Variety Playhouse

1099 Euclid Avenue NE,
Atlanta, GA 30307

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Showing 17 comments

buckguy on July 22, 2019 at 10:28 am

It used the name “Variety Playhouse” as long ago as 1998, when I lived almost across the street.

DavidZornig on August 17, 2014 at 8:37 am

Just added a screen shot from “Driving Miss Daisy”. The Variety Playhouse in the background. The 7 Stages Theatre is mocked up as the Rialto.

galateasca on July 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm

We have attended many music shows over the years at the Variety. It’s a great venue for music. Only problem is that the restrooms- over the original vintage- are upstairs and hard for us old people to get to. The building has all its structural integrity, but no adornments.

rechols on December 1, 2010 at 12:08 am

Pardon me for four posts in a row, but I have just a little more to say about the Euclid Theater.
I lived on Euclid Ave and then Albemarle Ave in the 50s. I first started going to kiddie matinees at the Emory in 1956 or ‘57. Those shows were mostly older cowboy features, from the early or mid 40s. There was always a line at the box office on Saturday mornings – where
else could parents get a 4-5 hour babysitter for less than fifty cents? Admission, as I remember, was
fifteen cents. I always had to carefully plan how I would spend the 15-20 cents my old man would
lavish on me for treats (actually my lunch). I usually opted for the Snow Cone, available in grape and
my favorite, cherry. The cone would be supplemented by a couple of five cent candies, Milk Duds
were high on my list of favorites. Of the three neighborhood theaters in the area, Euclid, Hilan and
Plaza, I believe the Euclid was the only one to sell Snow Cones.
By 1957, the Euclid, open less than 20 years, was beginning to get a little frayed around the edges.
The carpets on either side of the center seats was a gelatinous mass of sludge, years of ground in
soda and candy. I still remember the sticky adhesive sound my Buster Browns would make as I
walked on the floor between the seats. It was possible to step out of a loafer on those floors.
My older cousin, a tenth grader at Bass High, on the hill directly across the street from the
Euclid, worked the box office for a while. He took great delight in busting kids over 12 who tried to
get into the theater for the kiddie admission price. He later became a banker — that figures.
Quite a few of the Euclid seats were ripped and repaired with duct tape. My cousin told me that there
were a couple of guys they were watching, suspects in the seat slashing wave of '58. They were
eventually caught, and banned from the theater. The Euclid was the only neighborhood theater I
ever heard of that had a “banned list.” Parts of Little Five Points were pretty tough.
The Euclid also had “love seats” – a few seats on the outer aisle built for two people. I don’t recall
seeing love seats at other theaters, although they might have been common, I can just remember
them at the Euclid.
In 1959 we moved to Siberia, aka Decatur, so it was so long Euclid. By the time I got back to
L5P, the Euclid was history. By the time I graduated from Bass in 1965, Little Five was in decline,
getting downright sleazy. Glad to see that the area has bounced back, and that the Euclid continues
life, albeit in another incarnation.

rechols on November 14, 2010 at 4:34 am

Well, this is getting comical.
SO you wrote the Wiki……

rechols on November 14, 2010 at 4:32 am

Tim Farley: guess I should have read the posts a little more carefully.
Do you wrote the Wiki about the Euclid (Variety)?
Great job, very well researched and informative. Appreciate that. Thanks very much.

rechols on November 14, 2010 at 4:27 am

I could not find the Euclid Theater listed in Cinema Treasures, so I attempted to add it.
Looks like things got a little jumbled in the header – the Euclid was a film house from Oct 4, 1940
when it opened until July 31, 1962 when it closed. Only much later did it become the Variety
I went to Bass High School in Little 5 Points from ‘61 to '65, when I finally made it into the 9th
grade… ok, just a little five points humor there, I actually graduated in '65. During the time I was
at Bass the Euclid was rented out for a while to an evangelist preacher named David Epley (still active and begging for $$$ today). Otherwise it was closed. Wikipedia contains an excellent history of the
Euclid, just enter Euclid Theater Atlanta or Variety Playhouse. I have never been into the Variety
but I believe it is a stage, not a motion picture, theater. Later when time permits, I’ll have to post
a little more about the Euclid, for what it’s worth.

