Roxy Theatre

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

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BillSavoy
BillSavoy on March 27, 2010 at 10:48 am

Do any ex-Roxy ushers remember a DON REGAN who worked as an usher at the theatre in the late fifties? He was a manager at the Music Hall in 1969, when I was hired there, as an usher. I would like to contact him, if possible, as I am preparing to write a book about the Roxy. Thanx, in advance, for any leads.
Bill Savoy

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on March 14, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Housechecker: The person you named, “Bernie” I think may be a guy I worked with on the concession bar, Bernie Cohn. He was not very nice. He wanted to be an actor and many years later I think I saw him in a play on TV, very small part. There was a young lady who often worked with me who wanted to go into politics. Forgot her name. Of course, we were just kids then. I was studying dance and aimed to be a dancer on Broadway. My dreams came true. But another guy named Pinkerton wanted to be an opera singer. When they built the soda bar in 1951 (you can see it in the movie “Naked City”) he worked on that. Many years later, maybe like 1986, I was walking down 5th Ave and saw him with a vending cart, selling ice cream sandwiches. I stopped and looked for a few seconds but he didn’t recognize me but offered to sell me a sandwich. It was a bit sad that nearly 40 years later he had never gone anywhere.
Yes, we are still alive, and kicking, at least I am.

AGRoura
AGRoura on March 14, 2010 at 10:31 am

When I was a kid, while on vacation in NYC, I saw There’s No Business Like Show Business at the Roxy. Only time I visited the Roxy. What a shame is gone.

Housechecker
Housechecker on March 14, 2010 at 10:19 am

Richka: See my posting 12/25/08. Besides Mr. Levy, there is one other person whose path may have crossed ours. I think his name was “Bernie.” He was the captain of the concession stand when I got there. While I forget his name exactly, there are two things I remember about him: 1. He was tall; I was about 5'10" and growing; 2. He was a senior at Cardinal Hayes HS, I was a sophmore. Do you remember Mr. Moclair? After the Roxy closed he went to work for a theater in Philly. I visited him there once when I was in that town for a track meet (as a spectator). I’ve forgotten most of the guys I worked with on permanent closing except for Don Poland and a guy named “Angie” whose surname was Angiotti (I think).
Housechecker.

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on March 10, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Welcome Housechecker. Yes, you did miss me as I had just left and Lucypuck was yet to begin. I always wondered what happened after I left in 1952 so would be nice to hear your comments and experiences.
If you can remember some names; fellow ushers, captains, candy salesmen, managers, etc. it would be interesting to compare.
I was an usher only for a short while before they put me on the concessions bar in the Rotunda.
Richka

Housechecker
Housechecker on March 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm

To Luckypuck and Richka:
I missed you both. I started as an usher in 1953 and left in 1955. I’m happy that someone from “the day” is still alive.
Housechecker

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on March 10, 2010 at 8:14 am

Thanx for the memories. I never got to work backstage. My job was candy salesman and that was it. Once or twice they put me in a cape and outside to 50th and 7th Ave. to stand near the box office. I don’t know why. Maybe the regular guy who did that needed a break and and the candy stand happened to be slow. You did that also as doorman. Was it winter? It got real cold on that corner!
Also, the manager Mr. Katz (do you remember him?) once had me go down Broadway to the Stage Deli to get his supper. Again, must have been slow night for the candy. So there I was, tramping down Broadway and thru Times Square in a flowing cape and a basket over my arm. I must have turned heads.
The candy stand was usually very busy, like 3 deep. Customers were too often very rude, like demanding and gimmy this and gimmy that. Candy was mostly 6 cents then. A big Mr. Goodbar was maybe 25 cents.
Those were for the big spenders! At 10PM I closed and counted the money and locked it in a drawer for Mr. Levy to count in the morning.
You were lucky to have a variety of jobs around the theater. Working backstage must have been much more interesting and fun. I did go backstage once to deliver something to Ima Sumac who was a headliner. She sang in a bizarre voice with a huge range. She was from Peru and very exotic. I looked her up and believe it or not, she is STILL alive and living in Brooklyn.
I had lied about my age to get the job. Left in 1952. You started in 1955 so we missed each other by 3 years. You didn’t get the chance to witness the premiere of ALL ABOUT EVE in 1951. That was really something.
Will tell you about it next time.
Richka

.

luckypuck
luckypuck on March 10, 2010 at 1:33 am

(cont.) Maybe some more reminiscences will come up later. Stay tuned.

luckypuck
luckypuck on March 10, 2010 at 1:32 am

(cont.) I really was fooled ‘cause those trannies were beautiful and had sexy female looking bodies.

