When movies started to show up around the country, local builder Harold Dygert wanted to erect a grand movie theater, and Harry C. Eyer loaned him the money to do it. The 1,100-seat Rialto was one of the largest movie houses in the area and included a balcony, which proved quite popular. The late Nelson Willoughby, Mark Harloff Sr. and others operated the projector. A pipe organ played by Mrs. Harloff was installed to provide background music for the early silent movies, and a piano was heard with Agnes Mosier or Louie Pericola providing chilling effects.
Dygert operated the Rialto during the ’20s before he started building houses in the Forest Hills area. He then leased it to the Schine movie chain. There was vaudeville, occasionally featuring No-nox Verni and Sam Urzetta, minstrel shows and school rallies. Gift items, such as Depression glass, small trays and coupons were given away to encourage attendance. A favorite stop before the show was Questa’s Candy Shop right next door. There us kids spent a long time to pick out 10 cents worth of candy.
Mr. Dygert renovated the movie house in the early ’60s and changed the name to the Capri, hoping to increase the slacking business. The audience continued to remain sparse and the theater became dark in the summer of 1966. A small theater was built in the new village mall in the mid-seventies, but it did not last long.
Harold Dygert and his brother Lawrence then redesigned the former theater into an apartment building where it continues to stand as a reminder of many golden moments on the silver screen.
Movie tickets were 25 cents with a 3-cent tax for adults. Kids were 10 cents plus 1-cent tax. For this you would see a main feature, a “B” picture, a cartoon and a newsreel. They had three changes a week and always a western and serial on Saturdays. Once a month a special of 25 cartoons was a big hit. This was before the age of television.
On Saturday and Sunday, the movies started at 1 p.m. and ran straight through until about 11 p.m. For your admission, if you wanted to, you could see the feature three times plus all the other films. During the week to boost attendance, they would have dish night, bingo night and several other gimmicks. On dish night each ticket would receive a plate, saucer, cup or whatever.