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“Thunderball” was released in December, 1965, nearly a year and a half after “The Carpetbaggers” closed at the Paramount. I don’t recall “Thunderball” playing there, but I can’t say that it didn’t, even though I was working in the Paramount Building at the time. I hated the first James Bond movie, “Dr. No,” and avoided the sequels like the plague.
The Coronet was a newly built theatre, but the Baronet was a modern renovation of the Arcadia Theatre, a 480-seat late-run movie house that changed programs several times a week and had been a fixture of the neighborhood for decades. When the Baronet and Coronet first opened, they were part of the Walter Reade Circuit.
When was this an RKO theatre? If so, it must have escaped my notice. The seating capacity mentioned above seems excessive. The 1931 Film Daily Year Book claims 1,400 seats. The Tivoli’s street address was 839 Eighth Avenue.
For a theatre of its size (3,664 seats), the Paramount was one of the narrowest ever built because the auditorium had to be squeezed between two adjacent buildings— the Paramount office tower, which faced Broadway, and the headquarters of The New York Times (229 West 43rd Street). Consequently, the Paramount Theatre’s entrance and a short lobby were carved out of the Paramount Building. After you passed through that short lobby, the actual theatre building began with the Grand Lobby, where you found yourself at the rear of the auditorium, which ran parallel to Broadway with the stage wall backing on West 44th Street. The main floor had only four sections of seats. Above that was a separate and recessed mezzanine with boxed seats. And one level above the mezzanine was the steeped balcony, divided into five sections of seats across and four from front to back. Due to the narrowness of the auditorium, the Paramount also had a narrow stage opening that proved a problem throughout the theatre’s lifetime. Stage productions had to use the orchestra lift as part of the show or erect small platforms next to the pit. When the wide screen era arrived, some of the procscenium had to be removed to accommodate it…The Paramount finally closed forever on August 4th, 1964, following that evening’s last showing of “The Carpetbaggers.” As I recall, there were slight efforts to save the theatre, probably because The New York Times bought the site for demolition and conversion into office space for itself.
Happily, on Monday night (2/23/04) Community Board 7 in Flushing voted UNANIMOUSLY to REJECT the developer’s latest proposal for the re-development of the RKO Keith’s Theatre, according to a story in the NY Daily News of 2/26/04, page QLI 7. The developer now has to come up with a different proposal or take legal action against the Board’s decision. In either case, this matter promises to drag on for more years to come.
The Park Plaza Theatre was located at 1746 University Avenue and had 2,029 seats. For much of its life, it was a first-run neighborhood theatre operated by the Skouras Circuit. I suspect that Stephen Sloane has it confused with some other theatre.
For much of its life, the Orpheum was one of the most important theatres of the Loew’s circuit, which built it with Thomas W. Lamb as architect. While still operated by Loew’s, it was sub-divided, but later totally demolished to make way for a new multiplex with entrance around the corner on Third Avenue. In its heyday, the Orpheum and the nearby RKO Proctor’s 86th Street were the two leaders of that area and played the movies in their first neighborhood runs.
“Closed for renovations” is another way of saying that we’re not doing enough business to keep open. The Ziegfeld has been known to cancel performances, especially during weekday matinee hours, when not even one person turned up to buy a ticket.
The Lower East Side Apollo was a 1,788-seat independent theatre near bustling Delancey Street that Loew’s took over in the 1930s and ran for about ten years before closing it as a substantial loser. I don’t think it ever re-opened under another management. Several years ago, I tried to find the Apollo but couldn’t. It has either been demolished or converted beyond recognition as a theatre.
Due to an exclusive on 20th-Fox movies in its product split with the RKO Alden, the Skouras Merrick was the first theatre in Jamaica to present CinemaScope, with “The Robe.” Although Loew’s Valencia was by that time using wide-screen projection on all its movies, it didn’t show its first CinemaScope feature until about three months later, MGM’s “Knights of the Round Table.”
The map and address for this theatre are incorrect. Unfortunately, I don’t know the exact address, but it is probably 129-?? Northern Boulevard (north side). Queens street numbers have a hyphen between them. The theatre is at the junction of Northern Boulevard with Main Street. The map shows the theatre several blocks west of that.
If I recall correctly, the lobby and grand foyer, including the free-standing fountain, were plundered and/or severely damaged prior to the landmarking, so I can’t imagine what will be displayed behind that proposed glass curtain wall.
To call this Loew’s Ziegfeld is an insult to its builder-namesake, the legendary Broadway producer Florenz Ziegfeld, and its architect, Joseph Urban (Thomas Lamb was only a consultant). Though Loew’s did run the Ziegfeld Theatre as a sub-run movie house for about ten years, it was only because the owners (Ziegfeld had died by then) couldn’t find any other tenant in those Depression times. I would rather remember the Ziegfeld as the theatre where “Show Boat,” one of the greatest of all American stage musicals, debuted on December 27th, 1927. I wish that I could have been in the audience that night!
This was never a “legit” theatre, so I doubt that Joan Blondell ever appeared there except on the movie screen. More likely, she worked at Keith’s 81st Street, which alternated between vaudeville and plays…Loew’s built the 83rd Street and first opened it on September 26, 1921, with a policy of vaudeville and a feature movie. The auditorium was similar to Lamb’s design for Loew’s State, which was built at the same time and opened on August 9th of that year. The State had a larger and more elaborate lobby due to its prime location on Broadway in the heart of the Times Square area.
