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The Meadows was the first (and probably last) movie theatre built in Queens after WWII with more than 2,000 seats in its single screen auditorium. It first opened on the evening of November 23, 1949, with a “Hollywood preview” of the Rosalind Russell comedy, “Tell It to the Judge.” The Meadow’s first actual program opened the next day, a double feature of “My Friend Irma” and “Too Late For Tears.” The movies were first-run for the area, but two weeks behind Loew’s Valencia in Jamaica, which had an exclusive “jump” on other theatres in the borough. The Meadows also showed some movies simultaneously with the RKO circuit, which did not have an exclusive Queens showcase comparable to the Valencia.
To the best of my memory, this was never a Century theatre. When it first opened, it was operated by Rugoff Theatres.
The Cove Theatre was located at 90 School Street. The Glen Theatre was at 49 Glen Street, between School St. and the LIRR station. I believe that another movie theatre was built on Glen Street in the 1950s or 60s, but on the opposite side of the LIRR station going towards the south shore.
According to a long article that Ben M. Hall wrote about the Paramount Theatre for the New York Herald-Tribune in August, 1964, the original Wurlitzer was still there, and why not? It was built to last, and the Paramount had only opened in November, 1926. Hall said that after the Paramount dropped stage shows in the early 1950s, the Wurltizer was used only intermittently, usually played by Bill Floyd and in the last years by Bob Mack, who also took care of its maintenance.
It was razed for the building of the New York Coliseum and adjoining office tower. I think that the NY Convention Center was a much later name for the Coliseum, which had space for parking cars above the exhibition hall…The new Time-Warner Center has finally opened and includes offices, a shopping mall, restaurants, and a hotel. But not, as far as I know, any theatres.
The WWF restaurant was underground beneath the store. I once took my two young nephews there for lunch. We had to go down several flights of stairs to get there. It was quite darkly lighted and looked to me like a fire trap, but I didn’t want to disappoint my nephews. Fortunately, there turned out to be a 45-minute wait for tables, so they soon lost patience and we went elsewhere.
To the best of my knowledge, the Tivoli was always a minor-league theatre that played late-run double features. I doubt if it ever ran vaudeville. It was too close to the first-run theatres in the Broadway-Times Square area that offered vaudeville or stage shows.
The Bushwick was built by showman Percy Williams with William McElfatrick as architect, and first opened on September 11, 1911, as a vaudeville house. A year later, Williams sold it to Keith’s, which explains how it eventually became part of the RKO circuit. By today’s standards, the auditorium was very old-fashioned, with boxes overlooking the stage and a painted mural on the ceiling over the stage. In 1926 and again in 1929, it had some alterations done by Thomas W. Lamb. In 1938, more “streamlining” was done by Max Weinberger. The Bushwick closed around 1969 and then served as a church before being abandoned.
“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.