Roxy Theatre

153 W. 50th Street,
New York, NY 10020

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Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 3, 2014 at 2:01 pm

“What’s playing at the Roxy?

I’ll tell you what’s playing at the Roxy.

A picture about a Minnesota man falls in love with a Mississippi girl.

That he sacrifices everything and moves all the way to Biloxi.

That’s what’s playing at the Roxy."

(But was it an A picture or a B picture? A studio release or an independent? Was there a stage show and did the ushers wear pants or skirts…?)

NYer on November 3, 2014 at 6:39 am

The last three engagements, “The Gazebo”, the double bill of “On the Waterfront” & “The Caine Mutiny” and the last show, “The Wind Cannot Read” as posted by MarkDHite opening day ads now in photos.

bigjoe59 on November 2, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Hello Again-

thanks for the reply to my question. I knew when the Roxy was closed but had no idea what the last film was. I had never heard of the “The Wind Cannot Read” so I naturally assumed it was a B movie but according to MarkD. that’s not the case. I had no idea “The Gazebo” was the last big studio film to debut at the Roxy.

MarkDHite on November 2, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Simon, thanks for clarifying this point once again. It’s interesting to remember that during the original five year run under Roxy himself it was the theatre itself that was the main attraction with its huge orchestra, organ, and stage spectaculars including the ballet corps, the male choir, and the Roxyettes. For those who don’t already know, these shows were created by the same people who later made the Radio City Music Hall famous for its stage spectacles: producer Leon Leonidoff and choreographer Russell Markert. The movie was just one piece of the whole amazing show.

After the exit of Roxy and all of his staff and performers to the Music Hall the Roxy Theatre really struggled for a few years, as Simon tells us. It’s parent company Fox Pictures was in receivership and didn’t have enough top product to fill the Roxy’s screen. After the advent of the 20th Century-Fox merger and better corporate support of the Roxy Theatre through Fox’s theatre arm, the Roxy flourished again, especially during WWII as all theatrs did. It remained a leading World premiere film showcase until its demise in 1960. Remember that 20th-Fox’s CinemaScope process had its world premiere at the Roxy with the film “The Robe”.

MarkDHite on November 2, 2014 at 9:47 pm

The Roxy remained a major first run house until the very final weeks of its existence. MGM’s “The Gazebo” with Glenn Ford had its New York debut run at the Roxy, opening January 15, 1960 along with a Roxy stage show. This ran until February 26. Then the Roxy’s last two engagements, filling out the weeks until it closed, were a rerelease double bill of “On the Waterfront” and “The Caine Mutiny”; and then, opening on March 9, “The Wind Cannot Read”. There was no stage show during these last two bills. “The Wind Cannot Read” was a British import starring Dirk Bogart. Not a major release in the US, but by no means a B-picture.

Simon L. Saltzman
Simon L. Saltzman on November 2, 2014 at 9:40 pm

From the late 1930s and through the 1950s, The Roxy only booked A films. Exception was the Depression Era when the theater struggled to survive and booked B movies. B movies were often booked during the early years (1927 – 1932) when Roxy himself was managing director and wanted his elaborate stage shows to be the main attraction. The last A film to play the Roxy and its last film (sans stage show) before demolition was “The Wind Cannot Read” with Dirk Bogard

bigjoe59 on November 2, 2014 at 9:06 pm


I first posted this question some time ago so I was wondering if anyone had additional info. at the point the Roxy was closed the movie biz was still operating on the A Level, B and even C Levels of movie production. so what was the last big A Level studio film to play the Roxy?

MarkDHite on November 2, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Well here’s another photo that show women ushers at the Roxy as late as 1947.

Dated 1947, it has this caption: “Roxy usherettes (l to r) Marie Prange, Sheilah Knox, and Jo Ann De Santis dispense coffee and doughnuts to line of movie patrons headed by Mrs. Lily Vieder, at the premiere of "Forever Amber” outside the Roxy Theater, New York City Date Created/Published: 1947.

Here’s the link. Only a tiny thumbnail is available. Pic is under copyright.

MarkDHite on November 2, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Here is a link to the photo I mentioned. It is from the Library of Congress, dated 1945 with the caption “Head usherette Capt. Rosemary Smith inspects line of uniformed usherettes who are holding gloved hands up to be examined, Roxy Theater, New York City.”

