Hollywood Theatre

237 W. 51st Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Showing 26 - 50 of 146 comments

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 21, 2008 at 2:23 pm

You sound just like the children’s matron at the Oasis Theatre in the Glendale/Ridgewood section of Queens.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 20, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Isn’t he able to do his own research? If he can attend multiplexes on 42nd Street, he’s certainly capable of going to Lincoln Center. And he won’t be required to pass a literacy test before using the library’s facilities.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 20, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Those questions could be answered through research at the Billy Rose Theatre Collection at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center. Admission is free, and you don’t need to be a member of the New York Public Library to use the facilities. Visiting hours can be found at www.nypl.org

AlAlvarez on August 15, 2008 at 7:01 pm

I have a mystery theatre I need help with. I posted on this pages only due to the proximity.
In Paramount Week ads for 1922 and 1923 they show a Central Theatre located on 9th Avenue and 52nd street.
In a January 1927 NYT ad for the Russian film “Tales of 1000 Nights” it shows as showing at the 52nd Street theatre, west of Broadway.
I have an address of 306 west 52nd street for this theatre although I cannot trace where it came from. I found a Palm Garden Theatre running stage shows at that address although IBDB.COM does not have an address for the Palm Garden nor the 52nd Street theatre.
Any ideas?

edblank on June 23, 2008 at 8:19 pm

Warren, Your post (about the Hollywood/Mark Hellinger) AND my post in response to yours turned up on both “blogs” – the one for the theater in Dormont/Pittsburgh and the one you intended on West 51st Street in NYC. Interesting electronic glitch.

edblank on June 23, 2008 at 8:15 pm

Warren, Excellent post, but it does not apply to the Hollywood in the Pittsburgh suburban boro of Dormont. I believe you intended to assign your remarks to the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York, just around the corner from Broadway.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 23, 2008 at 7:45 pm

The Hollywood had a brief cinematic life of just over nine months after being re-named the Warner Theatre for the August 1947 world premiere engagement of WB’s eagerly-awaited filmization of “Life With Father,” which had been the longest running of any Broadway stage play (straight or musical) up until that time. “Father” stayed until Christmas at the Warner, when it was replaced by WB’s film version of another Broadway smash, “The Voice of the Turtle.” UA’s “A Miracle Can Happen” (later re-titled “On Our Merry Way”) followed on February 3rd, 1948, and gave way on March 10th to a revival of WB’s “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” What turned out to be the Warner Theatre’s final movie, WB’s “Winter Meeting” (Bette Davis-Jim Davis), opened on April 7th and closed on May 16th. After the shuttering, the Warner was put up for sale, with a stipulation that it could not be used for movies. Financier Anthony B. Farrell, who dreamed of becoming another Florenz Ziegfeld, purchased it for $2 million for conversion into a playhouse named for his friend, Mark Hellinger, the legendary journalist and producer who’d also been a leader in helping to raise money for health charities like the Heart Fund and March of Dimes. Details of the Mark Hellinger’s “legit” history can be found at www.ibdb.com …Here’s an ad for the Warner Theatre’s opening with “Life With Father”:
View link

edblank on May 28, 2008 at 5:13 am

When that church first took over the Mark Hellinger, I thought: “This won’t last long. It’s only because the ranks of incoming Broadway musicals are a little lean right now. It’ll change back before the lease even expires.” Can that church thrive at such a pricey location?

Darrel Wood
Darrel Wood on May 2, 2008 at 2:01 am

Perhaps some new “categories”…….
Changed into a church (or other not-so-performing arts but not gutted) could be, for example, “converted” or something like that.
Something else could be used for when it’s been turned into retail or office, but not torn down—“gutted” might be appropriate. It would differentiate from a theater that is “closed” and just sitting there empty.

Bway on May 2, 2008 at 12:27 am

I agree that that policy is a little curious, as not only are these former theaters that are churches very much open to the public, they are also in most circumstances very intact from the theater days, right down to the seats! Sometimes even the original organ functions. I don’t see why church theaters are labeled as “closed” as opposed to “open”, as most, in very little effort could be made a theater again. I can totally understand theaters like the old Meserole in Brooklyn, while intact, is used for retail, and all the seating was ripped out, as well as other alterations labled as closed. However, theaters like the Valencia, this one, and many of the intact with right down to the theater seating probably should be listed as “open”.
It’s a curious policy, however, it appears to be consistent, as I believe all the church theaters are labeled as “closed” if they don’t show movies or live.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 1, 2008 at 9:51 pm

I think that it’s a very short-sighted policy. The building is one of the few ex-movie palaces in Manhattan that not only still stands, but also boasts an interior that’s close to the original. Anyone finding it listed here as “closed” is likely to think it’s inaccessible, which is hardly the case. One can visit during church services, and admission is free.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 1, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Well, in that case, “The lunatics have taken over the asylum!”

