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September 19, 2003 - Image 100

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-19

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Ettmet'atti Ford Service

Catering & Banquet Services

Since 1988

In association with the

are proud to announce
the opening of the new

Banquet & Event Center

The House That Fox Built

Built as Detroit's largest movie palace by Jewish immigrant William Fox,
Detroit's Fox Theatre celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Bar and Bat Mitzvah's
Wedding Receptions
Bridal & Baby Showers
Corporate Events

Special to the Jewish News


Reservations now being
taken through 2004

ibis is a smoke and Liquorfree eneiroomeni

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Curry Fish • Apple Salad
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Open for Lunch Monday-Friday

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ilhelm Fried found him-
self in good company
when he came to
America at the turn of
the 20th century.
He -- and Samuel Goldfisch, Louis
B. Mayer, Adolph Zukor, Harry
Cohen, Joe and Nick Schenck, Jesse
Lasky, Lewis Selznick and four brothers
named Varna — were Jewish immi-
grants from Europe who got jobs as
butchers, bakers and tailors.
But they liked to hang out at the
local nickelodeons, where they devel-
oped a love for the new moving pic-
tures, or "flickers." Eventually, they all
became well-known .and wealthy film
Goldfisch changed his name to
"Goldwyn," the Varnas brothers
became the "Warner Brothers" and
Fried transformed himself into
"William Fox."
A native of Tulchva, Hungary, Fox
rose from a job in the garment industry
to dominate the movie business in the
early part of the last century. Besides
forming 20th Century Fox Studios, he
bought a nickelodeon and developed it
into a chain of 1,100 movie theaters —
including Detroit's Fox Theatre.
The mogul built a multimillion-dol-
lar empire, controlling produdion and

distribution of movies, mostly during
the silent-film era.
William Fox is long gone. He went
bankrupt during the economic crisis of
the 1930s, served
a short prison
term in 1942 for
obstructing jus-
tice and died in
1952 at age 73.
But he gave
Detroit the Fox
Theatre — the
crown jewel of its
downtown the-
ater district.
It was built on Founder William Fox
Avenue at
Columbia Street in 1928 for $12 mil-
lion. Detroit business entrepreneurs
Mike and Marian Hitch bought it in
1987 and it reopened in November
1988 after another $12 million in ren-
ovations. And on Sunday, Sept. 21, it
will be the focus of its 75th anniversary
as one of the country's last surviving
grand movie palaces. At press time, no
public celebration was planned.
In the late 1920s and through the
`30s and '40s, Detroiters could take a
bus or streetcar to the Fox, billed as
Detroit's "Temple of Amusement," and
be entertained by a stage show, organ
concert and first-run movie for as little
as 35 cents.

"People desperately needed a place to
escape from the reality of the Great
Depression, then World War II, and the
Fox was the place," said Greg Bellamy,
Fox general manager. "We've gone
through a lot of ups and downs over
the years, but this is still the largest
theater of its kind and one of the top-
grossing theaters in the world."
William Fox also built deluxe Fox
theaters in Brooklyn, N.Y.; St. Louis;
Atlanta; and San Francisco. He com-
missioned Detroit architect C.
Howard Crane to design them.
The Aronberg-Fried Corp. led the
Detroit Fox con-
struction effort,
and the theater
opened Sept. 21,
1928, with a
Wurlirzer organ;
a lavish stage pag-
eant featuring
singers, dancers
and a 60-piece
orchestra; the
new Fox
Architect C.
Movietone News;
Howard Crane
and the film
Street of Angels,
starring Janet Gaynor and Charles
Crane was a protege of Jewish archi-
tect Albert Kahn, who was Henry
Ford's "personal architect," designing

House Of Ushers

lce Cream Parlour

Ann Arbor-area couple share passion for Fox Theatre.

Serving The Community Since 1964


0 Calorie Fat

• Stroh's Ice Cream

• Colombo Yogurt

• C other goodies too!

wow COW!


3659 West Maple

(southeast corner of







eddy the Clown and Michael the Guitarist retired
long ago from those vocations -- but now retain
their interest in show business as longtime volunteer
ushers at Detroit's Fox Theatre.
"Reddy" is Roby Cohen and Michael is Michael Cohen.
The couple, now in their 50s, live in Dexter Township near
Ann Arbor, and don't mind making a 150-mile round trip to
downtown Detroit to usher at most of the Fox performances.
She's been ushering since 1988, when the Fox reopened
after its restoration, and he joined her after they married in
In fact, they've achieved team-leader status within the Fox's
corps of 17 teams — comprising about 150 people — who
supply 70 ushers for each show.
In their single days, Roby entertained at parties, and







Michael played the guitar at local coffeehouses. She's a medical
technologist at Ann Arbor's St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, and he
is head of clinical microbiology within the antibacterial phar-
macology group of Pfizer Global Research & Development in
Ann Arbor.
Former Southfield residents, they moved to four-plus acres
in Dexter to be closer to their jobs. Their two daughters, Julie
Anna and Josie Ruth, attend Ann Arbor Hebrew Day School,
where Roby volunteers with fundraisers. The family belongs to
Ann Arbor's Congregation Beth Israel.
"Ushering is a lot of fun, and the Fox is a great place to be,"
said Roby. "As team leaders, we tell the other ushers exactly
where to stand and what to do, and we settle any possible
mix-ups with seats and iron out any other problems. And we
always make sure to point out the beautiful features of the

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