Loew's Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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BoxOfficeBill on May 5, 2006 at 7:56 am

Lost Memory— Wonderful photo! It is our treasured Capitol in NYC. “It Started with a Kiss” opened there on 19 August ‘59.

Sean Vincent Quinn: The Capitol’s stage shows were magnificent. While the theater booked fewer up-to-the-minute super-stars than the Paramount did, it certainly composed programs that had better shape, form, heft, and elegance than the Paramount’s.

Take the Capitol’s romance with the Dorsey Brothers. Tommy was hailed as the World’s Greatest Trombonist, and Jimmy as the World’s Greatest Saxophonist. The one followed the other onto the Capitol’s stage in the first post-war Thanksgiving and Christmas presentations of 1945.

On 22 November, Jimmy headlined the stage show that featured Carlos Ramirez (vocalist: “Granada”)and Lowe, Hite, and Stanley (comedy team from “New Faces of 1937”). The movie was Vincente Minelli’s “Yolanda and the Thief” with Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer.

On 21 December, Tommy moved onto the stage with George Prentice (vocalist) and the Slate Brothers (tap dance trio featured in “Anchors Aweigh”). The film was John Ford’s “They Were Expendable” with Robert Montgomery.

On 24 January, the Dorseys vacated the Capitol’s stage for the Glen Miller Orchestra with Tex Beneke on sax (“Hey! Ba Ba Re Bop”). The screen played host to “The Harvey Girls” with Judy Garland. Who could have resisted that?

SeanVQ on April 18, 2006 at 1:44 pm

Joe B -
Certainly share the list, I’m glad you liked it.
I’m working on other lists which I hope to post soon.
As for details of the stage shows which accompanied the movies, Warren, unfortunatley I don’t have access to that information.
Believe me I wish I did, as I agree with you that the movies are only half the story.
Still, half a story is better than none!

Goodheart on April 18, 2006 at 11:58 am

Sean, the list of films you compiled for the year 1930 at the Capitol Theatre are outstanding.
Do I have your permission to share this list with the movie buffs at Turner Classic Movies. Since the station has shown many of the features listed, I believe the members would enjoy seeing it.

Thank you


SeanVQ on April 18, 2006 at 11:12 am

Playing at The Capitol in 1930:
(All movies MGM productions unless otherwise stated)
01/10 – ‘Navy Blues’ – William Haines & Anita Page
01/17 – ‘It’s a Great Life’ – The Duncan Sisters
01/24 – ‘Their Own Desire’ – Norma Shearer & Robert Montgomery
01/31 – ‘The Bishop Murder Case’ – Basil Rathbone & Leila Hyams
02/07 – ‘Not So Dumb’ – Marion Davies
02/21 – ‘Chasing Rainbows’ – Bessie Love & Charles King
02/28 – ‘A Lady To Love’ – Vilma Banky & Edward G Robinson
03/07 – ‘Lord Byron of Broadway’ – Charles Kaley & Ethelind Terry
03/14 – ‘Anna Christie’ – Greta Garbo & Charles Bickford
04/04 – ‘The Girl Said No’ – William Haines & Leila Hyams
04/11 – ‘Montana Moon’ – Joan Crawford & John Mack Brown
04/18 – ‘Free and Easy’ – Buster Keaton & Anita Page
04/25 – ‘The Ship from Shanghai’ – Conrad Nagel & Kay Johnson
05/02 – ‘Redemption’ – John Gilbert & Eleanor Boardman
05/09 – ‘The Divorcee’ – Norma Shearer & Chester Morris
05/23 – ‘Ladies of Leisure’ – Barbara Stanwyck (Columbia)
05/30 – ‘The Floradora Girl’ – Marion Davies
06/06 – ‘In Gay Madrid’ – Ramon Novarro & Renee Adoree
06/13 – ‘Lady of Scandal’ – Ruth Chatterton & Basil Rathbone
06/20 – ‘Caught Short’ – Marie Dressler & Polly Moran
07/04 – ‘The Unholy Three’ – Lon Chaney & Lila Lee
07/11 – ‘Let Us Be Gay’ – Norma Shearer & Rod La Rocque
07/25 – ‘The Sins of the Children’ – Robert Montgomery & Leila Hyams
08/01 – ‘Our Blushing Brides’ – Joan Crawford & Robert Montgomery
08/15 – ‘Way Out West’ – William Haines & Leila Hyams
08/22 – ‘Romance’ – Greta Garbo
09/05 – ‘Good News’ – Bessie Love
09/12 – ‘The Call of the Flesh’ – Ramon Novarro & Dorothy Jordan
09/19 – ‘Doughboys’ – Buster Keaton & Sally Eilers
09/26 – ‘Love in the Rough’ – Robert Montgomery & Dorothy Jordan
10/10 – ‘Those Three French Girls’ – Fifi D'Orsay & Reginald Denny
10/17 – ‘Billy the Kid’ – John Mack Brown & Wallace Beery
11/07 – ‘A Lady’s Morals’ – Grace Moore
11/14 – ‘Brothers’ – Bert Lytell & Dorothy Sebastian (Columbia)
11/21 – ‘Min and Bill’ – Marie Dressler & Wallace Beery
12/05 – ‘Remote Control’ – William Haines & Eileen Percy
12/12 – ‘Way For a Sailor’– John Gilbert & Leila Hyams
12/19 – ‘Passion Flower’ – Kay Francis & Charles Bickford

