Saturday, August 30, 2008

Victory/Palace Theatre (Downtown)

August 20, 1928

May 13, 1929


Rotary Conference April 1933

Palace (just prior to demolition in 1979)

Current view of the NW Corner of Tampa and Zack


Anonymous said...

i watched marilyn monroe at the palace in 1957. she was in the "seven year itch", and i wished that i could look like her.

Anonymous said...

Address: 700 Tampa St (NW corner of Tampa and Zack Streets)

Opened: 1920 as the Victory

Renamed: 1947 as the New Palace/Palace

Seats: 1200, later reduced to 750


Demolished: 1979

Anonymous said...

Listed in the 1950 Film Daily Yearbook...Tampa and Zack Streets...1381 seats.

CheriD said...

We waited in a line that wrapped around the building onto Ashley street for the opening of Cine-a-rama! WOW - was it big! It was always a small theatre even though it had a nice balcony which made you feel like you were right up to the screen.

I convinced my boyfriend that we should take my little sisters to see "Jungle Book" and to this day they still remember that he was so sweet to want to take them.....little did they know - he was wooing me (it worked - we have been married for 38 years). Anyway the movie was fantastic and I can still sing some of the songs from memory - "bearnecessities" says it all sometimes!

Anonymous said...

In 1947 it was completely renovated and modernized, and luxurious drapery was installed throughout much of the auditorium. The theater reopened on Christmas day 1947 as the New Palace Theater. It was the first theater in Tampa to show CinemaScope in 1953. Nine years later in 1962 the Palace was completely renovated once again for the installation of the three projector process known as Cinerama. The curvature of the new screen required the removal of several seats at the far end of the right and left sections in the orchestra as well as the balcony thus reducing the capacity from 1200 to 750.

Nick D. said...

I loved going to the Palace! There were 3 milestones many will probably recall about this theater:

1. First in Tampa to show CinemaScope in 1953.

2. Gigantic curved screen installed when theater was renovated for Cinerama in 1962.

3. "The Sound of Music" ran for an amazing one year & five months in 1965-1966 which needless to say broke all box office records. The film was brought back in 1973 for a return engagement (in 70mm) and played for several weeks.

Prior to rennovation in 1962, capacity was listed as 1200
but three-projector Cinerama cut seating to 750 which reduced the Palace to a small and somewhat intimate theater. But it was always a treat seeing a film there.
Even non-Cinerama standard-sized films looked awesome on that big screen.

One of my most cherished memories is seeing "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- breathtaking to see and hear in 70mm Cinerama -- saw it several times here -- will always associate "2001" with the Palace.

Anonymous said...


Opening in 1920 as one of downtown Tampa's premier theaters, the Palace was originally called the Victory Theater. Located on the northwest corner of Tampa and Zack Streets it opened as a live playhouse venue featuring vaudeville and stage plays in addition to silent, and later sound films. Capacity was 1200 which was reduced decades later when theater was remodeled for Cinerama.

The Palace was owned and operated by ABC Florida State Theaters. In 1947 it was completely renovated and modernized, and luxurious drapery was installed throughout much of the auditorium. The theater reopened on Christmas day 1947 as the New Palace Theater.

It was the first theater in Tampa to show CinemaScope in 1953. Introduced shortly after 3-D films had hit theaters, CinemaScope was advertised as "the modern miracle you see without glasses" and "the new wide modern miracle mirror screen and stereophonic sound". "The Robe" was the first CinemasScope feature and it played for several weeks.

Nine years later in 1962 the Palace was completely renovated once again for the installation of the three projector process known as Cinerama. To accommadate Cinerama a new screen was installed in front of the old stage, and the first few rows of seats on the orchestra level were removed. A new booth housing the three 35mm projectors was built on the main level center section and the last three rows of seats at the rear were also removed.

The curvature of the screen also required the removal of several seats at the far end of the right and left sections in the orchestra as well as the balcony thus reducing the capacity from 1200 to 750. New ceiling-to-floor red curtains hid the massive screen which was curved at 146 degrees and measured 75' wide and 32' high. Eleven speakers surrounded the audience with seven-track stereo sound.

The Palace presented Cinerama exclusively for the west coast of Florida. It was the only theater within 500 miles equipped to show Cinerama, and it attracted large crowds from miles around. Many showings were sold-out for the first few weeks of each film's opening. All films played as "roadshow" engagements: two performances per day, reserved seating, an intermission midway through the feature, a musical prelude before the film, and exit music at the end.

The presentations were more refined than those at standard theaters. Prior to the start of the film the musical prelude would began playing for several minutes, and the main auditorium lights would fade very slowly. This was followed by the dimming of the red lights illuminating the main curtain as the film began and the curtain parted.

The initial feature, "This Is Cinerama", with it's famed roller coaster sequence, had the more sensitive patrons grasping their armrests tightly and feeling a bit queasy. The film was followed by six other Cinerama productions:

"Seven Wonders Of The World", "Cinerama Holiday", "The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm", "Search For Paradise", "South Seas Adventure", and "How The West Was Won".

Prices were slightly higher than standard theaters, and tickets could be purchased in advance either at the box office or by mail. Because of the limited seating capacity it was advisable to order tickets weeks in advance of the opening of the next Cinerama attraction as most new films sold-out weeks in advance.

During the first few weeks of each new opening there were very few available tickets for walk-ups. Initially only drinks and candies were available at the concession counter; no popcorn or foods were sold.

"How The West Was Won" was the last film to play in the three-projector process. The expense of producing these films plus the cost of exhibition (a five man crew was required for every showing) eventually forced the fading out of the Cinerama Corporation. The three-projectors were stripped out and 35/70mm projectors were installed. For 70mm presentations the screen was masked down to 58' wide by 32' high. The width remained the same for 35mm widescreen presentations but the height was reduced to approx 25'.