You were auditioning for theater stuff, but I remember two of our ushers, a guy and a girl, auditioned for skating slots. The guy really skated well and twirled a baton even better and did so while skating. The girl skated well, but had no other talent to add to it, but both of them were hired. We found out later the girl was only fifteen, but used a fake ID to get the usher’s job and apparently no one checked when she switched to the stage show. They had to let her go.

luckypuck
luckypuck on March 10, 2010 at 1:27 am

Thanks for the update. I’ll look for the book.

Another memory: I was at the stage door desk when a man I never saw before came in and asked to speak to one of the chorus line skaters. I called up to the dressing rooms and paged the girl and told her who was waiting. He told me he was her agent. While we were waiting for the skater to come down, he took a large album out of his brief case and opened it for me. He said, “Take a look at these girls and if you see one you like I’ll fix you up.” I looked at a couple of pages of headshots mostly, but some full length. I pointed out one of these and the guy laughedd and said, “ they’re all trannies.” I almost through him out.

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on March 7, 2010 at 7:34 am

Luckypuck: I wonder if it was the same Mr. Levy who fired you that I knew, because he was always very nice to me. As I was trying to break into show business then he would sympathize with me after I had done some Broadway audition but didn’t get the job so it was back to the candy stand! You’ll make it someday he would always say. He also would let me take a week off now and then when I got in some amateur show that went on a brief tour. Every night at 10 I would close the candy stand, count the money and lock it in a drawer. At end of week he would always find the take was short by 2 or 3 dollars. I think I was under suspicion but I was always accurate and
I surely never would have embezzeled even a nickle.
But there were several other attendants on the candy stand who could have helped themselves. Maybe Levy had another side of him I didn’t know. Yes, he was big and slow moving, so I doubt if he could have or wanted to get entangled with a tough street kid like you were then. I remember Mr. Banovitch as assistant manager then. Maybe he was still there when you were. Mr.O'Connor probably also who was a captain . He lives retired in New Jersey now and we’ve been in touch through this site.
Do you have “Last Remaining Seats”? It’s a great book with lots of pictures of the Roxy and its history. I bought it last year for $10 on eBay. But no picture of the concessions bar. I call it that because it sounds a bit nicer than candy stand.
I look forward to hearing more of your memories of that fantastic place.
Richka
Richka

Ben Hall’s book “Last Remaining Seats” has a picture of some ushers taken back sometime during the 30s or 40s and among them is Mr. Levy. So evidently he had been with the Roxy for some time.

luckypuck
luckypuck on March 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Richka: It was Levy who fired me. He was one of three usher captains: The others were Poland and a real nice black dude, tall and witty. I think his name was Mr. Washington.

When Levy caught me sitting down, he told me to follow him. We went down to the basement via the loading elevator. When we got down there, he told me I was fired and made some kind of vague threat. I don’t remember exactly what it was now, but I do remember taking off my uniform jacket and asking him if he wanted to take me on now. He backed off and told me to turn in my uniform and just leave.

He was a pretty big guy, but soft and slow, so I wasn’t worried too much about his threat. I was a street kid from Queens who fought my way throughout my younger days, so I knew when someone was bluffing.

When I went to hand in my uniform, Mr. Poland was there and already knew I was fired. He said he wouldn’t have fired me, but couldn’t do anything about it, so I handed in my uniform and they mailed me my last check.

