Benedum Center for the Performing Arts

207 7th Street,
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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Showing 1 - 25 of 38 comments

DavidZornig on July 3, 2018 at 1:09 pm

1934 photo as the Stanley Theatre added.

rivest266 on September 2, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Grand opening ad of February 27th, 1928 in photo section.

johnbarchibald1 on November 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm

All the Disney releases played the Stanley in the 1950’s. My father would take us in to Pittsburgh, where my older brothers and I would clamor for him to let us sit through the picture twice. (You could do that in those days.) So we saw “Lady and the Tramp” (1956) in its original release, not to mention all the other reissues, such as “Cinderella,” “Music Land,” and live-action films, like “Swiss Family Robinson.” Later, when I was older, I also went there to see more adult films, like “The Innocents,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” That place holds a lot of memories for me. I’m glad it’s still being used as a theatre.

WarnerChatham on April 13, 2012 at 6:40 pm

I heard when “The Exorcist” came out in 1973, Cinemette was orignally going to book it at The Stanley. The decision was later made to hold it at the Warner instead. Since the Warner auditorium could not hold as many people as The Stanley, waiting crowds would form outside and would draw attention from people passing by. The Stanley would have been able to accommodate the crowds better, but would have not created the “blockbuster” effect that The Warner did with this feature.

Patsy on April 13, 2012 at 11:43 am

Tinseltoes: Love the vintage theatre photos! Thanks!

rivoli157 on November 12, 2011 at 5:10 pm

To me it will always be The Stanley. I used to do the bargain matinees when I was a student at Point Park. I remember A Star Is Born with Barbra Streisand,and the huge billboard of her and Kris Kristofferson embracing high above the marquee.

I think I saw Goodbye Norma Jean with Misty Rowe as Marilyn here as well- I am not sure.

If I recall the theatre switched back and forth from film to live concerts. I saw An Evening with Diana Ross, great show,even though Miss Ross took a spill into the empty orchestra pit,(the band was onstage behind her). She wasnt hurt too badly, and after about 45 min returned to the stage and the show continued

SusanD on April 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Just saw the Decemberists here. Great concert!

TLSLOEWS on March 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Great list of movies that played at the Stanley posted by Ron3853.

Patsy on March 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm

It’s a great theatre with $43 million going into the restoration!

dave-bronx™ on March 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Yes I’m watching the same show on PBS… :)

Patsy on March 5, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Is this theatre or some other old theatre in the Pittsburgh area used to film the Doo Wop concerts?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 22, 2011 at 6:17 am

The Michel Legrand concert of February 7, 1976, mentioned by KingBiscuits in a comment above, was a benefit event, and marked the reopening of the house following a $500,000 renovation by operator Cinemette. The company planned to use the Stanley both for first run films and for live events, and already had seven concerts scheduled through spring of that year.

Boxoffice of March 1 that year said that the project included new seating, new carpeting, interior repainting and exterior cleaning, rewiring, and new lounges, as well as backstage improvements including new dressing rooms, a refurbished elevator, and reactivation of the hydraulic system that lifted the orchestra pit to become part of the stage apron. The stage featured 500 yards of new red velvet curtains. The creation of new aisles in the auditorium had reduced the seating capacity from 3,704 to 3,491.

The article gave the original opening date of the Stanley Theatre as February 27, 1928. Among other bits of information about the theater’s history was the fact that Dick Powell had served as its master of ceremonies for three years, doing four shows a day, until J.P. Harris arranged a screen test for him with Warner Brothers in 1932 and he departed for fame in Hollywood.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 9, 2011 at 3:17 pm

This photograph of the Stanley Theatre was taken in 1929 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto and Mann.

KingBiscuits on October 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm

The theatre was closed for movies on the week of February 4th, 1976 but did host a Michel Legrand concert on February 7th, 1976.

Patsy on July 19, 2010 at 8:59 am

I just learned of this venue after researching Conneaut Lake Park…have interest not only in theatres, but amusement parks, too. Please go to and sign up for free to vote for the restoration of their wooden roller coaster, the Blue Streak through the Pepsi Refresh Everything project. The Blue Streak is one of only 2 left in the country like it….the other one is somewhere in Colorado! Thanks so very much!!

carolgrau on July 18, 2009 at 10:24 pm

The old projection booth was like walking up the stairway to heaven, I don’t ever recall a theatre that had that many steps. The booth had a shower in it because in the early days the projectionist’s were given the choice of a elavator or a shower, they took the latter.I used to run alot of the rock movies there once in awhile as a relief projectionist.

