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On this day in 1954, “Drum Beat,” an Alan Ladd western in CinemaScope and WarnerColor, opened its NYC premiere engagement as the Paramount’s Thanksgiving holiday offering. But the big excitement was on the stage, with six performances daily by Jackie Gleason and the entire cast of his CBS television show, including Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, the 32 June Taylor Dancers, and the 50 members of the “Music for Lovers Only Orchestra.” Doors opened at 8:00am, with the last complete stage/screen show starting at midnight.
On this day in Depression suffering 1933, Universal’s B&W fantasy thriller, “The Invisible Man,” with Claude Rains making his screen debut in a role rejected by Boris Karloff, opened its NYC premiere engagement at the Roxy Theatre. “The Miracle Stage Show” featured Phil (“The Singing Cop”) Regan, Dave Schooler & His Gang, Lusita Leers, other acts, and the resident Gae Foster Girls. All seats were 25 cents to 2pm, 35 cents to 6pm, and 55 cents to closing, a price scale described as the “Show Value of the Nation.”
On this day in 1944, the Capitol opened its 25th anniversary program with the NYC premiere engagement of MGM’s B&W “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” with Van Johnson, Robert Walker, Phyllis Thaxter, and special guest star Spencer Tracy as Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle. The stage show consisted of Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra featuring Teddy Walters and Patti Palmer, dancer “Peg-Leg” Bates, and comedian Henny Youngman, who also had a popular NBC radio program at the time.
On this day in 1943, which also happened to be a Monday, the Academy of Music added a stage show to hype attendance for the last three days of its double bill of “Thank Your Lucky Stars” and “Murder on the Waterfront.” Benny Fields, Peg-Leg Bates, and Sharkey the Seal topped the stage portion, performing twice daily at 3:00pm and 9:00pm. Admission was 25 cents during the daytime, and 50 cents at night.
On this day in 1934, RKO’s “The Gay Divorcee,” which promoted Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers to a co-starring team after they made such a vivid impression in secondary roles in “Flying Down to Rio,” opened its NYC premiere engagement at RCMH. On stage, Leon Leonidoff dared to be different by presenting the world premiere of a new opera written by members of the music staff, including composer Deszo D'Antalffy. Based on an American Indian legend, “Onteora’s Bride” featured the entire resident company of solo and ensemble singers and dancers, as well as the symphony-sized orchestra conducted by Erno Rapee.
The Astoria is featured in this recent New York Times article and slide show about cinemas converted to retail: View link
The Hollywood Twin is featured in this recent New York Times article and slide show about cinemas converted to retail space: View link
The Plaza is featured in this recent New York Times article and slide show about cinemas converted to retail: View link
The Chopin is featured in this recent NYT article and slide show. A young Greenpoint resident told the reporter that she prefers the site as a Starbucks: “I’m terrified of movie theaters these days because people are getting bedbugs in them."
This NYT article and slide show describes the Regent as “the first movie theater in New York City.” What utter nonsense!
On this day in 1936, 20th-Fox’s collegiate musical, “Pigskin Parade,” which started a new dance craze called “The Balboa,” opened its NYC premiere engagement at the Roxy Theatre. The B&W film is chiefly remembered today for providing Judy Garland with her first role in a full-length feature. She was billed seventh in the cast, preceded by Stuart Erwin, Patsy Kelly, the Yacht Club Boys, Jack Haley. Arline Judge, and Betty Grable, and followed by Dixie Dunbar, Johnny Downs, and Tony Martin. On stage, the Roxy’s “New Vaudeville Revue” presented radio singing star Loretta Lee, Walter “Dare” Wahe, Buster Shaver & His Hollywood Midgets (Olive & George), the Liazeed Troupe, the Gae Foster Girls, and the Roxy Orchestra conducted by Eddie Paul. Every day of the week, all seats at the Roxy were priced at 25 cents until 1:00pm. Children were charged 15 cents at all times.
