Astor Theatre

1531 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 126 - 150 of 242 comments

roybarry
roybarry on January 21, 2008 at 9:48 am

Hey! Why don’t we write a play…maybe we can make a movie of this? I should have not re-acted the way I did. Let bygones be bygones! However memories get distorted it’s still a great experience to reminisce those days. During the 4 years I worked at the Astor and Victoria theaters (Friday 4-10, Saturday 9:45 to 5, Sunday 11:45 to 5, full-time summer months) they would show sneak previews shown especially at the Astor theater.

I remember vividly the previews (not premieres) of East of Eden, On the Waterfront, The Big Knife, The Star is Born, Meet Me In Las Vegas, Main Street to Broadway and many more. The big moguls of the Movie Companies, reviewers …etc, would attend. Customers would get the privilegeg of seeing two films for the price of one. The Criterion and Loew’s State would also do the same. It was always be shown on a Monday or Tuesday with the the attendees filling out the questionaires given when they entered.

There was a film with Willaim Holden made based on the novel “The Magnificent Bastards”, but the film had a different name. Many of Hollywood’s big names at that time came to see this film at preview. “The McConnell Story” starring Alan Ladd and June Allyson also had the same experience. That film also had a big studded premiere. Had an embarrassing experience working that World Premiere. I was the doorman opening the limo doors when they pulled up in front of the Astor. It was alway mayhem with the photographers and the press. Sometimes the limos would come in en masse making the shuffling of opening the doors difficult. One of the limos had Natalie Wood and her mother. When the limo arrived I let out Natalie Wood and her mother, not knowing that there was someone else in the limo ready to depart. To my chagrin I closed the door on Tab Hunter as he was ready to get out. He chuckled and was very amused…but I was more or less embarrassed. I was only seventeen and something like that seemed more tragic that what it really was. Years later I had the opportunity to meet him and told him the story and again he chuckled. He also confided that that period in Hollywood was all publicity. He eneded up doing some good work later in his career. There was a film he did with Sophia Loren that I thought was one of his best films.

My wife who is 10 years younger doesn’t seem to feel the importance of that era. She loves to hear the stories of my experiences. I have an older brother who worked the Copacabana when Jules Podell ran the club. I keep telling him he should write a book about the machinations that went on there. Sorry getting long-winded!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 21, 2008 at 8:55 am

In all fairness, I’d hardly consider AlAlvarez' remarks to be an excoriation of leroyelliston. And the suggestion that one’s memory might be playing tricks need not be taken as a questioning of one’s sanity. My thanks to both Leroy and Al for sharing their facts and insights here for us to enjoy. Warren, your contributions to CT have been immeasurable, but you must admit that when the mood strikes, you are more than capable of administering some expert excoriation of your own!

roybarry
roybarry on January 20, 2008 at 11:39 am

I’m sorry for the mistake…but that to was previewed prior to the opening. I am not crazy! Must be a more gentle way of communicating!

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 20, 2008 at 11:34 am

Leroy, I think your memory is playing games. How could MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS have played prior to THE ROSE TATTOO when it opened in March 1956? The sign over the theatre in the photo even announces the date.

THE ROSE TATTOO opened in December 1955 as Warren stated.

roybarry
roybarry on January 20, 2008 at 10:13 am

The film at the Victoria was “THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM”; Frank Sinantra, Kim Novak, Eleanor Parker, Darren McGavin, Arnold Stang. It was previewed around Thanksgiving in 1955, and opened in January of 1956. I was working there during my High School years as a doorman for both theaters and was a senior at Boy’s High in Brooklyn. “MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS” was at the Astor Theater prior to “THE ROSE TATTOO”. Earlier on this site I gave a history of my experiences working there at the Astor & Victoria. They both were owned by the same company (Cty Entertaiment Corporation) and had a interlocking alley between both theaters. Great time!

