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An Ultra-Modern Theater for Saginaw and a Chance to Dine Like a Movie Star

“It is air cooled and purified, echo proof and equipped with an electric organ, a sound-proof ‘cry-room’ for noisy children and earphones for the hard of hearing, the Michigan theater 111 Genesee avenue, will open its doors to the public at 1:30 p.m. today. The curtain will go up on the first picture, ‘Ah, Wilderness!’ at 5:30 p.m. The theater is owned by William A. Cassidy and is under the management of Melvin L. Zuehlke, a theater team well known in Saginaw, Midland and Alma.


The $150,000 store and apartment building housing the theater is finished outside in white porcelain enamel. It was designed in the modern trend by Bennett and Straight of Dearborn, architects. Decorative trim is in brilliant shades of blue, green, red and yellow.”

-The Saginaw News, June 28, 1936.


This week’s recipe is from Foods and Fashions of 1936. Although showcasing the lifestyles of screen stars, it was cleverly conceived so that it could be uniquely customized with advertising for local markets and events – in this case Saginaw and the opening of the sleek, stylish Michigan Theater.


The show wasn’t simply on the screen, the movie experience included the theater itself. The Michigan’s dramatic Art Deco design was meant to impress and transport depression-era customers and create an extension of the world created on screen.

In Foods and Fashions of 1936, recipes from the stars on the screen along with fashion advice and tips for entertaining, made Hollywood glamour seem so real. These stories are seamlessly merged with advertising for Saginaw businesses. The booklet made it seem as though one might run into a famous actor while shopping in Saginaw - perhaps while you were having your hair done at Powder Box Beauty Shoppe (at Jefferson and Federal Streets.) If you missed them while out shopping, at least you could prepare their favorite foods at home.


However, illusions are transitive. By 1969, the Michigan Theater - or Theatre (the spelling is inconsistent) - had ceased operating. In the fall of 1985, The Saginaw News announced that the theater would be demolished, noting:


“Neighborhood families flocked to the shiny, red-and-yellow theater on Saginaw’s East Side and waited in lines extending to the street to see the likes of Clark Gable, the Barrymores, Jack Oakie, Mickey Rooney and Marlene Dietrich for 20 cents.” (The Saginaw News, September 4, 1985.)


This link will take you to an earlier post we featured about the Michigan Theatre.


Of course, we could have digressed into the biographies of the stars highlighted in Foods and Fashions of 1936. In case you want to learn more about the contributor of this week’s recipe – Norma Shearer


The Recipe: Norma Shearer's Jellied Pineapple Salad

 From Foods and Fashions of 1936:

Soak 1 tablespoon gelatine in 1/2 cup cold water for five minutes; dissolve in 1/2 cup boiling water, adding 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and touch of green coloring. When this mixture starts to thicken, add 1/2 cup small sweet cucumber pickles, 1/2 cup canned pineapple (cut in small pieces), 1/2 cup chopped almonds, 1/2 cup stuffed sliced olives. Slice pickles thin. Place into wet individual mounds, when firm plate on lettuce leaves and serve with mayonnaise.

Castle Test Kitchen Interpretation


1 T. gelatine (about 1.5 envelopes)

1 C. water

1/4 C. lemon juice

1/2 C. granulated sugar

1/4 t. salt

1/2 C. thin sliced small sweet gherkin pickles

1/2 C. pineapple tidbits (drained)

1/2 C. chopped almonds

1/2 C. sliced olives stuffed with pimento

green food coloring



Pour yourself a glass of champagne, put on your best kitten heels and frilly apron, and prepare yourself to be transported back to Hollywood's Golden Era of gelatine. You may wish to have a velvet fainting couch on standby at any point during the following preparations.

Actress Norma Shearer

In a medium-sized bowl, pour 1/2 C. cold water. Sprinkle 1 T. gelatine over water and allow to bloom for five minutes. Meanwhile, chop/slice/drain your accompanying almonds, pickles, olives, and pineapple.(Feel free to pour yourself another glass of champagne at this point--you'll probably need it by the time it comes to taste-testing).

After five minutes, to the gelatine mixture, add 1/2 C. boiling water, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and one drop of green food coloring (less is more). Stir vigorously while sighing dramatically until the sugar is fully dissolved. Place bowl to chill until slightly thickened in refrigerator.

This is a good time to turn on your favorite Norma Shearer movie. We recommend The Divorcee (1930) which landed her an Academy Award. Keep in mind that the film is about 90 minutes--and it only took us 45 until our gelatine was thickening.

At which point the gelatine mixture has begun to thicken, unceremoniously dump (much like Norma Shearer's character in The Divorcee does to her on-screen husband (Chester Morris)) the (all well-drained) pineapple, sliced pickles, almonds, and olives into the bowl. Stir to evenly distribute and combine.

At this point, you have several options. Norma recommends scooping the mixture into "wet individual mounds," but our scrupulous research has yielded a better, and slightly less appalling, option--placing the mixture into individual ramekins (or a cupcake pan, etc.) or a stunning jello mold.

Place your choice of display back into the refrigerator to completely set--at least another hour, but what's the rush? Finish the movie, finish the bottle of champagne, and invite a few of your closest enemies over for pineapple salad.

At which time you are mentally prepared and armed with a plate (or platter if you chose the jello mold option) covered in lettuce leaves, unmold your masterpiece. You may wish to soak the bottom of the container in hot water for 10-20 seconds to loosen the concoction. Running a knife around the edge may also help.

Once your jellied salad is properly placed, wait to dig in--until you garnish the salad with mayonnaise. Just like Hollywood magic--you've created a salad out of ingredients that don't seem to belong together!



-Despite the odd ingredients and unfortunate "look" of this salad, it actually did not taste as bad as expected (really!). There is something to be said about the creamy mayonnaise bringing together the salty-sweet jello salad--but the almonds were unnecessary and a disturbing texture.

-Much like Norma Shearer made few public appearances after her retirement in 1942 until she died in the 1980s--you may wish to do the same after serving this salad. Be sure to purchase dark sunglasses and a dark wrap for your hair before heading out again.



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