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 1, 2008 at 3:47 pm

The “Status” in the introduction needs to be changed. The building is very much “open” during church services and admission is free. One of the best bargains in the midtown entertainment district!

kencmcintyre on April 2, 2008 at 5:08 am

Here is a November 1942 ad from the NYT:

bruceanthony on November 17, 2007 at 5:30 pm

The Disney Company was very interested in the Mark Hellinger but the Church would have to be interested in selling the theatre which they are not. The Mark Hellinger is very desirable for large scale Musicals due to its capacity of over 1500, there is a line waiting to bring musicals into New York due to the lack of Available theatres of this size. Most of the larger theatres are tied up in multi year runs such as the Winter Garden,Majestic,Broadway,Minskoff,Gershwin,Palace,Lunt-Funtanne,Neil Simon,New Amsterdam,Hilton,Shubert,Al Hirhsfield,Marquis and few others. The very desirable St James was suppose to have “Young Frankenstein” but the producers switched to the larger Hilton when the show playing at the Hilton closed early.Many times producers are forced to bring musicals into the smaller theatres such as the Shoenfield,Barrymore,August Wilson,Eugene o'Neil, Ambassador and a few others. Large scale musicals require seating capacity of at least 1400 to make economic sense. Disney was forced to open “Tarzan” at the Richard Rogers which seats less than 1400 due to the lack of available theatres. This has been a problem for the last few years. The Minskoff which was considered the ugliest theatre on Broadway had to due an extensive renovation before Disney would move “The Lion King” over, but had a seating capacity of over 1600. There is a huge demand for the “Mark Hellinger” but at what price and the church would have to be willing to sell.brucec

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 17, 2007 at 4:44 pm

I don’t think that the Broadway theatre district “needs” another playhouse. There are more than enough to fill the demand. Some are shuttered for lack of attractions. And when the current labor strike is over, there will probably be fewer productions because costs will rise even higher than they are now. I would rather see this remain as a church. It’s being well maintained, and is open free to the public whenever services are held.

terrywade on November 17, 2007 at 4:17 pm

The Shubert gang needs to work out a deal with the church and find them a new location and take over the Hellinger and bring back live theatre. Also if the Shuberts don’t have the cash let the Disney movie theatre division take it over like they have at The El Capitian in Hollywood CA. Bring in the Disney films with live stage shows with a pipe organ. The El Capitain is the best selling movie theatre in the USA many weeks out of the year.

AdoraKiaOra on November 17, 2007 at 8:24 am

I think everything should be done to encourage people on here to visit the Hellinger. It truly is a rare but beautiful palace in the middle of NY. I never miss a visit when im over from the UK.

bruceanthony on November 17, 2007 at 5:22 am

The Hollywod(Mark Hellinger) is the most beautiful theatre still standing in Times Square. Im glad the church has taken such good care of this theatre. Despite being a legit theatre for so many decades it still looks like a movie palace.brucec

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 26, 2007 at 7:00 pm

This 1937 view shows the Hollywood’s original entrance on Broadway. Note how narrow it was compared to the new one created on 51st Street for the “legit” Mark Hellinger:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 26, 2007 at 6:52 pm

Listing the theatre as “Closed” might discourage people who read about it at Cinema Treasures from visiting what is the midtown area’s only remaining movie palace in much of its original splendor.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 26, 2007 at 6:44 pm

I agree. “Open” should be taken to mean “open to the public” – either as a cinema, live theatre, concert hall or place of public assembly. Churches would be covered in the latter category, but might also extend to an adaptive re-use such as the Times Square Visitors Center that exists in the former Newsreel/Embassy Theatre on B'way. In the case of the Newsreel/Embassy, while the seats have been ripped out and replaced with information kiosks, the ambience of the old theatre has been preserved largely intact and open for all to admire. By the way, the status on that page is also listed as “closed.”

I suppose a line would have to be drawn somewhere – leaving someone to make a judgment call. For example, I’d probably consider a former theatre building that has been gutted for retail use to be “closed” – even though the building itself is still “open” to the public – since all vestiges of its theatrical history have likely been demolished. But I wonder how we’ll feel about the issue when the new Ecko Unlimited store opens up in the former Times Square Theatre on 42nd Street? It will be modified for retail usage, but much (if not most) of the original theatrical decor will be restored and incorporated into the store design – and, indeed, might be a draw for visitors. Should that be considered “open” as well? I think I might say “yes” to that question.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 26, 2007 at 5:54 pm

Status in introduction claims “Closed.” Could that be true? When I passed by several weeks ago, the building was still operating as a church.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 3, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Hey Howard… The links in my first post were broken when I reorganized my entire Photobucket album some time ago. However, my Hollywood Theatre photo album is still alive and well.

I included the new link in a latter post, but it’s probably easy to sail past that brief comment.

Anyway, love the black & white shots in that first set of flickr photos!

HowardBHaas on October 2, 2007 at 8:05 pm

Unfortunately the links no longer work to Ed’s fantastic interior photos.

Here are others,
Set of 2005 interior photos:
View link

2006 Grand Lobby:

Sept 2007 exterior detail:
View link