Astor Theatre

1531 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 226 - 250 of 258 comments

teecee on July 12, 2005 at 8:58 am

Nice close up image from 1955:

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Source: MPTV

mlobel on July 12, 2005 at 4:34 am

As an art historian, I’m duly impressed by all the knowledge and insight evident in the postings on this site. So I’m turning to all of you to see if I can get some help with my current research. I’m currently working on a book on the Pop artist James Rosenquist; some of you may know that Rosenquist was a billboard painter in New York City in the 1950s. My sense is that he worked on some of the major Times Square billboards; I’ve seen a photograph of one he did for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which a caption indicates was done in 1957 at 49th St. and Broadway (any guesses as to which theatre that was?). In any case, I’m particularly interested in a 1959 painting by Rosenquist titled “Astor Victoria.” It’s a mostly abstract canvas of paintstrokes and hatchmark with some fragmentary letters – probably supposed to represent a close-up view of a billboard. But after reading the posts on this site I’m struck by the timing of the painting, since the posts indicate that the Astor Theatre was modernized in 1959. So, my questions: 1) Was there an “Astor Victoria” theatre, or are those two entirely separate theatres? 2) Depending on the answer to #1, could “Astor Victoria” refer to the billboard shared between the two theatres, which I’m assuming would have been on B'way between 45th & 46th? If so, when was that enlarged billboard first used? 3) Did the 1959 modernization of the interior of the Astor theatre also affect the exterior in any way? I’m asking these questions because I think Rosenquist was concerned with the modernization of NYC and the destruction of its architectural past, and this may be registered in his paintings of the time. (He also painted a 1962 painting entitled “Mayfair,” which I’m also thinking referred to the Mayfair theatre; hadn’t this been recently modernized as well?) Sorry for the long post – any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated. You can also e-mail me at if that’s easier for you. Many thanks! -Michael Lobel, Assistant Professor, SUNY Purchase

RobertR on June 11, 2005 at 10:46 am

August 1941 the Astor was playing the MGM hit “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” with Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman.

CelluloidHero2 on June 7, 2005 at 7:20 pm

The just released 2 disc DVD of East of Eden contains a 15 minute TV special of the World Premiere at the Astor Theater. You see some nice views of Time Square and the Astor Marquee. However, what is really nice is that about 9 minutes into the show they switch to inside the theater where you see some great views of the auditorium as the cameraman scans back and forth across the theater.

RobertR on June 7, 2005 at 6:32 am

A NY Times ad for 10/5/52 shows the Astor playing Warner Bros. “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima” in its 7th spectacular week.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 13, 2005 at 8:07 am

I saw that film on CUNY, too. Fascinating look at New York, in startling color.

RobertR on April 18, 2005 at 7:03 pm

Here is the Astor again in 1948.

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RobertR on April 18, 2005 at 6:38 pm

Check out the neon on the Astor and Victoria, you will never see the likes of it again.

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BoxOfficeBill on April 13, 2005 at 11:12 am

What an incredible year, that 1939!

VincentParisi on March 14, 2005 at 7:33 am

So how did a Goldwyn/Wyler film like Wuthering Heights miss the Music Hall and what was Powell at her height as an MGM star doing headlining a vaudeville bill for a second run feature at the State?

VincentParisi on January 26, 2005 at 7:54 am

Does anybody remember like me that when they were tearing down the marquee one saw that underneath was the curved frame of the marquee that one sees in photos of the exterior of the theater from the early 30s? Who would have thought that it still existed for 50 years hidden away.

BoxOfficeBill on January 26, 2005 at 7:36 am

Warren— whew! that’s quite a tale of the thuggish ‘30s. I remember the '37-'59 decor of the Astor as being curtained-over with pale blue draperies. The entire proscenium was covered by them, and they extended over the tapered area where box-seats had been (the boxes had been removed). There are photos of the pre-'37 Astor in Nicholas von Hoogstraden’s book about theater architecture, no? The wide screen that the Astor installed in '53 was much too big for the theater— so big that an annoying shutter flicker spoiled every film I saw there from then until “On the Beach.” (A few weeks ago I vowed not to name films on this page, but now that I’ve broken my own rule I’ll mention Rita Hayworth in “Separate Tables” and Katherine Hepburn in “The Rainmaker."among thosepresentations.) Thanks for this incursion into the Astor’s history.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 26, 2005 at 7:27 am

I remember those blue sidewalks! Except when I saw them, they were the floor of a souvenir shop. By the time I got to Times Square the Astor was closed, although I knew that the shop had once been a theater, or at least its lobby. I wish I had the wherewithal to try to get a peek inside, but I didn’t.

RCMH on January 6, 2005 at 12:02 pm

Many Tony Awards presentations where held at the old Astor Hotel Ballroom. For many years, the Broadway Ballroom at the Marquis hosted the post-Tony Awards banquet.

RCMH on January 6, 2005 at 12:00 pm

The ballroom at the Astor Hotel was world-famous, but management at the Marquis in 1985 didn’t want to name one of the rooms after another hotel, even if that hotel was no longer there. The same reson there is not a room named after the Piccadilly Hotel that stood between the Music Box & the Morosco. They equated Times Square with theaters, not other hotels.

