Despite making its United States premiere in 1952, This Is Cinerama — a documentary showing various scenes of everyday life from across the United States — didn’t make its debut in Cleveland until 1956. Although the Palace Theatre had been showing movies full time since the start of the 1920s, its equipment couldn’t support the widescreen format of This Is Cinerama. To prepare for the show, the theater was renovated to include three projectors and a new soundtrack system — the only type of equipment that could run widescreen films at the time.
As a part of the renovation, 1,800 seats were removed from the 2,530-seat theater. In preparation for the premiere, Palace Theatre owner Max Mink sold the first ticket to This Is Cinerama on Oct. 17, 1956 to University Heights resident Marlene Lurie nearly a month before the movie’s premiere on Nov. 14, 1956.
Even with This Is Cinerama bringing attention to the Palace Theatre, it closed in 1959 before the Playhouse Square Association started a campaign to restore the theater in 1970. It eventually reopened in 1973. In 2014, the theater was renamed the Connor Palace in honor of a $9 million donation from the Connor Family of Hunting Valley, Ohio.