RKO Albee Theatre

1 DeKalb Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Showing 26 - 50 of 102 comments

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 9, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Thank you for your good words, saps. It was my father George Mann who documented many of Barto and Mann’s appearances by taking photographs of the marquees where they appeared. Although most of the marquee photographs are more like snapshots, he was an accomplished photographer. You can see examples of his photography by clicking here clicking here.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Brad, you have an amazing collection of fascinating theater marquees. Thank goodness Barto and Mann so thoroughly documented their appearances.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 9, 2011 at 9:06 pm

This photograph of the E.F. Albee Theatre was taken in 1927 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto and Mann.

dave-bronx™ on February 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm

That’s why I questioned the photo of the Albee I saw in the book – one theatre was Lamb and the other was the Rapp Bros. I worked at the Palace and am quite familiar with it. So while perusing the book I saw a photo and automatically assumed was the Palace until I read the caption that indicated it was the Albee.

dave-bronx™ on January 31, 2011 at 6:34 am

The RKO Albee was long gone by the time I came to NY so I never got to see it. I saw a photo of the lobby and auditorium in the book “American Picture Palaces” by David Naylor, and It looks amazingly similar to the RKO Palace in Cleveland OH. I suspected it was a mistake in the captioning of the photo, but was never quite sure. I would like to ask the Albee Theatre aficionados here to check out the links below that contain photos of the Cleveland Palace, which has been restored and is open and operating as one unit of a performing arts center. After viewing the photos could you please report here if the lobby and auditorium are similar to your recollections of the Albee interiors? Thanks in advance for your opinions.

RKO PALACE – Cleveland Ohio:
Exterior (front and side):

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To give proper credit, the photos were taken and links posted on the Palace page on this site by CT member ‘spectrum’ on Jul 9, 2009.

The CT page for the Palace Theatre Cleveland OH is at:

Redster57 on January 31, 2011 at 4:34 am

In 1959 I worked for Bell Telephone Co. on Willoughby St. My girlfriends and I would go to the Albee on our Splitshift. I was the most beautiful Movie Theater. I would imagine getting married there. LOL We would also go to eat at Bickfords. Not so far from the Movie Theater. Anyone remember California Pie Co. on Degraw & 3rd Ave.?By the way I think The Albee should’ve been a landmark. We knock down the most beautiful building here in America, in the name of PROGRESS. Just my opinion.

GaryCohen on November 16, 2009 at 1:17 am

Oh what a beautiful theater this was. The large chandelier, the plush carpeting. Of the 4 golden-age theaters in downtown Brooklyn, The Albee, The Paramount, The Brooklyn Fox and the Loews Metropolitan, the Albee was my favorite. They must have had distribution deals with American International since I saw several Vincent Price Poe films there: “Masque of the Red Death,” “Haunted Palace” as well as Vincent in “The Last Man on Earth.” Also numerous Universal films: Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” Brando and Niven in “Bedtime Story,” Sandra Dee in “I’d Rather Be Rich,"Tony Curtis in "Wild and Wonderful,” etc. I also saw Heston in “55 Days at Peking” and Richard Boone in “Rio Conchos” at this great theater. The first time I ever took the number 2 train alone, from my home in East New York, was to see Troy Donohue and Connie Stevens in “Palm Springs Weekend” at the Albee in 1963. During much of the early to mid-‘60s, my friends and I would go to the Albee or the Loews Met, then hit the record and book departments of Korvettes and A&S nearby. There was also a Howard Johnsons across the street. I remember eating there with my father and staring out the window at the Albee. (I believe it was showing Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in “Irma La Douce.”)
I remember being Downtown Brooklyn in the early to mid-1970s and seeing that the Albee had degenerated into showing Kung-fu and Blaxploitation films. Very sad.
Not long afterward, they tore the Albee down and put up a rather poor mall. Now I’ve heard they they tore that down as well.
However the Albee, like so many other theaters of my childhood, lives on in my memory.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 30, 2009 at 4:09 am

Accidents happen. Give a brother a break.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 15, 2009 at 2:30 am

Passed by the site the other day — a big hole in the ground. What a waste to tear this down for a tin and glass mall that lasted less than 30 years. Good grief.

lincoassoc on March 25, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Another great memory from the Albee was watching the Ali-Frazier “Rumble in the Jungle” fight. The line was wrapped around the corner and almost down to Flatbush Ave Ext. I spent many nights at the theater cleaning up, popping popcorn, or just watching the same parts of the same movie night after night waiting for my wife to get off work. Me and my friends always felt exclusive because we would watch the movies by ourselves on the balcony when the movie wasn’t full and the balcony was closed. We had free reign of the soda from the upstairs concession stand. How I miss the old style movie houses…they really need to make a comeback along with drive in theaters.

