A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

Recent entries:
“If we start calling it ‘potato juice’, vodka becomes a health drink” (5/18)
“I bet centaurs never know who to root for at rodeos” (5/18)
“Never delay kissing a pretty girl or opening a bottle of whiskey” (5/16)
“You have to question the modus operandi of people who use Latin for no reason” (5/16)
“How can radio stations claim to play today’s best music when today’s music sucks?” (5/16)
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Entry from January 23, 2022
Photoplay

Entry in progress—BP

Wiktionary: photoplay
Noun
photopla
(plural photoplays)
1. A theatrical play that has been filmed for showing as a movie.
2. A novel adapted from a movie and illustrated with photographic stills taken from the film. Usage largely confined to the silent era of Hollywood.
3. (dated) A motion picture, especially a silent film.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
photoplay, n.
Origin: Formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: photo- comb. form, play n.
Etymology: < photo- comb. form + play n.
Originally and chiefly North American. Now historical.
A cinematic representation of a play, drama, etc.; a motion picture.
1910 G. Kleine et al. Let. 1 Oct. in Moving Picture World 15 Oct. 858/2 After careful consideration of the list of words submitted to us by you, from which we were to select a name which would be descriptive of the entertainment given in motion picture theaters, we have selected the word Photoplay.
1921 19th Cent. Apr. 661 A photo-play is seen by scores of millions of persons throughout the globe.

Wikipedia: Photoplay
Photoplay was one of the first American film fan magazines. It was founded in 1911 in Chicago, the same year that J. Stuart Blackton founded Motion Picture Story, a magazine also directed at fans. For most of its run, Photoplay was published by Macfadden Publications. In 1921 Photoplay established what is considered the first significant annual movie award. The magazine ceased publication in 1980.

Wikipedia: William Fox (producer)
William Fox (born Wilhem Fuchs; Hungarian: Fried Vilmos; January 1, 1879 – May 8, 1952) was a Hungarian-American film executive who founded the Fox Film Corporation in 1915 and the Fox West Coast Theatres chain in the 1920s. Although he lost control of his movie businesses in 1930, his name was used by 20th Century Fox and continues to be used in the trademarks of the present-day Fox Corporation, including the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News, and Fox Sports.

Newspapers.com
21 July 1910, New York (NY) Age, “Music and the Stage” edited by Lester A. Walton, pg. 6, col. 3:
To Vaudevillians: John Zanft is manager of Wednesday and Saturday vaudeville review that appears in the New York Morning Telegraph. Attention is given to all acts.

Newspapers.com
11 October 1910, Springfield (MO) Republican, pg. 10, cols. 1-2:
“PHOTOPLAY” NEW
NAME FOR MOVING
PICTURE SHOW
Prize Contest for Suitable Name
of These Popular Price Shows
Yields Euphonious Title.

Out of more than 2,500 names submitted to the Essanay Film Manufacturing company in their new name contest, the purpose of which was to obtain a new name for the entertainment and the exhibition places where motion pictures are shown, the name selected by Judges George Kleine, Fred C. Aiken and Aaron Jones, is “Photoplay.” The successful contributor of the word is Mr. Edgar Strakosch, a well known exhibitor in Sacramento, Cal. The termination of the contest has proven several things. From the great number of names submitted, it is evident that the contest aroused unusual interest, and aside from the liberal prize offered, is further proof that the exhibitors and the public were of one mind in their belief that a more suitable appelative is needed. In the selection of “Photoplay” the judges have undoubtedly chosen wisely, and, though the name may not completely describe the motion picture entertainment, it contains a sufficiently of description, is happily euphonious, simple and easy to remember.

Lantern
22 October 1910, The Film Index, pg. 3, col. 1:
EDGAR STRAKOSCH, OF SACRAMENTO,
WINNER OF ESSANAY CONTEST.
Above we print the photograph of Mr. Edgar Strakosch, of Sacramento, Cal., author of the new name for the motion picture entertainment, and winner of the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company’s prize of #100 in their new name contest recently closed.
(...)
In an interesting letter to the Essanay Company, he says, in part:

“Until I read your Essanay Guide, an appropriate name had not occurred to me, as I gave it no thought. SO most of the credit of “photoplay” goes to you. I conceived the name going home on a street car and made an easy $100.”

Newspapers.com
11 June 1916, Muskogee (OK) Daily Phoenix, pg. 8-C, cols. 5-7:
Word ‘Photoplay’
Was an Invention
Of Mr. William Fox

To William Fox, president of the Fox Film corporation, must be given credit for adding a new work to the English language. It is not slang in any sense, but it is a coined word which is now accepted and used in newspapers with galley length “don’t” lists and even in the higher grade magazines.

The word coined by Mr. Fox and added to our language is “photoplay.” It is an outgrowth of the motion picture industry. For years the proper description of a screen drama puzzled the best writers of the country. Practically all of them stuck to “motion picture play” as the best descriptive phrase.

More than seven years ago, when Mr. Fox was running the New York Theatre at Forty-fifth street, and Broadway, New York city, now Loew’s theatre, he coined the word “photoplay” as descriptive of the presentation of dramas through moving pictures.

The word was first used in the New York Morning Telegraph by John Zanft, now manager of the Academy of Music, New York, who was then a dramatic writer on that newspaper. The editors of the paper questioned the word, but permitted it to pass, feeling that it filled a long-felt want.

It was immediately accepted, not only by the newspapers and magazines, but by the advertising and sign writers. The trade papers took it up instantly and this character of the industry is perhaps better known as a “photoplay” than by any other term.

From photoplay came the word “photodrama” and “screen drama,” but the most generally used term is “photoplay.”

The new editions of standard dictionaries have adopted the word “photoplay” and it is sanctioned as a word of world-wide use.

Newspapers.com
11 June 1916, Boston (MA) Sunday Globe, pg. 56, col. 7:
William Fox, president of the Fox Film Corporation, claims the distinction of having coined the now generally used word, photoplay. For years the proper description of a screen drama puzzled the best writers in the country. Practically all of them stuck to “motion picture play” as the best descriptive phrase. More than seven years ago, when Mr. Fox was running the New York Theatre, at 45th st. and Broadway, now Loew’s Theatre, he coined the word “photoplay” as descriptive of the presentation of dramas through moving pictures. The word was first used in the New York Morning Telegraph by John Zanft, now manager of the Academy of Music, New York, who was then a dramatic writer on that newspaper. The editors of the paper questioned the word, but permitted it to pass, feeling that it filled a long felt want.

Newspapers.com
5 August 1928, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, pg. 6 SO, col. 5:
Here Is One Major
Who Is Kept Busy

Major John Zanft, who as vice president and general manager of the William Fox circuit of theatres has general direction of the Fox Theatre in this city, has assumed complete supervision of the operation of the Poli chain of theatres in New England, recently acquired by Mr. Fox.
(A photo of Zanft is shown.—ed.)

Newspapers.com
14 January 1931, The State Journal (Lansing, MI), “‘Movie’ As Word Is Still Popular,” pg. 12, col. 7:
the old Essanay company was first to take up the campaign (probably for the advertising it would get, according to an authority, Terry Ramsaye) by offering a grand prize of $25 for a new name for motion pictures.

The winner of the contest coined “photoplay,” but, like dozens of others suggested from time to time, it didn’t stick.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Sunday, January 23, 2022 • Permalink