Ramblin’ Rhodes: Take a look at local history on ‘Eve’ of anniversary

Workers prepare downtown Augusta’s Miller Theater for the 1957 premiere of The Three Faces of Eve. FILE

Businesses in the Augusta area always have been supportive of artistic endeavors, and that was true when The Three Faces of Eve had its world premiere in the Miller Theater 60 years ago this month.

 

It was on Sept. 18, 1957, that Hollywood came to Augusta for a special night on Broad Street.

Since the movie was based on a real-life woman who suffered from multiple personalities, several local businesses made that connection with their advertisements in The Augusta Chronicle the day of the premiere.

Virginia Tollison’s Hair Styling Salons at Forest Hills and Daniel Village gave its congratulations and noted, “Eve had a complete change. So can you! Have your hair restyled and find your most pleasing personality.”

Capers Paint and Glass Co. advertised, “Eve changed her personality. Reflect yours with new colors from Valspar.”

Odessa’s beauty salon in the Southern Finance building in the same block as the Miller proclaimed, “No matter what YOUR personality may be, we have a hair style to suit you! Call or come and let one of our stylists give you a new and becoming style for fall!”

Other companies jumped on the bandwagon with Leon Simon men’s wear also in the same block advertising:

“We are proud to be part of a community that enjoys the prestige of such an important event as the world premiere of a great motion picture.

“In attending the premier of The Three Faces of Eve, you will want your attire to be in keeping with the importance of such an occasion.”

Meanwhile, Cullum’s clothing located adjacent to the Miller advertised that it was displaying in it Broad Street windows the “red dress” that “Eve wore as ‘Eve Black.’ ” You couldn’t see it in red in the movie, though, since it was filmed in black and white.

Murphy Stationery Co., also on the same side of Broad as the Miller, advertised for just $2.98 you could buy a copy of the book by the two Augusta psychiatrists, Dr. Hervey M. Cleckley and Dr. Corbett H. Thigpen, on which the movie was based.

Proceeds from the pre-show patron’s dinner (400 people at $10 a ticket) at the Bon Air Hotel and the sold-out Miller premiere were donated to University Hospital because of their medical ties.

Several other Georgians were connected to the film.

Nunnally Johnson, a native of Columbus, who wrote the screenplay and directed the movie, came to Augusta for the event.

Joanne Woodward, who played the title role and whose father Wade Woodward Jr. was a native Augustan and graduate of Richmond Academy, had to miss it since she was making a movie with Marlon Brando. Her portrayal would result in the only Academy Award she has yet to receive in her long cinematic career. Woodward’s mother, Elinor, did come to the premiere from Aiken, S.C., where she then was living.

The real life “Eve,” Christine Costner Sizemore, also was absent at the world premiere but would be honored at the 50th anniversary showing of the film at the Imperial Theatre thanks to Augusta Amusements Inc. promoter Mike Deas.

The Miller itself, of course, now is being renovated to become the home of Symphony Orchestra Augusta. It is due to reopen with a black tie gala on Saturday, Jan. 6, featuring Broadway star and former Augusta Players actress Sutton Foster. The gala sold out shortly after tickets went on sale.

On Wednesday, the Symphony announced that the new marquee will be lighted at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, in a milestone ceremony during the Arts in the Heart of Augusta festival. Also to be revealed will be the Miller's new logo, web site and a list of the first events to be held in the renovated theater in 2018. The Miller's new general manager, Marty Elliott, and members of the marketing team will be available throughout the festival weekend to answer questions about the project.

Each pre-dawn morning when I arrive at my office directly across from the Miller, I’m greeted by the soft white lights coming from three vertical rows of glass blocks on the theater’s front side. They stretch three stories tall just above the marquee. Augustans should take pride that the glass block cubes now familiar worldwide were unique when Frank Miller built his art deco theatrical and movie show place.

In early 1940, The Chronicle reported, “A new type glass block has been used extensively in the Miller Theatre soon to open. While translucent, it is not transparent because of the introduction of a piece of glass cloth, suspended in the center of the blocks, which permits light to penetrate but diffuses it so that it is impossible to see through.

“The block is the invention of Pittsburgh Paint and Glass Company which installed it in the new theatre. ...

“Glass block was used not only to ornament the theatre but to provide light in the stair wells and offices. Since heat cannot penetrate them they are especially necessary in an air conditioned building such as the magnificent new theatre.”

 

ROCK AND SOUL IN WAYNESBORO: The 38th season of the Waynesboro-Burke Concert Series gets off to a great start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Burke County High School Auditorium. Augusta music legends Ed Turner and No. 9 are headed south to perform their Rock & Soul Revue show. Call (706) 437-0070 or buy tickets at iTickets.com or visit burkeconcert.org.

 

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