Entertainment Main



Grand Opera House vert.jpg (103928 bytes)        Grand Opera House 3.jpg (123738 bytes)        John Havlin-Grand Opera House.jpg (308295 bytes)        Grand Theater 2.jpg (356814 bytes)
Grand Opera House   n.w. cor. Vine & Opera Place    

   There has been quite a bit of confusion about exactly when the Grand Opera House was first built. I will be using the version that was printed in The Times Star of March 29, and a 1902 Enquirer article. The Catholics were using a building on the lot as the Catholic Polytechnic Institute from 1859 until May of 1867 when Archbishop Purcell refered to it as a "Grand Failure" due to opposition from a determined group of fellow Catholics. David Sinton bought the property ca. 1870s. He had the Grand Opera House built in 1874 and began operations in 1875. It operated until 1901 when it was destroyed by fire on January 22, 1901. This date is rather eventful in that it was the same day that Queen Victoria died. The new building, which you see in the postcard and 2 photographs above, opened on September 13, 1902 with live performances. Picture shows were added in 1928. Legitimate theater was discontinued in 1932. This theater was torn down in 1939 and replaced with the new Grand Theater. This final version was torn down in 1980. The 3rd image is a newspaper artists depiction of the proprietor.


Lyric Theater vert.jpg (151776 bytes)        Lyric (1).jpg (152393 bytes)        Lyric (2).jpg (279992 bytes)
Lyric Theater  508 Vine St.

   Across the street from the Grand was the Lyric Theater. Located at 508 Vine St. it opened in 1906. The Lyric remodeled and added photoplays in 1918 with the 1920-1921 season being the last for the legitimate theater. In 1921 the Lyric began showing vaudeville from the Pantages circuit. The Lyric closed Dec. 1, 1952 and torn down the following year for a parking lot. The 2nd & 3rd images above are photographs.


                                                                       These are not postcards
Keith Theater 1 vert.jpg (129518 bytes)        Keith Theater 2 vert.jpg (113796 bytes)         Keith Theater and Office Bldg..jpg (459153 bytes)        Kieth Theater 2.jpg (523368 bytes)
Keith's Theatre Building  on Walnut between 5th and 6th Streets. 

   The Keith Theater at 517 Walnut St. was built in 1922. This building has had a long history. The original building built in 1880s housed the Fountain Theater. In 1899 the theater was remodeled and renamed the Columbia, which became one of the leading vaudeville houses in the nation. Remodeled again in 1909 it was sold to B. F. Keith who had two Vaudeville shows a day. In 1928 the live acts were discontinued and talking pictures began showing in this building shown in the cards above. Another renovation took place in 1946 to feature Universal Pictures films. It closed in 1965 and torn town the following year. In the 1st photograph that was taken before Keith bought it (no large Keith sign down the building's front), you can also see the Strand Theater and the Wheel Cafe. The last photograph shows this sign, plus the building on its left has been added.


National Theater vert.jpg (126381 bytes)            National Theater.jpg (142587 bytes)
National Theatre - Sycamore between 3rd and 4th

   The National Theater was opened on July 3, 1837 and was known as "Old Drury" because its size and appointments reminded people of the famous Drury Lane Theater in London. Up until the 1880's it was Cincinnati's most noted playhouse. Many of the country's most famous entertainers played there. The building was razed in 1940 after serving several years as a tobacco warehouse.


Olympic Theater vert.jpg (104733 bytes)            Olympic Theater .jpg (72829 bytes)            Olympic Theater vert night.jpg (74756 bytes)
Olympic Theatre located on the north side of 7th St. between Main and Walnut 

   The Olympic Theater opened as a vaudeville house in 1906. In 1914 it began featuring the burlesque shows from the former Gayety that had changed to a movie house with the name of Strand. It closed in 1930 to make way for a parking garage-the Olympic still in use today. 


