The Colosseum was situated in Commissioner Street, Johannesburg
and was opened by General Jan Smuts on 4th October 1933. Becoming
the flagship of African Consolidated Theatres, it occupied an entire city
block with a west and east wing containing offices. The theatre had a
distinct 'Egyptian' motif with a large rouged festoon curtain made from
red crushed velvet adorning the proscenium arch in later years. The
architect was P. Rogers-Cooke.
The Colosseum could accommodate full-fledged stage shows as well
as movie presentations. A distinct feature was the ceiling of the large
auditorium which contained hundreds of tiny concealed lights giving
the effect of looking up at a night sky with twinkling stars. The seating
capacity was 2279 with stalls, dress and upper circle.
Being a flagship cinema, the Colosseum employed a concierge (who
controlled the queues - informing patrons about the availability of seats) at
least six doormen and a large number of usherettes - all decked out in
maroon-coloured uniforms. During the 1960s Ms. Lou Botha was the head
usherette, Mr. John Henning the chief projectionist and the cinema was
managed by the distinguished George Seymour. After Seymour's death he
was succeeded by Henry Ascar.
The Colosseum was closed in
1985 and the building
demolished (see photo above)
to make way for a modern office
building (photo left) which
bears the name 'Colosseum' to
this day. In 2008 the building
was sold and plans were
finalised to turn it into an
The Colossem all decked out in early 1954 for the screening of " A Queen Is Crowned"
Photo Source: S.A.R & H
Photo courtesy Ismail Legardien