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The 55th Street Playhouse is mentioned in this recent obituary of Cyrus Harvey: View link
Cyrus Harvey has died at the age of 85:
Fifty-seven years ago today, Loew’s State re-opened its stage for 10 days for a “Gala Easter Show” topped by Julius LaRosa and Archie Bleyer & His Orchestra, who’d recently made national headlines when Arthur Godfrey fired the singer and conductor from his radio and TV shows. Also on the variety bill were jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, comedians Herbert & Saxon, and a group known as Wells and The Four Fays. And on its wide-vision screen, the State had the NYC premiere engagement of U-I’s Technicolored “Yankee Pasha,” starring Jeff Chandler and Rhonda Fleming.
During this week in April, 1959, RKO Keith’s Flushing was presenting a CinemaScope & Color double bill of Universal-International releases, “Never Steal Anything Small” (James Cagney-Shirley Jones) and “No Name On The Bullet” (Audie Murphy-Joan Evans). Offering fierce competition was Century’s Prospect, with the first popular-priced engagement of Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” (75 cents days, 99 cents nights, 40 cents for kids at all times). Both theatres were first-run for Flushing, but sharing their programs with others in Queens.
“Hellzapoppin” was actually a “move-over” to the Winter Garden from the 46th Street Theatre, where it opened in 1938 and ran for three months before the WG transfer. It remained at the Winter Garden for three years, and was replaced by a new Olsen & Johnson revue entitled “Sons O' Fun” in December, 1941.
On this night only in 1948, Loew’s Boulevard presented “All Jewish Vodvil” on stage, with Irving Grossman as headliner. On screen was the current B&W double bill of Paramount’s Bob Hope comedy, “Where There’s Life,” and the Republic oater, “The Fabulous Texan.” In that era, the Boulevard’s films were two weeks behind Loew’s Paradise, the circuit’s exclusive leader for the Bronx.
Sixty-eight years ago today, Loew’s State opened its Easter holiday offering with what amounted to a double serving of vaudeville. On screen in its NYC premiere engagement was Republic’s B&W “Hit Parade of 1943,” which starred Susan Hayward and John Carroll but was mainly an excuse for guest performances by three top bands and their leaders (Count Basie, Freddie Martin, Ray McKinley), and entertainers such as Pops & Louie, the Golden Gate Quartet, Charita, and the Music Maids. On stage, the “live” vaudeville included veteran comedian Willie Howard, jazz harpist Adele Girard, pantomimist Danny Rogers, dancers Pritchard & Lord, and Joe Marsala and His Orchestra.
Yes, that is the Playhouse Theatre in Great Neck (Nassau County, Long Island). I compared the photo to one published in The New York Times on July 11, 1982, as part of an article about the Playhouse being converted into a performing arts center. The NYT photo shows a bare stage being used for a rehearsal, but the surrounding decor is exactly the same.
Fifty-seven years ago today, “Out Of This World,” a feature-length travelogue filmed in Tibet by Lowell Thomas and his namesake son, opened its world premiere engagement at the Guild 50th. Advertising prominently mentioned Lowell Thomas' connection with Cinerama, but made no claims about wide screen projection for “Out Of This World,” which had a print by Technicolor. The booking was obviously intended to capitalize on crowds flocking to adjacent RCMH for the Easter holiday show with “Rose Marie” on screen. The 50th Street waiting line for RCMH had a roped-off gap to permit access to the Guild.
Fifty-seven years ago today, UA’s “Witness To Murder,” with Barbara Stanwyck in the title role, opened its world premiere engagement at what was then known as Michael Rose’s Holiday Theatre. Co-starring George Sanders and Gary Merrill, the B&W suspenser was projected on the Holiday’s W-I-D-E Vision Screen. Advertising compared it to Stanwyck’s classic “Double Indemnity” and “Sorry, Wrong Number,” but critics didn’t agree and it ended up as a supporting feature in its neighborhood release.
Is that photo supposed to show the auditiorium of the 8th St. Playhouse? Surely not!
Former borough president Claire Shulman describes the decaying theatre as “a cancer in downtown Flushing for over 20 years” in this article in today’s New York Times: View link
Curiously, Marcus Loew is buried in Kings County in the family mausoleum in Maimonides Cemetery. He died, however, in 1927, and never had any participation in the building of Loew’s Kings. Here’s a photo link: View link
“Meet Danny Wilson” was produced in 1951, but released in 1952. It got reviewed in the trade press in the last week of January, 1952, and was listed on the U-I national release chart for February. The NYC opening was apparently delayed to benefit from Sinatra performing in the stage show as well.
This was built as the Hughes Theatre by Isador Benenson, a real estate investor whose death, at age 68, was reported in The New York Times on 2/21/1946. According to the obituary, Benenson and sons Charles and William were also responsible for the Benenson, Freeman, and Winter Garden cinemas in the Bronx, and the Austin in Kew Gardens, Queens. The Winter Garden was apparently the earliest and closed in the 1920s. The address, according to Michael Miller’s list of Bronx theatres, was 1874 Washington Avenue. Miller gave no seating capacity.