                                               Not a postcard
Robinson Opera House.jpg (96889 bytes)                Robinson's Opera House.jpg (153770 bytes)
Robinson's Opera House   n.e.c. 9th & Plum

   The Robinson's Opera House was built in 1872 by John Robinson, the owner of the popular Robinson Circus, across the street from City Hall. The opera house was second only to Pike's (see below) as a showplace and entertainment center. in 1876 10 people died and around 100 injured when a boy yelled "Fire!" and everyone panicked. During the winter Robinson kept many of his circus animals in the basement.  In the 1930's the opera house building was torn down and replaced by a filling station.
   The Robinson Circus was one of the largest and most popular traveling shows in the country. John Robinson lived in Terrace Park on a large farm at 1 Circus Place where he kept his animals during the off-season (seen in the 1st non-postcard image below). It was a common sight to see elephants pulling a plow or to see them being exercised for street parades. By far the most famous exotic animal in his circus was Tillie the elephant. When she died on January 17, 1932 it made front page news in the Enquirer. More than 2000 people attended her funeral. Children were let out of school early so they could attend. A plane piloted by a Robinson son flew over and dropped flowers and wreaths over her grave which was an abandoned cistern. 
   Tillie joined the circus in the late 1890s and one of her many exploits according to her obituary occurred when a renegade elephant killed her trainer and started to run wild through the streets Charlotte, N.C., Tillie chased down the elephant and held it down under her until trainers could chain him. On another occasion in 1902 when a string of cars broke loose and derailed at Indiana, Pa., Tillie freed herself and kept a car of animals from toppling over by propping herself against the car. She was the first elephant to stand on her head and to carry a performer in her mouth without harm.

Robinson Home.jpg (1617161 bytes)                                    Tillie.jpg (297669 bytes)
Robinson Home                                                                    Tillie    

                                                                                               Real Photo P.C.
dup-Robinsons Circus.jpg (287568 bytes)                                        Robinson Elephant Keeper.jpg (141435 bytes)
  John Robinson Trailer                                                     Elephant Keeper
       Replica  Postcard                                                         Robinson Circus


                      Shubert Theater vert.jpg (95015 bytes)                              Cox & Shubert Theaters vert.jpg (126157 bytes)        Cox theater.jpg (95770 bytes)        Cox Theater.jpg (759540 bytes)
                             Shubert Theater                                 Cox Theater 7th St. between Vine & Walnut. Shubert Theater seen in first card
 7th. & Walnut                                                                                                                                                 

   In 1921 the Shubert Theater opened in the renovated YMCA building at 7th & Walnut. Live performances appeared on the stage and in 1930 it was wired for talking pictures. The Shubert alternated between live performances with movies from 11:00 a.m. to midnight. It was remodeled in 1956 and again in 1964 with a hole cut into the back wall to the adjacent Cox Theater for storage purposes. It was razed in 1976.
   The Cox Theater was constructed in 1920 flush with the Shubert Theater at 36 E. Seventh St. and lasted until 1954.  During that time span the Cox had 1,500 productions of live theater. The building was razed at the same time the Shubert was in 1976. The last image is not a postcard.


  Albee Theater vert.jpg (100636 bytes)                Albee Theater .jpg (105948 bytes)
Albee Theatre located on South side of Fifth St
between Vine and Walnut Streets

   The Albee Theater opened in 1928 featuring vaudeville and talking pictures. The Albee delivered the ultimate in comfort and convenience in very luxurious surroundings most Cincinnatians had never seen before, costing 4 million dollars to construct. After an unsuccessful campaign to save the Albee it was demolished in 1977. The three images below are not postcards. The 1st photograph was used to make the 1st postcard above.

