Radio City Music Hall

1260 6th Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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RobertR on February 11, 2004 at 10:40 am

I remember an engagement of “The Magic of Lassie” in 1978 which starred James Stewart, Mickey Rooney and the first appearance in 20 years of Alice Faye. The theatre was packed almost to capacity. They had Lassie on stage 5x a day with The Rockettes. It may have been corny but was alot of fun.

VincentParisi on February 11, 2004 at 6:36 am

Yes Bruce I often went to the Music Hall in the early ‘70’s and the films were dreadful(1776 and Mame which should have been perfect Music Hall product were pretty awful.) Occasionally they got lucky like a What’s Up Doc but that was pretty rare. Films were being made during that period that would have been suitable such as the That’s Entertainment films, The Way We Were and Prisoner of Second Av. The Hollywood producers of the era did not want to give the Music Hall their product despite the fact that their opening engagements in NY had less seats than the Music Hall. The low budget stage shows did not help. If you see some of the color photos of the stage shows from the 50’s you’ll know why the Music Hall had what was called the Great Stage. It may not have been art but it must have been a helluva lot of fun and very impressive. The Music Hall with its concerts today is pretty much being wasted. Leonidoff knew how to use the stage and its settings to maximum effect. For the Christmas show today it just seems to be lights on, lights off, stage up, stage down. I can’t imagine the producers there today using any imagination or showmanship. These people can only see what’s at the end of their noses. That’s why they have these positions and make the big bucks. As well, the Music hall today is reduced to having kiddie shows like Barney and The Rug Rats. What would Roxy have thought?

bruceanthony on February 10, 2004 at 4:32 pm

Radio City Music Hall went into decline in the late 60’s and the 1970’s for various reasons. The Music Hall always had the top class A films available to them from the 1930’s thru 1967. The Music Hall then had trouble getting good G rated films to go along with there stage shows. Then the Music Hall would play many films that weren’t very good such as The Promise and 1776. The Music Hall STARTED to loose money in the Fall and the months following The Christmas show and the months following The Easter Show. To stem the loss the Music Hall would close down there film and stage show during some of the slower months to reduce the red ink. I think a summer stage show along with classic films from all decades that would include the Rockettes is a wonderful idea. Maybe a corpoarate sponser could help fund the summer show if needed. If the Music Hall had a major concert the summer show could be dark that day. I feel the Music Hall has yet to reach its full potential. Cablevision bring back the stage and film presentation on a limited time such as summer when a lot of tourists are in town. brucec

VincentParisi on February 10, 2004 at 2:56 pm

Recalling the long lines that people used to wait on to get in to see a film at Radio City I was told by a long time usher, who had been there since The Miracle in ‘59, that the longest that he could remember was for “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.” One amazing Saturday people who had gotten there at 11AM only got in at 7PM. I always wondered if this was true or simply a Music Hall legend.

RobertR on February 10, 2004 at 9:11 am

I also recall a few summers ago there was a Universal festival one night a week for a month. I managed to catch Psyco.

VincentParisi on February 10, 2004 at 9:03 am

I remember that as well. I saw Funny Face, Seven Brides, and Flower Drum Song during that period. Boy did they look great in the Music Hall. The cinemscope screen was the largest I had ever seen.I could only envy the original audiences for whom those films and that type of presentation were an every day occurrence. As casual as going to the multiplex for most people today.

RobertR on February 10, 2004 at 7:32 am

I remember that year of the MGM revivals that p7350 mentioned, I went to see all of them. When I was in college in 1979-80 they were presenting morning musicals for a few months on that awesome screen.

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on February 5, 2004 at 4:19 pm

I have never seen anything like Radio City Music Hall. Who can imagine a stage on hydrolics either going up and down in three different places, on three different levels or rotating in circles with the Rockettes' legs a-kicking? My lower jaw drops when I go into this place.

p7350 on February 2, 2004 at 1:59 pm

Would love to see a film and stage show presentation again. I remember waiting in line for 3 hours to see the 1958 Christmas show when “Auntie Mame” was playing. Still have the Showplace magazine they use to hand out. I also remember in the spring of 1975 they kept the same stage show and changed the film. It was great seeing Gone With The Wind and Singin' In The Rain on the big screen. They also played 2001: A Space Odyssey and Doctor Zhivago during that engagement.

Vito on February 2, 2004 at 6:58 am

That would be wonderful vincent, I would be there every week, in my favorite seat, front row in the first balcony. As for movies, I don’t understand why the Hall never shows them anymore. What a magnificent experience for all the young people who have to endure a movie sitting in a tiny multiplex and have never experienced seeing a movie in a theatre like RCMH. The last time I believe a movie was shown there at all was back in 2002 with a special 40th anniversary presentation of “West Side Story” I believe the same was done for the 50th anniversaty of “Singin In The Rain” We should, all of us, write the management and suggest something like a movie now and then accompanied by a stage show.

VincentParisi on February 2, 2004 at 6:18 am

What would be great is if the Music Hall would have a summer stage show much as it had years ago for the tourists and as it now how has at Christmas in the style of Markert and Leonidoff. I’m sure that many people are still around who were a part of this and would remember the stagings.The settings and costumes exist in designs in theater collections and photos.(I remember the landing on the moon from the ‘69 Christmas show and I understand in '59 with The Nun’s Story they burned Nome, Alaska 4 times a day.
In between they could show a classic film that played at the Hall like King Kong, Swing Time, North by Norwest or The Music Man which would look unlike anything people see on DVD. They could change the film every week keeping the stage spectacle the same throughout the summer due to costs. Why should we only get the Rockettes at Christmas? They are still as great as ever.

