THE SAENGER BROTHERS IN NEW ORLEANS

 

Concept of a biographical sketch by Rolf Hofmann, based on own research

 

 

 

The Saenger Brothers once played an important role in the early days of American Film History, but they are nearly forgotten today. Their grandfather was Rabbi Jonas Seanger (1803 1880) in Buttenwiesen (Bavaria). Their father Israel Saenger (1841 1918) had emigrated to North America and settled for a while in Norfolk in Virginia, where his sons Julian Henri and Abraham were born. Around 1890 the family moved to Shreveport in Louisina, where Israel Saenger served as Rabbi for the Hebrew Zion Community for the next ten years. His two sons studied pharmacy and opened their own business in Shreveport, the "Saenger Drug Company", with a 24 hours service, a remarkable and unique aspect in these days.

 

In 1911 the brothers Julian Henri and Abraham founded the "Saenger Amusement Company". They started building and managing Vaudeville Theatres with additional movie performances. Movies then were only a few minutes long and without sound. But soon the great era of stillfilm movies started, and movies developed a better quality and became longer in duration. The construction of movie theatres became profitable, and evenings in the movie theatres were regarded as highly attractive social events. In 1919 the "Saenger Amusement Company" had settled in New Orleans, the amazing and bustling metropolis on the Mississippi. The Saenger Brothers offered first class entertainment in a theatre with outstanding splendid interior. The auditorium with its spectacular historic palace fronts along the walls and the blue star spangled sky on top of all reminded of ancient roman architecture. Visitors were accompanied to their seats by ushers in uniforms and performances were preceded by life orchestra music. Today the Saenger Theatre at Canal Street in New Orleans still exists in its original splendor and recalls the glamour of the Golden Twenties. Still a very fine place for high level entertainment and one of America's most beautiful theatres of the past.

 

Towards the end of the Twenties the Saenger Brothers owned about 300 movie theatres in the Southern States and the Caribean, but for some reasons it became obvious that the days of this fabulous Movie Empire would come to an end. These were the days of Prohibition and Mafia in the United States of America. In 1929 Paramount Pictures Corporation bought the Saenger Brother's Movie Empire, right before the Stock Exchange had its black friday and the country fell into a deep depression. Adolph Zukor, hungarian jew and big boss of Paramount then, strangely enough not even mentioned this transaction in his biography, the Saenger Empire disappeared mysterously noiseless. And so was Julian Henry Saenger's unexpected and sudden death in 1932 at the age of 59. Strange rumours of family members point out that his death might have occurred not the way it was discribed officially in the newspapers. Julian Henry, one of the movie princes in his days, was not interred in New Orleans but in Shreveport, near his parents graves.

 

 

 

 

 

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