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Bertha Allen was married to Herbert Allen. Herbert, his brothers, Jule and J. J., and his brother-in-law, Louis Rosenfeld were pioneers in the motion picture industry in Canada. They opened a chain of theatres across Canada in the 1910s and 1920s. In Toronto, they built several theatres including the Tivoli Theatre, Bloor Theatre, College Theatre, Parkdale Theatre, Beach Theatre, St. Clair Theatre, Danforth Theatre and Hollywood Theatre.
Allen, J. J.
0.00: Bertha is the widow of Herbert Allen
0.43: Herbert’s father was Barney Allen. Herbert and his brothers were born in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Barney sent his older sons, Jule and J.J., to Brantford, Ontario in 1907 where they opened up a theatre called The Gem.
3.44: Jule married Bertha’s sister, Sarah.
3.55: Jule and J.J. opened up another theatre called The Theatorium.
5.00: Barney, his wife, Goldie and their 2 remaining children, Herbert and Sol, moved to Brantford around 1907.
5.58: Jule and Sarah moved to Calgary where they opened other theatres.
7.05: Bertha was not aware of any antisemitic encounters.
7.52: Bertha recalls her in-laws as very generous and charitable.
9.24: The brothers formed a company in Western Canada called The First National Film Exchange of Canada.
10.07: The brothers came to Toronto and built the Canada Theatre which later became the Tivoli circa 1916. Herbert became a manager at The Tivoli.
12.39: The Allen brothers built several theatres including the Bloor Theatre, College Theatre, Parkdale Theatre, Beach Theatre, St. Clair Theatre and Danforth Theatre. Leon Yolles was the architect for Bloor and College Theatres.
13.20: The Allen brothers became bankrupt in 1923 or 1924.
13:40: The Allen brothers built the Allen Theatre in Cleveland, a building in Detroit. They had a representative in England. Wanted to expand through Europe.
16.20: Bertha suggests bankruptcy was due in part to a conflict with Paramount Pictures.
17.08: Herbert and Bertha’s brother, Louis Rosenfeld, joined Jule and J.J. to re-establish the business. Herbert was able to secure theatres in Kitchener. Louis was able to secure the Columbia franchise to distribute Columbia pictures. They became distributors and exhibitors.
19.16: Bertha refers to an article discussing a proposed deal between Adolph Zucker and the Allen brothers.
19.38: Famous Players became partners with the Allens circa 1927.
21.10: The Hollywood Theatre was the first theatre in Canada to run a double theatre.
21.45: Bertha discusses the family’s contributions to the community e.g. donation to a hospital, contributing films during both wars.
23.43: Bertha refers to an article that cites Herbert Allen’s efforts in organizing a motion picture company for war services.
25.00: Bertha describes some of Herbert’s involvement in community service.
26.45: The family belonged to Goel Tzedek which became the Beth Tzedec Synagogue and later belonged to Holy Blossom.
29.33: Bertha describes the involvement of the Allen brothers’ offspring in the business.
30.40: Bertha explains the history of the various buy-outs and reoranization of the business. At the time of the interview, Bertha & Herbert’s son, Barry, was the owner of the business.
32.29: Bertha describes Herbert’s actions to support Canada’s war effort in both world wars (e.g. officers training corps, fund-raising, working in the reserves).
34.34: Herbert was dedicated to serving the Variety Club.