Roxy Theatre

153 W. 50th Street,
New York, NY 10020

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MarkDHite on June 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm

The Roxy was demolished in the autumn of 1960. The famous Life Magazine photo of Gloria Swanson standing in the ruins of the rotunda dates from October 24, 1960.

MarkDHite on June 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I don’t think the Roxy was any less viable financially than the Paramount, Capitol or other large ornate movie palaces. It remained a popular theater. All of them suffered from the precipitous decline in movie attendance in the post WWII era that all film theaters did nationwide. The Roxy may have been the first to go, but the writing was on the wall for all of them, at least in terms of continuing on as they had done. If the Roxy had survived another 10 years, no doubt it would have been subdivided and whatnot as all of the other Times Square movie palaces eventually were before they disappeared altogether.

The Roxy closed in March 1960, but its fate was probably sealed much earlier when it was purchased by Rockefeller Center in 1956. They plan well into the future and I imagine their interest in owning the Roxy wasn’t for its future as a film showcase. The Roxy not only had valuable air rights that were coveted by Rockefeller Ctr, but it was also located on very valuable real estate that was adjacent to the site of the new construction that they were developing on the west side of 6th Ave.

bigjoe59 on June 3, 2012 at 2:57 pm


i was able to attend many of the great old movie houses in the Times Square area when they were still more or less in their original condition and they before were twined or torn down. the Roxy wasn’t one of them. to which i have what i hope is a simple question. the decision to tear down the Roxy was made i believe in June of 1960. so as well loved as the theater was and had ornate as it was by June 1960 wasn’t a movie theater as HUGE as the Roxy just plain economically unviable?

Amber J. Michaud
Amber J. Michaud on May 12, 2012 at 6:50 am

It’s sad how urban renewal and the city can destroy the past.

KimW on May 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm

My grandfather Frank White played the lead organ in the early years.

GDellaFa on April 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Sorry I missed the Roxy Theatre, being born in 1961. Guess there is absolutely no chance it could ever be rebuilt? Let’s see: $150 million for the building alone (given inflation since 1927), plus the cost of demolition of the crappy office building that replaced it, plus the cost of the land and existing crappy building. I suppose not. “You don’t appreciate what you’ve got till its gone…” Great Roxy Theatre, you are dearly missed. Can we at least have a plaque on TGI Fridays? Perhaps on 50th Street in an inconspicuous place? Just a thought.

MarkDHite on April 15, 2012 at 11:18 am

Every theater’s status is either “Open” or “Closed” (green for open, red for closed). Then next to that is a description: “1 screen”, etc. So the Roxy’s status is correct. It says “Closed, Demolished”.

I agree that having three status categories: Closed, Open, or Demolished would be more helpful and accurate. But that’s not how the database is set up.

BillSavoy on April 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm

moviebear1 Just figured out how to post a photo of my model! I have more, but this website tells me they’re too big to post! I’ll keep trying (I’m computer-challenged … wish me luck) Thanks for your request! Bill

Joseph on March 24, 2012 at 6:22 am

A new book about SL “Roxy” Rothafel is about to be published:

Members of the Rothafel family were interviewed by the Author

moviebear1 on March 21, 2012 at 9:53 am

being on the west coast I’d love to se some pictures of your model. Any chance you would be willing to share some?

Simon L. Saltzman
Simon L. Saltzman on March 12, 2012 at 9:26 am

AlAlvarez, I beg to differ. The war and post-war years 1941 to 1950 were very successful years for the Roxy, with the grosses and attendance often on a par, sometimes surpassing, the Music Hall. A major factor in the disparity of grosses is that the Roxy maintained a children’s price, ranging over those years from.25 to .50 while there was only one price for all at the Hall. When it comes to business, the Paramount out-did all the main-stem houses and it had half the seating capacity. The Roxy had a great run with big name performers and a resident company for more than a decade.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on March 12, 2012 at 8:55 am

A February 21, 1960 NY Times article on the Roxy closing makes this interesting observation:

“The poor old Roxy was never too successful, sandwiched as it is between the Scylla of the older capitol and the Charybdis of the newer Music Hall. Its various programs of pictures with stage shows (and without stage shows) have had to compete with programs that have usually been a little better at one or the other of those near-by theatres.”

BillSavoy on March 12, 2012 at 1:52 am

Thanks, Ed, for your nice compliments about my Roxy model! I have not been back to look at it for years, but have been told that it is no longer enclosed in glass. If you do visit again, please give me an update! Meanwhile, I have to get back to work on Model Number Five!

Tinseltoes: Sorry, I just realized that I’d already commented, a year ago, regarding our mutual interest. Hoping to share more with you!


Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm

BillSavoy! What a pleasure to learn that you are the artist responsible for that remarkable scale model of the Roxy at the Museum of the Moving Image! And even more pleasurable to be able to directly express my thanks and admiration to you for providing such a lovingly detailed representation of this spectacular old movie palace! I must have spent a good twenty minutes pouring over every inch of your model when I last visited the museum about 7 or 8 years ago. In fact, I sang its praises in a post on this page (I dare you to find it among the more than 1300 comments already posted here) from back in March of 2005. My one criticism – and I hope this has since been corrected – is that the lighting around the display case produced annoying and obscuring glares on the glass. One has to lean in close to block these out and truly enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Thank you so much for that work. I am now inspired to take another trip into Astoria to check it out again!