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on March 3, 2010 at 7:07 am

Luckypuck. I enjoyed reading your post. I was at the Roxy a bit before you; 1950-1952. I was put on the concessions stand in the Rotunda by Mr. Levy, who at that time managed the concessions. On another posting by someone else it was claimed there was no concessions stand in the Rotunda but was in the lounge area. Well, what can I say? I worked there for 3 years and looked at the Rotunda every evening and the stand was just to the right of the staircase leading to the loge and the assistant manager’s office. There was another smaller stand in the balcony, beside that little window looking down on the Rotunda. They may have changed all that after I left but I just wonder if you remember. Your memories of of great interest to me. You know, when we were kids, working in the midst of all that glamour it went by unappreaciated. Now, all these years later we like to think back to those youth filled years of hope and optimism. Don’t you agree? I hope to hear from you and more of our memories of that time long ago. I didn’t have back pains then, as you did, but I do now! Thanx. Richka

luckypuck
luckypuck on March 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Sorry about the mix-up, but, no, I didn’t know Ben Hall. No problem there, though.

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on February 27, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Hello Bill,
Sorry. I must have confused you with the posting that came just before yours. Anyway, I will send you an email so we will be in touch.
Richka

BillSavoy
BillSavoy on February 27, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Wait a minute ….

So how come YOU won a prize … and I didn’t??? (I ONLY donated my
Roxy model No. 3 , and the orginal blueprints … ) Just kidding, Richka and Karen!! (Seriously, Richka, would love to compare Roxy/Music Hall Service Staff stories!) Bill!

BillSavoy
BillSavoy on February 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Hello, Richka! Would love to hear more of your memories! (I worked at the Music Hall, not the Roxy … was only 9-years old at its demise). Please feel free to contact me: Bill Savoy, 655 East 14th St. Apt. 10-A, N.Y., N.Y. 10009, 212 505 6254 (H), 508 612 5669 ©,
Will happily share photos of (all) my models with you.
Looking forward!,Bill

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on February 27, 2010 at 10:05 am

How interesting your comments on the time you worked at the Roxy. I also worked there, on the concession bar in the Rotunda. The years were 1950-1952. If you look back on this site you can find some personal memories I’ve written about that time. I also won a prize a couple years ago from the Theater Historical Society for a piece I wrote about the Roxy and my experiences there as a teenager.
How interesting that you knew Ben Hall. I have his book of course and my regret is that there are not even more pictures of the Roxy. I would be very interested in how it was that you came to be a friend of his. I know he had a very tragic death.
You said that you have built models of the Roxy. How I would love to see them. I live in Tucson, Arizona so there is no way I could visit the museum where they are. Is there a way you could send me a picture or pictures of them? By my email perhaps. I would be most grateful. Thanx.

luckypuck
luckypuck on February 25, 2010 at 12:09 pm

(Continued) When I worked the executive elevator I lifted the likes of Sam “Roxy” Rothafel, Sonja Kaye, Sonja Henie, Lana Turner, most of the cast of “Carousel,” Gordon McRae, Shirley Jones, Cameron Mitchell, among them.

One day while working the executive elevator I came in even though I was feeling ill. I was suffering from back pains after standing all morning operating the elevator. During the usual lull in elevator traffic during lunch hour, just a few minutes before my break, my back was aching so much I sat down on a nearby bench. There was a heating vent next to it and the heat felt good on my back. Unfortunately, an ushers’ captain came by and saw me sitting (a big no-no) and fired me on the spot.

It was great fun while it lasted.

luckypuck
luckypuck on February 25, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I was an usher, lobby doorman, executive elevator operator and stage doorman at the Roxy in 1955-56. The films I remember seeing were The Rains of Ranchipur, Good Morning Miss Dove and Carousel. There were lots of others, but it’s been too many years ago to come to mind now.

I also remember helping publish the ushers’ newsletter and the funny hand signals we used to telegraph our headcount of the moviegoers seated in our assigned sections: Orchestra, Loge, Lower Balcony and Upper Balcony.

The stage shows I remember most were the ice extravaganzas. The first one I worked at the stage door starred Sonya Kaye (Klupfer), a recent Olympic figure skating medalist. She skated one number to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” that was set on a blue lit stage and her performance was sublime and got thunderous applause. In 2009 she was inducted into the Ice Skating Hall of Fame as a talented figure skater and successful skating coach. One of her successes was Dorothy Hammill.

