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The Dash Between: Herman Frankel owned three Elyria movie theaters


From 1946 to 1968, Herman Frankel brought motion pictures to all the movie houses in downtown Elyria.

He owned three theaters, all of which were located on Broad Street near the heart of the city. The Capitol Theatre was near the former Style Center on the south side of Broad, and Rivoli and Lincoln were a block down farther on the other side, said Herman's son, Kenneth.

See more photos below.

In those days, Herman, who died Nov. 8, 2010, at age 88, handled all sorts of duties at the theaters except operating movie projectors. He handled the administrative side of the business, supervised his employees, worked the ticket booth, collected tickets and sold candy.

The Dash Between: About this feature

The dates of birth and death that appear like bookends on a tombstone do not matter as much as the dash between those dates. Award-winning writer Alana Baranick has made her living writing about the dash between. She’s focusing on Lorain and Medina counties and those who have made our area the unique and interesting place it is. Look for her stories on alternating Sundays and visit to find additional photographs.

The Dash Between is scheduled to appear twice a month in The Chronicle-Telegram. To suggest a story or make a comment, contact Baranick at or (440) 731-8340.

Today, Alana Baranick examines The Dash Between Aug. 6, 1922, when Herman Frankel was born in Cleveland, and Nov. 8, 2010, when the former movie theater owner died at age 88.

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"I don't know if he ever got to see (a film) from beginning to end," said his wife of 52 years, Aileen. "He'd come home for dinner and go back for evening performances."

Herman was born Aug. 6, 1922, in Cleveland, where his father founded Frankelite electrical supply. He was the second of three siblings and grew up in Shaker Heights.

He graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 1940 and from the Wharton School of Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in economics in 1943.

He also took courses in child psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia and time study engineering at Fenn College, which later became part of Cleveland State University.

Herman served briefly in the Navy and worked as a time study engineer for RCA in Camden, N.J., for two years before he and his brother, Marvin, bought theaters in Elyria in January 1946.

In the fall of 1947, Herman was introduced to Aileen Cooperman, a young woman who had recently moved to Cleveland from Missouri. They were engaged in February 1948 and married on Oct. 28, 1948.

At the theaters, the Frankel brothers set up a program in cooperation with local PTAs and school boards to offer discounts for Saturday matinees to kids and their parents. The family-friendly films featured such titles as "My Friend Flicka," "Francis Covers the Big Town" and "Davy Crockett, Indian Scout."

Herman also invited youngsters from the Lorain County Detention Home for viewings of such movies as "Mary Poppins."

In addition, he arranged deals through which service organizations could raise money by selling movie tickets and booked some religious films, which might not have appealed to mainstream audiences, so he could satisfy Christian audiences.

"His favorite movies were the ones that made money," his son said. "When Walt Disney came out with a movie, it was time to pop the champagne corks."

Kids were lined up for four blocks in 1959 when Disney's "The Shaggy Dog" came to town about seven days after it opened in Cleveland.

"We used to call parents when the show was over," his son said. "It was time to pick up your kid."

"The Eddie Cantor Story," starring Elyria native Keefe Brasselle and shown at The Capitol in early 1954, and The Beatles' first film, "A Hard Day's Night," which was shown 10 years later at the Rivoli, also attracted extremely enthusiastic audiences.

Herman remodeled the Lincoln into a state-of-the-art movie theater in 1965 and renamed it the Lake Theater. Three years later, he called it quits.

"As television became more important to people, his business didn't prosper as well as it should," said his friend, Howard Foxman. "He closed one theater, then pretty soon the other two."

Around the time he was getting out of the movie business, Herman, a member of Temple B'nai Abraham in Elyria, directed the B'nai B'rith insurance program in eight states.

"When I came to Elyria in 1950, he was really the first person I met from the Jewish community," Foxman said. "He took me to the temple and introduced me to a lot of people. I found him to be very interesting, well-read, politically inspired. He always had an opinion, and he stuck by it."

Herman helped create the local Young Republican Club and the East Elyria Kiwanis Club.

"He was a stickler for getting things done and fighting for something he thought was right," Foxman said.

Herman was the founding president of the Council for Mentally Retarded Children of Greater Elyria, which evolved into the Lorain County Council for Retarded Children. The organization, established in 1957, helped support state-approved classes and home visitation for developmentally disabled children who were not enrolled in regular school classes.

"He didn't back away from a fight," Foxman said. "If it was something he was thinking about or talking about, he did something about it. He would write letters. He would phone people (to get things done properly). When he had a problem of any kind, he didn't let it go until it was settled."

At one time, he helped run a driving school program for DUI offenders.

Herman, who managed properties for Comet Management and United Property Management before retiring in 1985, kept in touch with folks in Elyria after he moved to Avon Lake about five years ago.

"He was very happy when he had company," Foxman said. "Even when he was ill, he made efforts to go places so he could be with people. He was a great guy. He really was."

Contact Alana Baranick at (440) 731-8340 or

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