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 20, 2008 at 9:16 am

Since the marquee mentions Oscar nominations, that places the photo after February 19, 1956 and before March 13 when MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS opened at the Astor. Magnani won that year on March 21. Sinatra didn’t win for the movie with the Saul Bass logo.

roybarry
roybarry on November 25, 2007 at 9:10 am

Whe I was a doorman during High School years 1952-56 the early show was 85 cents and the after 5pm show was $1.10 – $1.25. I remember having a date and going to the Capitol Theater to see “From Here to Eternity” and the ticket was $1.80. I was completely wide-eyed when I saw that price. That time you could go the the “Gaety Deli” on 46th Street and get a humongous Corn Beef Sandwich for 75 cents. Or you could go to “Hectors Cafeteria” and get the Friday Fish Cakes and Spaghetti for 60 cents. I was only making 95 cent an hour though! If I remember correctly Stalag 17 was playing at the Astor.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 24, 2007 at 7:45 am

Correct. March 27, 1952.

roybarry
roybarry on June 24, 2007 at 7:06 am

What theater did “Singin in the Rain” premiere? Was it Radio City?

roybarry
roybarry on June 23, 2007 at 7:14 am

Does anyone know the name of the newsreel theater that was located on Broadway? I know there was one that was replaced by the Cinerama theater, but there was alittle one near the Astor, Horn and Hardart and Hectors? I’m trying to remember the name. Thanks!
Roy

roybarry
roybarry on June 17, 2007 at 5:13 pm

Warren,

I wasn’t in town for the whole summer of 1958. It’s funny how the streets look not as attractive if they are not wet. Something about
night shots,especially in B&W need the wet look. So many films do that when they are shooting at night.

I saw the “East of Eden” premiere from the two-disc set of East of Eden’s DVD. Things have improved so much since then directorily (meaning the TV coverage of the premiere). The segment of the premiere did not do justice for a world premiere that was televised and on radio at the same time. I always have the visual of “Singin in the Rain” as the ultimate premiere. I can be seen in the footage of disc number 2. I’m the one by the curb in the full shot waiting for the next car to arrive. Later they have a good shot of Ron Greenwald, Tommy Harris and Johnny O'Neil. In the Marilyn Monroe video of her life there is a short segment that is shown from the area where I was. I could be seen briefly but the other guys got a full picture. I worked the world premiere of “A Star is Born” and Monroe came to that also. She dropped her hankechief when coming out of the Limo. I had the honor of giving it to her people. If anyone know if there is any film coverage of that premiere I would be most grateful.

Looking at all this as a 16 year old going on seventeen seeing all the celebrities and never knowing that I would be working with a few of them in my career in theater. One that comes to mind is Carol Channing. I left the show “Coco” with Hepburn to spend nearly a year in London with Carol Channing. My guess at that time was who is Carol Channing? I wasn’t aware of her status when I worked that premiere. What does a kid from Brooklyn know! See ya!

Roy

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 17, 2007 at 4:34 pm

SOUTH PACIFIC at the CRITERION.
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS at the RIVOLI
THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI at the Palace.

roybarry
roybarry on June 15, 2007 at 6:52 am

Warren,

I feel the very same way. I was lucky to do my Broadway work in the 60’s and 70’s. The biggest problem then was the porno problem. The theaters were great without implanted microphones on the actors. It definitely was a different world. My wife and I just finished directing “Stalag 17” the play. Doing it was a blast, especially brining me back to the 50’s when I worked at the Astor when Stalag was playing.

Your image of Las Vegas is a true depiction of how Times Square is today. But when I think of the alternative of the trash that 42nd Street was for a long time…I would rather have it the way it is today. Thanks for the comments!
Roy

roybarry
roybarry on June 14, 2007 at 1:57 pm

Warren and Dodger,

My brother and I worked at the Astor Theater from July 15, 1953 to August of 1956. I was a doorman for the East of Eden premiere. I saw a clip in the Marilyn Monroe video-bio that showed a glimpse of me when she arrived. I’m not sure which premiere it was. I would love to know where I can get a copy of the DVD you mentioned. My email is The website to our studio is www.actorsplace.org They sure were great times. Broadway had an energy then it does not have now. I was younger at that time and maybe I saw things with new-opened eyes. I’m happy that the Times Square area has cleaned up. It was a real mess for a long time. Miss the old Gaety Deli and Hectors!

