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September 19, 2003 - Image 101

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

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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theater to patrons."
Nothing stops Roby from carrying
out her ushering duties.
Ten years ago, she returned home
from the Fox at 10:30 p.m., and
went to the hospital and gave birth
to her eldest daughter at 12:30 a.m.
"That was cutting it pretty close,"
she admitted, "but I really wanted to
see dancer Tommy Tune perform that
night." The couple have even ushered
while carrying their children on their
backs in baby carriers.
One of Michael's most heroic usher-
ing deeds was helping an elderly man
find a crumpled up $100 bill on the
lobby floor with his flashlight.
"He rolled up the bill to throw it

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The refurbished auditorium of the Fox

restored, preserving 80 percent of the
original finish," said Bellamy. Seventeen
suite-style boxes were added, giving the
theater a 5,000-seat capacity.
A tour of the Fox lets a visitor appreci-
ate the largest clear-span theater balcony
ever built; the six-story-high grand
lobby; the two-ton chandelier, a
$200,000 scenery dock built especially
for the Radio City Rockettes show head-
ing into their seventh year at the Fox;
and 21 dressing rooms used by many
entertainers over the years. In 2002,
trade publication Pollstar named the Fox
the top-grossing theater venue in ticket
sales in the country.
The walls backstage contain the auto-
graphs of most of the stars who have
appeared there since the restoration.
Jewish performers over 75 years have
included vaudevillians Eddie Cantor and
George Jesse', Ted Lewis, Jack Benny,
George Bums, Milton Berle, Henny
Youngman, Phil Silvers, the Three
Stooges, the Ritz Brothers, Benny
Goodman, Eddie Duchin, Ben Bernie,
Victor Borge, Jerry Lewis, Alan King,
Joel Grey, Mel Torme, Steve Lawrence,
Barry Manilow, Mandy Patinkin,
Rosanne Barr and Jerry Seinfeld.
With seven shows, Jerry Lewis and
Dean Martin once played to 37,000
people in one day. T1

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automotive factories throughout the
world. Crane worked for Kahn for
about a year, then opened his own firm
in 1909 and stuck to theater work.
He designed 52 other theaters in the
Detroit area, including Orchestra Hall,
plus 250 theaters around the world. As a
sideline, he also designed places like
Detroit's Olympia Stadium. He died in
London in 1952.
The sumptuous Fox interior is
described as Oriental, or Siamese
Byzantine, and also incorporates salient
features of Hindu and Persian architec-
ture. The jeweled grand lobby resembles
an ancient Indian temple, with a variety
of animal sculptures.
"Crane's wife was an interior decorator
who liked elephants, and that's why you
see so many elephants around the build-
ing," Bellamy explained. "Our Fox was
built not too long after the discovery of
King Tut's Tomb in Egypt, and there
was a renewed interest everywhere in
exotic architecture, which was reflected
in this design."
One of Bellamy's predecessors as gen-
eral manager, from 1961-1978, was
Detroiter Herman Cohen, who began
his career there as an usher and later
became a film producer, responsible for
such movies as I Was a Teen-Age
Werewolf.
In the late 1980s, the Hitches aban-
doned their plan to build a world head-
quarters for their holdings in
Farmington Hills and bought the Fox
building instead, using the 10-story
structure as offices for the 300 people
who operate the Fox, Little Caesars
Pizza, the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit
Red Wings and other enterprises.
"The Fox went through an 18-month
renovation and the entire theater was

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— Bill Carroll

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