Astor Theatre

1531 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 226 - 250 of 341 comments

dodgerg
dodgerg on October 29, 2006 at 2:59 am

In the Spring of 1955, I was an aspiring artist, living in Greenwich Village. I worked nights at the Astor Theater as an usher/doorman. My job was to strut up and down under the big marquee, all dressed up like an admiral, and spout out the following lines in a loud voice: “Step right this way, ladies and gentlemen! Next show begins in 15 minutes! Immediate seating in the balcony! Tonight we have "East of Eden”, with James Dean, Julie Harris and Raymond Massey!“ I think I saw "East of Eden” 16 times. James Dean was my hero. On my breaks I would sit on the curb in front of the Astor with the manager of the nearby hot dog stand, smoking cigarettes and watching the girls go by. After my shift ended, about 2 o'clock in the morning, I’d walk all the way back downtown to the little 2-room apartment on West 4th Street that I shared with my best buddy, a boxer who earned his money sparing at Stillman’s gym. i still have my pay envelope from the Astor. I was pleasantly surprised to find your interesting site, and to see how much interest there still is for the Astor and the old Times Square.
Dodger G

RobertR
RobertR on October 18, 2006 at 4:55 pm

Another great GWTW ad
View link

RobertR
RobertR on October 9, 2006 at 4:54 pm

We will never see films presented in such a classy way like this again
View link

Gilbert
Gilbert on September 12, 2006 at 3:31 pm

Pause for reflection..
Back to the good news…
In case anyone is interested, Buffie Johnson’s work is still represented by the Anita Shaplosky Gallery, NY, who showed an original panel from the Astor Mural in an exhibition in 2002 celebrating Buffie Johnson’s 90th birthday. As we know, the panel was not 45 feet high.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on September 12, 2006 at 3:09 pm

My compliments to the NYT and whomever asked for correcting history!
This is good news.

Now about the war on terrorism…

Gilbert
Gilbert on September 12, 2006 at 2:00 pm

Yeah, that’s what I thought, and I didn’t even have to notify the NYT of their mistake! Was that you Warren, or one of Buffie’s friends? Or did the NYT spontaneously admit to a mistake..?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 12, 2006 at 6:18 am

The September 11, 2006 issue of The New York Times carried the following correction on page A2: “An obituary on Sept. 2 about the artist Buffie Johnson misstated the dimensions of the panels that made up the mural she painted for the Astor Theater in New York in the late 1950’s. Although the finished mural was 45 feet high, each of its 224 panels measured roughly 5 feet by 10 feet; the panels themselves were not 45 feet high.”

Gilbert
Gilbert on September 4, 2006 at 11:10 am

Thanks Warren I’ll give it a go, but am checking my source first, would hate to have to ask the NYT to print a correction of a correction!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 3, 2006 at 7:26 am

Sugs, if you doubt the accuracy of the claim in the obituary, I suggest that you send an e-mail to They will usually investigate and print a correction if they find that the account was wrong.

Gilbert
Gilbert on September 3, 2006 at 6:12 am

Thanks Warren, I don’t think much of the accuracy in the NYT obit however. The murals cannot have been made up of 200 panels each 45 feet high. My info is that each panel was 10 feet high. If they were 45 feet, where on earth would the artist have stored them once they were returned?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 2, 2006 at 3:30 pm

The following is quoted from the obituary of Buffie Johnson published in The New York Times on September 2, 2006: “In the late 1950’s, Ms. Johnson was commissioned to paint a huge abstract mural for the Astor Theater on Broadway at 45th Street. Comprising more than 200 45-foot-high panels, the mural, in deep blues, evoked the city at night. The panels were returned to her when the theater was demolished in 1982.”

