Ziegfeld Theatre

1341-47 Sixth Avenue,
New York, NY 10105

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Showing 26 - 50 of 82 comments

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 25, 2008 at 6:26 pm

In the introduction, the title of probably the greatest of all American stage musicals needs to be corrected. It’s “Show Boat” (not “Showboat”).

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 25, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Here are new direct links to images of the Ziegfeld as playhouse, Loew’s cinema, and back to playhouse again (with the stage musical version of “Kismet”):
View link
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845frank on December 12, 2007 at 11:43 am

Thanks Howard,
Am familiar with the site and its great collection of snapshots.

HowardBHaas on December 11, 2007 at 9:21 am

For historic photos, click on the exterior photo for a gallery. Each photo can then be clicked to enlarge:

845frank on October 26, 2007 at 1:57 pm

Warren’s 10/26 photo above is a dandy. I am trying to taylor it for my screen-saver. Another of my favorite houses is the Cosmopolitan, aka, Majestic,International and Columbus Circle. This was also another hard luck house that after its premier in 1903 with the Wizard of Oz its luck scooted precipitously downward until after being a TV studio in 1954 it met the wreckers ball. Even after Ziegfeld took over in 1925, until his own house was built, and a redesign by Joseph Urban the longest running show only managed a 300 performance run (Louis XIV). The Depression and its far northern district location kept the theatre lonely and dark.


845frank on October 26, 2007 at 10:55 am

Great Photo Warren! Was this from the Billy Rose Theatre Library collection? The Marquee addition I am talking about must have been after the retun to legit from the Television studion use. It probably existed from the engagements of Maurice Chevalier till closing in 1966. I will have to review the BR collection.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 26, 2007 at 10:32 am

This photo was taken in December, 1953, shortly after the opening of the stage musical, “Kismet.” The marquee was plain but elegant. If I recall correctly, the predominant color was a burnished gold, with frosted white glass across the bottom row: www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/kismet.jpg

HowardBHaas on October 26, 2007 at 9:10 am

I found that online. If the mural finds a home, as it hopefully will, and there’s a news item about it that I see, I certainly will post it.

845frank on October 26, 2007 at 7:13 am

For HowardBHaas
Has anything happened with the disposition of the mural. I regret that I have missed seeing it this time around,unless it is for Feb 2008 display?. Please keep the site posted as to its disposition and thank you for the info. I had an opportunity to take a piece from the site but I was too young at the time to realize its artistic value for the future. I visite the site during demolition every weekend in hopes of being able to carry something away.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 25, 2007 at 9:39 am

Frank, I expect to be at the Lincoln Center library today. If I have time, I’ll check to see what they have of photos of the Ziegfeld in its post-Loew’s period…Sorry, but I never attended anything at the Ziegfeld Theatre, though I passed it many times. There used to be a greeting cards/book rental store next door which also had Ziegfeld in its name. When the theatre closed for demoliton, the store moved to the west side of Seventh Avenue between 57th and 58th, where it remained for quite a few years until the by then elderly owners could no longer afford the rent increases.

845frank on October 25, 2007 at 7:00 am

Its an item on my list of things to do. I have not been there in 30 years. I have collected the entire volume of Theatre Worlds from 1944 on up to be able to view what may be the only photos of the productions that played the Ziegfeld. Additionally, I have a program from each and every show that played the house from Rio Rita on till the end. The professional photo I recently purchased was from the NYC Dept of Buildings which has microfiche of all NYC buildings from 1940 survey but as you know this is when it was still a movie theatre. How many times had you been in the Ziegfeld?

Thank you,

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 24, 2007 at 3:11 pm

Have you tried looking for photos at the Billy Rose Theatre Collection at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts? It has many files about the Ziegfeld Theatre and all the “legit” shows presented there. And since Billy Rose himself ran the Ziegfeld for a time, there might be photos in his files.

845frank on October 24, 2007 at 12:58 pm

You are correct but that covers its initial Ziegfeld ownership. When Billy Rose took over in 1944 through 1965 there was a regular theatre sign board on each side of the glass and bronze overhand. If you examine Nathan Silversteins “Lost New York” the Ziegfeld is listed as in danger with a foot note stating it is to be torn down. In this photo from sometime after 1959 ,as a 59 cadillac is pictured making a turn on 6th ave in front of the theatre, you can see the bronze/brass and glass overhang or entrance canopy. I remember the marquee for ANYA in red lit up on the evening I saw it, but have never seen a photo of the theatre when “Foxy” or “Kismet” played there. There must be some vintage newsreel that captures one of the impportant shows that were tenants at the Ziegfeld.
Your comments are appreciated.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 24, 2007 at 11:49 am

Originally as a playhouse, the Ziegfeld had no marquee due to an overhang of a curved portion of the facade above the entrance. Loew’s added a garish marquee when the theatre became a cinema, but I think that was later removed and replaced by a simpler one more suited to a playhouse. This photo of the original playhouse shows a roof sign with the opening attraction of “Rio Rita.” There was also a two-line changeable attraction board above the entrance doors: www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/origzig.jpg

845frank on October 24, 2007 at 8:10 am

Thanks very much to all for the information. I remember the Mural as well as the theatre. I was fortunate enough to be a guest of the theatre manager, Ross Stewart for the 1st Saturday evening performance of “ANYA”. I was only 16 and was awestruck by the powerful and beautiful image I saw. The mural was like some musical fantasy in Golds and rich earth tones. Does anyone remember the 2 large Comedy and Tragedy masks that were suspended from the proscenium over the curtain? The were large and very beautiful. I wonder if they survived? I remember reading in Variety at the time that the house curtain and maybe the seats went to the Playhouse in Kennibunkport, Me.