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 7, 2006 at 7:48 am

I have to stop speed-reading! Thanks, I see it plain as day in his posting. That’s an amazing reduction in capacity. Assuming the 1957 FDYB (which Warren referenced on the Brooklyn Paramount page) was up-to-date and the Capitol’s capacity had already been reduced to just over 4400 by the late ‘50’s, we’re talkin about a stunning reduction of nearly 3000 seats! Even if the FDYB was incorrect and capacity had been only 3000 (just to pick a round number), we’re talking about half the house removed or hidden behind drapes.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 7, 2006 at 6:56 am

William… Following up on your March 7th post about the refitting of the Capitol for Cinerama in ‘62, can you tell us what the revised seating capacity was after all those seats were concealed behind draperies? We started touching upon this topic in the Brooklyn Paramount thread, where an article was posted dated 8/21/62 in reference to that theater’s closing and noting its seating capacity of 4144 as being second only to Radio City Music Hall in NYC.

hdl37 on March 26, 2006 at 10:38 am

Saw to Hell and Back,Audie Murphy Not sure of year. When ever opened.

Great air conditioning for those years

Patsy on March 7, 2006 at 6:55 pm

Sorry…as I see the first two are different photos of the same area, but too bad that it all falls under the word….demolished.

Patsy on March 7, 2006 at 6:52 pm

Bob: Are those photos of before and after?

Goodheart on March 7, 2006 at 1:34 pm

Many thanks you guys for the information regarding the Capitol Theatre and those fabulous pictures.
It must have been at a great expense to install Cinerama at the Capitol in 1962, only to have it last 6 years when the theatre would closed.


BobFurmanek on March 7, 2006 at 12:28 pm

Patsy; the link to those photos are in Warren’s post from 7:37 this morning.

William on March 7, 2006 at 11:58 am

When the Loew’s Capitol did the Cinerama install in 1962. They installed a 33 by 93 foot louved Cinerama screen with a 146 degree viewing area for the opening of MGM’s “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm”. During this Cinerama install the seating capacity was reduced to around 1552. The side aisles in the orchestra, half of the balcony and a third of the loge was eliminated for the new projection process. The 3-Strip Cinerama process ran from August 7th. 1962 to June 23rd. 1964. As a Super Cinerama house it ran from July 25th. 1964 to September 14th. 1968.

Patsy on March 7, 2006 at 10:58 am

Bob: Where are the before and after photos to see how much the proscenium was altered?

