Astor Theatre

1531 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 151 - 175 of 251 comments

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 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.


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 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 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.

Steve on November 12, 2006 at 7:31 am

What wonderful comments about the Astor Theatre. You folks know your New York Broadway theaters. I am hoping that you experts can answer my question. Where is the CT listing for the first Helen Hayes Theatre? I have looked under the different theater names (the Fulton, the Folies-Bergere), but have found no listing. Please advise me as to the Helen Hayes Theatre listing? Thank you for your assistance.

Gilbert on October 29, 2006 at 2:39 am

Dodger, a shame you missed James Dean. Maybe you got to walk on the same red carpet. And the cultural history of the US since WWII… just a small topic then! How many volumes do you plan to write? I’ve not finished the research for my book after almost two years and I’m only looking at one exhibition.

dodgerg on October 29, 2006 at 2:06 am

Sugs, I can’t remember dealing with any “celebs”. Unfortunately, I started work at the Astor about 2 months after James Dean attended the Premier there of “East of Eden”, so I never got to meet my hero. To answer your question — my interests now are in writing. I am presently writing a book on the cultural history of the U.S. since WWII.

Gilbert on October 29, 2006 at 1:47 am

Dodger, I wonder if you ushered any celebs to their seats? I don’t just mean film stars, as an aspiring artist you may have recognised some of the big names in the avant-garde, Pollock, Motherwell, de Kooning perhaps? Maybe even Lee Krasner, Dorothea Tanning or Buffie Johnson. Did you make it as an artist?

dodgerg on October 29, 2006 at 12:59 am

In the Spring of 1955, I was an aspiring artist, living in Greenwich Village. I worked nights at the Astor Theater as an usher/doorman. My job was to strut up and down under the big marquee, all dressed up like an admiral, and spout out the following lines in a loud voice: “Step right this way, ladies and gentlemen! Next show begins in 15 minutes! Immediate seating in the balcony! Tonight we have "East of Eden”, with James Dean, Julie Harris and Raymond Massey!“ I think I saw "East of Eden” 16 times. James Dean was my hero. On my breaks I would sit on the curb in front of the Astor with the manager of the nearby hot dog stand, smoking cigarettes and watching the girls go by. After my shift ended, about 2 o'clock in the morning, I’d walk all the way back downtown to the little 2-room apartment on West 4th Street that I shared with my best buddy, a boxer who earned his money sparing at Stillman’s gym. i still have my pay envelope from the Astor. I was pleasantly surprised to find your interesting site, and to see how much interest there still is for the Astor and the old Times Square.
Dodger G

RobertR on October 18, 2006 at 1:55 pm

Another great GWTW ad
View link

RobertR on October 9, 2006 at 1:54 pm

We will never see films presented in such a classy way like this again
View link

Gilbert on September 12, 2006 at 12:31 pm

Pause for reflection..
Back to the good news…
In case anyone is interested, Buffie Johnson’s work is still represented by the Anita Shaplosky Gallery, NY, who showed an original panel from the Astor Mural in an exhibition in 2002 celebrating Buffie Johnson’s 90th birthday. As we know, the panel was not 45 feet high.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on September 12, 2006 at 12:09 pm

My compliments to the NYT and whomever asked for correcting history!
This is good news.

Now about the war on terrorism…

Gilbert on September 12, 2006 at 11:00 am

Yeah, that’s what I thought, and I didn’t even have to notify the NYT of their mistake! Was that you Warren, or one of Buffie’s friends? Or did the NYT spontaneously admit to a mistake..?

Gilbert on September 4, 2006 at 8:10 am

Thanks Warren I’ll give it a go, but am checking my source first, would hate to have to ask the NYT to print a correction of a correction!

Gilbert on September 3, 2006 at 3:12 am

Thanks Warren, I don’t think much of the accuracy in the NYT obit however. The murals cannot have been made up of 200 panels each 45 feet high. My info is that each panel was 10 feet high. If they were 45 feet, where on earth would the artist have stored them once they were returned?

Gilbert on August 23, 2006 at 6:39 am

Hi, I’ve been reading this page with some interest, particularly the pieces about the Astor Mural. You might be interested to know that Buffie Johnson, the artist who painted the murals, died in New York on Augist 11 2006 at the excellent age of 94. Buffie was still painting up until about five years ago when her sight sadly failed. There is no detailed biography available about this once important abstract artist and I am hoping to include her in a book I am writing about a group of avant-garde artists who were active in the 1940’s. I wonder if anybody knows what happenned to the mural, which was said to be the largest in the world at the time it was assembled. As it was made up of over 200 smaller panels, does anybody know where any of these might be? Have you looked in your loft..?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 18, 2006 at 9:06 am

Right, Bill. I forgot about HTWWW. I think Warren’s suggestion makes sense. Of course, these days, it is not uncommon to see several different Jude Law or Cuba Gooding, Jr, movies opening up within weeks of each other. Neither of those actors are even half the star John Wayne was in his hey day, but you get the point. Perhaps the example of Robert DeNiro (who has been quite ubiquitous in recent years) is a better comparison.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 18, 2006 at 8:56 am

Ed: I felt the same way when I found out that “How the West Was Won” had its world premiere in London in November 1962, then had several more 1962 openings in Europe, Japan and Australia before finally coming to the US in February 1963. It didn’t even open in New York until April. An unusual release pattern, but I’m sure MGM and Cinerama had their reasons.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 18, 2006 at 7:51 am

That never occurred to me, Warren. Good point. Just a friendly note here – I’d feel just as informed by your comment and a bit less like I’ve been chastised if you didn’t use the quotations in your response. Seriously, just a friendly note – I don’t want to start a war and I’m sure you didn’t intend any condescension. But a courteous tone goes a long way towards stemming possible ill will.