RKO Jefferson Theatre

214 E. 14th Street,
New York, NY 10003

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Showing 76 - 92 of 92 comments

dave-bronx™ on April 8, 2005 at 5:36 am

The Palladium was previously The Academy of Music.

hardbop on April 8, 2005 at 1:03 am

This theatre sat empty for years and years. I always wondered what the story was. What was the name of the theatre where the Palladium Disco was?

BobFurmanek on October 29, 2004 at 10:25 am

I remember passing by the theater in the late 70’s, and it was boarded up and looked terrible. It had a very cool marquee, with lots of bulbs and neon. But it appeared to have been closed for some time.

RobertR on October 29, 2004 at 8:13 am

I think this was opened for a few years after RKO by an independant. They used to show triple horror and kung-fu bills.

romerol on October 28, 2004 at 7:26 pm

John Chappell writes that the Jefferson closed in the early 60’s,
but I remember it showing movies in the 70’s.
At that time I was coming into my early teens, maybe it re-opened
under a new owner.
After the movies, the crowd would head to White Tower for hamburgers
and fries.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 6, 2004 at 2:45 pm

The RKO Jefferson was extensively refurbished in 1947 and re-opened on September 13th with advertising that described it as “The Most Beautiful Theatre on 14th Street.” Perhaps it was, since the nearby and more sumptuous Academy of Music had turned shabby by that time under skinflint Skouras management. The rejuvenated Jefferson presented six acts of vaudeville and double features (starting with “Dear Ruth” & “Dark Delusion”) that had already played at the Academy of Music or the latter’s main rival in that part of town, Loew’s Commodore. Within a week of re-opening, matinee attendance at the Jefferson was so sparse that vaudeville had to be switched to evening perfomances only, then weekends only, and finally dropped entirely in the wake of similar programming on newfangled home TV.

BobFurmanek on September 17, 2004 at 3:29 pm

Ruby, the “Watch James Dean materialize” show was one segment of a traveling spook show which played on stage. I used to have a flyer for this program from the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ. As I recall, they also gave out free photographs: Elvis for the girls, and Marilyn for the boys. This would date it to sometime in the late 50’s/early 60’s.

rc722 on May 13, 2004 at 12:29 am

Does anyone know an exact date as to when it was demolished?

RobertR on April 8, 2004 at 10:32 am

This couldent have been that documentry about James Dean could it? Not the Warner Brothers one, remember the tackey independant one?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 8, 2004 at 10:09 am

If you’re in the vicinity of New York City, you should go to the Billy Rose Theater Collection of the Library of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (you can find the hours at www.nypl.org)) Request the clippings file for the Jefferson Theatre. Or, if you’re sure of the show’s title, request the clippings file for that. And if you still can’t find it, you will have to request clippings files for James Dean, which are voluminous and may take you several days to go through…I honestly don’t recall this show, and wonder why it was staged at the Jefferson of all places.

rc722 on April 8, 2004 at 2:47 am

This question may seem a bit strange…but I am seeking a theater poster of a show that ran at the Jefferson. I don’t know the year (although is was after 1956) but it was a show about James Dean. It read “Watch James Dean Materialize…Back From the Dead”. Any ideas?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 29, 2004 at 10:47 am

Yes, it was operated by “indies” after RKO left. It would be very difficult to track the exact closing as a movie house because the operators never advertised in the newspapers or sought listings in magazines like New York. When I last had a chance to visit the dingy interior in 1981, the Jefferson was closed and awaiting re-development as a disco/rock palace, but that never happened.

RobertR on March 29, 2004 at 10:33 am

The narration above says it was closed by the early 60’s but I seem to recall when going to Luchows in the seventies triple kung fu bills playing? Maybe an independant took over when RKO gave it up?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 27, 2004 at 10:47 am

George Keister was the Jefferson’s architect. Thomas Lamb did only some minor alterations in the 1930s. The Jefferson was built by the Irvington Construction Company, and took nine months to complete. The original seating plan showed 1,885 seats— 1,124 in the orchestra, 689 in the balcony, and 72 in boxes…George Keister’s other NYC theatres included the Astor, Belasco, George M. Cohan’s, Selwyn, Chaloner (later Town), and both versions of the Earl Carroll.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 22, 2004 at 4:32 pm

The Jefferson was another Adam design by Thomas W. Lamb, and was built by B.S. Moss and Sol Brill. It first opened on January 25, 1913 with Keith’s vaudeville. During the heyday of vaudeville, the Jefferson was one of the top NYC houses. New acts that registered well with the audience were assured of getting a booking at the Palace on Broadway, which was the ultimate reward for an entertainer in those days. Through its Keith’s affiliation, the Jefferson became an RKO movie theatre, but retained vaudeville on the programs until well into the 1930s.

Greenpoint on February 8, 2004 at 6:38 pm

The East 13th Street portion (or rear of this theatre’s building) can be seen in Taxi Driver. The action with Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster and Harvey Kietel all take place around the corner from The Jefferson.

WilliamMcQuade on March 20, 2002 at 11:39 am

Last owner was a relative of the owner of the Wetson hamburger chain. He was almost singlehandedly trying to restore it with only one helper. A visit to the upstairs proved he was wasting his time as vandals had removed all the plumbing by that time & the inside of the theater was in shambles. He quickly found this out and gave up on this vanity project