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