Astor Theatre

1531 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 126 - 150 of 324 comments

AlAlvarez on July 28, 2008 at 5:45 pm

My mistake. I got my education reading fabricated dead star biographies written by hack writers who plagiarized gossip columns and then sold the info as their own at discount book racks.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 28, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Mr. Alvarez’s arithmetic seems as unreliable as his grammar and spelling. 1933 was seventy-five years ago, not eighty-five.

AlAlvarez on July 28, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Wow. You can determine the sexual inclinations of men from just looking at an 85 year old photograph? Fabulous gaydar!

My guess is that they are studio heads and members of the press who were mostly men at the time. As for their sexual habits, I’ll leave that to more talented contributors.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 27, 2008 at 7:05 am

Garbo had a large following of gay men, which seems substantiated by that 1933 photo. Males seem to far outnumber the females. Note particularly the three men wearing fedoras at the center of the photo. Two are an obvious “couple,” and the third is holding a dog in his arms. I guess that he intended to check it in the Astor’s kennel.

AlAlvarez on July 26, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Since QUEEN CHRISTINA premiered on December 26 and that photo shows a Roll Royce in front, this is most likely a shot of the World Premier crowd and hardly representative of the the average movie-goer in 1933.

roybarry on July 24, 2008 at 2:14 pm

We are a casual pedestrian society without a sense of protocol or should I say a sense of regalia? I can remember going to the Capital Theater to see “From Here to Eternity” with my date and sitting upstairs in a packed lodge/balcony and never once did I feel unconforatble. No one selfishly in tune with their own agenda, and on top of it, most of us were clean and well dresssd for the occasion.

I remember not letting people in sleevless T-Shirts at the Astor and Victoria theaters. The ushers would continuously monitor their
section every few minutes just to make sure nothing disruptive is happening. Again…another era. I still enjoy the day even if it is not like it was.

I was at the “Actor’s Studio” recently and one of the Studio’s teacher/director/coach was there. We worked together at the Astor theater in 1954 to 1956. We both ended up with careers in theater/film/television. We discussed our experiences and it seem sensorily that it was just yesterday. I was blessed to have the opportunity to be there at that time.

dodgerg on July 24, 2008 at 12:45 pm

That’s right Warren. I remember my parents and I dressing up to go to movies in the forties. Most people did. It was a big event, similar perhaps today to going to a Broadway show — although, nowadays people don’t even dress up for that all the time, do they?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 24, 2008 at 8:07 am

Garbo’s films always attracted people from the upper class “smart set.” Also, in those days, most people, regardless of income, “dressed up” when they went to the first-run midtown movie theatres. That 1933 photo was apparently taken during the year-end holidays, as Christmas wreaths are draped on the marquee.

dodgerg on July 23, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Thanks, Lost Memory. That was nice of you.

dodgerg on July 23, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Right. lol I didn’t think of that.

kencmcintyre on July 23, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Well-heeled crowd for the middle of the Depression.

dodgerg on July 23, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Great pic! Thanks J.F. Lundy.

jflundy on July 23, 2008 at 4:14 pm

This link may be good for but a short time; shows in large detail the Astor entry under marquee in 1933.

View link

LuisV on June 8, 2008 at 9:00 am

You know, I was thinking after I wrote my post above that in the future, if Times Square once again degenerated into a crime filled wasteland, today’s youth would tell stories about how wonderful Times Square was at the turn of the 21st Century! They would say, “Remember the Toy’s R Us Ferris Wheel, the MTV studios?, The Hard Rock and Planet Hollywood cafes?”

Personally, I don’t don’t think we’ll ever go backward. I would agree with dodger and leroyelliston that the 50’s and early 60’s were probably wonderful. It was before my time. But that wasn’t what Times Square had become in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s. We needed to be rescued from that!

I never thought I’d live to see the day when Hell’s Kitchen would become a truly “Hot” neighborhood where many people desired to live, but it has in fact happened. It’s happended in Park Slope, Harlem, Chinatown, The Financial District, the East Village, The Lower East Side, Long Island City, Jackson Heights, I could go on and on.

In my opinion, making Times Square into what it is today greatly contributed to the overall image of the city as a whole as a desireable place to live and work. If they could “fix” Times Square then this city is capable of amazing things. And so it is!

roybarry on June 7, 2008 at 4:16 pm

It is so true! The 70’s and 80’s were a horrible period for the entertainment area. Prior to the 70’s I had an apartment on West 45th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue. Never once did I ever feel in danger until the late 60’s when everything really began to fall apart. This led me to move further uptown to West 57th Street and then to the upper Westside where things were slightly less disgusting. All I can say is the Times Square of today is a blessing. Still I remember how it was in the 50’s and early 60’s and it was great! We should be extremely happy what we have today…a rejuvenated theater distrct for all to enjoy.

dodgerg on June 7, 2008 at 3:17 pm

Good intelligent comments Lius V. How can anyone disagree with you? I would only point out that a few of us are remembering a time before the 70s and 80s, back in the 50s, when — at least in my memory — it really did have character and even 42nd St. wasn’t that bad. I used to walk home to West 4th St. in the Village from the Astor at 2AM and not think twice about it. Of course I was 18 and knew I would live forever. All progress it seems comes with a price; but as you point out so well, the price of losing some theaters that had already all but died in order to cleanup New York City was probably a fair one.

