The Cameo Theatre in 1934. Photo, Toronto Archives, Series 1104 File 101. This is the only photo of the Cameo that I have been able to locate.
The Cameo Theatre located at 989 Pape Avenue, was near Floyd Avenue, north of the Danforth. It is one of the theatres included in John Sebert’s book, “The Nabes,” and is featured on the cover of his book.
Map from Google, 2014
The theatre opened on November 22, 1934, during the Great Depression. It was deigned by Kaplan and Sprachman in the Art Deco style. It resembled the Allenby Theatre on Danforth Avenue and the Bayview Theatre in Leaside, both created by the same architectural firm. At the top of the marquee of the Cameo Theatre was a small oval-shaped design depicting the profile of a woman—a “cameo.” This decorative detailing gave the theatre its name. Its auditorium contained 743 seats.
The façade was relatively plain, with several bold horizontal rows of bricks that were darker in colour. The bricks divided the façade into sections. The cornice was not ornate, but in typical Art Deco fashion possessed a centre section that was elevated. The box office was in a central position at the edge of the sidewalk, with another decorative cameo inserted above the box-office window. The entrance doors were recessed back a short distance and there were shops on either of the theatre’s box office, facing Pape Avenue. There were rental apartments on the second-floor level, above the theatre’s auditorium.
The Cameo was the first investment project of Sam Strashin. His family remained in the possession of the theatre and operated it until it closed in 1957, when it was sold to Loblaws. Today, the building still exists but is a banking institution.
Note. The author is grateful to cinematreasure.org for some of the information in this post.
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Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.
To place an order for this book:
Theatres Included in the Book:
Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto
Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)
Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons
Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown
Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s
Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede
Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression
Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro
Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years
University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema
Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres
Savoy (Coronet), Westwood
Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes
Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)