RKO Proctor's 58th Street Theatre

154 East 58th Street,
New York, NY 10022

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Showing 51 - 65 of 65 comments

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 6, 2006 at 8:03 am

AlexNYC, I believe Warren’s photos are of the theater that previously occupied the site of the RKO Proctor’s 58th. The latter Proctor was an atmospheric design, which the former clearly was not. Warren did post a photo of the atmospheric Proctor back on July 8th, which still very much validates your lamentation on its passing.

AlexNYC on February 6, 2006 at 7:35 am

Wow, RKO Proctor’s 58th is indeed a lost treasure. I never had the opportunity to see it in time, I only recall the highrise in it’s place now. Thanks for sharing the photos Warren.

bazookadave on October 24, 2005 at 11:21 am

Here is a pic of the block where the RKO Proctor’s once stood. Now it’s the site of a bland office tower. All the old structures along both sides of the street have been replaced.

View link

I think this pic is from the same angle as the second pic posted by Warren on July 18, 2005, which shows the marquee advertising Joan Crawford in “Humoresque.”

bazookadave on October 20, 2005 at 5:32 am

Warren I admire your knowledge of the city’s history, it is awesome! I am not sure about Alexander’s, my mom used to take me there in the subway from uptown, way back in the 60s. One of my earliest memories is a floor in Alexander’s where there was a section I used to call the “Pretty Lights,” it was an island in the middle of one of the floors where there were mannequins displaying all the wildest 60s wear for women. However I have no recollection of the RKO Proctor’s and neither does my mom. She does recall the RKO on 86th and believes she and my dad saw “Rio Bravo” there around 1960, when they first moved to the area.

bazookadave on October 19, 2005 at 9:40 am

This theatre must have been something to see!!! I recently walked past…all of 58th street between Third and Lexington is new post-1970 architecture. The bland office tower that replaced the RKO is flanked by equally bland glass box buildings. Across the street, the old Alexander’s is replaced by the new Bloomberg Building. Everything is glass and steel and modern, the street is like a futuristic starbase from one of the Star Trek movies. It would be fab if someone would build a replica of the original RKO Proctor’s or any other atmospheric, but I guess that kind of thing just doesn’t happen.

BoxOfficeBill on September 14, 2005 at 11:13 am

Yes, Warren, exactly: the Synchro-Screen at the RKO Albee in B'klyn looked like the one in the unidentified theater of the second photo. The photo of the Proctor’s 58th Street boggles the mind. Its screen appears to have pre-empted the traveler curtain. (The Albee, however, retained a functional curtain throughout the wide screen era.) The cited dimensions are also staggering. The largest screens of the pre-‘53 era barely exceeded 24’ in width (RCMH’s was 35'). The viewing area at Proctor’s 58th Street must then have measured 24' in height. With two 12' wings, admittedly set at angles, the theater’s proscenium must have measured 50' wide? In an issue of “Theatre Catalog” from the era, there’s a photo and description of the Albee’s Synchro-Screen. I’ll look it up some day, copy the photo, and post it on the Albee’s page for comparison. It’s quite a modest affair by comparison.

42ndStreetMemories on July 18, 2005 at 9:44 am


Warren mentions above that the theater closed with a showing of The Viscount which imdb lists as a May ‘67 release date. I have an RKO ad from after the R&R show, on April 12,1967 with showings at the 58 St of ALFIE & CARRY ON CABBY & TIJUANA BRASS short. j

42ndStreetMemories on July 18, 2005 at 6:33 am

Check out my post from March 16. Great shows.

Included in the ‘Blues Project Anthology’ CD is a copy of the advertisement for the show. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles are listed for Sat & Sun only. Then, Mitch Ryder took over. Others, I didn’t mention earlier….Jim & Jean, The Chicago Loop, Mandala, Hardly-Worthit Players.

The Who had the instrument destruction thing going at the time. Keith Moon walking around with a bass drum around his waist.

Continuous performances “morning ‘til night”. Must have gotten expensive for Keith over 9 days.

jerry the k

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 8, 2005 at 6:35 am

Although The Naked and the Dead was a major 1958 release and based on an important literary work, it generally got tepid reviews, particularly for portrayals and performances. Pauline Kael, for one, said Raoul Walsh had turned it into a “third-rate action movie.” She praised the battle sequences but she found the characterizations poor and the acting lacklustre. A. H. Weiler of the Times similarly concluded, “Director Walsh and his associates have carefully drawn an impressively stark face of war from ‘The Naked and the Dead’ but only seldom do they deeply dissect the people involved in it.”
That doesn’t make it a B-movie, of course. That term is applied to low budgets, not low artistic results. But it is to some degree a failed A-film.

RobertR on July 8, 2005 at 6:00 am

Aldo Rey and Lili St. Cyr ok :)

RobertR on July 1, 2005 at 2:52 pm

Here is a “B” double bill playing at the 58th St.

View link

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 4, 2005 at 2:43 pm

“Juliet of the Spirits” had simultaneous runs at three N.Y.C. theatres beginning in November 1965: the New Embassy (Broadway at 46th Street), RKO 23rd Street Cinema, and the RKO 58th St. November 3rd, one day before the run at the other two theatres began, was the gala premiere at the RKO 58th. I saw it at the New Embassy. From your description of the RKO 58th Street, I wish I had gone there to see it instead. For the record, “Juliet” was not Fellini’s first film in color. That was “The Temptation(s) of Dr. Antonio,” a one-hour episode in the 1962 “Boccaccio ‘70.” It was, however, his first FEATURE in color.

Paul Noble
Paul Noble on April 4, 2005 at 12:56 pm

Warren, I saw that Phantom episode, too, but probably a week later, at the then-RKO Midway. I did see “Juliet of the Spirits”, but on the first night of its run at the 58th Street, and it seemed to be a full house, and one of the most beautiful color prints I’ve ever seen. When the 58th Street was reduced in seating, there was more pitch between rows than any theater I had previously visited, extremely comfortable, but the auditorium was extremely long, and unless one sat down front, the screen seemed tiny. The 58th Street proscenium was narrow, and the balcony overhang didn’t permit much screen height, either.

BoxOfficeBill on April 4, 2005 at 11:21 am

Toward the end of its life, the 58th Street offered some first-run fare. In November ‘65 I remember seeing Fellini’s “Juilet of the Spirits” in its NY premiere there. Fellini had become hugely popular in the US (“La strada” had played at Loew’s nabes in a dubbed version, and “La dolce vita” likewise at the RKO nabes), and “Juliet” marked his eagerly awaited debut in color. Still, the house was near-empty (I sat in the vast balcony, smoking cigarettes) and the lush Nino Rota score reverberated with an echo. That was a shame, because the house was stylistically perfect for the film. Fellini’s big canvas lost a lot on a small art-house screen.

42ndStreetMemories on March 16, 2005 at 2:35 pm

March 25 – April 2,1967…. the theater hosted MURRAY the K’S MUSIC IN THE FIFTH DIMENSION with Mitch Ryder, Wilson Pickett, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, The Who, The Cream, Blues Project and the “K” girls. I had passes and saw 3 of the shows. Then it reverted back to feature films. Jerry the “K”