Library's 'Cinema Cincinnati' Celebrates Area Theaters, Stars, Movies

Oct 7, 2019

Cincinnati's rich movie history will be celebrated by the main Public Library downtown with a "Cinema Cincinnati" exhibit of photographs and memorabilia from Saturday, Oct. 12 through Sunday, Jan. 26.

The display includes pictures from some of the 50 films shot here; Cincinnati's biggest movie stars; Cincinnati's old movie theaters; and movie merchandise manufactured by Kenner Toys.

The Albee on Fifth Street was torn down for construction of The Westin hotel.
Credit Courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

"I consider the theaters as kind of the backbone of the exhibit. I've kind of made it a timeline, starting with the nickelodeons that opened around West Fifth Street," research librarian Brian Powers told me on "Around Cincinnati" Sunday night.  Here's a link to the 14-minute interview.

"Cinema Cincinnati," in the third-floor Joseph S. Stern Jr. Cincinnati Room, will have pictures of The Albee and Skywalk Cinema downtown, Norwood's Twin Drive-In, the Valley Theater in Roselawn; and other neighborhood and downtown theaters.

"I wanted to show how the movie-going experience evolved," he said.

Theda Bara as Cleopatra in 1917.
Credit Courtesy Wikipedia

The collection includes photos of Cincinnati natives Doris Day, Tyronne Power, Roy Rogers and silent star Theda Bara; a picture of young George Clooney in a period costume for TV's Centennial miniseries (1978) filmed near his home in  Augusta, Ky.; and child actor Sarah Jessica Parker in an early 1970's "Young People's Special" TV show produced by WLWT-TV's owner, Multimedia Entertainment.

On display will be photos from The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Harper Valley P.T.A. (1978), Eight Men Out (1988) to many recent films shot here, he said.

Kenner's Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters and other movie toys also will be represented.  The display could grow if area residents donate more "cool stuff" the library doesn't have.

"If anyone has anything cool, I don't mind adding stuff," he said. "It will be up for three months. I'm willing to put it in there if I've got space for it."

In conjunction with the exhibit, the library also has scheduled:

THEDA BARA SCREENING: Bara's 1915 silent film, A Fool There Was, will be screened 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, at The Esquire, 320 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, followed by University of Cincinnati senior librarian and archivist Kevin Grace discussing Bara's unpublished autobiography.

LOST AND FOUND THEATERS OF THE QUEEN CITY: Theater historian Hank Sykes will share images of Cincinnati's early amusement parlors, nickelodeons, grand theaters, burlesque and vaudeville houses 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the main public library downtown.