On this day only in 1948, the RKO Hamilton and the RKO Regent in Harlem shared eye-bulging comedian Mantan Moreland as headliner of the vaudeville bill added to that night’s film program. After performing at the Hamilton, Moreland was whisked by taxi to the Regent. He could also be seen on screen that night at both theatres as chauffeur Birmingham Brown in Monogram’s “The Chinese Ring,” his first “Charlie Chan” mystery with Roland Winters as replacement for the deceased Sidney Toler. Co-feature was “Smart Politics,” with Gene Krupa and His Orchestra and Freddie Stewart & The Teen Agers.
Movie advertisements in the Boston Globe can be seen via ProQuest, which is available on the computer systems at many public libraries.
Seventy-nine years ago tonight, MGM’s “Grand Hotel,” which broke tradition by casting five of the studio’s biggest stars in one film, opened its world premiere engagement at the Astor Theatre on a reserved-seat roadshow policy. Starring Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, and Lionel Barrymore, and with the esteemed Lewis Stone and Jean Hersholt heading the supporting cast, the B&W adaptation of Vicki Baum’s best-selling novel went on to win the “Best Picture” Academy Award for 1931-32. Tickets at the Astor were scaled from 50 cents to a top of $2, and bookable eight weeks in advance.
I can’t say for sure, but I think that the Shubert website might have confused United Artists and Universal International. United Artists leased the Broadway Theatre for a time, with such films as “Monsieur Verdoux” and “The Outlaw.” I don’t recall any UA films at the Winter Garden except the British import, “Blithe Spirit,” in 1945.
Ninety-seven years ago tonight, the Mark Strand Theatre had its grand opening with an invitational gala for VIPs and the press, masterminded by management consultant Samuel Rothapfel. Public performances started the next day. Presented on the screen was the Selig Company’s William Farnum starrer, “The Spoilers,” which ran for an unprecedented nine reels (about 15 minutes each) and was shown without a break, thanks to a booth equipped with four projectors. Filling out the program were “live” performances by singers and dancers and an assortment of film shorts and newsreels. Heard and seen throughout the entire evening was the 50-piece Strand Concert Orchestra, which played on stage, just below the raised platform that held the screen. Ticket prices were 10-15-25 cents.
Sixty-four years ago tonight, Charles Chaplin’s “Monsieur Verdoux” opened its world premiere engagement at the Broadway Theatre. The opening night performance was by invitation only, with continuous performances at “popular prices” starting the next day. Tickets could also be purchased in advance for the Broadway’s 250-seat mezzanine section for $1.80 during the day and $2.50 at night. The B&W United Artists release was a radical departure for Chaplin, who discarded his traditional baggypants character to portray a contemporary Bluebeard who marries and murders for money. Critics and public were generally hostile to the “black comedy,” which became Chaplin’s first financial failure.
Sorry! “Meet Danny Wilson” with Sinatra on stage opened at the Paramount the day before RCMH’s Easter show with “Singin' in the Rain,” so I assumed the Paramount’s was also a holiday booking. Perhaps it was intended to be, but disappointing buxiness caused Paramount to replace with “Bend of the River” and new stage show. Both films were U-I releases.
Sixty-four years ago today, Universal-International’s “Buck Privates Come Home,” a B&W comedy with Bud Abbott & Lou Costello, opened its NYC premiere engagement at the Winter Garden Theatre, which was under lease by U-I in insure Broadway showcasing of product that might not get booked by the prestige palaces. By this time, Abbott & Costello’s popularity had dropped considerably since the war’s end. “Come Home” was a belated sequel to their first hit film, “Buck Privates,” which had proved a boxoffice surprise when it opened in NYC at the usually second-run Loew’s State in 1941 with support from a vaudeville bill that had the beloved Belle Baker as headliner.
Seventy-five years ago today, the Paramount Theatre opened its 1936 Easter Holiday Show with Paramount’s “Desire,” a B&W romantic comedy that reunited Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich for the first time since the sizzling “Morocco.” Headlining the stage revue was Ethel Merman, billed as “The First Lady of Rhythm.” Little Jack Little & His Orchestra were also on-board, plus Jane Cooper, a dancer who’d made a considerable impact in the latest “George White’s Scandals.” From 9:30am opening until 1:00pm, all seats at the Paramount were priced at 25 cents.
Seventy-seven years ago tonight, MGM’s “Viva Villa!,” a huge outdoor epic with Wallace Beery in the title role, opened its world premiere engagement at the Criterion Theatre on a reserved-seat roadshow policy. Two performances were given daily, with a third added on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. Tickets were scaled from 50 cents to a top of $2. The B&W David O. Selznick production was being promoted as MGM’s mightiest since the record-breaking (and silent) “The Big Parade.”