Author, wit, raconteur and THS Founder Ben M. Hall (1921-1970) died forty years ago today on December 16, 1970, having been murdered in his theatre artifact filled duplex apartment on Christopher Street in New York City. The crime remains unsolved. Ben’s collection is the basis for the THS Archive and Museum, which he envisioned.
He was a writer and editor for Time/Life and in 1961 wrote The Best Remaining Seats, the first and still the best telling of the story of the movie palace.
Many knew Ben from his having written liner notes for early hi-fi recordings of theatre organs starting in the late 1950’s and they contacted him. Then those who had the book started writing to Ben so he had a circle of friends and fans. One of these was Brother Andrew Corsini Fowler, our late founding editor, who urged Ben to found a group devoted to theatres, not just their organs. By this time Hall was very active in the American Theatre Organ Society, acting as MC at its conventions and on its Board. In 1969 Ben relented and sent a letter to about 100 people announcing THS. Most responded by joining. THS was on its way.
There is a wonderful reminisence of Ben by our late editor Steve Levin (who died 2 years ago this past Monday) on our web site. Read it to meet the man
We can only speculate where we might be today had Ben remained to shepherd THS through those early years. He is missed by many. I only met him at
ATOS events twice some 45 years ago but I still warmly remember his Southern charm, grace, and wit. RIP, Ben Hall.
— Richard Sklenar
Ben Hall at home in 1969 seated at
“Little Mother” his Wurlitzer pipe organ.
The “Big Mother” was the Wurlitzer in the
“paramount Paramount” (Ben’s phrase)
on Times Square, New York. The Ben Hall
Memorial Organ is now in the Lafayette
Theatre, Suffern NY, owned by the New
York Theatre Organ Society (Herb