Here is a link to the page, the photo may be opened in three different formats and resolutions.

MarkDHite on November 2, 2014 at 10:16 am

Women were probably employed in concessions, box office, and as secretaries and receptionists. Earlier, there would have been a “matron” in the ladies lounge and a nurse in the theatre’s medical rooms. And of course, as cleaners. It’s an excellent question. Perhaps someone with direct knowledge can recall what jobs were open to women, other than as performers, at the Roxy in the 1950s and earlier.

dotty64 on November 2, 2014 at 8:46 am

Does this mean that the only jobs available for women at the Roxy in the 1950s was at the candy concessions?

MarkDHite on November 1, 2014 at 2:06 am

Simon is saying that after WWII the Roxy went back to an all male usher staff. That sounds right, even though I wasn’t there, I’ve never seen a picture of a female usher at the Roxy except during wartime. I have a photo that I downloaded, I don’t know where from, that shows an older woman and her staff of wartime usherettes at the Roxy. The uniform is a very basic uniform dress with one row of buttons all the way down the front. If it’s not already in the photo section here, I will try to add it the next time I’m at my computer. Cheers

Joseph on November 1, 2014 at 12:38 am

To Simon, Please see my photo of a female ROXY usherette. Females WERE recruited during WW2 because of manpower shortages.

Simon L. Saltzman
Simon L. Saltzman on October 31, 2014 at 5:59 pm

As a Roxy usher in 1956 and 1957, I can tell you that there were no women ushers during that time. I recall a couple of women in uniforms who worked at the candy concession.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on October 31, 2014 at 2:58 pm

You’re romance, You’re the steppes of Russia, You’re the pants, on a Roxy usher, I’m a broken doll, a fol-de-rol, a blop,

But if, baby, I’m the bottom, You’re the top!

— Cole Porter

dotty64 on October 31, 2014 at 9:55 am

what did the female usherette uniforms in the 1950s look like?

Joseph on October 31, 2014 at 12:21 am

to dotty64:

Yes female ushers became common during the WW2 era.

dotty64 on October 30, 2014 at 10:13 am

Can anyone tell me if there were female ushers at the Roxy. If not, what jobs were available for girls in the early 1950s?

Mike Gallagher
Mike Gallagher on September 26, 2014 at 4:01 pm

The Roxy and the Fox were horrible losses for North America.

jamestv on September 22, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Radio City Music Hall has Rockefeller Center behind it, the Roxy and the Capitol had no one.

bigjoe59 on September 22, 2014 at 9:31 pm

to Mark D.–

thanks for your reply. it certainly says it all. people how decry the demolishing of grand movie palaces react as if some big orge is specifically targeting grand old movie palaces. the same thing happened with San Francisco’s The Fox which was as large as beloved as the Roxy. it was torn down in 1963 since it had become a huge financial liability which could simply not make it as a single screen movie theater because it was to frigging big.

MarkDHite on September 20, 2014 at 10:06 pm

What you say is true. The Roxy must have had huge operating expenses, and while I don’t think it ever lost money it must have been clear by 1960 that it’s days as a big moneymaker were quickly dwindling. However, I think the Roxy was doomed more by the value of its Midtown Manhattan real estate. From the time it was acquired by Rockefeller Center in the early 50s I imagine the plan was to just keep it going until the most advantageous deal could be made to capitalize on its location as Rock Ctr developed the west side of Sixth Ave. First the air rights were used for other development and then the lot was finally used for a new office building. Rock Ctr already had Radio City Music Hall and had no interest in keeping two huge movie palaces going. It probably never had a chance to survive after about 1952.

bigjoe59 on September 20, 2014 at 9:42 pm

to LorinW.–

while its sad that a gorgeous movie palace like the Roxy was demolished people forget one very simple fact. at the time it was decided to raze the theater it was a HUGE financial liability for the owners. once t.v. became commonplace in the American home HUGE theaters like the Roxy were doomed. i’m sure in 1960 when it was torn down the weekly operating costs were astronomical.

LorinWeigard on September 19, 2014 at 10:52 pm

This is why people go to Europe—they don’t bulldoze their architectural masterpieces to rubble. The iconic LIFE cover of Gloria Swanson in the ruins of the legendary ROXY says it all.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 21, 2014 at 6:11 pm

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.