Astor Theatre

1531 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 201 - 225 of 341 comments

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 17, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Roy, I guess that you had left the Astor by the time of this photo from August, 1958. The movie played simultaneously at the Victoria (which is just out of view) and took over the entire billboard space above the two theatres. Across Broadway, Loew’s State had Jerry Lewis in “Rock-A-Bye Baby.” I can’t make out what’s playing at the Criterion:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/summer1958.jpg

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

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 15, 2007 at 6:26 am

Roy, the Times Square district has been cleaned up, but in the process lost all of its character. Today, it reminds me of a combination of the Las Vegas Strip and any of the Disney theme parks. Herds of people just wandering around and gawking also make it resemble a human zoo. Most of them seem to be tourists and the rest from outer space. Whenever I must go there to a show or to shop at Virgin Music, I can’t get away fast enough.

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

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 14, 2007 at 6:44 am

Roy, welcome back! As I said once before, I remember you and your brother from Loew’s Valencia, when Bernard Zelenko was the manager. I was on the daytime ushering staff and you were on nights, as I recall. Ida Magerkirth was chief of service during the day and Frank Keene at night. I joined in May, 1953, so you must have left soon after that, since “Stalag 17” opened at the Astor around that time, though it had a long run. It didn’t reach the Valencia until that fall, but we did a huge business since it was the first Queens booking and exclusive for the borough.

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.”

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 10, 2007 at 11:06 am

The second paragraph in the introduction is misleading. The Astor Theatre wasn’t exactly “next” to the Astor Hotel. They were separated by West 45th Street. The hotel occupied the entire blockfront of Broadway between 44th and 45th Streets. The theatre’s entrance on Broadway was just above 45th Street, and the Astor shared that blockfront between 45th and 46th Street with some stores and the Gaiety (later Victoria) Theatre.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 10, 2007 at 10:10 am

This 1946 view shows the Astor already grinding away in the early morning with “The Best Years of Our Lives,” which ran nearly three hours and was the longest movie to play there since “Gone With the Wind.” The adjacent Victoria, with the British import, “Witness to Murder,” had not yet opened its doors for the day:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/bestyears.jpg

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

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

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on June 4, 2007 at 9:42 am

This is an ad for the “Prisoner of Zenda” at the Astor Theater.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez 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. “

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 27, 2007 at 3:53 am

By the time of this 1974 photo, the Astor had been turned into a flea market. I can’t make out the booking at the adjacent Victoria. “The Godfather: Part II” was being shown across the street at Loew’s State: www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/astorflea.jpg

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.

Steve
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
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
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
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?
Sugs