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The Passing of Joe Kelly

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Robert Weigerber, with contributions from Daniel Leimeter, Dick Vetter and Carl Williams Date: 15.11.2009
Opening of the first D-150 Theatre at the Lefrak complex in New York in New York City. Right to left is Joe Kelly VP of projection technology for the UA Circuit, Dick Vetter and Carl Williams co-developers of D-150. Far left is Hal Moore President of the ASC at the time.

September 19, 2009 8:53 PM

Another "great one" has passed. Joe and I were great friends and I will miss him! Joe and I got along well and he was very helpful and supportive of my efforts.

As you know he worked at Skouras Theatres (the 20th Century Fox Studio circuit), then re branded UA Theatres when the Fox chain and the UA chain were merged. Joe had the fantastic opportunity to work on Cinerama 3-strip, Todd-AO (personally oversaw the Rivoli, the flagship Todd-AO showcase in Manhatten) and then D-150 with Dick Vetter who is also a great friend. Joe loved his profession and while working for UA started a company Kelmar that provided cinema equipment and parts to the entire world wide exhibition industry. Joe is one of the "last of a breed" movie palace kings.

The three men worked on both sides of the technology, Joe on exhibition side (lenses, masking and curved screen design) and Dick and Carl on production & exhibition.

What Dick tells me is that Hal was very influential in getting D-150 embraced in Hollywood! By the way he shot "The Jazz Singer", you remember that important film. May he rest in peace! Best Always, Robert Weigerber
More in 70mm reading:

Syosset Cinema, Long Island, New York

Visual Display for U.C.L.A. Driving Simulator: Dimension 150

Motion pictures photographed in Dimension 150

Richard Vetter Passed Away

Carl W. Williams Passed Away

Internet link:

Joe Kelly image


About Joe Kelly by Dan Leimeter

A young Joe Kelly taken the early 1950's. He said it was a picture of him doing a 35mm 3-D installation. Picture from Robert Weisgerber

Joe Kelly was one of the truly good guys in the world. He was my unofficial technical guru during the time when Todd-AO was still affiliated with the United Artists Theatre Corporation.

In 1979, he sent me a pair of DP70's from the Syosset Theatre on Long Island after they had been pulled out to accommodate automation. I rebuilt them and installed them in Studio B so that we could check 70mm prints in more than just Studio A.

When 1021 N. Seward was sold to Hollywood General Studios, they were transferred to the American Cinemateque and they are still running at the Aero (?) Theatre in West Los Angeles as an adjunct to the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. Paul Rayton at the Egyptian can bring you up to date on that.

Joe was always kindly, friendly, and helpful to me when I would see him at SMPTE Projection Committee meetings in Hollywood and Vegas. Joe knew everything about projection; it is indeed an understatement to say that Joe was an immense help to this youngster fresh from running 70mm films in upscale Detroit theatres and trouping automotive roadshows across the country for Ford and General Motors.

Joe was a great role model for me, and I have aspired to live up to his standards, both in technology and humanity. Thank you, Joe; we will all miss you.

All the best, my friend,
Daniel Leimeter
Working at Todd-AO Sound Studios

From Carl Williams

So sorry to hear of Joe Kelly passing. Joe's unflappable demeanor resulted in the exhibition finesse of many of those 70mm roadshow attractions of the 50's and 60's. His technical ability came with a friendly word and a smile. He will be missed.

Carl Williams

From Richard Vetter

Joe Kelly was an enormous talented contributor to film exhibition. Here is a transcript of the message I sent to his family upon learning of his passing:

"Joe was my closest friend, mentor, supporter and contributor to our joint projects during the many years we were associated with United Artists Theatres.

Of all my friends, past and present, Joe was always at the top of my list. He contributed more than I to our joint projects and I will forever be grateful to him.

I remember vividly visiting your home on Long Island on several occasions. Joe, Eleanor, three sons and the little sister. They are part of my cherished memories.

I'm having difficulty with the realization that he has left us. We were like loyal brothers.

I hope you all receive my message of gratitude for your Father's steadfast loyalty to me and our associates and our great times together in the US and Europe.

You should all be very proud of him, as I am.

I send you my sincere regards and trust that you will receive my memories of your Father with rejoice that he was one of a kind and no one can replace him.

I will always miss him."

I loved Joe and the Kelly family.
Dick Vetter

From Joe's Family

Joe's Passing

Hi Bob,

It is with great sadness to inform you of Joe's passing. Joe passed on Friday 9/18/09 after a long illness. We are holding services at Nolan Funeral Home, 5 Laurel Ave, Northport, NY 11768-3166 631-754-2400


The Kelly Family, John, Tom, James and Deborah, 9/19/2009
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Updated 07-01-23