Loew's Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 1, 2005 at 12:51 pm

I’ve posted a longer excerpt from this report on the Loew’s State page.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on July 1, 2005 at 12:32 pm

Ron— That report, available on the page for the Camelback Cinema in Scottsdale AZ on this site, reeks of greed. It’s scandalous. Tisk-tisk, Tisch Tisch.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 1, 2005 at 12:15 pm

From the 1968 annual report of Loew’s Theatres:

“Perhaps the most interesting development in current theatre design is exemplified by the project now underway at Loew’s State, your Company’s flagship theatre on Broadway.

“The Uris Corporation, which has entered into a long-term ground lease with Loew’s, is erecting a 48~ story office building on the site of the famed Loew’s Capitol at 51st Street and Broadway in New York City. To replace the Capitol, Loew’s State, six blocks south on Broadway, is being converted into two theatres: Loew’s State I and Loew’s State II.

"Adjoining the escalator in the lobby [of Loew’s State] will be ‘The Capitol Corner’, a nostalgic recollection of The Capitol. Among the features: an ancient, Carrara marble, Roman well-head; a, French rock-crystal chandelier; a bronze railing and the grandfather’s clock known to Broadway moviegoers for half a century.”

The report has a photo of this ‘Capitol Corner’.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 27, 2005 at 8:12 am

Many people are afraid of ushers…but all they can do is ask you to take your assigned seat.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 27, 2005 at 8:03 am

Vincent: I saw it at the Capitol on a Saturday afternoon in June 1968, two months after it opened, and the hippie types had not discovered it yet. My dad and I sat in the front row of the upstairs (what the Capitol called the “divans”) and there was a huge balcony above us filled with people. The audience was very quiet throughout the film, but there was lots of laughter when HAL was trying to prevent Dave from disconnecting him (“I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over.”) There was no pot smoking and no one sat on the floor in front of the screen, but my dad did suggest we move down to the front rows during intermission. We chickened out, though, because we had reserved assigned seats and we figured the ushers would object if we tried to change seats. Now I wish we had moved – Cinerama is always more impressive the closer to the screen you sit.

ANTKNEE
ANTKNEE on June 27, 2005 at 8:02 am

I can only speak for myself……my Dad took me to see this at night (and if memory serves it was the premiere). We dressed up and I seem to recall that everyone else was dressed nicely. One of the reasons I remember that we had on nice clothes is that I discovered that there was a small hole in one of my pants pockets and I ended up losing my ticket stub.

As for smoking pot in public, I kind of doubt that would’ve happened without arrests as things were quite different back then…..the cops looked for any excuse to bust a hippy type, you could serve jail time for a single joint (unlike today).

ANTKNEE
ANTKNEE on June 27, 2005 at 8:02 am

I can only speak for myself……my Dad took me to see this at night (and if memory serves it was the premiere). We dressed up and I seem to recall that everyone else was dressed nicely. One of the reasons I remember that we had on nice clothes is that I discovered that there was a small hole in one of my pants pockets and I ended up losing my ticket stub.

As for smoking pot in public, I kind of doubt that would’ve happened without arrests as things were quite different back then…..the cops looked for any excuse to bust a hippy type, you could serve jail time for a single joint (unlike today).

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on June 27, 2005 at 7:44 am

For those who saw 2001 at the Capitol. Were the audiences really different from the normal roadshow audience? Or was it a raodshow epic audience? Were they really hippie types who bought their tickets righ before the film like a regular movie and did pot smoke really hover near the screen?

ANTKNEE
ANTKNEE on June 27, 2005 at 6:03 am

Warren, I’ve seen your numerous and highly detailed posts for quite a while (and for which I thank you) but am wondering how you come by all this info. Do you have access to some library or have you collected this over the years? Regardless, if you haven’t already, have you considered writing a book or books? Seems to me that you have more than enough info to pen a multi-volume work…don’t know how much of a market there would be, but it would still be fascinating and invaluable to future fans and scholars.

RobertR
RobertR on June 21, 2005 at 5:27 pm

Even the great Capitol was sometimes used as part of Premiere Showcase. In March of 1965 the Fox release “John Goldfarb, Please Come Home” starring Shirley Mclaine and Peter Ustinov opened at the Loew’s Capitol and Loew’s Orpheum, as well as showcase theatres in the outer boros.