Albee Theater 1.jpg (241527 bytes)        Albee Theater 2.jpg (219742 bytes)        Albee Theater 4.jpg (185271 bytes)
                                              Lobby                           View from stage


Plaza Theatre Norwood 1.jpg (107823 bytes)                Plaza Theatre Norwood 2.jpg (97553 bytes)
Norwood's  Plaza Theatre 4630 Montgomery Road


Walnut St Opera House vert.jpg (120368 bytes)                            Theatre Norwood.jpg (121156 bytes)        Norwood bw Theatre.jpg (128944 bytes)
Walnut St. Theater                                               The Norwood  4720 Montgomery Road                  
Walnut between                                                                                                                                       
6th. and 7th.                                                                                                                                       


Standard Theater.jpg (108969 bytes)            Peoples Theater.jpg (111437 bytes)    Peoples Theatre.jpg (92149 bytes)    Peoples Theatre 13th & Vine.jpg (560644 bytes)
Standard Theater                                            Peebles Theater  Northwest corner 13th. & Vine Sts.                  
s.e. cor. Vine & Canal                                                                                                                                                             

   The two vaudeville and burlesque houses above were only a couple of blocks from each other on Vine St. Both were considered 2nd class vaudeville houses which meant that the attractions were bawdier than those seen in the higher class houses, such as those seen at the Empress theater also on Vine St. ( later in 1922 known as the Gayety Burlesk) 1909-1970. The Peoples Theater was called Heuck House from 1869 to 1875 when it was first opened by Hubert Heuck. In 1875 Heuck bought another building across the street which was a popular beer garden called the Colliseum. He constructed another theater on this site and called it the Colliseum. In the first few weeks of the Colliseum's opening one of the actors in the play "Si Slocum" shot his wife. The case that followed preceded the Court House Riots but when he was declared innocent many people became highly agitated and became another reason for the riot that later followed. The court decision was so unpopular that Heuck decided that the new theater needed a new name. So he changed the name to, "New Theatre". In 1883 he took the name Heuck House from his first theater and applied it to the newer one. He renamed the old Heuck House as the, "People's". Both theaters were closed in 1921. People's was converted into a clothing store. Below is a non-postcard drawing of Heuck House.

Heucks New Opera House.jpg (204065 bytes)                Heuck-Opera House.jpg (156566 bytes)
Heucks New Opera House                Hubert Heuck           
                                                   Newspaper  Drawing


Columbia Theater.jpg (178677 bytes)        Columbia Lobby.jpg (260894 bytes)
Columbia Theater 2527 Vine St. 


          Lubin Theatre.jpg (97352 bytes)*                                            Movie pass.jpg (74406 bytes)
                                          Lubin Theater                                             This postcard was sent to people on their birthday
                                           140-142 W.5th. St.                                   It was a free pass to the Elstun Theater, Mt. Washington


Saylor Park FD.jpg (64373 bytes)    parkland-theatre 1.jpg (83028 bytes)    Parkland Theater 3.jpg (505461 bytes)
Parkland Theater   6550 Parkland Avenue, Sayler Park

   The postcard above is for Sayler Park's Fire House #50 but it also shows, next door on the corner, the Parkland Theater. It was built in 1881 as a vaudeville house and was converted into a silent movie house in the 1920's. The theater still has trap doors on the stage that are still used for live performances on occasion. This theater is the oldest operating movie house in Cincinnati. The theater has had many renovations over the last 10 years. The city of Cincinnati provided a grant in 2008 to help with the renovation.
   Because of the owner's Catholic faith, the Parkland does not show R rated movies. Most concessions are only $1 and a ticket is only $2.


So-Lo Theatre.jpg (424460 bytes)
So-Lo Puppet Theatre



Pike 1.jpg (390613 bytes)        Pike 2.jpg (462314 bytes)       Pikes Opera House-1858.jpg (201392 bytes)        Pike Interior.jpg (775446 bytes)

   The first Pike's Opera House was built by Samuel Pike, a wealthy liquor dealer who, after he heard Jenny Lind sing, vowed he would build a theater worthy of such a voice. Located on the south side of Fourth Street between Vine and Walnut, the first pike's had 13 entrances, a broad grand stairway leading to a black and white marble lobby, and an auditorium that seated 2,000. The opera house opened on March 15, 1859 with the opera Martha. Legitimate drama was the dominate use of the theater and so here was where Wendell Phillips was chased from the building after expressing his views on slavery; James Murdoch read "Sheridan's Ride" only a few hours after it had been written by Thomas Reed; and Junius Brutus Booth who had to sneak out of town after learning that his brother had shot President Lincoln. It should be noted that the person working at the Western Union telegraph office who received the message on Saturday, April 15, 1865 that Lincoln had been assassinated was 17-year-old Thomas Alva Edison. The first three images above show the first Pike's Opera House, the third one is a cover for a song, the fourth is a interior look.

