From Renowned Visitors to X-rated Films: The Colorful History of Grace Street’s Biograph Theatre


This week’s episode of the TVJerry podcast takes listeners on an illuminating journey through the life and times of Richmond’s iconic repertory cinema, The Biograph Theatre. The star of the show is none other than Terry Rea, the first manager of the Biograph, who steered the theatre for 12 years during its run from 1972 to 1987, bringing an eclectic mix of foreign and art films to its Grace Street location.

Terry Rea of the Biography Theatre on TV Jerry
Listen to the episode HERE

The Biograph Theatre, a landmark institution in Richmond’s cultural history, opened its doors in 1972. Besides its reputation for showcasing unique films, the theatre was famous for its full tilt parties, often held after-hours. During the podcast, Rea fondly reminisces about various aspects of the theatre’s history, including developing the concept of repertory shows, creating the iconic calendars, launching one of the first “midnight movies” night with a successful 5 year run of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and even the saga of showing X-rated films like Deep Throat.

The podcast promises to be a captivating listen as Rea delves into his encounters with state censorship, recounts visits from famous personalities like Tom Wolfe, Martin Sheen, and Elizabeth Taylor, and shares the rather macabre tale of finding a dead man in the theatre.

Rea, a local journalist, publisher, and cartoonist, played a significant role in shaping the Biograph’s identity. Despite the theatre’s eventual closure in 1987, primarily due to the rise of cable television and video overshadowing repertory cinema, Rea fondly reminisces about the Biograph’s heyday.

The theatre also navigated some challenging times. As Rea reveals, the theatre started showing porn-chic sensations such as Deep Throat to help pay the bills, resulting in a chaotic yet electric atmosphere. The theatre managed to transform this controversy into an asset, with sold-out shows and tailgate party-like queues contributing to its unique appeal.

The Biograph Theatre’s story is a testament to the evolving nature of cinema and society. The TV Jerry podcast, with Terry Rea at its heart, offers a compelling snapshot of this evolution, taking listeners on a trip down memory lane, filled with art, rebellion, and unforgettable characters. This episode promises a riveting exploration of Richmond’s iconic repertory cinema, an experience that shouldn’t be missed by film aficionados, local history enthusiasts, and everyone in between.

Tune in to the TV Jerry podcast to hear Terry Rea recount the fascinating story of The Biograph Theatre – a story of cinema, society, and the enduring spirit of artistic expression.

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Listen to the episode HERE

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.

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