Moments to Remember

Moments to Remember

Posted on July 6 by Doug Taylor
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Having attended movie theatres for many decades, I retain fond memories of the special films and events they featured. Most of the theatres of the past have been demolished, but my memories of them have never dimmed as they were such an important part of my childhood and teenage years.

One of the most memorable events occurred in the mid-1950s, at the Odeon Carlton Theatre on Carlton Street, a short distance east of Yonge. I do not remember the movie that was showing, but at the end of each screening the glamorous Hollywood star Dorothy Lamour appeared on stage. Included in the show was the famous harmony quarter—The Four Lads.

When I was a boy, I had seen Miss Lamour many times on the silver screen at our local movie house. Her most popular roles were in films with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and as the stories unfolded, both male stars competed for her romantic favours. The movies were zany comedies, in which the characters visited exotic locales such as Bali, Singapore, Morocco, Rio, Hong Kong, and Zanzibar. The action centred on the mishaps and complicated situations they encountered. The films were usually referred to as “The Road Pictures” or “Road Series.” Although they were shot on a movie studio’s backlot, they captured the excitement of faraway places. They were relatively inexpensive to produce, but were immensely popular with audiences. My favourite was Road to Morocco.

The moment Miss Lamour stepped into the spotlight on the stage of the Odeon Carlton, for me, all the glamour and excitement of Hollywood became real. It was as if the studios had filmed a “Road to Toronto” movie. Dorothy Lamour sang several songs from the many films in which she had starred and from her days as a big-band soloist. One of her most popular was, “I Remember You.” The Four Lads, a quartet consisting of former members of Toronto’s St. Michael’s Choir School, added to the evening by performing several of their greatest hits—“Standing on the Corner,” “No Not Much,” “Down by the Riverside,” and “Moments to Remember.” All these songs had been featured on the popular CBC television show, The Trans-Canada Hit Parade.

I joined in the thunderous applause and wolf whistles at the Carlton that evening, as the audience demonstrated its appreciation of Lamour’s Toronto visit. It was a great moment. Being a teenager at the time, it never occurred to me that magnificent theatres such as the Odeon Carlton would be demolished, or that stars like Dorothy Lamour would eventually fade from the public’s attention. However, along with many other famous stars and numerous old movie theatres, I will forever remember them. In the book Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear, I share many more memories, which are accompanied by over 120 archival photographs. Truly, they capture Moments to Remember.

Doug Taylor

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014
Doug Taylor photo

Doug Taylor

Doug Taylor is a Toronto historian who was a member of the faculty of Lakeshore Teachers’ College (York University). Through books including Toronto Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen and his history blog tayloronhistory.com, he continues to explore the city’s past and document its architectural heritage. He lives in Toronto.