RobertR
RobertR on June 13, 2005 at 3:02 pm

April 6, 1948 the Capitol was presenting Lucille Ball and Franchot Tone in “Her Husband’s Affarirs” on screen and Frank Sinatra (post Dorsey) with the Skitch Henderson Orchestra. On the top of the ad in that days NY Times was the message…….“Due to illness, Frank Sinatra will be unable to appear at todays performances at the Capitol. Miss Jane Powell will appear in his place. Mr. Sinatra’s doctor assures the management that Frank will definately will be able to resume his appearances on Tuesday”.

RobertR
RobertR on June 11, 2005 at 10:40 am

Aug 31,1941 the Capitol held over Mickey & Judy in “Life Begins for Andy Hardy” and their next show was Joan Crawford & Robert Taylor in “When Ladies Meet”.

mrchangeover
mrchangeover on May 27, 2005 at 11:12 am

Re: the interior photo’s…..it looks like the projection booth was added after the theatre was built. Can anyone verify? Thanks.

stepale2
stepale2 on May 27, 2005 at 10:57 am

This following was to be part of a book I was compiling about Times Square. The book never happened, but I thought I would share the some of its contents which I hope will be of interest to the readers of this website:

Ironically, Major Bowes, who was to become one of radio’s most famous personalities, didn’t want to broadcast portions of the Capitol’s stage shows, as he thought that audiences might not come to the theater if they could hear the show for free at home. But it was Roxy who saw radio’s promotional value and prevailed. On November 19, 1922, WEAF broadcast the American premiere of Richard Strauss' tone poem, “Ein Heldenleben,” live from the Capitol’s stage with Erno Rapee conducting. The Capitol’s brass band had been replaced by a symphony orchestra when Roxy took over. The broadcasts were carried on the NBC Blue Network and spawned a series of Sunday night broadcasts from the theater, with Roxy describing the action on stage. Because of these broadcasts, the Capitol became the most famous theater in America and Roxy’s fame grew as well. Roxy’s Gang, as the program was called, stayed on the air until 1926, when he left to oversee the construction of the theater that would bear his name, the radio program became Major Bowes' Capitol Theatre Family Hour with the Major as host.

Writer William A. Schudt’s account of a visit to one of the broadcasts appeared in the Radio Program Weekly in 1927.
“Good evening Capitol Family!” It was just seven-twenty o'clock when the familiar voice of Major Edward Bowes broke the silence of the studio in the basement of the Capitol Theatre on Fifty-first Street and Broadway.
We attempted to enter the Capitol Theatre from the main entrance on Broadway….we say attempted, since that is all we could possibly do. Tell It to the Marines was the picture playing at the time, and although the theatre itself was packed, even to the lobby, a line of people more than a block in length patiently awaited the chance to peer at the renowned Lon Chaney doing his stuff as a super Marine should.
After some little time we decided that we might get somewhere if we consulted one of the prettily uniformed ushers who kept the line of movie fans in a perfect arc twisting itself into Fiftieth Street.
We did consult him, asking “Where, pray tell us, fellow, may we gain entrance to the broadcast studio.” You’d ’ve thought we had just signed his death sentence…he gasped and drew back several paces and stared at us in amazement. “Oh,” he exclaimed, “You cannot get in there…! You will have to obtain a special permit from the National Broadcasting Company before you can get into the studio."
Into the Capitol and behind the scenes we ambled, passing the doorkeeper who eyed use suspiciously. Doorkeepers always did eye us suspiciously. The broadcast studio of the theatre is located in the basement just below the stage. This studio was located in other parts of the building but the engineers of WEAF found that this new location proved acoustically perfect, without draperies of anything that might beautify it. The ceiling is concrete, a pipe here and there passes through the partitioned off section of the studio…."we could beautify it all right,” said one of Major Bowes' assistants after we had questioned him as to the reason for the bare-appearing studio.
As the hour approached seven-twenty o'clock, Major Edward Bowes entered the studio and greeted us cordially. And there, over in the corner was Ralph “Wentworth,” that person behind that popular voice, heard frequently over WEAF and its associated stations. Wentworth introduced the Capitol program, presenting Major Bowes who immediately took up the program, announcing the features appearing at the theatre at the time and then taking up in detail the discussion of selections to be played by the Capitol Grand Orchestra, direct from the stage of the theatre.
For the next few minutes we sat around the studio listening to the loud speaker which is set up for the purpose of letting the Major know just when to prepare for his studio program….this, however, is not really a necessity since the programs are timed during the rehearsal so that every artist broadcasting on the Capitol program knows just how long he, or she, will be on the air. Every announcement is timed with a the aid of a stop-watch, and there is no deviation from this time, either!
After WEAF switched us, by way of microphone, back to the studio, the Major stepped briskly forth, faced the “mike,” and with one hand rested against the concrete wall announced the opening feature of the program which was the well known Tilly Indianer, who rendered on the piano, Tarantella, “Venezia e Napoli” by Franz Liszt. Following this we got a good look at Nina Gorden and then she turned her head toward the microphone and rendered, very beautifully too, the little selection, “Mister Bear.” Miss Gorden always accompanies herself on the piano when she sings this number. And then, along came Westwell Gorden, singing “You In a Gondola,” by Coningsby Clark.“
All the while these artists were rendering various types of entertainment, the studio orchestra was silently setting up in the rear of the spacious studio. The orchestra had just concluded its presentation in the theatre. David Mendoza, the leader of the orchestra, took his place with the baton and immediately following Bowe’s announcement came "The Beautiful Galathea, ” by Von Suppe.
There were so many prominent artists there that we were quite confused at first. We became anxious after a while, even inquisitive. We had just asked one of the members of the Capitol staff where our very versatile Caroline Andrews was keeping herself, when suddenly, as if by magic, she appeared on the scene…. and just in time too, for the Major had her scheduled to do the next number on the program. She sang “The Lark.” This selection, incidently, was the first she sang on the radio some three years ago when she broadcast with Roxy and his Gang.
Dr. Billy Axt….my, we certainly can’t forget him, can we? Dr. Billy was tickling the ivories. We don’t just recall under what circumstances, though, but he did the numbers very well.
And of course there is Marjorie Harcum who sang, “Mammy’s Little Kinky-Headed Boy,” just a little better than we have heard anyone sing it for three and three-fifths years.
Perhaps you’ve listened to the tweet-tweet of the birds in some of the orchestra selections given by the Capitol Studio orchestra….if you have, it certainly will interest you to know that David Gusikoff, the vibraphone player, is the “bird."
While the program continues, now and then, a member, or sometimes several members as the case may be, of the ballet corps peer into the studio between parted portieres. Now and then one will enter and quietly sit on one of the benches on the farther side of the room.
It is the Capitol Family. Everyone is friendly. They are just one large group of happy people working in unison to make everyone else just as happy as they!
:

