Demolition has started on the long abandoned Starlite Theater in Latham. The 58 acres will become a mix of retail and commercial space. But for those who visited the theater in its heyday, its collapse doesn't come without a flood of sentimental memories. Our Erin Vannella has more.
LATHAM, N.Y. -- "I drive by it and see trees and shrubs and everything else all grown through the place and windows broken out and I feel sad about that but hey everything's got its time and it's over," said Delmar resident Joe Futia Jr.
Look through the demolition to imagine a bright stage with big names singing classic hits drawing sell-out crowds. That was the Starlite Theatre its biggest fans will miss.
"After you got through the front gate you would see a theater that was 180 foot span across and a revolving stage down at the bottom," said Futia. "It was fun."
Futia used to work there. His father owned it in its heyday, though he couldn't remember the dates, and his son, stepped on stage.
"My son Joe was in Fiddler on the Roof," said Futia. "He was one of the little walk-on's. He'll probably not like to tell you that but he was."
But Tom Jones was there, too, and Carol Channing, Wayne Newton, Norm Crosby and many others who performed on a revolving stage making even the worst seat in the house a good one.
"They come over and hug you and shake your hand and kiss you," said Futia. "It was really homey."
Before it closed in '98 Mike Tyson fought there and Peggy Flemming skated. There was circus and burlesque. All gone but not forgotten said Futia. Future stores, offices and homes won't erase his memories.
"We got to sit at the table with Bob Hope and his wife and my wife and I," said Futia. "I never met a person who was so down to earth in my life, you know big guy like that, wow."