Robert Endres
Robert Endres

Obituary of Robert O Endres

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“Class of '57”


Robert O. Endres, a pioneering figure in the world of film projection and a cherished member of the Radio City Music Hall legacy, passed away on June 25. Robert was born to Oral and Dorothy Endres in 1939 and raised in Streator, Illinois. He attended high school in Streator where he became interested in broadcasting as well as motion-picture projection. Bob's first job in his teen years was as a combination janitor and disc jockey at the local radio station. He first developed a love for film at the Plumb and Majestic Theaters in downtown Streator. As Bob recalled in the collaborative online project Planetary Projection  (link: “I was around nine years old when I first entered a projection booth. I had been given a 16mm hand-cranked projector by my uncle and, already a movie fan, I was fascinated by it. I attended a Saturday matinee at the Majestic Theatre in my hometown of Streator, Illinois. I was seated in the balcony right in front of the projection booth and stood on the arm rests of two of the theater seats to peer through the projection port. Not seeing as much as I’d like, I went around to the booth door and was peeking through the keyhole when a manager caught me and ushered me into the booth. I was scared at being caught but fascinated by the equipment. By the time I was twelve, I was being taught how to thread one of those machines by one of the projectionists.” 


Following his graduation from Streator High in 1957 he attended the University of Illinois, receiving a bachelor of arts in journalism in 1962, and then went on to work for Streator’s WIZZ radio station. In 1963, he received a master’s degree in radio and television, then, while pursuing his doctoral degree, worked at the local radio station from 1963-1967. While in Streator, Endres became a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Motion Picture Machine Operators union (I.A.T.S.E.) and worked as a relief projectionist at local theaters. He next accepted a job as head projectionist at the Kankakee Theater, where he would remain until 1974. 


From Kankakee, Mr. Endres moved to New York City and fulfilled a lifelong dream; he became Head Projectionist at Radio City Music Hall, a position he retained for 25 years. As he noted in Planetary Projection “When I was seventeen, I was in Radio City Music Hall for the first time. I had read about it and had always wanted to see it. My parents and I were visiting relatives in New Jersey when we took a side trip to New York City and I was able to see the film High Society and the stage show, which included Undersea Ballet (with both front and rear projection effects). I was blown away.” 

In 1999, Endres left Radio City for a job as Projection Technician in Dolby's New York City screening room. He also worked several projection side jobs though the union, including for advertising agencies, film laboratories and movie studios, and acted as background projectionist for CBS on the television shows Search for TomorrowAs the World Turns and Captain Kangaroo. His career highlights include Abel Gance’s Napoleon, with its three-screen triptych at Radio City; the 25th anniversary celebration of the Metropolitan Opera; running ‘dailies’ screenings for Sydney Lumet on seven of his pictures, including his last; and working for director Otto Preminger in his home screening room in Manhattan. 


Bob was a member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (S.M.P.T.E.) and held an FCC First Class Radiotelephone Operator License for operating broadcast stations. He was also a proud member of I.A.T.S.E. Union Locals 193 and 306.  Bob Endres has made several generous donations to enterprises in his hometown, supporting both the Streator Public Library and the Majestic Theater. He also made generous donations to his alma mater, The University of Illinois. When asked about his work, Mr. Endres said that he saw his job as making the best production he could with the equipment provided. Two of his favorite quips about work was “Ya ain’t been booed ‘til you’ve been booed by 6000 people” referring to his projection work at Radio City Music Hall which seats nearly 6000, and "I tell people I’ve been hanging around projection booths from B.C. to A.D.: Before CinemaScope to After Digital”. 


Bob was an avid New York Times crossword worker and film lover. He thoroughly enjoyed living in New York and rarely traveled far from his Midtown Manhattan home but always stayed connected with his friends and colleagues in Streator and Galesburg, Illinois. Bob’s musical tastes were wide and varied but one of his favorite songs was The Class of ’57 by the Statler Brothers. Many thanks to his neighbors Jeremiah and Norma Hawkins and Bob's in-house healthcare team for caring for Bob In his final days on the planet



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Robert Endres

In Loving Memory

Robert Endres

1937 - 2024

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