Pike 3.jpg (239980 bytes)

   After only 7 years, in 1866, fire completely destroyed the opera house, but by 1867 it had been rebuilt, the image above is the re-built Pike's. Pike's Opera House was the home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra until 1896, when the orchestra moved into Music Hall and, as stated below, Powel Crosley Sr. was in charge of its operation until 1903 when this building also burned to the ground.

Powel Crosley Sr..jpg (315860 bytes)
Powell Crosley Sr.
Newspaper Rendition

   The first image below is after the fire destroyed Pike's #1, the other three views are of the fire destroying the second opera house.

Pike fire 1.jpg (262646 bytes)    Pike fire 2.jpg (228520 bytes)    Pike fire 3.jpg (485479 bytes)    Pike Opera House Fire 1903.jpg (92307 bytes)


For WLW see link at top.



Bob Harper.jpg (215228 bytes)        Bobby Wayne.jpg (232895 bytes)
Bob Harper                Bobby Wayne

   Bob Harper was a DJ at WSAI in 1964. He then moved to WPLO in Atlanta in 1965 where an Atlanta Ad man, Hugh Wilson, was working. Wilson went on to write WKRP in Cincinnati and he used Bob Harper as his inspiration for the role of Dr. Johnny Fever. Bobby Wayne was at WSAI from 1964 - 1965. He left Cincinnati for a couple of years and then returned to WUBE in 1968-69 where his "Swing Train" program was very popular. Both of these cards have messages written by them and are signed. In addition the Wayne card is autographed on the front.
   WSAI was created, in 1923, by John Omwake who was President of US Playing Card in Norwood so that he could broadcast the carillon bells in the factory's clock tower. It was purchased by Powel Crosley in 1928 and nicknamed "Cincinnati's Own Station" while WLW was nicknamed "The Nation's Station."



Oklahoma Outlaws-WCKY.jpg (281034 bytes)
Al Clauser's Oklahoma Outlaws

   Al Clauser, a guitarist, songwriter and engineer, and his band had a popular radio show in the mid-30's on WHO in Des Moines, Iowa where they were regulars until 1942. The band played in an early Gene Autry film, "Rootin' Tootin' Rhythm."  When Gene called to ask the band to come to Hollywood for the movie, WHO sportscaster, Ronald Reagan, asked if he could come along on the band bus and Al said sure. The rest is history.
    In 1942 the group moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma and had a regular program on KTUL Radio. Clauser added a teenager singer named Clara Ann Fowler to the band, which was then known as the Oklahoma Outlaws. Clara Ann later changed her name to Patti Page.
   I can find no reference to Al actually working at WCKY so the program probably originated in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Clauser disbanded the group in the 50's, but continued to work at KTUL Radio. In the 1970's he played the role of "Uncle Zeke" on KTUL TV's "Uncle Zeb's Cartoon Camp." He was also the Chief Engineer by then. Al started "Alvera Records" in the 70's and early 80's. He died in 1989.
   WCKY stands for Covington, Kentucky where its original studio was located at 6th and Madison.

WCKY-Uncle Tom.jpg (423832 bytes)
Uncle Tom on WCKY 


WCKY Nelson King.jpg (788674 bytes)                Nelson King WCKY Disk Jockey.jpg (364532 bytes)
Nelson King                        Photograph

   From 1946 to 1953 Nelson King won the title of King Of Hillbilly Disk Jockeys. He had also written several country tunes. At the time the photograph was taken (1954) he had been in radio 23 years.



Olive Kackley.jpg (274361 bytes)    Olive Kackley back.jpg (195581 bytes)     Kackley Ads.jpg (184581 bytes)     WCKY Olive Kackley.jpg (370334 bytes)    WCKY Olive Kackley back.jpg (249059 bytes)
Some Advertisements                 

   Olive Kackley was heard on WC.KY during the 1940s, She gave advice to her women listeners.


