Vintage Burlesque Lobby Posters

Roxy Theater, Cleveland Ohio

Circa 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.

excerpt from Bella Sin article The Roxy- The Golden Years of Cleveland Burlesque!






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