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THE JEWISH NEWS
Former jewelry store
Nederlander began a
theater empire in the
heart of Detroit
VICTORIA BELYEU DIAZ
Special To The Jewish News
ne day, back
in 1912, a 26-
troit businessman walked into the
downtown office of pioneer auto buil-
der R.E. Olds and, shortly therafter,
walked out with a 99-year lease to the
Detroit Opera House, a building on
Cadillac Square owned, in those days,
The young man's name was David
Nederlander. The astute son of a De-
troit liquor dealer, at the time David
heard the lease to the opera house was
available he was operating a jewelry
store at what is now Library and Mon-
roe, while searching out good invest-
ments — usually in real estate — on
Pictured in this 1965 photo conferring with theater mogul D.T. Nederlander, seated,
are, from left: James Nederlander, Harry Vederlander and Joseph Nederlander.
The acquisition to the lease for the
opera house would mark his first ven-
ture into the world of show business.
It wouldn't be his last.
When he died in 1967 at the age of
81, David "D.T." Nederlander was
known as "Mr. Detroit Show Busi-
ness." Beginning with the old Detroit
Opera House, he had built a theater
dynasty that included no less than ten
legitimate theaters — among them the
famed Palace Theatre in New York
and Detroit's glittery showplace, the
Today, almost 20 years after his
death, the Nederlander Organization,
with offices in Detroit and New York,
is larger than ever. With D.T.'s sons
James, Joseph, Robert, and Harry at
the helm (a daughter, Frances, and a
fifth son, Fred, chose not to go into
show business), the organization pro-
duces shows on Broadway and
elsewhere, and owns or operates at
least 23 theaters and half a dozen am-
phitheatres across the country, along
with two theaters in London, and the
Kingswood Music Theatre in Toronto.
Recently, Joey Nederlander pul-
led together on his own $2.5 million to
produce a new Broadway-bound musi-
cal Into the Light. The word is out that,
if the show is successful, it is rumored
that other pre-Broadway tryouts will
be staged at the Fisher again soon.
At any rate it has launched the
first full season at the Fisher in many
a moon, and that, in itself, is a highly-
"I had very good advisers," D.T.
once said, when asked about some of
the secrets to his early success.
The "advisers" were Lee and J. J.
Shubert, prime movers behind the
vast Shubert Theater empire.
Working with the Shuberts, the
diminutive impresario with the
gravelly voice brought to the opera
house exactly what Detroiters wanted
during those early days of the century.
Flo Ziegfeld would bring his "Fol-
lies" to the stage of the theater. John
Barrymore would perform there. Ethel
Barrymore, too. Leon Erroll. Eddie
Cantor. Jolson ("the greatest of all per-
formers," Nederlander would contend,
some 30 years — and many performers
For nearly 20 years, it was a gol-
den time for theater in Detroit.
But, on the horizon loomed the
Great Depression and, just two years
after the stock market crash of 1929,
the Shubert Detroit (as the theater
Continued on Page 70
WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 19-25
Performing a pas de deux?
Screening a film? Staging a
play? If so, The Jewish News
wants to hear about it in our
new entertainment calendar,
Going Places. Send concert,
film, dance, comedy, club
and other entertainment ac-
tivity listings to Entertain-
ment Calendar, The Jewish
News, 20300 Civic Center Dr.,
Suite 240, Southfield 48076.
Items must be typed,
double-spaced and include
the time, date, place, admis-
sion charge of each event
and a name and phone
number of someone to call
during business hours. List-
ings must be received at
least two weeks prior to pub-
BRUNCH WITH BACH: Kresge
Court, Detroit Institute of Arts,
Jeffrey Solow and Pauline
I N G
Martin, 10 and 11:30 a.m.
Sunday, admission, reserva-
LYRIC CHAMBER ENSEMBLE:
Edsel and Eleanor Ford House,
1100 Lakeshore Dr., Grosse
Pointe Shores, Welcome to
Shubertiade, 3:30 p.m. Sun-
day, admission, 357-1111.
Southfield Civic Center Parks
and Recreation, 26000 Ever-
green, singer Peter Alsop, 8
p.m. Saturday, admission,
JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER:
6600 W. Maple, West Bloom-
field, Gemini, 1 p.m. Sunday,
PINE KNOB: Sashabaw Road at
1-75, John Fogerty, 8 p.m.
Saturday, admission, 423-6666.
DETROIT SYMPHONY OR-
program, 8 p.m. today, Or-
chestra Hall; 8:30 p.m. Satur-
day, Ford Auditorium; admis-
P L A C E
COMEDY CASTLE AND CAFE:
2593 Woodward, Berkley, BILL
THOMAS, 8:30 and 11 p.m.,
today and Saturday; GEORGE
MILLER, 9 p.m. Tuesday
through Thursday, 8:30 and
11 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27; ad-
mission, reservations, 542-
HENRY FORD MUSEUM: Dear-
born, Streamlining America,
and Smithsonian Exhibition
Yesterday's Tomorrows, be-
ginning Saturday, admission.
MICHIGAN RENAISSANCE FES-
TIVAL: Hollygrove, Holly,
games, entertainment; each
weekend throughout Sep-
tember, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., 645-
UPLAND HILLS FARM: 481 Lake
George Rd., Oxford, Harvest
Festival, hayrides, animal
shows, entertainment, 11
a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, admission,
PEANUT BUTTER PLAYERS:
Austin Hall, 18000 Warren, De-
troit, Cinderella, noon lunch,
show at 1 p.m., Saturday,
through Dec. 7. Admission,
MASONIC TEMPLE THEA-
TER;500 Temple, Detroit,
Dreamgirls, 8 p.m. Tuesday
through Thursday, 8 p.m. Fri-
day and Saturday, 2 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, through
Oct. 18, admission 423-6666.
FISHER THEATER: 3011 W.
Grand Blvd., Detroit, Into the
Light, starring Dean Jones, 2
and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m.
Sunday, 8 p.m. Tuesday
through Thursday, through Oct.
4, admission, 423-6666.
JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER:
6600 W. Maple, West Bloom-
field, Funny Girl, 8 p.m. Satur-
day, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, 8
p.m. Thursday, admission,
TRAVELING JEWISH THEATER:
8 p.m. Sunday, Lydia Men-
delssohn Theater, Ann Arbor,
sponsored by Hillel
Foundation/Hill Street Forum
and Common Ground Theatre
Ensemble, admission, 763-
DETROIT LIONS: Pontiac Silver-
dome, against Tampa Bay, 1
p.m. Sunday, admission.
DETROIT TIGERS: Tiger Stadium,
against NEW YORK, 7:35 p.m.
today, 3:20 p.m. Saturday and
1:35 p.m. Sunday; against To-
ronto, 7:35 p.m. Monday
through Thursday; admission.
U-M WOLVERINES: U-M Stadium,
against Oregon State, 1 p.m.
Continued on Page 73