Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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AndyT on February 26, 2004 at 12:07 pm

Tell me I’m not paranoid, but there is nothing listed for the Ziegfeld on either Clearview’s site or on Yahoo Movies. Has the grim reaper unexpectedly arrived???

VincentParisi on February 23, 2004 at 10:39 am

The original facade is also visible in the Jack Lemmon movie How to Murder Your Wife. If memory serves he is walking along a girder on one of the skycrapers going up on 6th Av and you can see it in the background.

Mike326 on February 23, 2004 at 9:39 am

As I’ve mentioned about Loew’s Kings, it is in the heart of probably the biggest West Indian community in this country, likewise, a renovated entertainment center for that community, and for that matter, everybody else, just seems so perfect. Especially with the municipal parking lot just behind it.
I realize that it would cost millions, buts its interesting, that the Kings just sits there, and has not been turned into a church, supermarket, or anything else.
I can only be hopeful that something positive will happen !

Marcus on February 23, 2004 at 8:45 am

The ironic thing is seeing the new Empire and the Loews on 42nd street, both of which try so hard to replicate the look of a genuine movie palace (well, at least on the outside—especially with the Loew’s gargantuan vertical marquee). Then around the corner is the old marquee for the Paramount, and the theaters in the Virgin Megastore are called “Loews State.” Just makes me sad, especially since the preservation movement was pretty much born here with the demolition of Penn Station.

Our ray of hope: the Loew’s Kings still sits in brooklyn, relatively intact. As the burough gentrifies at an amazing pace, no doubt soon the affluent will discover the old houses of Flatbush, and it will be econimically viable to open the Kings again. I mean…did you ever think the Loew’s Jersey in sketchy Jersey City (no offense) would actually ever be reopened?! It still amazes me.

Let’s hope NYC will get a genuine operating movie palace once again—I’m afraid the Ziegfeld just doesn’t cut it for me.

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on February 9, 2004 at 11:17 am

Just wanted to mention that the upper portion of the original Ziegfeld is also visible in the classic Men on Girder, 1930 photograph of Empire State Building construction workers taking a lunch break — hundreds of feet in the air. (The theater can be seen at bottom center.)

geovhill on February 8, 2004 at 6:52 pm

We really need to protect our landmarks better.
A lot of old theaters around the country have either been closed or met with a worse fate.
Some of these theaters were classics!
The Ziegfeld not only belongs here, but it fits in well with everything around it.
I agree with Rubi.
Thank you.
George Vreeland Hill.

Mike326 on February 8, 2004 at 6:05 pm

I/m not surprised. Really pretty sickening.

Greenpoint on February 8, 2004 at 9:57 am

The Astor Plaza is on its way out also.

Mike326 on February 8, 2004 at 8:43 am

It is very disturbing that the majority of the grand Times Square theaters have been demolished, with the exception of the Astor Plaza.
The Rivoli, Criterion, State, Cinerama, Forum, Embassy, Victoria and even the more modern National, are GONE !
Instead, there are those bizaare 10 or 20 story multiplexs on 42 street. As far as New York theaters, the Astor Plaza, Ziegfeld and the Beekman are truly the last of single screens that I/m aware of.

Greenpoint on February 7, 2004 at 1:16 pm

I seen Oliver Stones “The Doors” here in 1991. I was like 16 and snuck in the side exit. I walked in backwards and then reversed myself for the ultimate walk up the stairs against the crowd and managed to get into the theatre for the next showing.That was a fun memory from a fun time in life.

Vito on February 7, 2004 at 4:42 am

I worked as a projectionist at the D-150 in Syosset. We had been hearing for years that the landloard wanted UA out in order to redevelop the valuable property the theater stood on. We were told the rent was increased many times and finally to a point where UA could not operate the theater with a profit. It weas a sad time because we had already just recently lost the last of the major Long Island Roadshow theatres, the Syosset, which had been cut up into three theaters, or should we say screening rooms,and then torn down.While it may not have been a movie palace, the D-150 was still the best place on Long Island to see as well as hear a movie with it’s amasing sound system (thanks Joe Kelly)

bruceanthony on January 31, 2004 at 8:34 pm

I agree you have to put the Ziegfeld in perspective. It is not a Movie Palace but its the best house to see a movie in NYC.Its to bad NYC didn’t save any of there film palaces in Times Square with the exception of the Mark Hellinger(Warner Hollywood)which is now being used as a church. brucec

ERD on January 31, 2004 at 9:13 am

Sorry for the misspelling of Walter Reade, but it has been a long time since I have seen his name in print. Other premiers I saw during the 1970’s at this theatre were THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT & TOMMY.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 31, 2004 at 7:31 am

Walter Reade (not Reed) was a pioneer movie exhibitor. By the time of the building of the new Ziegfeld, he had died and the circuit was run by his son, Walter Reade, Jr., who later died in middle age in a skiing accident. During the son’s lifetime, the company also ran Continental Distributing, Inc., which acquired and released “foreign” films for showings in art theatres.

ERD on January 30, 2004 at 9:25 pm

I was there on the opening day of the theatre. They showed a few movies dealing with Ziegfeld. Included was “The Great Ziegfeld,” and “The Ziegfeld Follies.” A reception was held in the concession area where champagne was served. Many of the original Ziegfeld “girls” attended. Although senior citizens, they still maintained a poise & beauty that singled them out from the average woman…I also saw Lowell Thomas introduced in the theatre when they showed his “This Is Cinerama.” It was owned by Walter Reed Theatres for a while. One should put this beautiful movie theatre in perspective and not get carried away, comparing it to other theatres.

