Olsen & Johnson at the Odeon Carlton

Here’s a shot of the interior of the former Odeon Carlton, from September of 1948, featuring Vaudeville act Olsen & Johnson, some creepy clowns and a bunch of furries behind the Carlton’s fantastic mural.

The comedy team and their perverted pals were in town performing on the grandstand at the CNE. A special benefit was held at the theatre, located near the corner of Yonge and Carlton.

Days beforehand, on September 9, the mighty British cinema chain opened its finest Canadian movie house – dubbed “The Showplace of the Dominion” – with a premiere of Oliver Twist, starring Alec Guinness as Fagin.

The 2300 seat Odeon cinema was an unconventional beast built at a time when most of the new theatres were modest in both size and extravagance. Its development signalled a near-renaissance of the Movie Palace, not seen since the construction of the Loews and Pantages in the ’10s and ’20s. Famous Players would open the University Theatre the following year.

The CNE Archives has a great site featuring stills from the hundreds of exhibits and performers who’ve graced (some not so gracefully) the grounds of the Ex. Even better is their YouTube channel, where archivist Christina Stewart has been digitizing their 16mm film collection.

(Image source: Canadian National Exhibition, General Photographic Collection – MG5-0-0-0-11)

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