WCKY Rex Dale.jpg (86086 bytes) Interviewing Rex Dale & Gloria Swanson.jpg (36404 bytes)            Rex Dale Martin & Lewis.jpg (76035 bytes)
         Rex Dale                                Gloria Swanson               Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis

   Rex Dale was a very popular radio personality from the 1950s to the 1970s.


WCKY Bill Dawes.jpg (289325 bytes)
Bill Dawes

   After arriving in Cincinnati in 1936 to teach dramatics at Schuster-Martin School of Drama. Dawes began hosting "Make Believe Ballroom" on WCKY in 1940. In 1949 Bill moved to WCPO radio as program director. He became Director of Community Relations for WCPO AM-FM-TV.



Mark Edwqards-WCPO.jpg (131105 bytes)

   Mark Edwards was a disc jockey on WCPO in 1965. WCPO, which stands for Cincinnati Post, started out as WFBE in 1927 and changed to WCPO in the early 40's. In 1965 the call letters were changed to WUBE. 


WCPO Quartette.jpg (160252 bytes)
WCPO's Church of God


Jimmie Skinner.jpg (141772 bytes)
Jimmie Skinner

   Jimmie Skinner was born near Berea, Kentucky and, when in his teens, his family moved to Hamilton, Ohio. He began performing on local radio stations along with his brother Esmer. They unsuccessfully auditioned for a couple of record labels but in 1946 Ernest Tubb had a hit with one of his compositions "Lets say goodbye (Like We Said Hello)". In 1947 he had his first record release on the Red Barn label, based in Chicago. 
   He moved to Cincinnati and met the former sales manager for King Records, Lou Epstein who was at that time operating his own label, Radio Artists. Epstein signed Skinner to a managerial and recording contract in 1949. Several of Skinner's compositions became country and bluegrass standards such as "Will You Be Satisfied That Way" and "Don't Give Your Heart to a Rambler".
   In the early 1950s, Epstein opened the Jimmie Skinner Music Center at 222 East Fifth Street in Cincinnati. It was a mail-order and retail record store that advertised very heavily on WCKY-AM and other country music stations. From the store's display window Jimmie broadcast a one-hour remote Dee jay program for WNOP-AM in Newport, KY. The postcard above is an advertisement for his store. 
   Skinner recorded for Capitol (1950-53), Decca (1953-56) and Mercury Records (1957-61). After Epstein's death in 1963 from a brain tumor, Skinners career went into a decline. He became a fixture on the bluegrass festival circuit and continued to record for smaller labels such as Rich-R-Tone. He moved to Nashville in 1974 and died five years later.

Skinner ad.jpg (169080 bytes)        Skinner ad back.jpg (116612 bytes)
Skinner ad card



WKRC Gyro Jack.jpg (170799 bytes)
Santa & Gyro Jack

   WKRC-TV signed on the air April 4, 1949 making it Cincinnati's second oldest television station after WLW. It began broadcasting on VHF channel 11 but moved to channel 12 on October 12, 1952. The "KRC" stands for Kodel Radio Company which was the name of the company that owned WKRC Radio. "Ko" stood for Clarence Ogden, the owner, and the "dell" stood for his wife Della. The postcard above shows Santa and Gyro Jack. I can find nothing on Gyro Jack but he is dressed in what looks to be a pilots uniform so he may have been in some type of space program that was popular when this card was sent (It used a pre-cancelled stamp so there are no postal markings but  1951 is written in pencil and it is obviously during the Christmas season.) It is also stamped on the back with the following: "Remember the best toy's come from Solways". Can anyone supply any information on this card?


Jane Lynn-WKRC.jpg (253589 bytes)    Jane Lynn back.jpg (84489 bytes)
Jane Lynn Faulkner

   Jane Lynn, as she was known on air, appeared in many commercials for WKRC-TV & WLW-TV.  She also appeared on Channel 12 News with George Palmer, plus early talk shows for homemakers. As can be seen on the 1958 card above, she also hosted Ladies Home Theater. She also was on WLW-TVs Pic-a-Pac of Prizes giveaway show with Dick Hageman.
   Outside of TV Jane helped homeless people as a volunteer, and as a chaplain at the Hamilton County Jail. Jane died in 2002.