The 35mm roadshow presentation of "The Sound Of Music" smashed all box office receipts when the film opened in April 1965 and played through September 1966 - a record breaking one year and five months. Among several other big attractions that played were: "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World", "Mary Poppins", "Gone With The Wind", "Dr. Zhivago", and "Cleopatra". The following films played in 70mm Cinerama: "Grand Prix", "Circus World", "Song of Norway", "Krakatoa East Of Java", "2001: A Space Odyssey", and "Ice Station Zebra". "2001" played for three months initially and was later brought back several times in both 70mm and 35mm.

Other notable films continued into the early 1970s but as moviegoers began patronizing the newer suburban theaters and audiences began dwindling more and more, so did the quality of films. The 70mm versions of both "This Is Cinerama"and "The Sound Of Music" returned in 1973 and ran for several weeks apiece. "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid", "The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie", "The Poseidon Adventure", "The Last Picture Show", and a re-release of "The Exorcist" were just few of the last notable films to run.

By the mid 1970s the Palace had closed and the entrance was boarded up. During this time the Tampa Theater, a block away, had been playing second run double features and black exploitation films. When Florida State Theaters finally closed the Tampa they reopened the Palace just a few days later, and continued running the same product that had been playing at the Tampa.

In 1976 the Palace finally closed for good. The building remained boarded up until it was demolished at the end of 1979. The land was paved over and used as a parking lot for many years. A high rise condo is currently being constructed on the site.
Contributed by Nick DiMaggio

Larry Latta said...

My mother Neva Latta played the organ for silent movies at The Victory 1926-1930. Some of theatres like the Tampa Theatre would not allow women to play the organ. She studied under the organist at The Tampa I believe his name was Eddy Ford? he studied in New York with Jesse Crawford. Both my mom and Eddy played the Jesse Crawford style. My mom was playing in 1929 when the stock market crashed and the depression began. She went on and played in Savannah, Ga, and Atlanta, Ga. She died in 2003 She was almost 97 when she died. She stop teaching organ when she was 83.

Anonymous said...

I only went to the Palace two times in the 60s. I remember my mom getting the family to go over for How the West Was Won, we lived in Tarpon Springs, and then I got my dad to take me and my two brothers to see 2001: A Space Odyssey. You would only make that trip for something special and for me, being a space fanatic, 2001 was that. It was great, especially presented in Cinerama. I don't remember much else about it other than it was in downtown Tampa and did take about a half hour to get there.

Bob Koenn
Merritt Island, FL

Anonymous said...

I went to the Palace theatre many times, starting with 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in the 1950s through The Sound of Music. I saw all the Cinerama films there. The Sound of Music ran for I believe 51weeks (although another poster says it was a bit longer), the longest movie engagement in Tampa's history. I left the Tampa Bay area in spring 1966 for Washington, D.C., where I still live so I could be wrong about the exact length of The Sound of Music engagement.

There is one Tampa movie house missing that I recall, it was in Britton Plaza a shopping center on Dale Mabry drive just south of the bridge over the railroad track. I think the theatre was named the Britton and I recall seeing "South Pacific" there, and other films as well.

Those Tampa movie theatres were a real escape for me and were the first nurturings of a love for the arts that eventually developed into theatre, ballet, opera, etc.

So many films, La Dolce Vita at the Park, The Searchers and Rear Window at the Tampa, West Side Story at the Florida, Vertigo at the Springs.

And those great Saturday matinees at The Ritz were you could see three oaters, Flash Gordon, etc. serials, a newsreel, and cartoons for 14 cents (if you were under 12, which I pretended to be until I was 14). So for 25 cents, I could get a movie, a coke and a box of popcorn.

An even cheaper theatre was the Palma Ceia, which cost all of 9 cents when I was a kid.

One other memory: Bridget Bardot's "An God Created Woman" ran for 5-6 weeks at the Park, which at the time was a very lengthy run for Tampa. I didn't see it until hit the drive-ins and was quite bored by the film. Maybe I'd like it now, don't know.

nichole said...

I have a little piece of memorbilia left from the palace theatre 1958. The original movie advertisment for the "The Bridge On the River Kwai" starring William Holden. With the reverse side advertisment "The Brothers Karamazov" starring Yul Brynner with William Shatner. Two movie greats of 1958. Im looking for someone who is interested in it, Ive had several offers but I didnt feel they were serious. If someone can tell me more about it or about what it is worth would be very helpful. It is a little piece of Tampa history. you can email me if you have any info on it at thank you

Anonymous said...

I saw a number of movies at the Palace in the late '50s and '60s,including the Cinerama shows, but my favorite memory of the Palace is of seeing Guy Williams, appearing on stage in person as Zorro. What a thrill!

Anonymous said...

I never knew the theater was named The Palace. I attended many movies at the Victory though in the 1940s up to about 1946 when our family moved to North Carolina. Other favorites were the Park, Strand, Florida and the Tampa.


Anonymous said...

Too bad I'm just finding this blog and no one has posted for over a year! I too spent many afternoons in the Tampa area theatres. My Aunt worked for FL State Theatres and would get us passes when we came to visit. The Palace was probably the least visited theatre as it was always sold out to the paying customers! I did however grow up at the Tampa. Many hours were spent going through the file cabinets upstairs to pick and choose 8 x 10 pictures of my fave actors and actresses! Oh, the scrapbooks I had! Its too bad everyone doesn't have the opportunity to view a film from the inside of one of these landmarks!!!