BobFurmanek on March 7, 2006 at 10:30 am

In looking at the before and after photos, it struck me how much they altered the proscenium. Not only did they hang all those curtains, but they actually plastered over (or painted) some of the decorative architecture.

BobFurmanek on March 7, 2006 at 10:08 am

There was a huge stage and backstage area at this theater. They presented deluxe stage shows with a 71 piece orchestra in the pit. See the post dated Feb 1, 2006 for a breakdown.

Goodheart on March 7, 2006 at 9:07 am

I neglected to report that there wasn’t any stage when I saw Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland in person at the Capitol. The ladies were standing on a platform in front of the curtained screen.
I would imagine there once was a stage for the times that Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney appeared at the theatre in person, among other stars.
Anyone know for sure?

Goodheart on March 6, 2006 at 6:25 pm

In March 1965 the showing of “Hush…Hush…Sweet Charlotte” at the Loew’s Capitol Theatre in New York coincided with the showing at the Loew’s Metropolitan in Brooklyn.
Both Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland appeared at both theatre’s in person, promoting the movie. Of course I went to both theatre’s for this once in a lifetime treat.
Living in Brooklyn I was familiar with the Metropolitan, however it was my first visit to the beautiful Capitol Theatre.
I took a color snapshot of the Capitol marquee advertising the movie, and which I hope to post here, when I learn how to do it, for all to see.


mauriceski on February 21, 2006 at 10:44 pm

The Capitol was indeed a beautiful theater. I remember seeing “ALEXANDER THE GREAT"there. staring Richard Burton and Fredric March.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 20, 2006 at 4:57 pm

Minor correction… My Mom saw HTWWW sometime in 1963 at the Capitol (called the Loews Cinerama for this engagement). I double checked with her on the date (I just assumed 1962) after I saw the copyright on the souvenir booklet dated 1963. The last pages of the booklet are devoted to clippings from rave reviews in the British press after the film’s London premier in late ‘62.

Please check out the images I posted from my Mom’s “Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” souvenir booklet she picked up at that film’s roadshow engagement at the old Warner Cinerama (nee Strand). I also posted from an old RCMH souvenir booklet (mine, not my Mom’s) on the Radio City Music Hall site.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 18, 2006 at 8:17 am

My Mom saw “How The West Was Won” here in 1962 and purchased the hard-cover souvenir booklet on sale in the lobby. The hard cover is now gone, but I have the rest of the booklet and snapped a few images to share here:

Title page
What is Cinerama?
Cinerama diagram close up

There’s more to the book (cast photos, credits, behind-the-scenes information and other MGM hyperbole) but I thought the Cinerama description was the most interesting aspect to post.

Patsy on February 6, 2006 at 5:02 pm

Bryan: I couldn’t view the 1962 auditorium photo posted on 12/04/03.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 2, 2006 at 6:54 am

Sheesh! A 71 piece orchestra! I’m not expert in the field but are Philharmonic orchestras much larger than that?!?

ThePhotoplayer on February 1, 2006 at 7:30 pm

The Capitol’s first orchestra was led by Erno Rapeé (1891-1945), who was also a noted film composer. He had just finished tenure at the Rivoli and later went on to conduct the Radio City Music Hall orchestra. The breakdown of the Capitol original orchestra was:

16 First Violins, 10 Seconds, 8 Violas, 7 Cellos, 6 Basses, 2 Flutes, 2 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, 4 Horns, 4 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, 1 Tuba, 3 Drummers, 2 Oboes and 1 Harp.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 11, 2006 at 3:24 am

Thanks, Ed. I checked out my favorite Cinema Treasures picture, of the Capitol playing “2001” in 1968, and the vents in the sidewalk near the curb are the only things remaining from those days.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 10, 2006 at 9:01 am

Here’s a shot of the Paramount Plaza (nee Uris) office building that replaced the Capitol Theater back in ‘68. Unfortunately for me, the Mars 2112 theme restaurant that occupies the northern end of the building’s sunken plaza is one of my daughter’s favorite places to eat in Manhattan.

View link

The Winter Garden Theater is directly across the street.