RKO Jefferson Theatre

214 E. 14th Street,
New York, NY 10003

Unfavorite 5 people favorited this theater

Showing 26 - 50 of 92 comments

Tinseltoes on May 6, 2011 at 6:34 am

The Jefferson ad made no mention of “Scared to Death” being in color, but even if it was, the film was still a low-budget programmer, distributed by Screen Guild. Trade annuals give an original release date of May, 1947, a full year before the Jefferson booking. By that time, SG might have run out of color prints and switched to B&W. But I’m just guessing.

BobFurmanek on May 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Interesting post, but “Scared to Death” was in 2 color Cinecolor and was Lugosi’s only starring color feature. I restored it and released it on laser disc many years ago.

Tinseltoes on May 5, 2011 at 1:16 pm

On this night only in 1948, the RKO Jefferson presented nine acts of vaudeville and a talent contest for amateurs as a bonus to its current screen dounle-bill of “Scared to Death” (with Bela Lugosi) and “Gas House Kids in Hollywood.” Both B&W films were from minor “Poverty Row” studios and booked for a two-day engagement. The Jefferson often played such fare because it held subsequent-run status to that neighborhood’s two leaders, the Skouras Academy of Music and Loew’s Commodore.

robboehm on May 1, 2011 at 11:54 am

I used to work in the Gramercy Park area and on nice days would venture down to 14th to get an ice cream sandwich, with freshly cooked waffles, at Mc Clellans. The Jefferson was closed the entire time I worked there. I remember thinking it odd that the name was right justified. Aha! When RKO left the owner took down those initials just leaving the Jefferson part. A slow decline. Sad.

Tinseltoes on May 1, 2011 at 9:42 am

The vaudeville at the Jefferson became increasingly inconsequential in terms of “name” performers and sporadic in bookings from the 1930s onwards. By the 1940s and into the 1950s, it was usually weekends only or one night per week, or not at all. Newspaper advertising rarely if ever mentioned names on the bill. You might be able to get more detailed information in the vaudeville sections of weekly Variety during those years. Also, if you reside in the NYC area, you could check the press clippings file for the Jefferson Theatre at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center (third floor, Billy Rose Theatre Collection).

Joe Solano
Joe Solano on May 1, 2011 at 8:05 am

Here’s a very early photo of the Jefferson Theater:

View link

I’d love to have more information on the theater’s late vaudeville era in the 1940s and perhaps even in the early fifties if it was still happening.


AlAlvarez on January 21, 2010 at 5:24 pm

This ad (bottom left) shows the Jefferson still open and showing porn in 1975.

Joe Solano
Joe Solano on September 22, 2009 at 8:41 am

That cut off question above should read, “I would like to know when the last vaudeville show was given at the Jefferson Theater.”


Joe Solano
Joe Solano on September 22, 2009 at 8:37 am

Thanks to everyone who posted on the Jefferson Theater. I grew up in that neighborhood and was practically a weekly patron of that theater and others in that area. I attended many, many vaudeville shows on weekends that were performed after the movies were shown and I would sit right in front of the orchestra. It was absolutely stunning and unforgettable for a kid of 4â€"10 years. And all this for 25 cents! I saw fabulous acts that left indelible imprints in my mind and given me a profound love for live theater. The Academy of Music also had spectacular live shows which I attended.

I would like to know when the last vaudeville show

I came to this site because I’m contemplating producing vaudeville on a very small scale where I now live in Oregon and the authenticity I visualize comes primarily from my experiences at the Jefferson Theater. There are many talented people who, like in the old days, would like an opportunity to showcase their art. A live small orchestra/band with a minimum of piano, trombone, trumpet, drums and bass can pull it off.

Thanks again and keep the information flowing on this site that I’ve bookmarked.

Joe Solano

AlAlvarez on April 13, 2009 at 9:35 am

Sorry folks. Here it is.

View link

William on April 13, 2009 at 9:10 am

Al, the above link is to the Hollywood Twin, that you posted earlier.

AlAlvarez on April 13, 2009 at 9:02 am

I believe this photo coincides with the ad post by RobertR on Jul 4, 2005 at 2:13pm

View link

mda38 on February 15, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I live right behind where the theater was and watched it getting ripped down. It was such a sad thing.

In Harpo Marx’s “Harpo Speaks” Marx mentions that he came up with his nonspeaking act while performing on 13th Street, because he had difficulty remembering his lines. It would make sense that he thought it up at the Jefferson.

I think the porn theater mentioned above was Variety Photoplays, which had an amazing old marquee that can also be seen in “Taxi Driver.”

Adamsdad on February 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Glad that the site has been put to such productive, high-valued-added use. It’ll probably sit empty for another five years, at least, in this economy. Wonder what the developer paid, what his mortgage is like and how much he’s shelling out to the city in the way of property taxes every 90 days. “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Oh wait. I know. “NYU can bail me out…In fact, it’ll be able to use money from `the stimulus package' to erect yet another dormitory, with tax-free assistance from the New York State Dormitory Authority.” What a joke.

Greenpoint on February 8, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Here is a recent photo of the East 14th street portion of the empty lot,where the Jefferson theatre once stood.


Here is the East 13th street side of the empty lot,where the Jefferson theatre once stood.


Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 2, 2009 at 11:06 am

Probably. There could have been apartments or furnished rooms above the stores.

Essietemont on February 2, 2009 at 11:01 am

Thanks, a coincidence then…

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 2, 2009 at 10:55 am

RKO didn’t exist in 1913. The Jefferson was built by B.S. Moss and Sol Brill, who had a license to present B.F. Keith vaudeville there. I don’t know what previously occupied the ground site, but I doubt if it was a theatre. The portion used for the auditorium was actually on 13th Street. There was only a narrow entrance and lobby on 14th Street. The 14th Street portion might have been stores previously, with residential space (flats or houses) on 13th Street.

Essietemont on February 2, 2009 at 10:44 am

Does anyone know if 214 E 14th St was a theatre before RKO opened there in 1913? An actress in my family listed that address as her home in 1908…

tkmonaghan on May 25, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Here’s a photograph of 14th Street looking west with the Jefferson Theatre on the left side of the street. This photo was printed from the original glass negative, which I have in my possession.

View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 4, 2008 at 7:12 am

Here are new links to images of the Jefferson Theatre:
View link
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 3, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Here’s a photo of the Jefferson’s facade taken in the late 1990s, plus two cropped close views, all viewable in very large sizes, posted by Flickr user amg2000.

mp775 on March 25, 2008 at 7:54 am

The link I posted on 10/23/07 no longer works; use this instead:

RKO Jefferson in 1982

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 10, 2008 at 7:48 am

Theatre entrances are often narrow, due to factors such as the high cost of real estate or already existing adjacent buildings. The most famous of all New York vaudeville theatres, the Palace, also had (and still does) a comparatively narrow entrance for its auditorium size.