1950 - 1960's
The Roxy operated
as a vaudeville, burlesque theater from the 1930's
until it closed in 1977
Cleveland Ohio's own burlesque house, The Roxy, had
its start at 1882 East 9th St., now the National
City Bank Building. In 1907 it opened as Family
Theatre, two years later it started to show movies.
The Theatre closed and was re-opened in 1913, with
the new name The Orpheum, and it remained open for
sixteen years before it was closed.
Then, in 1931, it re-opened as The Roxy featuring
Phil Silvers and The Red Buttons. In addition, Ann
Corio, Abbott & Costello, and Geo Young turned this
theater into a nationally known burlesque theater
that, in its golden age, held burlesque stars such
as Blaze Starr, Cindy Parker, June St. Clair,
Frenchie, Candy Kane and Tempest Storm. In 1956 it
was remodeled by new owners Frank Engle and Frank
Bryan, and with the remodel they also brought the
eastern burlesque circuit to Cleveland.
It was a successful time for The Roxy, but there
were storm clouds ahead. Many burlesque houses
opened up in the area, such as Empire Burlesque and
Sorma's. These venues used the terms burlesque and
girly show to loosely camouflage what were actually
pornographic films and live nude shows, giving all
the burlesque houses a bad name. A strike put The
Roxy in even more trouble when workers picketed
outside the theater.
The following nine years took a toll on the venue,
seeing a significant drop in live shows and
resorting to showing X-rated movies and nude shows.
During those years the property was purchased by
Kope realty for $150,000. The following year the
lobby was bombed, forcing the theater to close for a
year. The venue yet again opened its doors with
manager Tommy Flynn behind the helm. However, Flynn
was soon arrested on obscenity charges for showing
"Behind the Green Door", which had been banned. The
theater was sited, and sadly, now with a bad
reputation due to mismanagement, closed for the last
time on November 6, 1977.
Bella Sin article
The Roxy- The Golden Years of Cleveland Burlesque!