Ewing on September 2, 2010 at 6:04 pm

The marquee appears in the background of a shot in the 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy!

karatattoo on September 10, 2009 at 10:28 pm

I have seen many rock concerts at the Variety Playhouse over the years, especially Patti Smith, one of my all time favorites. At her show in July, 2000, on her “Gung Ho Tour”, I spotted a guy standing near me at the foot of the stage. I told my brother, who was with me, that the guy looked like Michael Stipe from R.E.M. My brother didn’t believe me until Patti invited the guy on stage to sing a duet with her. THEN, my brother believed me!

Don K.
Don K. on April 25, 2009 at 11:42 pm

The Wikipedia article jogged my memory. When The Euclid Theatre closed in 1962, there were no public announcements in the local newspapers or broadcasting outlets. It slipped quietly into oblivion. The last movie that I saw there was the Hammer horror film, THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF in 1961, which was on a wide first run. The Euclid Theatre died not with a bang, but a whimper.

krelnik on January 23, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Since I live in Atlanta and therefore have access to archives of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution in my public library, I decided to do a little research on the history of this theater. I’ve written up the results in somewhat gory detail as an article for Wikipedia. See the results here:

Wikipedia: Variety Playhouse

Some highlights include: It was actually opened in October 1940 and operated as the Euclid Theatre until July 1962. It was the Ellis Cinema from October 1984 to August 1988. It became the Variety in June 1989 and has operated under that name ever since.

DavidZornig on December 6, 2008 at 10:29 am

I meant Majestic Crest OR Mann’s(Graumann’s Chinese Theatre). Guess I shouldn’t have cut typing class.

DavidZornig on December 6, 2008 at 9:36 am

The marquee of the Variety Playhouse is featured in the Turner Classic Movie network’s promos for “TCM Classic Movie News”. It is a slow pan with the above on the marquee. The illuminated underside is also visible.

Given Ted Turner’s association with Atlanta, it’s understandable why the Variety was the easy choice to shoot at. However given the Golden Age of Hollywood theme of “TCM Classic Movie News” & TCM in general, I think an actual Hollywood era theatre would have been more approriate. It’s not like they couldn’t afford it.

If any large Hollywood theatre wouldn’t change their marquee for a one day shoot, certainly old footage could have been altered to reflect the TCM show’s name. Even black & white footage would have been more fitting. With maybe only TCM’s title in color. It could have morphed from a premiere going crowd into an also fitting news-reel look. After tilting to the marquee. Maybe the Crest of Mann’s?
Hey Ted, need any production help out there?

vpescado on April 15, 2008 at 10:48 pm

The theater was renamed the Ellis theater in the mid eighties or earlier. I encountered the theater in the summer of 86 and it was well established as an indie theater. (it was running 28-Up)

I don’t think at this point it was run by Mr. Ellis. IIRC it was run by a couple who had made a bit of money as the husband was an early employee of Hayes (the modem company) and took on the theater as a labor of love.

L5P was a magical place at the time (especially for a college sophomore) it was gentrified just enough not to be too dangerous a place, yet not so yuppified that all of the quirky flavor was driven out by high rents and excessive enforcement.

It went out of business in the late eighties/early nineties and was reborn as the variety playhouse.

WHITEFIELD on June 8, 2007 at 8:13 pm

Here is a photo of George Ellis as Bestoink Dooley.
View link

Don K.
Don K. on June 19, 2005 at 7:34 am

The Euclid Theatre was one of my favorite Atlanta neighborhood theaters in the 1950’s. My dad took me there often in those years. We saw a lot of westerns and action picures there, such as John Wayne movies like HONDO and BLOOD ALLEY. The theatre continued to be known as the Euclid Theatre until the last time I attended it in 1961. Unfortunately, I can’t remember exactly when it closed. According to my best recollection, it was not renamed until some years later. A search of the Atlanta Telephone Directories and the microfilm files of the Atlanta Journal and at the Atlanta Public Library would probably clarify matters.

Interesting that you would mention George Ellis. He always seemed like a nice man. He was memorable for playing “Bestoink Dooley,” the host of Channel 5, WAGA-TV’s Friday night Big Movie Shocker in the early 1960’s. For all his clowning as the host, he was probably responsible for seeing that the Universal horror movies originally distributed to television in the “Shock Theater” packages were treated with some respect. WAGA-TV broadcast each of the Universal series' in chronological order of release and without cutting the running time.

Personally, I have very warm memories of going to the Euclid Theatre as a kid. The air conditioning was great there on hot summer days!