Astor Theatre

1531 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 226 - 250 of 251 comments

RobertR on April 18, 2005 at 9:38 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 2:12 pm

What an incredible year, that 1939!

VincentParisi on March 14, 2005 at 10:33 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 10:54 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 10:36 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 10:27 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 3:02 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 3:00 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 10:20 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 4, 2005 at 12:48 am

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 12:08 pm

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 11:51 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 10:16 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 10:46 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 12:59 pm

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 12:56 pm

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 12:45 pm

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 12:15 pm

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!

RCMH on December 30, 2004 at 1:04 am

Anyone have an idea where I can get a list of major films that played at both the Astor & Victoria theatres? Already know about GONE WITH THE WIND, THE BIG PARADE, THE BROADWAY MELODY and SPELLBOUND, but would like to find out the names other major films that opened at the 2 theatres. Its for a project we are working on at the New York Marriott Marquis. One of our ballrooms is named for the Astor Theatre. Thanjs in advance.

BoxOfficeBill on November 30, 2004 at 3:45 pm

Thanks, Warrenâ€"that’s a terrific book. The billboards at the Astor and Victoria were magnificent in the late 40s and early 50s. For the most part, they used bulb-lit block majuscules with a few minimally painted figures behind them. At the Astor, I remember “Enchantment” (Dec. ’47) spelled out three times and blinking on and off in dizzying combinations (at the age of five, I didn’t know what the word meant); “Harvey” (Dec. ’50) spelled out to the right of a thirty-foot representation of James Stewart and the bunny; and “Limelight” (Nov. ’52) spelled out beneath the face of an old, wistful Charles Chaplin. At the Victoria, I recall “The Third Man” (Feb. ’50) spelled out to the right of Orson Welles’s hulking shadow; and a near-copy of the latter for “The Man Between” (Dec. ’53) with a neon-circling bicycle substituting for Welles. The most elaborate one was for “Quo Vadis” at the Astor (Nov. ’51), with a forty-foot high representation of Deborah Kerr tied to a circus stake left of the title, a smaller Peter Ustinov plucking his lyre right of it, and a top and bottom border of flickering neon flames as Rome burned. Nearly as elaborate was one for “Joan of Arc” at the Victoria (Nov. ’48), with the facial representation of an armour-clad Ingrid Bergman calling for infantry over her shoulder, to the left of the title. If I’m right, the much duller block-long painted-ad sign first advertised an automobile trade-show at the Colosseum in Fall, ’55. BTW, “Times Square Style” provides a rare color photo of a stage show at the Roxy, on page 35, upper right, with sixteen Roxyettes balancing themselves on beach balls, while a jazz band (Louis Armstrong?) plays behind them; as a kid, I had a post-card of that image, which identified it as a Roxy performance.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 20, 2004 at 8:16 pm

The two Gaiety’s are the same in name only. The present one, located above Howard Johnson’s restaurant, was never a playhouse or moviehouse, to my knowledge.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 20, 2004 at 4:35 pm

To add to Box Office Bill’s list, I believe that when It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World ended its year-long Cinerama run at the Warner, it moved to the Victoria, which is where I saw it. Don’t know if this was an exclusive engagement, though – it was probably part of what they called “Premiere Showcase” in those days.

BoxOfficeBill on July 20, 2004 at 4:23 pm

Bryan and Vincent-
Thanks for the cross-references. Am I right that Minsky’s B'que played at the Gaiety—or did it play at the former Gotham a block north on W 47? As a movie theater, the Victoria held a distinguished record. It underwent renovations in the 40s that used the former stage space for seating and brok e through the rear wall to add an extension to the building. Shimmering steel medalions covered the red-velvet walls. CinemaScope required further modification of the narrow proscenium to accommodate the screen. From the late-40s through the mid-60s films included Joan of Arc, Born Yesterday, A Star Is Born (day-dating at the Paramount), Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove—no mean listof goodies. Box Office Biill.

VincentParisi on July 16, 2004 at 3:37 pm

The Victoria was originally the Gaiety which lives on today as the Gaiety male burlesque house(I am not making this up) across the street.

BoxOfficeBill on July 16, 2004 at 2:52 pm

Why doesn’t this site offer a listing for the Astor’s Times Square mate, the Victoria Theater on the corner of B'way and W. 46 Street?