Radio City Music Hall

1260 6th Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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RobertEndres on April 25, 2017 at 11:35 am

After commenting on vindanpar’s entries above I got to thinking about his date of 1979. I then remembered that there was a special series at the Hall called “Musical Memory Lane” that ran in the mornings after the movie/stage show policy was eliminated. Bob Jani had just taken over the operation and his first show was a “Summer Spectacular”, but he wanted to continue the link to the Hall’s movie heritage. I checked my files and, sure enough, both “Flower Drum Song” and “Funny Face” ran during that series which screened at 11 A.M. Monday’s through Friday’s most weeks. I also realized that I had indeed been behind the projector when vindanpar saw them. Since they were not first run films, the union gave the Hall permission to have only one man in the booth. My “assistant” who was the only man retained from the previous crew didn’t want to do the series so I ran all of the films.

I was surprised that the series ran from 6/18/79 to 11/12/79 and featured 22 titles. I did remember “The Jolson Story” which was in 70mm and “Cabaret” which was the first “R rated” movie to play the Hall.

Among the other statistics were that from the time the house first showed film “The Bitter Tea of General Yen” until the last, “The Promise” in 1979 there were 674 features. In 1985 we did 10 weeks of movie/stage show presentations with “The Black Cauldron” and “Return To Oz” sharing the same Disney stage show. If you count “The Lion King” and “Barney’s Great Adventure” which had runs of at least four days the total number of shows with stage presentations was 677.

The only features that I didn’t count were in the “Art Deco” film festival in 1974 which also featured an art deco antiques show in the lobby. Each of those titles only ran one time. We also did a four feature silent series with Kevin Brownlow in which each feature only ran once, and “Napoleon” also silent with orchestra which ran multiple times over a couple of years.

RobertEndres on April 21, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Alas I didn’t do “Flower Drum Song” or “Funny Face” at the Hall. “Funny Face” was one of the first VistaVision films from Paramount and the very first VistVision picture “White Christmas” did play the Hall with true horizontal VistaVision projectors, one of the few places that did. They were so new (and rare) that I found hand drawn threading diagrams in the booth files. By the time “Funny Face” played it was in a standard reduction print from the VistaVision negative but it must have looked great on that screen.

In my post above I was trying to think of a young girl who played the Hall before becoming more famous. I think now it was Leslie Uggams, and while I can’t find a direct reference to the Hall she was working as a teen ager around the city at that time.

moviebuff82 on April 17, 2017 at 11:10 am

I like the ads on this theater page. Shows you how showmanship was during the time that the Hall played new movies.

vindanpar on April 15, 2017 at 4:01 pm

And Robert Endres probably was behind the projector for both Funny Face and Flower Drum Song when I saw them there!

vindanpar on April 15, 2017 at 3:47 pm

And since Comfortably Cool posted two ads for the 60th anniversary of the ‘57 Easter show I’d like to say that I saw a beautiful print of Funny Face at the Music Hall in what might have been '79. Better than Napoleon!

Those Richard Avedon(Dick Avery) designed sequences on the large Music Hall screen were stunning to look at.

vindanpar on April 15, 2017 at 3:30 pm

In the footage that I mentioned above of the Flower Drum Song premiere Youngman is seen entering as an audience member.

In an ad for another film which was probably posted by Comfortably Cool the stage show includes Gary Morton though I can’t imagine he even achieved minor fame until he married Lucille Ball. Could a comedian in the midst of a Music Hall stage spectacular make any kind of impression?

Maybe Martin and Lewis could have but it seems they played everywhere in NY but the Metropolitan Opera(you could have stuck them in the third act of Fledermaus as joint jailors. I saw Dom Deluise do Frosch there and he was hilarious)and the Music Hall.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on April 15, 2017 at 1:09 pm

According to internet research, Henny Youngman performed at Radio City Music Hall in three editions of the Night of 100 Stars" stage spectaculars in 1982, 1985, and 1990.I’ve yet to find any references to Youngman working there during the movie/stage era of 1933-79.

hanksykes on April 15, 2017 at 10:32 am

Then I’ve gotten the wrong movie, but I did see Youngman appearing on stage twice .

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on April 15, 2017 at 7:07 am

An ad for “Flower Drum Song” uploaded here makes no mention of Henny Youngman performing in the stage show:

hanksykes on April 14, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Was probably ,“Flower Drum Song”, and I think the silk cherrytree curtain was used with the rockettes!

RobertEndres on April 14, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Just a “Hi” to StanMalone and NYer to say I’m glad you enjoyed the article about me and the Hall. Also wanted to mention that I’ve heard that Christian Slater is another performer that appeared briefly in the cast of the first post movie/stage “Christmas Spectacular”. He was the Little Drummer Boy for a few performances. It was a very odd number with the drummer boy in a suit and also featured a bag lady if I remember correctly. It was dropped after a few performances and some critical comments in the reviews. There is another performer who became famous that appeared in the movie/stage show days but I haven’t been able to remember her name. She’s African/American and appeared when she was a teen ager. I remember my boss talking about her and saying that her mother watched over her like a hawk to keep her safe from the stage crew. She was not a rock performer but did ballads. Hopefully something will jog my memory and you can add her to the list of performers who did appear in the stage show early in their careers.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on April 14, 2017 at 9:52 am

Hank, what was the movie that you sat through twice in order to watch Henny Youngman’s stage exit?

vindanpar on April 13, 2017 at 6:22 am

Had no idea Youngman was in a stage show. He certainly counts.