Gilbert
Gilbert on August 23, 2006 at 9:39 am

Hi, I’ve been reading this page with some interest, particularly the pieces about the Astor Mural. You might be interested to know that Buffie Johnson, the artist who painted the murals, died in New York on Augist 11 2006 at the excellent age of 94. Buffie was still painting up until about five years ago when her sight sadly failed. There is no detailed biography available about this once important abstract artist and I am hoping to include her in a book I am writing about a group of avant-garde artists who were active in the 1940’s. I wonder if anybody knows what happenned to the mural, which was said to be the largest in the world at the time it was assembled. As it was made up of over 200 smaller panels, does anybody know where any of these might be? Have you looked in your loft..?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 18, 2006 at 12:06 pm

Right, Bill. I forgot about HTWWW. I think Warren’s suggestion makes sense. Of course, these days, it is not uncommon to see several different Jude Law or Cuba Gooding, Jr, movies opening up within weeks of each other. Neither of those actors are even half the star John Wayne was in his hey day, but you get the point. Perhaps the example of Robert DeNiro (who has been quite ubiquitous in recent years) is a better comparison.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 18, 2006 at 11:56 am

Ed: I felt the same way when I found out that “How the West Was Won” had its world premiere in London in November 1962, then had several more 1962 openings in Europe, Japan and Australia before finally coming to the US in February 1963. It didn’t even open in New York until April. An unusual release pattern, but I’m sure MGM and Cinerama had their reasons.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 18, 2006 at 10:51 am

That never occurred to me, Warren. Good point. Just a friendly note here – I’d feel just as informed by your comment and a bit less like I’ve been chastised if you didn’t use the quotations in your response. Seriously, just a friendly note – I don’t want to start a war and I’m sure you didn’t intend any condescension. But a courteous tone goes a long way towards stemming possible ill will.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 17, 2006 at 3:17 pm

No, I don’t think it was “a bit odd.” It was just good business sense. Wayne was making more movies than he probably should have in those days. Their releases had to be spaced out, or he would have been competing against himself.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 17, 2006 at 2:25 pm

The Duke at the Astor:
McHilarious! – Daily News 11/25/63

According to imdb.com, this one opened in the UK in February, 1963, a full 9 months before coming to the States! A bit odd for a Wayne vehicle, wouldn’t you say?

irajoel
irajoel on July 23, 2006 at 1:05 pm

You can view some nice images of movie material here. Most are souvnir programs and most are for sale. I have posted here a real nice photo of some man stanging under the astor sign for spellbound.
http://s110.photobucket.com/albums/n94/irajoel/

you can also view my entire inventory for sale at
www.cinemagebooks.com
email me at

SeanVQ
SeanVQ on April 19, 2006 at 3:45 am

MGM movies showcased at the Astor:
11/27/1925 – ‘The Big Parade’ – John Gilbert & Renee Adoree
09/23/1927 – ‘The Student Prince’ – Ramon Novarro & Norma Shearer
12/30/1927 – ‘The Enemy’ – Lillian Gish & Ralph Forbes
03/23/1928 – ‘The Trail of 98’ – Dolores del Rio & Ralph Forbes
08/03/1928 – ‘White Shadows’ – Monte Blue & Raquel Torres
11/16/1928 – ‘Jimmy Valentine’ – William Haines & Leila Hyams
02/08/1929 – ‘The Broadway Melody’ – Bessie Love & Charles King
06/14/1929 – ‘The Hollywood Revue’ – All Star Revue
12/20/1929 – ‘Devil-May-Care’ – Ramon Novarro & Dorothy Jordan
01/24/1930 – ‘The Rogue Song’ – Lawrence Tibbett & Catherine Dale Owen
06/27/1930 – ‘The Big House’ – Chester Morris & Wallace Beery
10/24/1930 – ‘War Nurse’ – Robert Montgomery & June Walker
12/26/1930 – ‘New Moon’ – Lawrence Tibbett & Grace Moore
02/06/1931 – ‘Trader Horn’ – Edwina Booth & Harry Carey
06/05/1931 – ‘A Free Soul’ – Norma Shearer & Leslie Howard
09/11/1931 – ‘The Guardsman’ – Alfred Lunt & Lynn Fontanne
11/15/1931 – ‘The Champ’ – Wallace Beery & Jackie Cooper
12/25/1931 – ‘Hell Divers’ – Clark Gable & Wallace Beery
04/15/1932 – ‘Grand Hotel’ – John Barrymore & Greta Garbo
09/02/1932 – ‘Strange Interlude’ – Norma Shearer & Clark Gable
11/11/1932 – ‘Payment Deferred’ – Charles Laughton
12/23/1932 – ‘Rasputin and the Empress’ – The Barrymores
03/17/1933 – ‘The White Sister’ – Helen Hayes & Clark Gable
04/28/1933 – ‘Hell Below’ – Robert Montgomery & Walter Huston
08/25/1933 – ‘Dinner At Eight’ – John Barrymore & Jean Harlow
11/17/1933 – ‘Eskimo’ – Travelogue
12/29/1933 – ‘Queen Christina’ – Greta Garbo & John Gilbert

