Memories of Philadelphia’s Benner Theater

posted by iobdennis on March 14, 2006 at 4:49 am

PHILADELPHIA, PA — I just wanted to share a few memories about the Benner Theater in Philadelphia.

I grew up in Oxford Circle of Philadelphia during the 1950s. The Benner was my neighborhood theater. I spent Friday nights and Saturday matinees at that theater as a kid. After Friday night shows, we would go two doors away to a malt shop called “Polly’s”. I recently read in another blog on this website that it became a Lenny’s Dog Shop?

Anyway, I eventually worked at the Benner, cleaning and sweeping the floors after the Saturday matinees. For this, I would get free movie passes to the theater. My friend cleaned the projection room, for which he also got $.25 a week. I was so jealous!

Also, at the Saturday matinees, the movie manager would stop the shop at some point, and call all of the “birthday boys and girls” to the stage. Everyone in the theater would sing “Happy Birthday,” and then he would take the celebrants to the bakery right next door where you could take your pick of one of the cupcakes made that day. Great memories there!

As I grew up, I spent more time at the Merben and the Mayfair theaters, and I recall the TV lounge at the Merben, where I would go to smoke cigarettes. I also recall seeing “Psycho” at the Merben. I remember the Mayfair marquee. I thought it was fantastic. We would see a lot of grade B horror flicks at the Mayfair, which is what they seemed to specialize in.

Theaters in this post

Comments (7)

kencmcintyre on March 14, 2006 at 4:49 pm

I had a girlfriend in the early 1980s who lived on Benner Street. I don’t remember the Benner Theater, though. Perhaps it was gone by then? We usually went to the Orleans 8 and the GCC Northeast.

iobdennis on March 16, 2006 at 3:57 am

Yes, I think if you look up the theatre history on this site, you will see that the Benner closed sometime around then. I think I only went to the Orleans a couple of times. It opened around the time that I was leaving home and moving out of Philadelphia. I don’t know what the GCC Northeast is.

goodolddays on April 6, 2006 at 8:58 am

Hi I too grew up in Oxford circle and went to the Benner, and the Regal and the Castor. I also went to the Circle on Frankford ave and the Roosevelt on Frankford ave I later worked at the Roosevelt. I was a teen ager all thru the 50’s we lived on Carver st in the 800 blk off Summerdale ave. I went to St. Martin’s and then to Frankford High school. We moved to Carver st around 1942. They were brand new houses in those days. and above Cottman ave you were in the boonies. I would really like to chat with you more. Please feel free to contact me my e-mail address is: …..I have come into contact with many nice people on this computer but never one who was from the same neighborhood and about in the same age bracket. I’ll be 69 in May….. Love theater and movies and had many happy times in Phila.’s old theater houses both up town and down town. Thanks for the memory Hope to hear from you soon. Rich

kencmcintyre on June 24, 2006 at 1:59 pm

The GCC Northeast was on or near the intersection of Welsh Road and Roosevelt Boulevard. I think it’s listed here on CT.

mikemorano on June 24, 2006 at 3:47 pm

The GCC Northeast was on East Roosevelt Blvd & Welsh Road like Ken MC wrote. The GCC Northeast was torn down about two years ago. You may remember it as the Northeast Cinema.

Stosh on April 3, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I, too, remember the Benner, where I used to spend Saturday afternoons at the matinees and occasionally Sundays, too. Admission in the 1950’s was 25 cents for kids and 75 cents for adults. During the matinees there were often yo-yo exhibitions and contests on stage conducted by both the Duncan and Cheerio yo-yo companies.

I remember seeing some great movies at the Benner, including ‘Three Coins In The Fountain’ and ‘Seven Brides For Seven Brothers’. I remember Polly’s, too, where we’d go for a burger and shake, and especially Frank’s hobby shop right across Castor Ave from the Benner. The drug store on the corner was one of the first air-conditioned stores I can remember.

In those days I lived at the corner of Frontenac and Benner, moving there from 7th and Poplar in 1949 and remained until I moved to Baltimore in 1959. I went to Carnell and Fels Jr. High and graduated there in 1959. There was an A & P food store near Polly’s at the corner of Castor and Comly. Anyone that wants to contact me and reminisce about the greatest neighborhood in Philly can reach me, Stosh, at

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on May 18, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Mikemorano, The General Cinema Northeast 4 (AKA Cinema I & II) was not torn down. Instead The original Cinema II portion was converted into the current NE Philadelphia Social Security office.

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