Does anyone out there have a shot of the Ziegfeld actually with a show playing on the marquee??? A real show, not movie. This theatre housed many big hits after 1944, Brigadoon, Showboat revival, The Cleopatra’s, Porgy and Bess revival as well as Kismet. I have never come across a shot of the theatre with the marquee lit with a show and would love to have one.
Many thanks again for the sharing of all this great information.

HowardBHaas on July 27, 2007 at 10:47 pm

View link (2 photos at this link)

Other than a few architectural fragments, nothing of the Art-Deco landmark “Ziegfeld Theater” was believed to have been saved from it’s tragic demolition in 1966. That was until recently, when an immense mural called “The Joy of Life”, designed by the architect Joseph Urban for the theater, was discovered by New York City antiques dealer John Bermingham.

New York, NY (PRWEB) January 24, 2007 — In 1927, the Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld opened the Ziegfeld Theater on 6th Avenue and 54th Street and changed the face of theater for decades after. Home of the famed “Ziegfeld Follies”, the theater was an Art-Deco masterpiece created by Joseph Urban, an architect known for his fanciful and imaginative design and décor. Situated well out of the theater district and featuring a unique “egg-shaped” auditorium, the Ziegfeld Theater was a landmark unto itself.

Despite public outcry at the time, the Ziegfeld Theater was demolished in 1966 to make way for an office tower that now occupies the spot. It was believed that other than a few architectural fragments, nothing remained of this lost landmark. That is, until now.

It’s a part of New York City history, theater history and design history, and it deserves to be seen and appreciated.
A rare piece of this lost American treasure has recently re-surfaced in the form of an immense section of the original painted mural “The Joy of Life” which somehow escaped the wrecking ball all those years back. The mural was painted in 1926 by Lillian Gaertner under the direction of Joseph Urban, who provided the original sketches and personally oversaw the work. Madame Gaertner had studied under the renowned Bauhaus designer Joseph Hoffman and worked with Urban on many of his theatrical projects. The recently re-discovered canvas, which originally graced the walls and ceiling of the main auditorium, measures 24 feet wide by 14 feet high and features fanciful and brightly colored depictions of characters from literature, history and mythology.

The mural is currently owned by Manhattan antiques dealer John Bermingham who located it in November 2006. Bermingham states that his interest in the work stemmed from his love for New York City history and the theater in particular. “It is a tragedy that a landmark such as the Ziegfeld Theater was allowed to be destroyed back then, before the awareness of the value of historical architecture and design. Today, thankfully, such a thing would never happen”. Bermingham added, “It is remarkable, however, that such a unique and important artifact as this mural has managed to survive and we should at least be grateful for that”. The outcry over the demolition of the Ziegfeld Theater and the original Penn Station are credited with prompting the landmark preservation movement championed by Jacqueline Onassis.

The mural will be on display at the New York Design Fair at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street from February 8th through the 10th. “The biggest challenge we will face will be finding it an appropriate home, considering its size,” says Bermingham. “It would be great if it could remain intact, perhaps as part of a museum collection, or featured on the wall of some fantastic New York restaurant like the Picasso mural on display at the Four Seasons.” Bermingham adds, “It’s a part of New York City history, theater history and design history, and it deserves to be seen and appreciated.”


Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 16, 2007 at 7:19 am

The site is now occupied by an office building which is set back from Sixth Avenue by an open area with two spectacular fountains that are ball-shaped and no longer fully operated. Their sprays of water tended to soak the sidewalks and pedestrians whenever there was even the slightest breeze.

TommyC123 on April 16, 2007 at 6:50 am

What stands where the Ziegfeld once was?

kencmcintyre on January 5, 2007 at 9:16 am

Here is a lawsuit concerning demolition of the theater:

Dorothy on March 10, 2006 at 3:44 am

One of the original Ziegfeld dancers is still with us. She is 101 years old ;)

frankie on February 14, 2006 at 1:09 pm

In November of 1965, just before I was drafted, as a young man of 22, I went to see “Anya” at the Ziegfeld, and sat there totally enchanted. The critics decimated this last lovely operetta, and the developers decimated this last lovely theater. Now I’m a senior citizen of 62, and we have “Mama Mia” and multiplexes. Anybody got a time machine ?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 27, 2005 at 6:15 am

Fortunately, the Ziegfeld returned to its original purpose for some of its final years and housed such hit shows as “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “Brigadoon,” and “Kismet.” Its demolition seemed inevitable due to its distance from the main theater district and the scarcity of real estate on Sixth Avenue.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 26, 2005 at 9:35 pm

Another great photo, Warren. I guess all things are relative however, huh? You rightly point out how sad it was that such a magnificent showplace be reduced to second-run grind… I’m sure the notion would have sent Flo Ziegfeld into an apoplectic rage, but how many of us would have back that time when Loew’s ran the theater in this manner? “Reduced to subsequent-run movie ‘grinder’” is certainly more palatable than “reduced to rubble” – which describes the sad and unfortunate fate this theater ultimately met.

Patsy on October 26, 2005 at 2:04 pm

It’s always fascinating to view the old b/w theatre photos!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 26, 2005 at 1:50 pm

Here’s a sad image of Florenz Ziegfeld’s magnificent playhouse reduced to subsequent-run movie “grinder” under Loew’s management. Ironically, the main feature at the time was MGM’s “Ziegfeld Girl”: