Hollywood Theatre

237 W. 51st Street,
New York, NY 10019

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LuisV
LuisV on January 10, 2006 at 1:46 pm

Hey Ed, thanks so much for the pictures. They absolutely wonderful!

I have a new idea for returning this theater to legitimate use. This theater is one of the most beautiful remaining on the Great White Way. What if the Times Square Church “exchanged” this theater for another (with some cash thrown in). Surely the Schuberts, Nederlanders and Jujamcyn have theaters they would gladly trade to get a hold of this one. That way we get a beautiful performance space returned to the public and the church still has a meeting place and additional cash for their programs of good works.

It’s just a thought!!!!!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 10, 2006 at 11:30 am

Isn’t it? I also got in to the Broadway Theater, Winter Garden Theater and the legitimate Majestic Theater (which, having never hosted movie exhibition, is not listed on this site) in the same weekend and took photos of each. The Majestic is an impressive bit of Roman inspired architecture, but I think the Hollywood outclassed the others that I toured, by far (and these photos came out the best of the bunch).

While in the neighborhood, I also grabbed some photos of the buildings that sadly occupy the sites of the former Capitol Theater, Rivoli Theater and Roxy Theater.

DonRosen
DonRosen on January 10, 2006 at 11:00 am

What a knockout theatre!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 10, 2006 at 10:26 am

I visited the church with my camera this past Sunday and was able to roam around and take a few photos. I shied away from taking any shots from the orchestra area as there were people kneeling before the altar, so I relegated myself to the balcony and rotunda foyer. As has been noted here, this is a spectacular theater and I’m thankful that the church has kept it maintained and open for the public to appreciate. I intend on going back for a service one of these days as the choir (which could be heard practicing downstairs in the lower level) sounded splendid.

Marquee and facade
Exterior detail under canopy
Rotunda ceiling
Rotunda mezzanine
Mezzanine balustrade
Balustrade detail
Rotunda view from stairs
Rotunda mirror and chandelier
Proscenium from loge
Proscenium side view
Auditorium side view from loge
Proscenium crown
Loge seat end-cap
Face at the bottom of the stairs
Close-up

I could have taken dozens of detail shots, there is so much intricate ornamentation. The rotunda mirror pictured above is situated on the eastern foyer wall which is in the direction of Broadway, so I assume that the vestibule from the original B'way entrance must have emptied into the rotunda at this point below the mirror. I neglected to take a photo of the exterior auditorium facade just to the left of the marquee pictured in the first photo. However, you can make out in that photo two green copper flag-pole holders just to the left below the roof line (and obscured by some tree branches). There is a matching set on the other end of the building further down the block with the flagpole still intact intact. Atop that flagpole is a metal cast bird in flight (an eagle perhaps, but I couldn’t make it out).

This place is, in a word, sumptuous! Sunday services 10AM, 3PM and 6PM… As Warren said, one of the best shows in town and it’s FREE!

LuisV
LuisV on January 9, 2006 at 6:00 pm

This is one of the most beautiful theaters in New York! I happened to be passing by and the doors were open for a church service and I stopped in. It was incredible to see a movie palace still is beautiful condition! The church has done a wonderful job in taking care of this wondrous facility.

For many years this was a theater for Broadway productionsand was named the Mark Hellinger. I remember seeing the musical “Timbuktu!” with Eartha Kitt in the early 80’s. What a shame that it didn’t remain a live theater venue. I pray for the day that the church sells the theater back so that it can return to live theater. I want to publically thank and “Praise” the Times Square Church for its stewardship. Now that Broadway can support a “New” venue for theater, it would be amaazing if they could return it to its rightful use and use the proceeds to build a new church or fund good works.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 8, 2005 at 7:25 am

Warren points out the location of the original Lindy’s on Broadway and 51st. Actually, I believe there was a predecessor elsewhere along Broadway, but this was the restaurant where gangster Arnold Rothstein had his own personal booth and where the colorfully crooked characters created by Damon Runyon held court (though it was dubbed “Mindy’s” in Runyon’s short stories). Long after owner Leo “Lindy” Lindemann’s death, the restaurant operated on the corner of 45th and Broadway in the ground floor of the 1 Astor Plaza skyscraper that went up in the early ‘70’s – this is the location you’re thinking of hdtv267 (and the one that remains in my memory).

Last I knew, that location had closed and Lindy’s (now part of the Riese Organization) was up on Broadway and 53rd and I seem to recall there is also a Lindy’s across from Penn Station in the Hotel Pennsylvania on 7th Ave between 33rd and 32nd Streets.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on December 8, 2005 at 4:23 am

Yes, the Mark Hellinger is still an eye-popper. Last month on a Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm my car ride from upstate dropped me off just outside the theater as it was filling up with church-goers. I went inside and marveled at the wonderfully bright preservation of the lobby. Ushers were not letting visitors into the auditorium, but I peered through one of the sheer-curtained glass doors and saw that the interior is as splendid as the lobby. It’s very close to what I remember from the days between “My Fair Lady” (‘56) and “Coco” ('69), right down to the sheer-curtained doors. Warren has mentioned an article on the City Section of the NYTimes on 4 December 2005. The color picture of the rear balcony looks wonderful. Bravo!

ERD
ERD on November 9, 2005 at 1:02 pm

The key word is service. As entertaining as it may be, that is not the main goal-obviously. It still is a church. It would be nice someday to see the place return as a fully functional theatre as it was intended to be.

DonRosen
DonRosen on July 19, 2005 at 1:29 am

Looks like the musical “Times Square Church” is playing. I think “Legs Diamond” with Peter Allen was one of the last big shows here.

DonRosen
DonRosen on December 17, 2004 at 4:31 pm

The Lyric 42nd St.

chconnol
chconnol on December 17, 2004 at 7:54 am

Someone above mentions “Taxi Driver” and the other night it was on (it’s on a lot lately on cable). Anyway…does anyone know what movie theater Travis takes Betsy to when the go to the porn movie? Just curious what it is now..

RobertR
RobertR on December 17, 2004 at 7:23 am

Don

No that is the Hollwywood Twin Cinema on 8th Avenue, which is not that far away from this theatre.

DonRosen
DonRosen on December 17, 2004 at 6:53 am

In the movie “Taxi Driver” you can see the Hollywood marquee in the background when DeNiro is walking. Is this the same theatre?

RobertR
RobertR on December 7, 2004 at 5:19 am

Divinity
I agree, aside from performance venues churches have saved many great theatres.

Divinity
Divinity on December 6, 2004 at 8:25 pm

Robert,

This theater is obviously a success, since it has become a place for people to worship the good lord in such a heavenly atmosphere. At least it wasnt destroyed as the Paramount and Roxy were. The best part is that it is now open for all to see.

RobertR
RobertR on December 6, 2004 at 6:43 pm

If this theatre could have hung on a few years the Broadway boom of the ninties would have probably made it a success.

William
William on August 31, 2004 at 12:49 pm

Last week they re-lamped the lobby chandelier.

William
William on August 24, 2004 at 3:09 pm

They have been doing work in the auditorium and lobby areas on the ceilings in the last two months. They have been doing a few youth programs (music & speakers) and two film screenings (youth church type). I live right next door to the theatre.

Ziggy
Ziggy on August 24, 2004 at 2:25 pm

I noticed that the style of this theatre is given as “art deco”. The facade is in that style, but the interior is done in the same sort of gorgeous french baroque that Thomas Lamb used in San Francisco’s Fox Theatre, and the Loew’s Midland in Kansas City.

ERD
ERD on June 24, 2004 at 7:51 pm

This beautiful theatre is the last movie palace still standing in the Broadway area. Hopefully, the building can eventaully be returned to presenting shows. A producer with creative vision could do so much with it.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on November 5, 2003 at 10:35 pm

There is a severe shortage of musical theatres of this size in the theatre district. It would be nice if this theatre could be brought back on line and a new and larger home found for the church who have taken such good care of it.I heard a rumor that Disney was very interested in this theatre. brucec

richarddziadzio
richarddziadzio on May 31, 2002 at 11:27 am

The movie version of Chorus Line was filmed here in the middle 80’s. I saw my first Broadway show here around 1963, “Sound Of Music” which I think ended its run here after it moved over from the Lunt Fontaine Theatre.

William
William on December 14, 2001 at 8:30 am

In the picture above you see the 51st Street marquee. But when the Warner opened it also had a Broadway marquee and box office entrance. This area was closed off when the theatre switched over to plays.

Paul Noble
Paul Noble on March 23, 2001 at 5:26 pm

The 1942 pre-release engagement of “Casablanca” took place at the Warner Hollywood Theatre, starting Thanksgiving Weekend. In 1956, the great Broadway musical “My Fair Lady” with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews opened here when it was renamed the Mark Hellinger Theatre (after the Broadway and Hollywood producer).