lincoassoc on March 25, 2009 at 8:19 pm

My ex-wife was a asst manager at the Albee in the 70’s and I have some great memories of this great theater from being there every night to pick her up. One of my favorite places in the theater was the projection booth as the long time projectionist whose name escapes me right now had the coolest collection of old movie posters. The Albee also was where I attended my first concert on my own…Kool and the Gang and others. I also attended my first x-rated movie “Sweet Sweetbacks BadAsssss Song…I was 17 at the time but the usher consulted with security guard and let me and my friends in but said he would keep an eye on us. Does anyone remember that there was a 50 room hotel behind the stage and each room was named after a state. The cops would always be hanging out in the rooms playing cards and drinking. The rooms had gold fixtures on the sinks and tubs and were very nice. More memories to come…

alberwi on February 14, 2009 at 8:28 am

Many of you will probably know of this already (I hope I’m not repeating a reference to it from somewhere in this wonderful though voluminous thread), but there is an excellent book titled “When Brooklyn Was The World 1920-1957” by Elliot Willensky, published in 1986. It has amusing and informative text and a wealth of fantastic photos (including some of theatres). I actually was looking up the Albee here at Cinema Treasures as it was mentioned fleetingly in the book…didn’t realize I’d come upon such a treasure trove of info about Brooklyn in its heyday! I highly recommend the book to all who are interested in the history of Brooklyn and/or U.S. urban history generally.

Goodheart on April 19, 2008 at 5:49 pm

It certainly was majestic. I remember it well.

Joe B.

jflundy on April 5, 2008 at 10:11 pm

This link provided background on Keith’s history:
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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 18, 2008 at 4:15 am

Hey Joe B… what happened to the photo? Did you post the wrong link or is this the record for quickest deletion of an image from a Photobucket account?

Goodheart on January 14, 2008 at 9:44 pm

Here is a newspaper ad for Disney’s “The Three Caballeros” (1944).

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Joe B.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 21, 2007 at 8:04 am

Here’s a link to the Albee Square article on the Forgotten NY website that Warren mentioned above. If you scroll about 2/3 of the way down, there is a large vintage B&W image of the cobblestone Flatbush Avenue Extension which depicts a marquee at far right that reads “Photoplays”… What theater is this? I believe it to be a glimpse of the old Subway Theater.

sasheegm on May 4, 2007 at 1:08 pm

Nice Clipping Warren and interesting article——-As a youngster I went to all “5” in Downtown Brooklyn——-I always included the Strand along with the Albee, Paramount, Fox,& Metropiltan when looking to see what was playing in the area———Now I own video of “Night World”—1932(Great little film)& of Bebe Daniels in “Rio Rita”———-Thanks for the article——Joe From Florida

dave-bronx™ on December 29, 2006 at 5:25 pm

Warren, that interior shot of the Albee auditorium looks very similar to the auditorium of the RKO Palace in Cleveland. Check out the Palace and see what you think.
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Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 29, 2006 at 3:37 pm

“Closed for alterations”. They weren’t kidding.

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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 1, 2006 at 12:25 am

Furthermore… the introduction above should be corrected. Edward F. Albee did not die in 1914. Nor was he born in 1867. It was Benjamin Franklin Keith, Mr. Albee’s partner, who died in 1914 (having been born 1846. Mr. Albee, born in 1857, survived until 1930, long enough to see the company he co-founded with Mr. Keith merge with Martin Beck’s Orpheum Circuit to form Keith-Albee-Orpheum which would quickly lead to partnership with RCA with the formation of RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum) in 1928.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 1, 2006 at 12:11 am

By the way, great photo from Lost Memory back on November 11, 2005, that seemed to escape comment from anyone. Lost comments that the shot is from the 1960’s, but the place is already shuttered with the marquee referring passersby to the RKO Kenmore and displaying a sign for the Albee Square Mall that would replace the building. We know the theater was open as late as 1974, thanks to RobertR’s posting of the ad for Pam Grier’s “Coffee” on July 4, 2005, so the photo must be from the mid-‘70’s. Does anyone know exactly when the theater closed and when it was demolished?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 1, 2006 at 12:05 am

I found a small item in the NY Times' online archives dated October 1st, 1922, concerning the plans for this theater. As William posted back on June 13th, the theater was to be called the Orpheum, even though it was intended “as a memorial to the late B.F. Keith, founder of the Keith Vaudeville Circuit.” It seems that Keith Circiut President Edward F. Albee had announced that the plans for the new theater and ten-story office building were complete and that the project would cost some $3 million tp construct. Ironic that the theater would come to be named after Mr. Albee in the end, despite the planned Orpheum moniker and intention that the house would memorialize Mr. Keith!

Just to give some historical perspective on the subject of conservation, the article also mentions how difficult it was to assemble the site for the project. “There were sixteen old buildings on the plot, all of them Brooklyn landmarks.”

steveg1 on September 16, 2006 at 12:34 am

My parents met and were married while working at the Albee in the early 1930’s. The ushers all wore uniforms (dark blazers, white pants). My father was head usher and inspected his “troops”, military style, each day. Every week during the depression there was a sizable raffle, which filled the 3,200 seats of the Albee as well as the other RKO theaters in town. There was an impressive bit of theatrics with telephones ringing from the other RKO theaters and my father would announce the winning ticket number from the stage.

When advertising a new movie they sometimes had a convoy of cars down the avenue. One car had loud speakers promoting the film. And, in at least one case a pretty woman (my mother) was the cheesecake interest.