RCMH on January 5, 2005 at 7:20 am

The Astor Plaza Building was already named for the hotel. The powers that be at the time decided to name the ballroom after the theatre.

RCMH on January 3, 2005 at 9:48 pm

Warren & Mikeoaklandpark â€" Thank you for taking the time to actually read my inquiry. Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I will have a base as to where to look up the information that I am interested in. Mike, you certainly went out of your way to include a list, which is most appreciated, but you didn’t really have to do that. I am more than willing to do the research myself.

I am brainstorming with some other associates, who also have an interest in the history of Times Square, on ways to enhance the character of the building, which is finishing up a major renovation. The meeting rooms are named for Broadway theaters, playwrights and various areas of the city. The Astor Ballroom is the only one named for an old Broadway movie theatre. (After it did time as a legit house.) This is an in-house project that Marriott International (there is no Marriott Corporation), is not involved in. (Much the same as in-house projects I did when was managing for General Cinema.)

FYI, the loss of the Astor, Victoria, Helen Hayes, Morosco & Bijou Theaters is attributed to John Portman & Associates, not Marriott. Portman developed, designed and built the hotel and hired Marriott to manage the building. (The Nederlanders operate the Marquis Theater.) Host Marriott later bought the hotel from Portman, at which time it started, with The New York Times and others, the Times Square Business Improvement District. (Now know as the Times Square Alliance.)

By the way BoxOfficeBill, everyone on this site should know that Deborah Kerr, who had to wait until 1993 to get a Life Achievement Award from the Academy, was the star of BLACK NARCISSUS.

VincentParisi on January 3, 2005 at 9:08 am

And to add some bad taste it seems that the Marriott’s grand atrium makes a perfect place for suicides. Could they be architectural students?

BoxOfficeBill on January 3, 2005 at 8:51 am

Right, Vincent. I’ve earlier mentioned from memory titles of films played at the lamented Astor and Victoria but, until Marriott pays blood money, shall refrain silently from doing so again, except perhaps in code designed for readers who already know a lot about movies. For example, if I mentioned “the film that played at the Victoria and won an academy award for color cinematography in 1947,” you’d know that it was the picture in which a true-blue six-time unrewarded AA nominee played a nun in the Himalayas, right? I’m not being, um, Narcissistic here. I may be BO Bill, but old-time Popeye fans will think of Marriott as BO Plenty.

VincentParisi on January 3, 2005 at 7:16 am

Good for you BOBill. The Marriott Marquis is one of the greatest architectural tragedies to ever happen to this city. The theater is a disgrace. The fact that a great NY block was destroyed still has me sputtering in disbelief. Tom tell your selfich greedy employers to cough up some of their ill gotten gains and pay you to do the work you want other people to do. Better yet ask Ed Koch!

BoxOfficeBill on December 31, 2004 at 7:46 am

Right—from the late ‘40s through the '60s, neither the Astor nor the Victoria were wedded to any particular studios, but both played prestigious products from all of them. If you scan through a list of films nominated for Academy Awards in those years, an at least perceived if not real barometer of quality, you’ll find that most of these films played at the Astor, Victoria, or Rivoli.

BoxOfficeBill on December 30, 2004 at 9:59 am

Mikeoaklandpark— Those are accurate data, and others could supplement them with dozens more. But why give Marriott the fruit of your labors scott-free?

BoxOfficeBill on December 30, 2004 at 9:56 am

The Marriott Corp can well afford to pay a skilled researcher to do the leg work (or, rather, to let his or her fingers do the walking) through the NYT or Variety serials. Warren has already provided the key leads. Heaven knows such bibliographic talents get little recognition, even as mamouth corporations squander millions on trivial, self-enchanted pursuits. And heaven knows they frequently resort to quick and greedy grabs at info-facts to satisfy their wants. And heaven help the researcher who messes up this Astor/Victoria project from my reminiscent perspective: one single mistake will get him or her laughed off this page.

Mikeoaklandpark on December 30, 2004 at 9:45 am

in an old book I have called The New York Times Goes To The Movies, it shows Gone With The Wind opened here and the Capital on Dec 19, 1939. The Astor had reserved seats and the Capitol didn’t. Other films were
The Apartment-June 15, 1960 (Also at the Plaza)
The Best Years of Our Lives – Nov 22, 1946
The Champ- Nov 10, 1931
Dr. No- May 29, 1963 (Also at the Murray Hill)
Dinner At 8- World Premiere Aug 23, 1933
Grand Hotel- April 13, 1932
The Great Dictator-Oct 16 1940 Also at the Capital. The Astor had reserved seats and the Capitol didn't
A Hard Days Night-August 12, 1964 (Also at the Trans Lux East)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame- Sept 3, 1923
On The Beach- Dec 18, 1959
On The Waterfront-July 28, 1954
The Phantom Of The Opera- Sept 7, 1925
Rebel Without A Cause- Oct 26, 1955
Sergeant York-Jul 2, 1941
The date may be slightly off. i took the date from the NY Times review.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 30, 2004 at 9:15 am

C'mon, Warren. He only wants some major films that played here, and you could probably give him a short list off the top of your head. Help a brother out!