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 20, 2005 at 10:31 am

Nice set of photos, RobertR. Thanks for the link.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 20, 2005 at 9:55 am

Thanks, Robert. I remember that big balcony from seeing “2001” there in 1968, and according to an earlier post that wasn’t even the whole balcony like in your picture – the top of it had been curtained off.

RobertR
RobertR on May 20, 2005 at 9:13 am

Here is an awesome shot of the Capitol. Sure looks different from when I saw it in the Cinerama years.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 9, 2005 at 5:00 am

Here’s a picture of the Capitol’s Cinerama screen, taken right before the opening of “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm” in 1962:

View link

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 9, 2005 at 4:50 am

Here’s a New York Times ad from April 1968 for the Capitol’s last feature. If this beautiful theater had to go under, at least it went out on top.:

View link

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on April 9, 2005 at 11:05 pm

Sony’s deal to Purchase Metro-Goldywn-Mayer closed on Friday April 8th according to Daily Variety. The Capitol was MGM’s flagship theatre since 1924 until it showed its last MGM film “2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. The Capitol was a very successful Movie Palace during its lifetime. It didn’t suffer a decline the way many movie palaces in Times Square did during its lifetime. It was modernized for Cinerama but never twinned.brucec

Hibi
Hibi on April 6, 2005 at 12:42 pm

Whoops. I didnt realize she had died. Thanks for the info.

chconnol
chconnol on April 6, 2005 at 12:29 pm

From IMDB regarding Ms. Granville:

After her marriage to Mr. Wrather in 1947, she appeared in only three more movies. She became an executive in the Wrather Corp., and first Associate, then executive producer of their “Lassie” TV series. After Jack Wrather’s death in 1984, she took over as chairman of the board. She was also involved in many civic, and cultural groups, and she was chair of American Film Institute, and trustee of John F. Kennedy Center, and other well known organizations, and charities. She died of cancer in Santa Monica in 1988. Had four children.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on April 6, 2005 at 11:23 am

With a recitation what exactly would one recite on the stage of a huge movie palace?

Hibi
Hibi on April 6, 2005 at 11:14 am

Bonita Granville married producer Jack Wrather. They produced the Lassie series. I think she’s still alive.