Ron3853 on January 27, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Films Which Played at the Stanley Theater – Pittsburgh, PA
1972 – 1978

01/01/72 Straw Dogs
02/23/72 Summer of ‘42/Klute
03/08/72 Mark of the Devil
03/29/72 The Ten Commandments
04/12/72 Cool Breeze
04/19/72 Blindman
04/26/72 Frogs
05/10/72 Georgia, Georgia
05/17/72 Love Camp 7/The Scavengers
05/24/72 The Legend of Nigger Charley
06/14/72 Hands of the Ripper/Twins of Evil
06/21/72 Ben
07/05/72 Shaft’s Big Score
07/26/72 Joe Kidd
08/09/72 Come Back, Charleston Blue
08/30/72 Slaughter
09/20/72 The Last House on the Left
10/04/72 Super Fly
11/01/72 Asylum
11/08/72 Tomb of the Blind Dead
11/15/72 Trouble Man
11/29/72 The Godfather
12/06/72 Born Black
12/20/72 The Getaway
02/14/73 Trick Baby
02/28/73 Prison Girls 3-D
03/21/73 Black Mama, White Mama
04/04/73 Free (Cine-A-Rock)
04/11/72 Hit Man
04/18/73 Soylent Green
05/02/73 The Five Fingers of Death
05/23/73 The Soul of Nigger Charley
06/06/73 Coffy
06/20/73 Black Caesar
06/27/73 The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing
07/11/73 Dillinger
07/25/73 Super Fly TNT
08/08/73 Cleopatra Jones
08/29/73 Shaft in Africa
09/12/73 I Escaped from Devil’s Island
09/19/73 Gordon’s War
10/03/73 The Stone Killer
10/24/73 The Spook Who Sat by the Door
11/07/73 Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off
11/14/73 Save the Children
11/21/73 The Don is Dead
12/05/73 The Slams
12/12/73 Coffy/The Mack
12/19/73 Magnum Force
03/06/74 Five on the Black Hand Side
03/20/74 Crazy Joe
03/27/74 Willie Dynamite
04/10/74 The Super Cops
05/01/74 Foxy Brown
05/15/74 That Man Bolt
05/22/74 The Spikes Gang
05/29/74 The Midnight Man
06/05/74 Black Eye
06/12/74 The Street Gangs of Hong Kong
06/19/74 Pink Floyd
06/26/74 Three the Hard Way
07/24/74 The Terminal Man
08/07/74 Amazing Grace (WORLD PREMIERE)
08/28/74 Uptown Saturday Night
10/02/74 The Education of Sonny Carson
10/23/74 The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3
11/20/74 Black Samson
11/27/74 The Klansman
12/18/74 The Man With the Golden Gun
01/22/75 Rock and Roll Your Eyes
01/29/75 Mr. Ricco
02/05/74 The Phantom of the Paradise
02/12/75 Abby
03/05/75 Report to the Commissioner
03/12/75 The Dragon Dies Hard
03/19/75 Brannigan
04/02/75 Women of Cell Block 7
04/16/75 Tommy
07/09/75 Cooley High
08/20/75 Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold
09/03/75 Take a Hard Ride
09/17/75 Dolemite
09/24/75 Bucktown
10/15/75 Let’s Do It Again
12/24/75 The Hindenburg
02/04/76 DARK
02/11/76 A Jury of One
02/18/76 Funny Lady
02/25/75 Tommy
03/03/76 Nashville
03/24/76 Earthquake
03/31/76 Jesus Christ Superstar
04/07/76 Family Plot
05/19/76 The Missouri Breaks
06/23/76 Gator
07/21/76 St. Ives
08/04/76 Ode to Billy Joe
09/08/76 Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother/Mother, Jugs, and Speed
09/15/76 Lifeguard
09/22/76 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest/Last Tango in Paris
09/29/76 Norman, Is That You?
01/27/76 The Godfather, Part II
11/03/76 Papillon
11/10/76 Camelot
11/17/76 The Song Remains the Same
12/22/76 A Star is Born
02/16/77 (stage show)
02/23/77 A Star is Born
04/06/77 The Eagle Has Landed
05/04/77 The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane
05/11/77 The Godfather/The Godfather, Part II
05/25/77 Cross of Iron
06/22/77 Sorcerer
97/27/77 Ruby
08/10/77 March or Die
08/31/77 Suspiria
09/21/77 DARK
10/12/77 The History of the Beatles
10/19/77 DARK
12/21/77 The Choirboys
01/25/78 DARK
02/08/78 Renaldo and Clara
02/15/78 DARK (as a First-Run Film House)

As one can see by these later bookings, the Stanley was Pittsburgh’s main downtown house for Blaxsploitation films, along with an occasional foray in the Kung Fu films whih were popular with urban audiences at the time. But it did manage to get a number of good action films from the major studios, and it always had a BIG release for the holiday season. The theater was bought by DiCesare-Engler in 1976 and after a few more films was turned into a rock concert hall, something that could have been guessed at what with the bookings of major “rock” films during the mid-1970s. It’s now the beautiful Benedum Hall for the Performing Arts, a true Pittsburgh tresaure now and for the future.

edblank on June 1, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Despite many misleading Internet and phone directory indications to the contrary, Benedum Center, and the Stanley Theatre before it, is not and was not ever at 719 Liberty Avenue. That’s the headquarters of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, not the theater, which is on the east side of Seventh Street between Penn Avenue and Liberty Avenue.

And though it’s true that the Stanley began in 1928 with a capacity of 3,886 seats, the costly transformation of the theater into Benedum Center, with all new, more comfortable seats, reduced the capacity by about 1,000 to roughly 2,880 seats. I say roughly because the capacity is altered for some performances.

