Lights! Camera! Action! Library celebrates Cincinnati and the silver screen

The RKO Paramount Theater on East McMillan Street in Walnut Hills was designed by local architect Edward Schulte. On its opening night in September 1931, thousands were turned away after its 3,000 seats sold out.

Mention Cincinnati and film in the same breath today, and most people recall movies filmed in the city, such as “Rain Man,” “Traffic,” “Miles Ahead,” “Carol,” “Little Man Tate,” “Milk Money” and “The Public.” 

But Cincinnati’s cinematic history dates back to Oct. 12, 1903, when the Mills Edisonia opened on Fountain Square. The new amusement parlor, which housed 140 electric motion picture machines, was the first permanent location in Cincinnati devoted to exhibiting moving images.

Local legend Doris Day arrived at Union Terminal on Oct. 7, 1956, for the world premiere of her film “Julie” at the Albee. She received a key to the city from Mayor Charles P. Taft, and Gov. Frank J. Lausche declared Oct 8-14 as Doris Day Week in Ohio.

The Downtown Main Library’s new exhibit, “Cinema Cincinnati,” celebrates the historic ties to Hollywood, from local theaters to local businesses.

The exhibit also examines Cincinnatians who worked in the movie industry such as iconic stars Theda Bara, Doris Day and Tyrone Power, as well as character actors, screenwriters, directors, cinematographers and production designers.

Tyrone Power was born in Cincinnati in 1914.

The exhibit remains on display in the Joseph S. Stern Jr. Cincinnati Room through Jan. 26.

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