The Trylon’s address is 98-81 Queens Boulevard, which may help to decide whether it’s in Rego Park or Forest Hills. As I recall, it was always advertised as being in Forest Hills.
Does anyone remember another Bayside theatre called the Victory, which had 1,274 seats and was located at 199-03 32nd Avenue (near Francis Lewis Boulevard)? Like the Bayside, it was operated by Skouras Theatres, but ran the movies after they’d played the Bayside. It closed around 1950, one of the first victims of home TV. Someone told me that the Victory is still standing and used as a flea market, but I haven’t been able to check it out.
I visited the interior in 2002 during the annual convention of Theatre Historical Society of America. At that time, the management of the nearby Apollo had taken over the Victoria and was supposed to restore it into a single auditorium. Hoever, that project has since been tabled for financial reasons. Despite the multiplexing, much of the Victoria’s original decor remains, and the partitioning looks like it could be removed without too many problems…The auditorium is quite similar to the one that Lamb designed for Loew’s Gates in Brooklyn.
No, Robert,I’m not going to post on those three theatres because I know nothing about them except that they were all 500 seats or under and played late-run double features. Someone who lives in that area might be able to tell us if any are still standing.
I finally found the address for the Ace Theatre: 95-06 101st Avenue. The 1949 Film Daily Year Book claims 850 seats, which I think may be an exaggeration because the Ace looked much smaller than that. It might have been a conversion from original retail space…The Ace’s Ozone Park rivals at the time included the Crossbay (still operating as a multiplex); the Farrell, 118-12 Rockaway Boulevard; the New Ozone, 135-01 Rockaway Boulevard; and the State, 106-05 Rockaway Boulevard.
I neglected to mention that the Merrick’s address is 163-06 Jamaica Avenue. The now demolished Fox (later Skouras) Jamaica was further west on the same side of Jamaica Avenue at 159th Street.
The Merrick first opened in the early 1920s and was built by A.H. Schwartz before he started using the corporate name of Century Circuit. Schwartz used his usual architect-designer team of R. Thomas Short & William Rau. The auditorium was in plain Adam style, and stage facilities were kept to a minimum for the movies-only policy. There was, however, an orchestra pit for the musicians that played accompaniment to the movies and during intermissions. Until the opening of Loew’s Valencia in early 1929, the Merrick and nearby Fox Jamaica were considered the top movie theatres in Jamaica’s shopping hub, but that soon changed. The Century Circuit was unconnected to any of the major Hollywood studios and could no longer get enough first-run bookings for the Jamaica area. Complicating matters, more competition arrived when the legit Shubert Jamaica Theatre became the RKO Alden, which made the Merrick’s product situation even worse. Finally, because Century owned so many theatres in Brooklyn and Queens, Schwartz was able to work out a deal in 1939 with RKO whereby the Merrick and Alden would be “pooled” and divide up the movies that normally played the RKO circuit. To do so, Schwartz had to agree to transfer management of the Merrick to the Skouras circuit, which had financial ties to RKO Theatres and was also partially owned by 20th-Century Fox Film Corporation. Schwartz retained ownership of the Merrick and would receive 50% of any profits, with RKO and Skouras dividing the other 50%. Before becoming the Skouras Merrick, the theatre’s interior was completely re-modeled by the architectural firm run by John Eberson and his son, Drew. The new decor was ultra-modern (for 1939!) and included two large side-wall murals in the auditorium that glowed in the dark from flourescent paint. Due to the product split with the RKO Alden, the Merrick’s programs usually changed every two weeks, rather than every week as at the Valencia. The latter’s programs were also exclusive first-run for the entire borough of Queens, while the Merrick and Alden played day-and-date with theatres in other communities. I lost track of the Merrick after the advent of saturation releases in the 1960s, but I think that it finally reverted to Century management before becoming a victim of the decline in the Jamaica shopping area.
This was originally called the Main Street Playhouse, although the actual address is 141-50 72nd Drive. It’s quite a distance from Flushing’s shopping hub. I believe that the current management is the same as that of the Center Theatre in Sunnyside, which is another small theatre that has probably been sub-divided too many times for patron comfort.
The Fortway’s architect was Charles Sandblom. It had about 2,300 seats and was the second “atmospheric” theatre in Brooklyn, opening a few weeks after the Universal (later Loew’s 46th Street)in 1927. The Fortway was independently owned, but soon taken over by William Fox during his buying spree. After Fox’s bankruptcy, the Fortway landed with the Interboro Circuit, which operated it for several decades before closing down and selling its theatres to other companies.
Presumably, you mean the rear wall of the auditorium. Many theatres were built with half walls so that standees could watch the show when all seats were occupied. The curtains were supposed to be closed when seats were available.
This theatre’s name is spelled incorrectly. It’s Bellerose, not Bellrose. The Bellerose had about 950 seats and was named for the Queens community in which it stands. The address given above is also incorrect. It’s 245-18 Jamaica Avenue. Jericho Turnpike begins in Nassau County. Due to these errors, the map for this theatre shows a section of Bellrose, Oregon!