VincentParisi on January 21, 2004 at 6:18 am

Robert, you’re killing me. I’m getting bent all out of shape by what I missed. Why couldn’t anybody save it? It was so recent. There is nothing left in NY!

RobertR on January 21, 2004 at 5:41 am

The saddest thing of all to me was UA’s moronic closing of Cinema 150 in Syosset. It put the Zeigfeld to shame with a huge dimension 150 screen. It was totally renovated in the early 90’s with all new seats, drapes, carpet, screen and lighting. They never advertised the theatre for what it was. I introduced friends in Manhattan to the place and they used to travel on the LIRR after that to see films there.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 20, 2004 at 11:22 am

The current Ziegfeld Theatre is a joke in comparison to the original one, which was designed by Joseph Urban and Thomas Lamb and first opened in February,1927 with the namesake producer’s stage musical, “Rio Rita,” followed later that year by “Show Boat.” The 1,600-seat auditorium broke convention by being egg-shaped, with the stage opening at the narrow end. A huge and exquisitely-colored mural, “The Joy of Life,” a stylized version of a medieval tapestry, covered the ceiling and side walls. To pay for its $2.5 million cost, Ziegfeld had to borrow from newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, who took control of the theatre when the producer died in 1932. Hearst rashly leased the Ziegfeld to Loew’s Theatres, which for nearly ten years ran it as a movie house. Due to its location on the west side of Sixth Avenue between 54th and 55th Streets, the Ziegfeld was considered too far from the Broadway-Times Square theatre district for first-run product, so Loew’s showed double features with program changes twice a week. Finally, in 1943, producer Billy Rose bought the Ziegfeld and returned it to stage plays, also repairing whatever damage Loew’s had done to the interior decor. After more failures than hits, from 1955-63 Rose leased the theatre to NBC for use as a TV studio. Rose then once more tried stage bookings, but in 1965, the short-lived “Anya” proved the Ziegfeld’s last attraction. Rose decided to sell the property to a real estate developer. Ironically, he died while negotiations were going on, but his executors finally made a deal for $17.1 million with Fisher Brothers, which demolished the Ziegfeld in September,1966 to make way for an office tower.

RobertR on January 20, 2004 at 11:00 am

A friend in LA saw all of the Cinerama revivials at The Dome some were 3 projector also. New York always seems like a step child for film. When is the last time anyone played 70mm? Although they are not as frequent anymore LA has had a few recent 70mm engagements.

VincentParisi on January 20, 2004 at 10:28 am

You’re lucky you missed it it was lousy. One strip Cinerama and no curtain. Maybe some day NY will present a restored 3 strip Cinerama print. I mean NY has not see this in 40 years what are we waiting for? Must we fly to Seattle? Where are all the influential film lovers who can make this work? Maybe all they want to do is go to the Angelica. By the way I wish I could have seen SOM at the Rivoli.

RobertR on January 20, 2004 at 10:06 am

I’m sure there was not. I remember when I was a kid it was a big family outing when we all went to the Rivoli to see “The Sound of Music” with my parents and both grandmothers. How special those roadshows were. The only real place that compares at all is Radio City Music Hall and I cant remember the last time they had a movie or premiere there. I dont know why I missed “This is Cinerama” when the Ziegfeld first opened, I have always wanted to see this and doubt they will ever go to the trouble to run it again.

VincentParisi on January 20, 2004 at 9:13 am

Well it was pretty heart breaking when the restored Lawrence of Arabia and My Fair Lady were playing at the Ziegfeld and the Criterion was sitting there in Times Square all chopped and falling apart. And this was at one time the top booking for the biggest films. I kept thinking why don’t they turn the Ziegfeld into a Toys R Us and restore one of New Yorks great buildings. This was also one of New Yorks greatest blocks with the stupendous advertisements that floated and blinked above the Criterion day and night. Now these ads are straight from Tokyo and don’t have a thing to do with NY.
When I saw Funny Girl at the Ziegfeld there seemed to be 20 minutes of ads before the film. I wonder if this happened when it first played the Criterion…

RobertR on January 20, 2004 at 8:24 am

I agree 100% not one of the real Broadway palaces survived even though many were open into the eighties or ninties. When you think of what was there and destroyed, The Rivoli, The Warner Cinerama, The Capitol, Loews State, The Criterion, The Paramount and to a lesser degree the Strand and DeMille. I am sure I am forgetting some but unlike other cities that have restored at least one palace, NY tears them down. Remember a few years ago when they had the idea to build above Radio City and keep the theate intact? Why could that idea not have been used for The Rivoli or State?

VincentParisi on December 11, 2003 at 10:38 am

The Zieglfeld and the Astor Plaza were always a pale copy of the great NY cinemas. It’s a great shame that they survived and the Rivoli, the Criterion, and the Warner Cinerama(Strand) were torn down. And this well after there was supposed to have been a renewed interest in historic theaters.

nhpbob on November 15, 2003 at 3:45 pm

Went to a revival screening of “Funny Girl” here not too long ago…and during the intermission (remember those??), I laughed at the realization that it was the perfect place to see this film, as not only is Flo Ziegfeld portrayed in the film by Walter Pidgeon, but as previous posting writer Ed Salerno wrote, the antique programs of the Ziegfeld shows are behind glass in the lobby, and one can find the listings for Fanny Brice in some of them! Going back for the rest of the film after intermission, it was like having absorbed a DVD supplementary program!

An odd personal side note: the night John Lennon was killed less than 20 blocks north, I passed the rear of the theater that has its own vertical marquee, and the Ziegfeld was showing “Rock Show”, a little known Paul McCartney concert film! I was drunk on sake from a nearby sushi bar, when i took in Paul’s hitting-a-note look on the poster…and then i got home to the news. Freaky! (I think the film only showed that week.)