RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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mgeesgirl on April 19, 2004 at 4:03 pm

the last time i was there – was to see the movie “popeye” with robin williams…

mgeesgirl on April 19, 2004 at 4:02 pm

are there any pictures of the inside of the keiths??? i was young and the last movie was “popeye” and i don’t really remember much.. just that it was grand…

avkarr on March 21, 2004 at 4:05 pm

There was a building to the immmediate W with a facade that was shaped in the letter D – it was for the Deborah foundation (a group founded to fight TB). They ran Bingo and Adult Dances, presumably to raise funds. I thought there was a clinic there too but it wasnt a hospital per se. The closest hospital was Parsons Hospital.

avkarr on March 20, 2004 at 7:20 pm

It was the biggest & best theatre in downtown Flushing. I saw many
1st run films of every genre and the size just amplified the
laughs/screams of the patrons. Remeber seeing LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR, THE FRONT, WILLIE WONKA to name a few. Also Mel Brooks' SILENT MOVIE in the right hand side orchestra section, to this day was the only comedy I have ever seen jaded, too-cool NYers go bananas laughing over. Chester37a is correct, RUNNING SCARED was the last flick shown there (which I also saw, there)-I used to drive my Mom to Bingo at the hospital next door and for years the posters hung in the displays.The story of the Keith’s is the story of Flushing, change happened but not necessarily for the better.

William on February 25, 2004 at 2:06 pm

The address is 129-43 Northern Boulevard.

RobertR on February 25, 2004 at 1:13 pm

The fountain is gone according to one newspaper report, I’m sure the crooked developer sold it before he drove the bulldozer through the lobby.

mp775 on February 25, 2004 at 12:04 pm

Reported in today’s New York Times, the owner of the property, Boymelgreen Developers, have propsed a 19-story condominium tower for the site. The landmarked lobby and grand foyer would be preserved behind a 45,000-pound, 50' high, 100' wide glass curtain wall on the building’s Northern Boulevard frontage and would house restaurants and retail shops. An exhibit in the building would display artifacts salvaged from the theater.

Chester37a on January 16, 2004 at 6:36 am

The last motion picture I saw there was a “buddy-picture” called “Running Scared”. It starred Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines, …with Jimmy Smits as the heavy. I think it may have been the last film screened there because, when they shut the joint down the posters for said film were still up. I can remember passing by the theatre and seeing them fading from the sunlight. I saw some fun movies there over the years(Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Airplane,etc.) It was a shame to see it just waste away. I hate passing by that place whenever I’m in town.

loraliz on December 10, 2003 at 2:01 am

Bernie at the Organ was a regular live feature at the RKO Keith’s for many years and well loved.

WilliamMcQuade on October 10, 2003 at 4:09 pm

I work in Flushing & pass by it daily. I got a peek inside & the lobby ( the landmark portion) is basically bare walls. So much for landmark protection. In NYC, it is all about money. History be damned

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 16, 2003 at 10:24 pm

The theater is also on the National Register of Historic Places and is situated on Northern Boulevard opposite Main Street.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 16, 2003 at 10:21 pm

The Kieth’s was an absolutely spectacular theater. Even as a triplex, seeing a film here (particularly in the intact balcony auditorium) was a special treat. The theater actually survivied until 1986, when it was closed by the local real estate magnate and vandal who attempted to gut the theater despite it’s official landmark status and convert the space into a retail mall. There has been much legal and civic turmoil regarding it’s fate over the last 17 years. The operators of the nearby historic Flushing Town Hall have been rumored to be interested in acquiring the theater to restore it to legitemate use as a cultural center, but any efforts there have been thwarted by legal entanglements and lack of funding.

Recently, a deal was announced whereby a commercial interest would redevelop the site for mixed usage but would restore the theater’s landmarked sections to their original glory. Unfortunately, NYC officials did not have the wisdom to give landmark status to the gorgeous auditorium (with it’s atmospheric Moroccan details), but at least the stunning lobby and grand foyer will be preserved under the new plan. I wonder if such a restoration would include a replica of the original fountain that was the centerpiece of the lobby. It was removed years before the landmark commission ever considered the theater for designation, replaced by a large candy-counter.

thenson702 on August 15, 2002 at 8:31 am

The Keith’s was the theatre that I saw all of many early eigthies classic horror flicks. the theatre had been cut into three sections. the balcony was where the expected to be popular flick would show and the lower level was divided in two. I saw all of these films opening weekend, Indiana Jones,Heavy Metal, Howlling,Friday the 13th, Jason,Empire Strikes back to name a few. As I sat in the balcony I always wonder who would build a room soo large for trashy films and how much they must have paid someone to paint the ceiling. On the lower level there where vents that you could see to a lit basement floor which I was told that there were corridors down there from the Vaudeville days.

JoeB on January 2, 2002 at 11:28 am

Bob Hope,George Burns, Lucille Ball and Groucho Marx & the Marx Brothers all performed here in Vaudeville.Groucho performed his first show with painted mustache here (his stage clothes & make-up arrived late, so he improvised and it became his trademark). Murray The K also held his show here occasionally in the 60s with CREAM performing here (with a young Eric Clapton)in late ‘66.

ET on December 17, 2001 at 12:55 pm

My ballet school used to have their recitals at the Keith during the 60’s. I always remember having photo’s taken by the beautiful fountain in the lobby. Too bad it couldn’t be restored as a landmark.

bbuono on December 2, 2001 at 5:37 am

The RKO Keith’s was my childhood theatre and an adventure to attend. It was a grand place on a Sat afternoon for us to enjoy a show and movie. My most memorable movie was “A Night to Remember.”