I was lucky enough to get to know one of her sisters and even escorted her from the theater to Times Square for New Year’s Eve festivities (1955 to 56). We took the subway and walked, but couldn’t get near the Square, so I took her home.

The next show starred Sonja Henie. I saw her throw several diva tantrums then, one where she tore into the ice clowns for tearing up the ice before one of her solo numbers. This was unreasonable because the clowns ALWAYS tore up the ice. That came with their act.

One job that was rotated among the ushers was where we were given a ticket to Radio City Music Hall and counted the audience at that theater’s feature film and stage show. We filled out a form with our count of all the sections of that theater that we could sneak into. That was not too difficult to do, because the Music Hall ushers seemed to pay more attention to the film or stage show being performed than to the comings and goings of the patrons.

BillSavoy
BillSavoy on February 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm

My name is Bill Savoy. I was a friend of the late Ben Hall’s, who befriended me because of my (inexplicable) passion for the Roxy Theatre (I had been there only once, when I was 9-years-old, and remember only the film, THE GAZEBO and someone singing I LOVE PARIS in the stage show). Apparently my subconscious took over because in the the last 40+ years, I’ve built 4 models of the Roxy (including the one currently on display in The Museum Of The Moving Image, in Astoria, New York). I own the original blueprints and boxes of programs, photos and memorabilia (many given to me by Ben Hall).
I worked at the Radio City Music Hall from 1969 (on-and-off) until 1980, starting as an usher and finishing as an assistant art-director. I now work as a scenic artist in New York City, designing and painting scenery for Broadway shows, movies and television. It is time I write the definitave book on the Roxy. I would appreciate
ANY and all help from anyone with memories or information to share!
I can be reached through this site, my email: or through Facebook. Thank You.
input

GeorgeStrum
GeorgeStrum on February 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm

The first and only time I ever visited the Roxy was back in 1956. I was only 8 years old and my sister was 6. For some reason my mother trexed us all the way from Lindenhurst L.I. on the LIRR to NYC to see “Anastasia” and the stage show. I was so overwhelmed by the emmanceousness of everything. All I can remember of the stage show was that they were doing some kind of King and I medley because the stage was a bright red with a dragon print and the familiar March of the Siamese Children played by the orchestra. I’ve never forgotten it.

malo1967
malo1967 on January 8, 2010 at 7:37 am

Before my parents, William Power Maloney and Dorothy nee Crooker Maloney, passed away in 1963 and 1976 respectively, I never thought to ask them about they met. It is one of the goals of my family history project to learn how that might have come about.

I believe that it may have been as a result of my father when he was as an assistant US Attorney prosecuted William P. Buckner for securities in 1937. Apparently, Mr. Buckner’s lobbying efforts with US congressmen including throwing lavish cocktail and dinner parties in Wash. DC to which he invited “ Broadway Cuties” to attend. My Father had several of them testify at the trial. Two of them were Doris “ Peewee” Donaldson and Noel Carter. While my Mother did not, as far I know, did not testify, she may accompanied Ms. Donaldson and Ms. Carter to Washington and was introduced to my Father.

Does anyone know about the stage careers of Ms. Donaldson and/or Ms. Carter or whether they danced at the Roxy from 1937 to 1939?

Cubano

malo1967
malo1967 on January 8, 2010 at 7:00 am

My mother, Dorothy Maloney, performed at the Roxy from 1932 to 1936. I believe that Gae Foster brought her to Roxy from the West Coast where she, my mother, was dancing in Fanchon & Marco’s “ Ideas ” prologues to motion pictures. During her career my Mother danced under her maiden name, Dorothy Crooker. Her form of dance was called
“ controlled dance” because she performed it entirely on one leg while moving across the stage with her other leg fully extended, usually straight over her head.

Does anyone have Roxy programs and/or publicity stills of Dorothy Crooker? I understand that the NYPL may have Roxy memorbilia, but I have not yet contacted them.

Cubano

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 4, 2010 at 8:38 pm

I found ads advertising the ice shows starting on July 7, 1950 through most of the rest of the year. Carol Lynn was named from July 20 to September 28 when Dick Haynes replaced her as the ice star.