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I’ve been wondering the same thing, Howard. Someone here said the entire building was being dismantled. If I ever see one of the construction guys, I’ll ask. Or, if I find myself with a spare half-hour before work, I can try to sift through the dozen or so permits they have posted on the corner of the construction shedding!
Added a few more glimpses of the interior demolition, as viewed through construction peep-holes on Seventh Ave. Images taken middle of last month.
Ironic, and sad back to back comments – one with the text of an article announcing the construction of the Drake, the other a link to an article about it’s demolition.
The shot of Tony Curtis, as Falco, watching Hunsecker’s sister enter the theater, was filmed at the corner of W. 54th Street and Sixth Avenue. The bar and restaurant behind him is now the site where the New York Hilton is located. That would make it appear that the theater itself was the original Ziegfeld Theatre. However, neither the interior shots of the theater, nor the exterior showing the sister entering (and later the Marty Milner character in the outside foyer) were shot at the Ziegfeld.
Suggesting it was the Ziegfeld actually makes sense, since at the time of the filming, that theater had been used by NBC as a television studio. But the exterior shots are of a different facade, just judging from the windows and storefront immediately to the right of the marquee.
As for the Rivoli, by this time (1957) the interior had already been streamlined for its wide-screen road show retrofit. The interior shots in the film show far too much original vintage ornamentation to be the Rivoli – not to mention the design around the proscenium is a bit different. I don’t know where they filmed those shots, but it is definitely an old movie palace that had been retrofitted for direct-throw wide-screen projection (you can glimpse the new booth, cut into center of the loge, in the background), just not the Rivoli.
With King Vidor at the helm, Selznick producing, and a budget that allowed for location filming in Hawaii (this was scrapped, according to IMDB.COM trivia, due to weather related problems), not to mention the fact that it was based on very popular stage material, I would say “Bird Of Paradise” likely constituted an “A” picture for RKO.
This probably doesn’t belong here, Bloop. The “Interboro” stamped on the ticket in the lower left corner, refers to the chain that ran the Elmwood Theatre in Elmhurst, NY.
Just posted a couple of shots I took with my cellphone over the last week or two, through the construction shedding peepholes, to see the demolition in progress. The first shot shows a portion of where the old Mayfair/DeMille entrance used to be. The second is another storefront or two down towards 47th Street, but may reveal recesses (stripped to concrete) that may have been a part of the theater.
The left interior wall shown here is the northern wall of the entire building, so this is definitely where the Mayfair, and later DeMille, entrance was located. Later, when renovated, the entrance space was cut in half. The donut shop took the left half, and the theater, the right. This day I passed, was the only time, so far, that I’ve seen the roll top gate was actually at least most of the way up, exposing the demolition within the actual theater portion of the building. And I take a peek into those peepholes every morning!
This section was most definitely storefronts along Seventh Avenue (probably around the spot where the old Columbia Theatre entrance used to be), but not sure if any of the recesses shown in the back here were a part of the Mayfair/DeMille.
Hi tkmonaghan… Mother’s was actually in the corner building, sharing the ground floor with that newstand, not in the “theater-like” building that I think may have housed a Child’s. In your photo, you can see a portion of that building on the right, with a hat shop occupying one of the storefronts. Not sure if Child’s typically shared its footprint with other merchants, so your photo certainly does call into question whether my hunch is correct.
Just read through this thread, and the earlier questions about the current building on site having a theatrical air about it. Couldn’t find if anyone already mentioned this, but, knowing that prior to the bank, the occupant was a restaurant, I wonder if this may have been one of the many Childs Restaurant, locations. That early national chain was known for the architectural detail of its buildings. From images of other Childs locations that I’ve seen (including the remains of 2 Coney Island locations), this structure very much has the same look. And the timing would be right, if the Whitney lasted into the 1920’s, since that’s about when the chain started to peak in popularity.
And most of the comments on the Manhattan Biltmore page debate that very issue!
DavidZornig, if you’d like to add those images (which I see you’ve already removed from this page) to the correct theater, Here’s the page for the Biltmore in Manhattan.
I’ve commented before that theater preservation under the NYC LPC (after the Marriot Marquis demolitions) has always been all about the legit houses, without any regard to any of the premiere movie houses in the Times Square area. The rich history of motion picture exhibition in this town, and the important architectural wonders in which that history took place, were completely ignored by the LPC. Not a single house on Broadway or Seventh Avenue survives – with the lone exception of the Embassy newsreel theater.
