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Marx Brothers ballyhoo

Majestic the cat helps find some hidden gems

Lobby art heralds the Kentucky Theatre premiere of the Marx Bros. in Horse Feathers.
Lobby art heralds the Kentucky Theatre premiere of the Marx Bros. in Horse Feathers.

Return to a time when movie promotion meant something more than web page banners or a lone poster fastened before an auditorium door.

It began by googling “Mary Tyler Moore” in search of a memorial Facebook cover photo. There amid rows of images from The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show hid a piece of sheet music bearing the late comedian’s name, give or take a Tyler. Even at thumbnail size, there was something very familiar about the smart-alecky grin slapped across the face of the young singer who adorned the cover.

The vocal stylings of Master Julius Marx

According to Nitrateville, the photo’s original poster, “Very early Groucho: His photo and name (as MASTER Julius H. Marx) on the sheet music for ‘Mary Moore’, sung by him in ‘The Man of Her Choice’ in 1906, the year he turned 16.”

Without warning, Majestic (the attention-whore kitty) dropped anchor on the laptop. A right hind-paw glued to the space bar resulted in a tabular avalanche, rows of thumbnails spiraling faster than cherries on a Vegas fruit machine.

An unmajestic swipe of the hand moved the kitten off the keys, but not before the browsing flurry had abruptly called it quits. “Show More Results,” the button at the bottom of the search page teased. I was one click away from hitting the jackpot.

Those old enough to look back on teenage hours rapturously devoted to casting a surveyor’s eye crosswise and around the entire circumference of a gatefold album cover will appreciate the time spent eyeballing this find.

The Kentucky Theatre opened its doors on October 4, 1922. This year, the still-active 1276-seat single-screen movie manor turns 95. The Kentucky Virtual Library offers online access to a wealth of images from the theater’s glorious past.

The first eye-catcher was an exterior shot taken in 1932, the joint all gussied up to honor their premier engagement of the Marx Brothers in Horse Feathers. This was taken in Kentucky, hardly a major market. Passengers aboard a Red Eye from Chicago’s Midway Airport could spot the easymoving sequential bulbs that framed State Street’s mountainous marquees from the air.

Twice a month, my folks and I would pay a visit to Oak Park, IL to check in on Larry’s parents. Catching my eye in the rearview dad would ask, “Should we take the long way home?”

The long way meant a tour of the Loop — then home to a half-dozen or so dream palaces — so Scooter could loll in the luminescence of movie theatre row. The boulevard ballyhoo and the excitement it promised was frequently livelier and more engrossing than the show inside.

The image is a whopper: 8106 x 6514 pixels! Right click to open in another tab or view it in its original glory at the KDL. I’ve also included a few photo enlargements that further help to illustrate the enormity of the effort.

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Lobby art heralds the Kentucky Theatre premiere of the Marx Bros. in Horse Feathers.
Lobby art heralds the Kentucky Theatre premiere of the Marx Bros. in Horse Feathers.

Return to a time when movie promotion meant something more than web page banners or a lone poster fastened before an auditorium door.

It began by googling “Mary Tyler Moore” in search of a memorial Facebook cover photo. There amid rows of images from The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show hid a piece of sheet music bearing the late comedian’s name, give or take a Tyler. Even at thumbnail size, there was something very familiar about the smart-alecky grin slapped across the face of the young singer who adorned the cover.

The vocal stylings of Master Julius Marx

According to Nitrateville, the photo’s original poster, “Very early Groucho: His photo and name (as MASTER Julius H. Marx) on the sheet music for ‘Mary Moore’, sung by him in ‘The Man of Her Choice’ in 1906, the year he turned 16.”

Without warning, Majestic (the attention-whore kitty) dropped anchor on the laptop. A right hind-paw glued to the space bar resulted in a tabular avalanche, rows of thumbnails spiraling faster than cherries on a Vegas fruit machine.

An unmajestic swipe of the hand moved the kitten off the keys, but not before the browsing flurry had abruptly called it quits. “Show More Results,” the button at the bottom of the search page teased. I was one click away from hitting the jackpot.

Those old enough to look back on teenage hours rapturously devoted to casting a surveyor’s eye crosswise and around the entire circumference of a gatefold album cover will appreciate the time spent eyeballing this find.

The Kentucky Theatre opened its doors on October 4, 1922. This year, the still-active 1276-seat single-screen movie manor turns 95. The Kentucky Virtual Library offers online access to a wealth of images from the theater’s glorious past.

The first eye-catcher was an exterior shot taken in 1932, the joint all gussied up to honor their premier engagement of the Marx Brothers in Horse Feathers. This was taken in Kentucky, hardly a major market. Passengers aboard a Red Eye from Chicago’s Midway Airport could spot the easymoving sequential bulbs that framed State Street’s mountainous marquees from the air.

Twice a month, my folks and I would pay a visit to Oak Park, IL to check in on Larry’s parents. Catching my eye in the rearview dad would ask, “Should we take the long way home?”

The long way meant a tour of the Loop — then home to a half-dozen or so dream palaces — so Scooter could loll in the luminescence of movie theatre row. The boulevard ballyhoo and the excitement it promised was frequently livelier and more engrossing than the show inside.

The image is a whopper: 8106 x 6514 pixels! Right click to open in another tab or view it in its original glory at the KDL. I’ve also included a few photo enlargements that further help to illustrate the enormity of the effort.

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