Roy

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dodgerg
dodgerg on June 14, 2007 at 12:00 pm

To Roy Barry — It was great to read your posting. I stil can’t seem to get an email to that address, so here’s the info in a nutshell. Although we must have worked together, the reason you can’t remember me is most likely because I didn’t work at the Astor that long — probably only a matter of weeks. However, I do have a pay envelope dated May 18, 1955 from City Entertainment Corporation and a handwritten note to a Mr. Helsinger(?)from “Gallagher” which reads: “This will introduce Mr. G—–. He starts tonight as usher."
I own 2 DVDs that feature the 1950s Astor pretty prominently : Kubrick’s "Killer’s Kiss”, and Kazan’s “East of Eden”. On the East of Eden premier section, there are some good closeups of the ushers and doormen. I wonder if you are in these pictures? Thanks again for your posting. I have great memories of those times.
Dodger

dodgerg
dodgerg on June 14, 2007 at 10:40 am

To Roy Barry — Sorry, my fault. I left out a letter. I’ve just sent a new email to the correct address.
Dodger

dodgerg
dodgerg on June 13, 2007 at 8:54 pm

To Roy Barry — I cannot respond to the email address you posted. Do you have another?

roybarry
roybarry on June 13, 2007 at 7:53 pm

Warren and Dodger G.

I submitted a while back how I ushered at the Valencia Theatre in Jamacia, NY when I was in Junior High School. When I went to my sophmore year at Boy’s High my twin brother and I got a job at the Astor Theatre in 1953. The movie “Stalag 17” was playing at the Asor and I believe that “The Moon is Blue” was playing at the Victoria. During the 3.5 years working full time during the summer and full weekends during school. It was an exciting period.

Because my brother and I were tall we were doorman as well as ushers with the white gloves and sharp uniforms. We had the opportunity to work all the world premiers including “East of Eden”, “On the Waterfront”, “The Star is Born” and many more. We were even called in from school to be the doorman for the opening of “Guys and Dolls” at the Capitol Theatre where they used doorman from all the different theatrs including the Paramount, Loew’s State, Criterion and the Roxy. Had met Bob Hope, Marilyn Monroe, Shelly Winters, Raymond Massey, George Montgomery, Karl Malden amd many more.

I still vividly remeber the smells, the feeling of the air conditioning, the alley between the Astor and Victoria and best of all the stairs to the locker room. A lot of fond memories. By 1958 my brother and I worked professionally with Bob Hope and I had a wonderful career in theatre and television. Working there was a great place for a fledgling actor. Nearly every Saturday morning Karl Malden would drop by 1545 to Kermit Bloomgarten’s office. He would always call me “Butch”! Lee Strassberg me tho 1545 to teach some of his classes. Ben Gazzara, Shelly Winters, Richard Davalos would be some of the attendees. A few years later I would be studying with Lee Strasberg. Funny world!

I still remember the managers…Mr. Bloom, Mr. Cusack, Mr. Shaeffer, Mr. Whitney, Captain of ushers, Ms. Camarda and Mr. Gallagher. I can go on forever about working there. A lot of fond memories.

Dodger G if you could give me a line at rbarry@actorsplace .org would be greatly appreciated. I am trying to place you. I was there when you were working.

Thanks!

Roy Barry

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 10, 2007 at 11:34 am

The 1912 Italian silent spectacle Quo Vadis? opened at the Astor Theatre in early 1913. It was promoted as a “gorgeous $150,000 production.”

William
William on June 6, 2007 at 1:58 pm

The Astor Theatre in Times Square opened on Sept. 21st. 1906.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 3, 2007 at 10:00 am

Variety, August 12, 1959

Broadway Astor’s 800G Facelift

“In a change of plans, United Artists and City Investing have dropped the idea of combining the Astor Theatre and the Bijou on Broadway into a single house. Instead, a complete renovating job will be done on the Astor alone. It’ll run to $800,000, the cost to be shared 50-50 by UA and City Investing.

Seating capacity of the Astor will be cut to 1001 from the present 1100 and the new wide screen will measure 50ft. by 27ft. The third balcony will be eliminated and the mezzanine section will be extended…It’ll reopen on Dec. 17 with the preem of ‘On the Beach’, the Stanley Kramer production. “

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 10, 2007 at 5:21 pm

Here’s an interesting view shot from behind the spectacular signs across the street from the Astor, circa 1967.

This was scanned from a New York Daily News Sunday Magazine edition devoted to Times Square.

dodgerg
dodgerg on November 12, 2006 at 8:16 am

To Ron Salters, re: the Astor – What a sad, ignoble ending for such a true Cinema Treasure.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 12, 2006 at 7:45 am

To Steve Fredrick- a theatre will not be found here in Cinema Treasures if movies were never presented in it… I never saw a show at the Astor, but I remember it in the 1970s when there was a “flea market” inside the auditorium. The seats had been removed and there were rows of tables. You entered thru the fire exit doors on the left auditorium wall.