Rialto Theatre

1481 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 51 - 75 of 127 comments

William on January 4, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Rory, it’s listed as the Embassy 2,3,4 theatre.

Rory on January 4, 2008 at 2:47 pm

I don’t see the Mayfair listed here. Could it have gone by a different name? Would you know what theatre “Bride of Frankenstein” premiered at? Boy, the Roxy sure was one huge theatre.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 4, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Although the Rialto was an action and horror house for most of the forties, it was not an exclusive Universal outlet except mostly for those double-feature re-releases. Exploitation B films from all distributiors played here.

In 1931 DRACULA premiered at the Roxy and FRANKENSTEIN at the Mayfair.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 4, 2008 at 11:35 am

Rory, my grandfather always described this theatre to me as where all the old Universal horror flicks played. He grew up in upper Manhattan as a child in the 1930’s and would often venture to Times Square to catch a double feature. I’m not saying that his recollections are entirely accurate, but it does appear that a number of those old Universal classics played here either on original release or packaged as double bills in re-release.

In a post above from October 23, 2005, CT member RobertR linked to this 1938 clipping featuring an ad for such a twin-bill re-release.

Rory on January 3, 2008 at 10:06 pm

One of my favorite movies, “Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man,” opened at the Rialto on March 5, 1943. Way before my time, but it’s interesting to me. Now it’s even more interesting to find this site and discover what the Rialto ended up showing.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 18, 2007 at 3:14 am

The Italian film Mafioso, successfully revived not too long ago, had its original 1964 American premiere at the Rialto and the Murray Hill.

nonsportsnut on October 23, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Any idea what happened to the murals inside the Rialto (Dracula, Frankentein, Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges) that were done in 1939?
Frank Reighter

nonsportsnut on October 23, 2007 at 1:07 pm

The building at that location, built after the demolishing of the Rialto Theatre, is the Reuters Building.
Frsnk Reighter

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on October 13, 2007 at 7:13 pm

1481 is now a 32 floor high rise with a Chase Bank on the lower floors, one of the four towers that were part of the redevelopment of the 42nd street block. The southwest tower on 8th avenue is yet to be built.

nonsportsnut on October 13, 2007 at 5:57 pm

Hi Ed,
Thanks. I had the book (“Ghosts of 42nd Street” by Anthony Bianco)at one time (Before I downsized), but couldn’t remember the name or author.

The 1481 Broadway address was once the early home of the Times Square Visitor’s Center, now housed at 1560 Broadway. Anybody have any idea what is at 1481 Broadway now?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 12, 2007 at 6:00 pm

Frank… A photo of Mayer unveiling that mural in the Rialto (the likenesses of the Stooges are clear in the shot) can be found in the excellent book “Ghosts of 42nd Street” by Anthony Bianco.

nonsportsnut on October 12, 2007 at 3:03 pm

I’m a member of the Three Stooges Fan Club in Pennsylvanis.
According to the New York Times (Nov. 23, 1939), Arthur Mayer, operator of the Rialto, the theatre would be redecorated in the pre-
Christmas period with a series of murals reflecting the theatre’s film policy. including Dracula, Frankenstein, Laurel & Hardy and The Three Stooges, done by artist Nat Karson. Unveiling would take place Christmas Day (Dec. 25, 1939), to celebrate the 4th Anniversary of the opening of the “new” Rialto.
Can anyone add to the story, such as what happened to the Murals? Also, the Fan Club is trying to document all the Three Stooges' Personal appearances. Please email me at
Frank Reighter

Also the Fan Club is trying to document all the Thre Stooges Live Personal Appearances. Can anyone supply any dates and locations? Please email me at

Frank Reighter

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 6, 2007 at 1:57 pm

I hope this shot hasn’t already been posted here – although I know that many similar shots from this vantage point have been posted on CT. I date this one to sometime in the second half of 1985. The Rialto II marquee is depicted here showing a triple bill of Kung-Fu flicks from China.