   WCPO-TV signed on the air July 26, 1949 making it the third oldest television station. It began broadcasting on channel 7 but moved to channel 9 in 1952. the "CPO" stands for Cincinnati Post who owned WCPO radio at that time.


Wanda Lewis 1.jpg (91663 bytes)    Uncle Al.jpg (69824 bytes)    Uncle Al Alone.jpg (186745 bytes)    Uncle Al Alone back.jpg (106653 bytes)    Al & Wanda 1.jpg (118474 bytes)    Al & Wanda.jpg (117184 bytes)
                                                                                                                                            Blank Back            Blank Back

   The Uncle Al Show was the longest-running children's show in the nation (until Sesame Street came along). For 35 years (1950 - 1985) this show was the place every child wanted to be. Along with his wife Wanda, who joined the show in 1956, the show was filled with songs, dancing, and activities for learning. Wanda was known as Captain Wendy on the show. The 2nd postcard above shows cast members Larry Kinley & Tom McGreevy who played Mr. Patches along with Captain Wendy and Uncle Al.

Uncle Al 6x9.jpg (855574 bytes)                   Uncle Al & Captain Wendy in Shillitos Santa Land 1958.jpg (408010 bytes)
      WCPO TV-9                                      Shillito's Santa Land

   The first card above is a large 6" x 9" postcard. The 2nd image is not a postcard.


Dotty Mack.jpg (236119 bytes)
Dotty Mack

   Dotty Mack (Dorothy Macaluso) was posing in 1949 as a mannequin in the window of the clothing store of the Jenny Company when she was spotted by the general manager of WCPO-TV which had not even gone on the air yet. She made her debut two hours after WCPO-TV signed on the air. She became Cincinnati's first television "glamour girl." She worked for four years for Paul Dixon before she got her own one hour show, Girl Alone in early 1953 in which she pantomimed songs ( Dotty was considered one of the greatest pantomimers in the business). In the summer of 1953 the name was changed to Pantomime Hit Parade when Bob Braun and Colin Male joined the cast. The title was eventually changed to The Dotty Mack Show and lasted until 1956. Dotty often joked that she was the creator of MTV.


Larry  Smith & his puppets

  Hattie-Ch9.jpg (80537 bytes)    Hattie-Ch9-rev.jpg (41060 bytes)    Larry Smith-2.jpg (214539 bytes)    Larry Smith Puppets.jpg (218614 bytes)    Larry Smith-back.jpg (111023 bytes)
The Comedy Hour              Missing Stamp Box                                                                           Channel 19 Advertisement              

   Larry Smith was 14 when he first appeared on Dayton Television's WHIO-TV. His 2 year run of The Tic Toc Toy Shop earned him $3 a show. Larry joined WCPO-TV in 1957 as a performer on The Uncle Al Show. He also had his own show, Puppet Time from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. weekdays. Some of the puppets seen in the first, 1963 postcard, is Snarfie R. Dog (in tower on left) Spooky the Ghost, Mean Old Cat (by his left arm) and, of course, Hattie the Witch. The middle card is also from his days at WCPO-TV, the back is missing a stamp box like the first one. In 1968 Larry took his puppet gang to channel 19 where he stayed for 6 years before leaving in 1974. A couple of his puppets seen in the 2nd card is Rudy the Rooster (next to Larry's right arm) and to the right of Rudy is Teaser the Mouse. Behind Larry is the Nasty Old Thing. 



Not a postcard
WCET Opening in Dexter Hall.jpg (2319788 bytes)

   WCET is the nations first licensed educational TV station. It began operations in 1954 in a rented portion of Music Hall (Dexter Hall) located on the third floor. The photograph above is of this opening broadcast. This area is now refered to as Corbett Tower. The CET stands for Cincinnati Educational Television.



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