This is one of the dumbest and most historically inaccurate reviews that I’ve ever read in The New York Times. The fact that the reviewer had never set foot in RCMH prior to his assignment is no excuse:
On this day in 1978, RCMH opened what proved to be its final screen/stage presentation for the year-end holidays, which by that time encompassed Thanksgiving as well as Christmas. The film was Universal’s “Caravans,” starring Anthony Quinn, Jennifer O'Neill, Michael Sarrazin, and Behrooz Vosoughi in an adaptation of James Michener’s “Epic Desert Adventure” novel. The two-part stage show started, of course, with “The Nativity,” followed by “A Merrie Olde Christmas.” Judging by the advertised performance times, the entire stage show ran about 30 minutes.
I suspect that the reports about the United Palace were just a rumor started by the management to secure the booking when RCMH became unavailable. There was never any “official” announcement by the Tonys organization that they were even considering the United Palace, let alone booked it. I think that the story started in the New York Post, which has become notorious for its inaccuracy since Rupert Murdoch became publisher.
On this veterans' remberance holiday in 1943, Columbia’s B&W battle epic, “Sahara,” starring Humphrey Bogart as commander of an Allied tank being pursued by a Nazi battalion, opened its NYC premiere engagement at the Capitol Theatre. The stage show had two parts, the first provided by Lawrence Welk & His Orchestra, which included singers, dancers, and a comedian. The second half presented Ralph Edwards in a 15-minute version of his hit radio program, “Truth or Consequences,” with patrons picked from the audience to serve as contestants.
As I suspected above on 7/14/10, the deal to present the next Tony Awards at the United Palace fell through. The telecast will be held instead at the Beacon Theatre, which is about 100 blocks to the south of Washington Heights and probably seems safer and more convenient for members of the elite group that presents the Tony Awards.
Yes, I did mean “North.” “Lost in Alaska” is where I wish that Sarah Palin would get, preferably under an avalanche.
I thought that the next TONY Awards show was supposed to be held at the United Palace (ex-Loew’s 175th Street)? I guess that the latter proved too far uptown for the celebrity-studded Tony audience to travel to.
Fifty years ago today, “Lost in Alaska,” a sprawling outdoor epic in CinemaScope and color starring John Wayne, Capucine, Stewart Granger, Ernie Kovacs, and teen rage Fabian, opened its NYC premiere engagement at the Paramount Theatre, which had replaced the now demolished Roxy as a showcase for 20th Century-Fox releases. From 5 to 6:00pm that day only, Fabian himself hosted an “After School Coke Party” in the Paramount’s lobby, handing out autographed photos while some of his hit recordings were played discreetly in the background.
On this night in 1932, WB’s dramatic thunderbolt with Paul Muni, “I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang,” opened its world premiere engagement at the Strand Theatre, just two days after Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been elected to his first term as President of the USA. A social and political revolution was in the air, and the B&W movie played an important role in bringing it about.
I think that the “Pricing Key” on the right side of the following link might explain why sales are “soft” this year. For a family of four, the cheapest seats (in the third mezzanine) would cost a total of $180. I believe that children pay the same prices as adults: View link
Half a century ago today, on November 10, 1960, Paramount’s “The World of Suzie Wong” opened its world premiere engagement at RCMH. The Technicolor melodrama gave William Holden sole billing above the title, and introduced Nancy Kwan as the Hong Kong prostitute. Leon Leonidoff’s stage revue, “Town snf Country,” included an ice-skating segment built around ice ballerina Margie Lee, and “a joyful Thanksgiving banquet of song” by a group called The Manhattanaires in sddition to the RCMH resident company.
The following illustrated article repeats a frequent error that the Meserole was originally called the Garden Theatre. What nonsense! The Garden was another theatre on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint.
Today marks the 37th anniversary of the opening of the 1973 Thanksgiving-Christmas Show, with Walt Disney Productions' Technicolor animated feature, “Robin Hood,” on screen. Leon Leonidoff’s stage revue was divided into two parts, the traditional “The Nativity” and the razzle-dazzle “World Wide Christmas.”