LuisV on June 7, 2008 at 2:08 pm

It still pains me to read about the destruction of 5 theaters for the construction of the Marriott Marquis back in 1982. I am a staunch theater preservationist, but more importantly I am an even stronger believer is a safe, vibrant, clean and growing city that can offer a wonderful urban environment in which to live in and visit.

Sadly, the New York of the 70’s and 80’s was one of steep decline, out of control crime, massive arson, infrastructure that was falling apart and subways covered wall to wall in graffiti that you were lucky to see since many cars also had no operable lighting. There was a massive outflow of the city’s middle class and corresponding increase in the city’s poor.

42nd Street and Times Square was ground zero for this cesspool and the theater district was dying a slow, agonizing death. Something had to be done. The destruction of those theaters brought a new, huge convention hotel to the center of Times Square that bought new life to this moribound area. It encouraged other hotels and office buildings to follow. The complete closure and renovation of all of the theaters on 42nd Street continued the path. Thanks to that process we now have a restored New Amsterdam (arguably the most beautiful of New York’s theaters) in addition to The New Victory, The Hilton and American Airlines theaters. This, on a street that back in the 70’s and 80s was considered the single most dangerous block in the country!

Today, Times Square is criticized by some as having “lost its character” and resembling Las Vegas. To those people, I say “Go to downtown Detorit where you can have all of the character you want”

I for one, love living in a city where you can ride the subway comfortably at midnight, stroll down almost any street in complete safety, shop at the many department stores that remain downtown (unlike virtually any other city), and attend the theater in a district that has been astoundingly reborn, revitalized and for the most part renovated since the early 90’s.

I do not equate “character” with drug addicts, prostitutes, brothels, trash, graffiti and whatever else Times Square had in the 70’s and 80’s.

We’ve saved Times Square and New York! While we’ve lost many theaters we in New York still have an embarassment of riches. Now, we need to concentrate our efforts to protect and restore the theaters we still have left.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 29, 2008 at 4:26 am

Not one, but two 4-star reviews for the same picture on the same page, 12/20/1939. Has this ever happened before or since?

View link

roybarry on May 28, 2008 at 4:30 am


You are absolutely correct! I believe there was another film that used the word “pregnant” and created a stir among the religious groups.

Can you believe how much we have changed! Remarkable!

edblank on May 27, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Leroy, If I may correct the record without offending, I think the word the bluenoses found most objectionable in “The Moon Is Blue” was “virgin” (in a nonreligious context).
Also, there was an infamous exchange that I think went:
She: “Do you mind if I take off my shoes and stockings?"
He: "You can take off anything you like."
Fifty-five years ago, that raised eyebrows.

jflundy on May 25, 2008 at 10:04 am

Photo February 1929 “Broadway Melody” at Astor:
View link

dodgerg on May 23, 2008 at 1:49 pm

It wasn’t just your youth Leroy. They were special times that are gone now with those beautiful buildings.

roybarry on May 23, 2008 at 1:36 pm

It’s funny that you mentioned “Stalag 17” and the “Moon is Blue”. In July of 1953 I became one of those unique ushers at the Astor Theatre and its sister hheatre the Victoria. “Stalag 17” was playing and right after I began working there in came t"The Moon is Blue" where they dared say the word “pregnant”. We were considered one of the smaller theatres that had heart. At that time the Roxy, the Capitol, the Strand were all going strong. Of all the theatres there was something different about the Astor and Victoria. Our uniforms were unique, bright and vivid!

There was a positive energy in the 50’s that we don’t have anymore.
The 1545 Broadway entrance was behind the box office of the Victoria. I remember Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Elia Kazan, Lee Strasberg, Burt Lancaster and many others going into the 1545 building. Kermit Bloomgarten had his office in the 1545 Building as well as Stasberg. For a kid at 15 it was something beyond magic.

Maybe it was my youth, but I cherish the expeiences I had and feel extremely lucky to have been there!

dodgerg on May 22, 2008 at 10:31 pm

If I remember correctly The Moon Is Blue caused quite a stir — it all seems so silly now.

edblank on May 22, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Thanks, Dodger. Your memories of the Astor are invaluable. Since rediscovering this website a couple of weeks ago I’ve been reading it compulsively, usually well into the night. I’ve been checking the blogs for every theater in every city I’ve ever visited. Best page-turner I’ve ever read.
If I can ever tear myself away from the many dozens of Manhattan theater blogs, I want to make contributions to nearly 100 Pittsburgh area theaters listed. Most of those blogs are very spare; some have no entries at all.
The downside of the Manhattan blogs is that can take hours to wade through. The one for Radio City Music Hall must be the “War and Peace” of movie blogs.
I’m grateful we have this gift – this forum in which to exchange tidbits.
Aside: One of the neatest coincidences when the Astor and the Victoria were grinding profitably was when each had a new big hit starring Bill Holden. He was side by side starring in “Stalag 17” at the Astor and “The Moon Is Blue” at the Victoria. — Ed Blank