Theater family’s $5.5 million donation gives name to Solomon Victory Theater
NEW ORLEANS (September 5, 2009) – The National World War II Museum in New Orleans has announced a significant gift from the family whose name dominated the regional movie theater business for decades.
Theodore G. Solomon, known as “T.G.” or “Teddy,” along with his wife Doris and their children, have donated $5 million to the Museum’s capital expansion campaign. The gift from T.G., Doris, and children Gary Solomon, George Solomon, Gladys Solomon Brown, Glenda Solomon Bradley, Glenn Solomon and Gloria Solomon Carter will name the Museum’s new, high-tech theater as the Solomon Victory Theater in perpetuity.
“T.G. and his family have been extraordinary friends and supporters of The National World War II Museum,” said Dr. Nick Mueller, Museum President and CEO. “…and never has a family gift been so perfectly matched to the project. What could be more appropriate than to host the Theater’s grand opening in November with the Solomon name on the marquee?”
The Solomon Victory Theater will première the 4-D cinematic experience “Beyond All Boundaries,” A 35-minute, multisensory journey through the war that changed the world.™ Tom Hanks served as Executive Producer and Narrator for the production, which also features many notable actors voicing the words of actual World War II participants. Kevin Bacon, Patricia Clarkson, James Cromwell, Blythe Danner, John Goodman, Neil Patrick Harris, Tobey Maguire, Wendell Pierce, Brad Pitt, Gary Sinise and Elijah Wood are among those participating in this unique project.
T.G. Solomon was born in McComb, Mississippi and began working in his father’s and uncle’s theater business at the age of 10. He continued working in the business while attending Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Shortly after his graduation, the United States entered World War II and Solomon enlisted, serving four years in the Army. His experience in the Pacific theater of the war was horrific and traumatic. Like many World War II veterans, he came home and didn’t talk about it much.
But, according to son Gary, T.G.’s World War II experience ultimately made him a stronger man with an unmatched zest for life and appetite for business. He led the family’s theater business, building the Gulf States Theatres circuit into more than 600 theaters and drive-ins, plus shopping centers located in eight states. He moved his home from McComb to New Orleans in 1969.
“The theater business is our father’s passion,” Glenda Solomon Bradley said. “He loves it all – the films, the stars, the big screens. He has always felt that, through his theaters, he is personally opening a wonderful world of entertainment and education to millions of people.” Her brother Gary added, “He is a theater man, through and through. It’s the only business he ever wanted to be in.”
The Solomon Victory Theater may be the biggest screen T.G. has opened yet. Measuring 120-feet wide, it dwarfs even the largest screens in traditional theaters. In fact, “Beyond All Boundaries” incorporates two screens, one mounted in front of the other, to enhance the dimensional effects of the sophisticated projections, three-dimensional props and theatrical special effects.
“I first met T.G. in 1973, when I was a Professor and, later, an administrator at the University of New Orleans,” Nick Mueller noted. “He joined the Board of Trustees in the Museum’s earliest days and immediately became an invaluable resource as we began to develop documentaries and cinematic treatments for our exhibition galleries. T.G. understands these dramatic executions of the Museum’s message and educational mission on both a personal and professional level. He has been an invaluable contributor beginning long before this extraordinary gift from the family, and he made this Museum a better institution.” Solomon has been directly involved in the five-year planning and development of “Beyond All Boundaries,” making several trips with Mueller to California to collaborate with Tom Hanks and Phil Hettema of The Hettema Group which is producing the 4-D experience.
T.G. Solomon has been Chairman of the Louisiana Film and Video Commission under two governors, Past-President of the National Association of Theatre Owners and a former board member of the Will Rogers Institute, Foundation of Motion Picture Pioneers. He has also served on the board of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the Foundation for the LSU Health Sciences Center. The family sold 68 screens to the AMC group but remains active in theater business.
Although the gift comes from the entire Solomon family, it is clearly inspired by their patriarch, T.G. Glenda Solomon Bradley noted, “The Solomon Victory Theater represents our father’s life and work, his accomplishments and, most of all, his passion. We are so proud to come together as a family to honor him and his legacy.”
The Solomon Victory Theater opens to the public in early November. Tickets for “Beyond All Boundaries” are available online at www.nationalww2museum.org/victorytheater . Also opening in November are the Museum’s Stage Door Canteen, a live entertainment venue reminiscent of those in the war years, and The American Sector, a Chef John Besh restaurant. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org.