Vito on February 2, 2004 at 5:02 am

Sorry Warren, I was refering to the Center theatre on B'way built in 1914 which I believe Roxy managed but did not build.

Vito on February 1, 2004 at 11:07 am

That is how I remember things as well, thanks Warren for clearing all that up. I believe the original Center was built back in 1914

Vito on February 1, 2004 at 9:37 am

There sems to be a bit of confusion in my mind regarding the Roxy and the Center theatres I am thinking perhaps they were not the same. Having lived in New York all my life I remember the Roxy all thru the 50s and60s but not the center. Weren’t they two different theatres? THe Roxy is the theatre that presented Cinemascope for the first time and played ice shows on stage, not the Center. I think the Center was demolished to make way for what later became Rockefeller Center and NBC had their TV studios there. Can anyone clear this up.

Vito on February 1, 2004 at 9:28 am

Thanks Warren, my only memory of the Roxy is post 1953 after the Cinemascope engagement of “The Robe” which was followed by a string of Fox Cinemascope films, Fox played all the big ones there with the smaller films going to the Paramount. Most if not all the Roxy stage shows, as I recall, were on ice, and yes I recall the stage was cosiderably smaller than the Hall. They now have tours of the great Music Hall, which includes backstage, if you are in New York it’s a must see.

Vito on January 31, 2004 at 2:39 pm

Quite right Warren, in fact movies playing at Radio City and Roxy were exclusive and no other theatre within a 100 miles could play those films at the same time. I also heard, but not sure of the fact, that “King Kong” was so big when it opened that it played at both theatres continuously. I knew someone who had been a projectionist at the hall during the 50s and 60s, when 3 or sometimes even 4 projectionists were on duty at all times running the four,later to become five, projectors. The film presentaion there was always perfect.

ERD on January 30, 2004 at 10:15 pm

I went to the MUSIC HALL many times through the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. I still have many of the programs throughout those decades.
I and many friends signed petitions to save the theatre back in 1978. I was there on the evening that was suppose to be the final
show, It was a benefit performance for the Vairety CLub Foundatrion of New York.(April 18, 1978) Happily, the theatre was saved. S.L.“Roxy” Rothafel,father of the movie palace, got the idea for the
“SUNBURST” stage when watching the sun setting while aboard a ship.

VincentParisi on January 27, 2004 at 1:18 pm

I worked at the Music Hall as an usher during the Easter Show in ‘76. The film was Robin and Marian and even Pauling Kael was wondering what this was doing as a holiday film at Radio City. This while That’s Entertainment II(which should have been at the Music Hall) was playing a few blocks away at the Ziegfeld. At this point the stage show was a shadow of its former self and an embarrassment to all. It’s unfortunate that the present owners see no need to show films or resurrect the stage shows of Markert and Leonidoff(The Undersea and Rhapsody in Blue ballets were sensational.) The current Christmas show has no relation to what they did except for the Rockettes. The Living Nativity is a joke and deserves a big fat Bronx cheer from believers and non-believers alike. The original Nativity pageant was a Renaissance painting come to life.

Vito on January 27, 2004 at 11:03 am

The Music hall was one of the few theatres to install VistaVision projectors for the engagement of “White Christmas” in 1954.

RobertR on January 9, 2004 at 11:51 am

The last fillm to play there was “The Promise”, starring Kathleen Quinlan.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 11, 2003 at 7:50 pm

I remember standing in line as a small child with my grandfather at Christmas time to see whatever movie happened to be playing along with the Rockettes Holiday show. There used to be a big Easter Show as well. Those lines would wind down 50th street and then turn into Rockefeller Plaza zig-zag back and forth like those ridiculous queues in Disney World during peak periods. Having been to Radio City years before I ever set foot in a theme park, I had never experienced the like before. I still have the souvenir program for what was to have been the final movie presentation at Radio City (a Prince and the Pauper story entitled “Crossed Swords”) back in 1978. Luckily, I never peeled off the “Final Attraction” sticker affixed to the front cover, even though the closing of the theater (temporary as it would be) wound up being delayed and at least one or two other features played there before it was reborn as a concert and special event venue.

Jean on October 27, 2002 at 5:27 am

Radio City had an Art Deco exposition in 1975. It was wonderful. SO many vendors selling all SORTS of Deco items. I still have the poster from the show. In the theatre, they played the original black and white movie “King Kong” which I believe premiered there in 1933?

John P Keating Jr
John P Keating Jr on December 2, 2001 at 10:25 am

In the 1950’s I saw Doris Day and James Cagney in Love Me Or Leave Me plus a stage show featuring the Rockettes. You could sit anywhere you liked and stay as long as you wanted.

Benjamingonski on November 27, 2001 at 7:25 am

Just a note to let you know how much I appreciated the hospitality shown to me Sat. 11/24. Since I ordered my tickets through the Polish American Citizens Club of Hadley last July, my back problem has gotten worse. An usher by the name of Ken Adell saw my plight, helped me up 2 steps and told me & my wife to wait there. About a minute later, he came back with a wheel chair and the rest is history. Unbelievable hospitality, especially with all the people you had to put up with. Ken actually went out of his way to help me. PLEASE, thank him for me. I first started going to the Christmas shows in 1947.

TomDavis on June 17, 2001 at 1:53 pm

What a place! Just going to the restroom was an artistic experience. In 1950 I saw a sneak preview of Marlon Brando’s first movie, “The Men,” at Radio City.