MarkDHite on March 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Hooray for the ROXY! Happy 85th anniversary! Never to be forgotten!

BillSavoy on March 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm


My name is Bill Savoy and I am fascinated with (and a little bit jealous of) your knowledge of the Roxy (until now, I thought I was the only one so obsessed). I was a friend of the late Ben Hall’s: he befriended me at age 16 and shared his vast collection of Roxy memorabilia with me. During the last 46 years I have added to this archives (a vast collection of programs from opening to closing, photos from excavation to demolition, over 100 photos of staff and performers, etc., etc., and last, but not least, the original blueprints from 1925 (later to be slightly revised … which, once-and-for-all clear-up the seating capacity mystery!). I have built four scale models of the place (including one commisioned by The Museum Of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York, where it is currently on display) and am now starting my fifth … (sooner or later, I’ll get it right!). I worked at Radio City Music Hall from 1969 until 1983, where I met many surviving Roxy alumni (Leonidoff, Markert, Kilduff, Parmentier, etc., etc., ) and had full access to the building and archives!

I live and work (as a scenic artist) in New York City and would love to communicate with you further on our shared obsession. If you are also interested please contact me at .

I have to sign off now because I see, by the program, that the prologue “DESTINY” is starting … to be followed by THE LOVE OF SUNYA!

Happy Roxy day! Hope to hear from you! Bill Savoy

Simon L. Saltzman
Simon L. Saltzman on March 2, 2012 at 10:59 am

Myron, The Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts would be a great repository for the Roxy Programs…as I would (love to have them)…or at least borrow them and then bring them personally to the library.

Myron on March 2, 2012 at 8:15 am

Love to reminisce about the Roxy, my all-time favorite theatre. My sister always points-out that one of the ice skaters actually fell during the show after the screening of “The King & I” but she got-up and continued. The audience saw blood. I saved the Roxy programs somewhere in my collection (they were printed in green). If I locate these and those for the RCMH, what could I do with them? I’d hate to dispose of these.

Simon L. Saltzman
Simon L. Saltzman on February 29, 2012 at 4:48 am

Hey Housechecker, Yes, indeed, before the Roxyettes (later known as “Blades and Belles”)skated on ice they could be seen not only on roller skates, but balancing and doing formations atop huge balls (an audience favorite). Yes, indeed, Merman sold tickets as a publicity stunt (fact checked from Variety)just for the opening hour.

Housechecker on February 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Hey Simon: I was just a little boy when “A Tree Grows” played at the Roxy. I started working there in 1953 on the last day of Peter Pan. Then the Roxyettes were on ice skates. This is not to say when “A Tree Grows” played the Roxy the girls were not on roller skates.

If Ethel Merman sold tickets in the morning on the opening day of “No Biz Like Show Biz,” I never heard about it. That was the kind of stuff locker room gossip was made of. But I was working “Permanent Closing.” However, Johnny Ray did show up drunk in the evening.

Simon L. Saltzman
Simon L. Saltzman on February 28, 2012 at 11:26 am

Hey Tinseltoes, Good job but you might have mentioned that “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” was a major hit and ran an unprecedented six weeks (opening week $105,000)grossing $500,000 during that time. The 24 Roxyettes also did their famous roller skating routine which featured “the whip” requiring the last skater to catch up to the end of the ever spinning line. Next show was “A Royal Scandal” with Tallulah you know who…and a major bomb.

Simon L. Saltzman
Simon L. Saltzman on February 27, 2012 at 8:21 am

Just for a chuckle. A publicity stunt: Ethel Merman sold tickets in the box office on opening morning.

MarkDHite on February 27, 2012 at 6:39 am

There’s No Business, etc… opened at the Roxy on December 17, 1954. (Thx to New York Times online archives)

Simon L. Saltzman
Simon L. Saltzman on February 27, 2012 at 4:54 am

Myron, One of the many informed contributors to this site (wish I could remember who)regularly sent a year by year list of Roxy films and the accompanying stage show. But you have to go back through the archives for this. Also fun is going to the Lincoln Center Library and read all the Variety magazine issues on microfilm from 1927 to the Roxy’s demise. Another source on line is Billboard Magazine and search year by year. The info is out there…just search and ask.

Myron on February 27, 2012 at 4:31 am

Where can I find a list of films and dates which played at the Roxy. This was my favorite all-time theatre and I was sad when it was demolished. I think that “There’s No Business Like Show Business” sccreened there during Dec. 1954. If so I can’t figure why my family and I never saw it there. We were big fans of Marilyn as well as musicals. Maybe we saw “The Country Girl” at the Criterion instead. As a kid, I saw many films at the Roxy. I often pass the spot where it was located and I get a lump in my throat. So many happy memories of great films and then they added ice skaters (Roxyettes) to the bill. I even saved programs which I have somewhere in my collection.