By the way on you tube there is the ‘61 Music Hall opening evening premiere footage of Flower Drum Song featuring Nancy Kwan, Richard Rodgers, Celeste Holm and others entering the theater. There is a shot of the orchestra and you can see how many musicians there are as opposed to the 70s where there seem to have been much fewer.

Youngman is also seen entering and when he looks at the camera does what was considered funny at the time but would be horribly insulting today.

hanksykes on April 12, 2017 at 5:01 pm

You might add Henny Youngman who worked to the orchestra pit instead of the house and when he threw in a new one liner they hadn’t heard in the pit he would play himself off with his theme, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”, I stayed thru the film twice to see him do this! So there!!

moviebuff82 on April 12, 2017 at 11:22 am

She lived a long life. Did Charlie Murphy, who died today, perform any comedy shows here?

vindanpar on April 11, 2017 at 5:11 pm

The wonderful Linda Hopkins has just died at the age of 92. She was the only name performer I ever saw in a Music Hall stage show during its movie era.

As you know the Music Hall rarely included name performers which were a staple of all the other movie and stage show houses. In fact off the top of my head outside of Jan Peerce and Robert Weede who really only became well known later despite being listed in the stage show ads(Vera Ellen was an anonymous Rockette) The only other two that I can think of off the top of my head were Gene Nelson and Annette Funicello.

NYer on March 23, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Congrats on a great article Bob, and for an even greater career. Thank you for sharing your memories of “The Music Hall”, and thank you for helping me make memories of my own from front row balcony to center orchestra. I’m sure you were up there on my many visits. Sounds like you have a cool book in you.

StanMalone on March 23, 2017 at 4:25 pm

This is a link to an article on the career of Bob Endres, the long time lead projectionist at RCMH and contributor to this page. Lots of interesting stories for projectionists as well as Music Hall buffs. Well worth taking a few minutes to read. Thanks Bob.

PS: I have been to the Lake Theater.

vindanpar on March 18, 2017 at 6:27 am

The stage show with The Cowboys the ad of which was just posted certainly would not fly today. The Rockettes as squaws?

Certainly wish I had gone to see it because it sounds like fun but especially with Totem Tom Tom from Rose Marie as the finale.

I just didn’t want to see a movie about a bunch of boys being taught profanity, violence and whoring being past off as family entertainment. At least that’s what it came off as in the reviews.

vindanpar on March 4, 2017 at 6:26 am

NYer posts See No Evil from Sept 1 ‘71.

The Music Hall descends desperately into showing slasher/horror exploitation 42nd St fare.

Don’t let the pedigree fool you.

And this for a fall show. Though no time was right for it. Saw it in the burbs with Night of the Living Dead. A more suitable companion than It’s In Your Stars on the Great Stage.

vindanpar on February 22, 2017 at 10:54 pm

The new ad of Odd Couple made me think of when I was a doorman there in ‘76 an usher supervisor who was working at the Roxy before he moved to the Music Hall when it opened told me there were as many patrons on the last day as there had been on the first 14 weeks before.

A ticket seller told me that it was the last film where the work was unrelenting. When I was there it seemed there were only a few hundred people there a performance and this was the Easter show. And a drearier Easter film the Music Hall never had had. And what was really sad was That’s Entertainment Part II was playing a few blocks north at the Ziegfeld when it would have been beautiful in widescreen and Technicolor on the large Music Hall screen and a real colorful holiday film.

Somebody brilliant at the Hall thought a dreary brown, green and gray revisionist telling of the Robin Hood story of Robin and Marian in sad tired middle age would appeal to the Music Hall audience looking for holiday entertainment. At long Last Love was a masterpiece in comparison. At least the photography was splendid. The best looking first run film I saw there in the 70s.

And the spring stage show after the Glory of Easter was in black and white! They were clearly intentionally driving the Hall into the ground.

rcdt55b on February 22, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Before I forget, here are the upcoming movies coming to Radio City…..

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert March 31st or April 1st

Tribeca Film Festival April 19th and April 29th

vindanpar on January 4, 2017 at 1:59 am

Concerning EdBlanks comment it was why I said I found it on Wikipedia because I know of their unreliability. But just because it is on there it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong either.

I also know that somebody like AlAlvarez knows how to find fairly arcane information concerning film distribution and can put the record straight.

I just hope the guy who booked a condemned rated film for a Christmas show wasn’t sacked. But then he was probably the same guy who booked the equally licentious and morally corrupting The Odd Couple 35 years later.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 2, 2017 at 6:03 pm

According to the ratings started in 1933 but were only available to Catholics who enquired at the time. According to the New York Times, the public postings of film ratings by the Catholic Legion of Decency started on December 16, 1934. (NYT, Dec 7, 1934). So, although it was not common knowledge, the film was already “Condemned” by the Legion when it showed at RCMH that Christmas, as it made their first “Condemned” listing in 1933.