Emma Kane: A Sad End in a Queens Theater

Often, when I get struck by an idea for a blog post, the digging required to find details about my subject ends up unearthing little nuggets of history that I never expected to find. And more likely than not, it’s those little mysterious tidbits that stick with me long after I’ve posted my main subject and moved on. What could I do with these stories, honestly? I could try to incorporate them into larger blog posts, and I’ve done just that on numerous occasions. But I fear the loss of importance the mini-story might suffer were I to shuffle it in amongst a thousand-word-long essay.

So I’ve decided to try to pay better attention to these little, forgotten, difficult-to-flesh-out tales. I don’t want to be the only person to be impacted by their mystery, and who knows who might find them more important somewhere down the line. My sincerest hope is that someone with more knowledge of the subject might stumble upon my page and either help fill in some of the blanks or at the very least feel comforted or thrilled by the discovery of some little story about a relative or a building or a time and place in the history of this great city.

The inspiration for today’s ramble came while I was trying to unearth information about the five spectacular “Loew’s Wonder Theaters,” which were opened in 1929 and 1930: the 175th Street Theater in Manhattan, the Kings in Brooklyn, the Paradise in the Bronx, the Jersey in Jersey City, and the Valencia in Jamaica, Queens.

The interior of the Loew's Valencia as it appeared shortly after opening in 1929. (Photo uploaded to Cinema Treasures by user CharmaineZoe - click photo to visit the page)

The interior of the Loew’s Valencia as it appeared shortly after opening in 1929. (Photo uploaded to Cinema Treasures by user CharmaineZoe – click photo to visit the page)

The Valencia opened first, pulling its curtains for the first time on January 12, 1929. With more than 3,500 seats arrayed beneath a twinkling blue-sky ceiling and surrounded by such gilded opulence as the city of New York had never before seen, the Valencia was a cinematic landmark.

But as I searched for interesting facts and stories about the Valencia, I came across two paragraphs from 1943 about 70-year-old Emma Kane. Mrs. Kane, according to the article, had lost her husband two years prior and lived with her son Charles in Bellaire, Queens.

The home on 203rd Street in Bellaire, Queens, where Emma lived with her son Charles.

The home on 203rd Street in Bellaire, Queens, where Emma lived with her son Charles. (Screen grabbed from Google Maps)

Despondent since her spouse’s death, accoding to the article, Mrs. Kane went to the Valencia Theatre on April 2, 1943. Details are sparse regarding what happened next, but some time around 5:00PM, two girls entered the lounge to find Mrs. Kane slumped on the floor with a pistol next to her. She had taken her own life.

New York Times, April 3 1943

New York Times, April 3 1943

I can find no record of an Emma Kane on any other websites. No record of her death or burial, no photos, no other mention of her at all. 70 years of life for a daughter, wife, and mother, all ended in the downstairs lounge of a movie house, and summed up by the New York Times: “WOMAN, 70, A SUICIDE.”

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About keithyorkcity

Name: Keith Age: 20-something Location: New York Passion: History You'll find a million blogs like mine, but mine is better.
This entry was posted in Tidbits of History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Emma Kane: A Sad End in a Queens Theater

  1. Sparrow says:

    These types of little details are what I love of history, and what spark my imagination most, thank you for including them

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