RobertR on August 18, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Day and date with RKO 59 St
View link

William on July 17, 2007 at 3:12 pm

During the opening credits for the film “Willie Dynamite”, you can see both the Rialto and Rialto II marquees and around 53 minutes into the film you can see the Tivoli’s marquee over on 8th. Ave.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 5, 2007 at 6:03 am

Yes William. Sorry! The one further to the WEST was the auxilliary to the main theater entrance.

William on June 5, 2007 at 5:53 am

Don’t you mean further to the west. The 2nd. shot of 42nd. Street is looking towards the west.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 5, 2007 at 5:28 am

I have to retract a comment I made above based on viewing these most recent photos from Warren. I was positive that of the two 42nd Street marquees for the Rialto, the one closest to the corner of Seventh Ave was the auxilliary marquee and entrance for the main ground level theater. I am obviously wrong about that as one can plainly see that marquee is advertising a different X-rated feature (“Hard Candy”) that must have been playing in the basement-level Rialto II auditorium. The title “Heat Wave” advertised on the Seventh Ave marquee matches the 42nd Street marquee further to the east.

At some point in the ‘80’s, the entrances on 42nd Street must have been re-configured. The ground level Rialto stopped advertising on 42nd Street and exclusively used the Seventh Ave entrance once it went with more mainstream product under the Warner Theater name and the former auxilliary marquee started advertising the martial-arts grinders that screened in the basement level auditorium. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 8, 2007 at 8:36 pm

Wareen, another fantastic photo — it practically sizzles off the computer screen. It feels like I’m there.

Mikeoaklandpark on May 8, 2007 at 7:53 am

This theatre was also used as a legit broadway house in the late 70 -early 80’s. I remember them playing Black and Blue with Leslie Uggums

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 28, 2007 at 5:36 pm

The marquee depicted in that 1973 image posted by Warren was the one closest to the corner of Seventh Avenue. This was the auxilliary entrance to the street level Rialto auditorium. I never went to the Rialto, but I understand that using this entrance, patrons entered the theater near the screen. The entrance to the basement level Rialto II was a few doors to the east – just out of frame to the left in the ‘73 image.

I’m positive of that because the Rialto II operated on a grind in the late ‘80’s while Cineplex Odeon re-opened the B'way entrance to the main theater as the Warner, playing first run. During that time, the auxilliary marquee depicted in the shot was used to call attention to the “10 Exciting Theaters” the Duece had to offer. Check out the image I posted above on February 10th, 2007, for illustration.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 27, 2007 at 2:11 am

I’m sure you’re correct — the upper right corner of the pic shows the Art Moderne windows of the Rialto Building.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 10, 2007 at 4:23 pm

Scanned from a 1988 edition of the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, devoted to the history of Times Square:

Greatest Movies in USA

By this time, one of the two marquees on 42nd Street was used to welcome folks to the block’s “10 exciting theaters” while the other (presumably for the newer Rialto II basement theater) was used to advertise the usual Kung Fu action fare. Meanwhile, the main auditorium utilized the Seventh Ave/B'way marquee and entrance around the corner for the more mainstream fare with which it (as well as other Duece theaters) hoped to lure general audiences.

RobertR on January 30, 2007 at 11:04 am

The Devil in it’s second year
View link

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 11, 2006 at 2:54 pm

I remember that Playland arcade to the right of the Rialto from back in the 1980’s. The Chinese joint next door was a Wendy’s at the time. The Rialto was such a weird theater – not that I ever attended a film there – in that I it had three marquees. The one on Broadway, seen in Warren’s photo, was dark a lot with the entrance closed. The twin marquees (for the Rialto I and II) were around the corner on 42nd Street, where the box office was located. I think Cineplex Odeon re-opened the B'way entrance when they took a stab at scheduling first-run fare here as the Warner Theater just before the whole place was shuttered for good. During these short years, I think the 42nd Street marquees were dark, since the block was becoming a ghost town at the time.

Anyone remember the big Playland arcade up near the RKO Cinerama that was open to both Seventh Avenue and Broadway? I think that was in the old Castro Convertible building, if I’m not mistaken, between 47th and 48th.