The Stanley was for decades the largest moviehouse in Western Pennsylvania.

It played virtually every major first-run Warner Bros. film from 1928 through the mid-1960s, by which time booking patterns changed.

The Stanley also was the Pittsburgh premiere site for many Disney films, the bigger RKO-Radio pictures and approximately half of all Paramount pictures, the other half going to Loew’s Penn.

For many years up until the December 1953 installation of Cinerama in the nearby Warner Theatre, the remaining Warner, RKO and Disney films made their local debuts at the Warner, including the Warner Bros. blockbuster “A Streetcar Named Desire” for an extended run.

But generally, up until the end of 1953, the Warner was used as a moveover house for its bigger sibling, the Stanley. Pictures would play at the Stanley for a week or two before moving to the Warner, which had about half of the Stanley’s capacity.

The occasional booking jam resulted in the Stanley picking up an occasional 1940s or 1950s MGM film such as “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “Athena.”

Despite the fact virtually all Columbia pictures opened at the smaller John P. Harris Theatre, Columbia put its 1954 blockbuster “From Here to Eternity” into the Stanley, with its much higher earning potential.

Many thanks to Ron3853 for posting lists of Stanley film openings from mid-1958 onward.

Some of the many pictures to open at the Stanley earlier were “Rear Window,” “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” “A Star Is Born,” “The High and the Mighty,” “White Heat,” “Cinderella,” “Lady and the Tramp,” “House of Wax,” “Shane,” “Battle Cry,” “Sayonara,” “The Pajama Game,” “The Bad Seed,” “The Searchers,” “Mister Roberts,” “The Country Girl,” “The Rose Tattoo,” “East of Eden,” “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant.”

estott on December 27, 2006 at 1:28 pm

The Benedum family made their fortune in Oil- Benedum lived in Pittsburgh fifty years, running his extensive company. The foundation was set up in 1957 to remember his son, who died in 1918 at the age of 20. The foundation has a LOT of money, and gives it away to a variety of good causes in the Pennsylvania – W Virginia area. They don’t go plastering their names on a lot of projects, as a rule.

hanksykes on December 27, 2006 at 1:05 pm

I agree the Benedum Center is a lovely restoration of the Stanley Theater, but where is a plaque in the lobby to explain to the visitor who Mr.or Ms. Benedum is or are? Maybe I missed said explanation but I really looked. The Cityfolk of Pittsburg made me feel welcome and were very knowledgeable about their home. I saw a wonderful production of ,“Funny Girl” ,at the Benedum Th. and stayed at a marvelous victorial hotel called The Priory.

estott on December 3, 2006 at 12:20 pm

My fondest memory of this building in the 1980’s is a secondary marquee built into a rear exterior wall- in ornate letters it read “Upcoming STANLEY Photoplays”

MCMoricz on June 30, 2005 at 11:24 pm

I worked for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for the first 10 years after this theater re-opened as the Benedum Center (and have worked for Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera who also are in residence at this hall) and have never ceased to feel blessed and privileged to have spent so much time in this magnificent building. Not only was the portion of the theater where the audience spends their time brought into great opulence and aesthetic beauty (polished dark hardwood walls and ceiling, cleaning and restoration of magnificent ceiling inlays and chandelier), but the stage itself is spacious, with the kind of generous wingspace you hardly ever find in older theaters and plenty of room upstage, wherever a production chooses to hang the back curtain. There are plenty of dressing rooms and not one but TWO large rehearsal halls upstairs with the same dimensions as the stage itself.

Also now the home of the PIttsburgh Opera, the hall has wonderful acoustics, warm and reverberant. The pit is unusually large (it actually has two different sizes, so that, for example, the CLO uses the “half-pit,” enabling additional audience seating much closer to the stage, while the ballet and opera use the “full pit,” which has plenty of room for a very large orchestra indeed, nearly as much room as the pit at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center.

Although the hall I’ve felt most privileged to conduct in is the Academy of Music in Philadelphia (since you’re among such enormous musical history when in that hall), I am deeply grateful for all the years I was able to spend at the Benedum, conducting, rehearsing, playing the piano and watching or accompanying many fine dancers or singers perform in a huge, magnificent, beautiful hall with every amenity and with an ambience and proscenium that make every audience member feel like he or she is experiencing something special indeed. Though I now live in New York City, I have the chance to return to the Benedum Center a few times a year, and these are always very happy and meaningful occasions for me. As a composer, I’ve had several ballet scores and a few other things premiered there, and will always feel a deep affinity with the hall and with its orchestra.

Henry Mancini used to work there as a young man when it was the Stanley, and spoke lovingly and appreciatively of how one would walk into that theater and be transformed by being able to work there. It is still true, and I’m enormously grateful to have had a long association with a hall like this. It’s not just a building, it’s an essential part of the history of the city of Pittsburgh and one of those theaters that reflects the optimism and aethetics and potential grandeur of human life in an American city. It’s a building whose architecture and function represent a positive vision of what our collective communities can strive for.