Family Theater

1311 Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19107

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runusmc on January 14, 2018 at 5:49 pm

The Family Theatre is a mention in Senator Arlen Spector’s book, (I’ll get back to you on the name of the book). Spector describes an incident where a young man goes into the theatre & the vice cops arrested him for lewd act(s). Spector came to the rescue for the man in Court.

Mmacg1167 on October 14, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Beginning in the 1970s, the place became an adult movie theater. As part of the outside display, there was a giant neon sign of a naked woman banging on a bass drum that said “Apollo” on it (it actually portrayed movement). I believe it can be seen briefly at the beginning of the 1981 Brian Depalma and John Travolta film “Blow Out”.

Mikeoaklandpark on October 17, 2016 at 11:35 am

In the late 70’s early 80’s it was a porn theater.

teegee on October 16, 2016 at 7:56 pm

From the Motion Picture Herald March 29, 1941

The Family theatre, Warners' all-night motion picture theatre in downtown Philadelphia, was completely wrecked by fire early Sunday morning during the 14 hours it was closed for its weekly cleaning. Only the projection booth and the sound equipment in the rear of the theatre escaped damage. Albert Plough, Warner district manager, estimated the damage at approximately $25,000

OKCdoorman on August 31, 2015 at 7:13 pm

28-year old mass murderer Howard Unruh so much enjoyed a double-feature at this theater of THE LADY GAMBLES and I CHEATED THE LAW on September 5, 1949 (both films had been in release for several months) that he stayed for three showings each, before walking along his neighborhood street the next morning and killing 13 people (Unruh was taken alive, incarcerated for insanity, and died in custody in 2009).

RickB on December 23, 2014 at 5:28 pm

In the middle of a 1972 story about Chicago’s lower-priced theaters, Dan Rottenberg takes a break to tell a tale about a visit to the Family. It’s completely in keeping with the theater’s reputation. Link; you may have to scroll a bit to center the page in your browser.

kencmcintyre on May 9, 2009 at 12:12 pm

This is the theater building in 1960. Unfortunately the bus is blocking the view of the marquee.

kencmcintyre on May 9, 2009 at 12:05 pm

This 1911 photo shows the Fairyland Theater at 1311 Market:

kencmcintyre on January 18, 2008 at 8:00 am

I remember this theater from the early eighties. The area around Reading Terminal was pretty shabby at that time. It appears that there have been a lot of improvements since.

kencmcintyre on January 18, 2008 at 7:28 am

This is a photo from the Philadelphia Architects & Buildings site. The quality of the photo is not the best, unfortunately. Since Frank Rizzo was running for mayor, as seen in the second floor placard, the shot may be circa early 1970s. The photo is from the Irvin Glazer theater collection:

RickB on May 6, 2004 at 9:09 am

This theater opened as the Family Theatre in the late 1920s. By the early ‘30s it was already being described in print as a grind house. In the '50s it was staying open all night, and the Shore Patrol declared it off limits to Naval personnel. After a homicide in the theater in 1969, the police reported finding a number of weapons stashed around the auditorium, as well as large quantities of empty bottles and discarded food. Later that year the name was changed to the Apollo, supposedly to commemorate the moon landing.
The booking policy eventually shifted from last-run features to adult films. After the Convention Center was built in the area the Apollo’s location became more valuable and the building it was in was sold and demolished in the late 1990s.