I know that many of the cinemas were shorn of much their original interior design with the wholesale streamlining and updating that occurred during the dawn of the widescreen roadshow era, but seems to me that enough beauty remained in the Rivoli, Loew’s State, Strand, DeMille, and Forum to warrant serious consideration. I suppose we should be thankful for the conversion of the Hollywood, Broadway, and Globe Theatres to legitimate use – surely those transitions played a part in the preservation of those buildings.
It is nothing short of miraculous, that all four of the original Loew’s Wonder Theaters, situated within NYC limits, are still standing and open (or soon to be open) to the public. And that number five is still alive and surviving as an actual movie palace, across the Hudson in Jersey City!
I walk by this building every day, on my way to the office. It is completely covered in scaffolding and dark mesh construction netting, so, impossible to really see what is going on, but from what can be viewed through the peepholes and gaps in the street level shedding, they are stripping all vestiges of ornamentation from the facade. I presume this is in preparation for the dismantling of the building, as I also presume that the any remaining architectural detail within the structure is being carted away as rubble.
Oh, and I’m thrilled to have the name back in place over that marquee. Fitting, since the original Lyric’s entrance serves the same purpose for the new house.
I get the criticism, however. The theater swallowed up a lot of the comedy in Mel Brooks' musical version of “Young Frankenstein.” Admittedly, the show and production did have a few intrinsic problems of their own that had nothing to do with the house, but I felt that the size of the theater (as opposed to the smaller Richard Rodgers, where the more successful – and funnier – “The Producers” ran), caused the performances to reach even bigger and broader than is Brooks' usual style to sell the jokes up in the rafters, which squashed the life out of the humor. The set pieces looked wonderful on that big stage, however.
Hey Guarina… The Wadsworth Theatre would be a completely different structure from the Heights Theatre. The location was across Wadsworth Avenue from the Heights, with its entrance around the corner on W. 181st Street. The Heights would have actually faced the auditorium side wall of the Wadsworth. Whichever year the Wadsworth was torn down, it was definitely demolished to make way for the single-story tax payers that now occupy the lot. More importantly, CT is in need of a listing for the Wadsworth Theatre. Calling Joe Vogel…
I’m not so sure, walterk. The sign for the Airdrome looks like it has a hand pointing towards the theater, next to the word “open.” Hard to tell from the photo, but the hand might be directing boardwalk traffic to take the ramp, shown on the left, down to street level to get to the Airdrome. The buildings on the left side of the boardwalk in the photo look like they might just be retail storefronts. On the closest corner, the sign along the side, partially obscured by the lamppost, might read “druggist,” I think I see a sign for a “cafe” just beyond that, and it appears there was also a bath house along that row.
Of course, I’m just drawing conclusions here, but seems to me, that if the Airdrome were actually ON the boardwalk, there wouldn’t need to be the additional sign pointing passersby in the theater’s direction. I would suggest the Airdrome might have been out of frame here, perhaps just a few steps from the boardwalk itself.
Jack Benny’s radio show may still be the most consistently hilarious variety show ever to have been broadcast – on radio or TV, for that matter.
Abie’s Irish Rose had its Broadway debut on May 23, 1922, at the late Fulton Theatre, according to IBDB.com. Kosher Kitty Kelly followed a few years later, opening June 15, 1925, at the Times Square Theatre, still standing, and in the midst of restoration/re-use, on 42nd Street.
I love that the 1926 ad for “Birth Of A Nation,” posted by Lost Memory, shows a supporting presentation of Kosher Kitty Kelly. KKK? Irony?
The lack of quotations around the title in the ad, suggest this was a live production. KKK was originally a stage musical, although it should be noted that it also had silent film version, (according to Wikipedia) that was produced in 1926, by none other than Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Unless there is other evidence to support facility at this theatre for live productions, I would assume it was the film that was screened during this engagement.
Hey Bway… The current look is certainly nicer than before, but it doesn’t appear to be a restoration. Seems they eliminated the parapet wall above the entrance and around the perimeter facing Knickerbocker and Starr, and then spruced up the old bare brick wall of the auditorium structure, which was set back with a higher elevation behind the lobby and one-story storefronts. Gives the impression of a vintage restoration, but the old building never looked like that.
Hey Mike, I’m working in Manhattan now, so rarely in my car, during the week. Maybe I’ll try this weekend, if it isn’t already too late, by then, to see anything inside the lobby.
Perhaps they are modernizing, and trying to get a jump on Regal’s proposed reconstruction of the nearby Lynbrook Theatre. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a LieMax screen go in here, with a stadium seating upgrade to the other auditoriums. Not sure what a million dollars buys you, these days, in terms of cinema upgrades.