CelluloidHero2
CelluloidHero2 on March 3, 2006 at 5:50 am

I recently saw the TVM “It’s Good To Be Alive”,(Roy Campanella story) on the Fox Movie Channel and during the opening credits there is a great shot of the Astor Theatre. In the background you can see the Victoria. Another quick scene shows the Harlem Theater. The film was made in the early 70’s with Paul Witfield as Campy. A young Lou Gossett is also in the film. The real Campy bookends the story as he sits at a desk writing his life story. Also, in the opening credits are nice clips of Campy and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on January 1, 2006 at 5:42 pm

In the new picture book on Dean there is a full page photo of the Astor marquee and billboard at the time of Eden.
Those individual billboards from the 30’s to the 50’s are wonderful but I remember as a boy seeing the block long billboard with The Bible, Dr Dolittle, Star and Krakatoa. They were pretty spectacular to me.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 21, 2005 at 10:02 am

I recently found a Playbill from May of 1981 in my collection that includes the following Q & A about the Astor from it’s “Dear Playbill…” section:

Dear Playbill: While walking down B'way recently, I suddenly realized that the Astor Theater on the corner of 45th Street was gone. When did it disappear? Wasn’t it once a legitimate theatre?
—– Melvin G. Lustig, West New York, N.J.
A: Although the Astor Theatre building still stands, the space was converted to a Flea Market emporium a few years ago. Yes, the Astor opened on September 21, 1906 as a legitimate theater. It housed such hits as George M. Cohan’s “Seven Keys to Baldpate (1913), the first Pulitzer Prize Play "Why Marry?” (1917) and Fay Bainter in “East Is West” (1918). After 1925, it operated as a reserved seat, two-a-day movie house for the showing of prestigious films.

I also found a 1978 Playbill that lists in its Theater Guide productions playing at the Bijou, Morosco and Helen Hayes theaters – all of which were demolished in 1982 along with the Astor and Victoria movie theaters to make way for the Marriot Marquis Hotel. Some great reading material in these Playbills along with the ads for Pan-Am, TWA and long gone NYC restaurants and nightclubs (Hawaii Kai, Luchows, Mama Leone’s). I posted some other references from these Playbills on the pages for the Lyric Theater and the 42nd Street Apollo here on the site.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 16, 2005 at 11:02 am

“On the Beach” was the first movie shown at the “new” Astor, and opened just before Christmas in 1959.

ERD
ERD on November 16, 2005 at 9:56 am

I remember going with my friends to the Astor as a teenager when it was remodeled in the late 1950’s. I think I saw “ON THE BEACH” there.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 15, 2005 at 7:24 am

In Stanley Kubrick’s 1955 film Killer’s Kiss available on a nice DVD, there are extended night scenes of the Times Square area and its theatres. One gets clear views of the Victoria with a large display for The Man Between, the Astor with Queen of Sheba, and the Embassy Newsreel Theatre. There are snippets of more. That part must have been shot around November of 1953.