Roxy Theatre

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

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paulsp2
paulsp2 on April 8, 2010 at 9:25 am

In my opinion the destruction of the New York Roxy was nothing short of a crime against humanity! The greatest movie palace ever built should have been a world heritage site to be enjoyed by future generations, not just the few for 30 or so years.
A changing business climate certainly necessitated that many of the old palaces simply could not survive but the very best deserved to be saved at all costs, once it’s gone it’s gone!!

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 8, 2010 at 7:57 am

Original Roxy Theatre house configuration in all its glory. Scroll about ¾ of the way down:

www.pictureshowman.com/questionsandanswers5.cfm

I have never been one to bemoan the demolition of every single movie palace. It was a business trend like so many others. But the Roxy is one of two that definitely should have been saved, the other being the Fox out in San Fran.

Barbbano
Barbbano on April 8, 2010 at 6:34 am

Dear All,
Thank you again for responding – I am especially touched by your comments Housechecker. Don’t know if this will prod your memory – but my Mom was very Irish – red hair – green eyes and beautiful complexion – and a lot of fun. Dad was too – when he wasn’t busy being the boss or our father. And Mom would have had me and my brother “Stevie” as we called him with her. I am planning to download and post some photos on a web site I use for various purposes – their/our photos might help. I will post the url/address link for the web site just as soon as I get to it which I promise will be next week.

I haven’t thought about that silly singing sword in years…what a hoot!
Barb

Housechecker
Housechecker on April 8, 2010 at 5:58 am

Barb,
I knew your father. He was sort of like an inspiration to us ushers because he worked his way up from a uniform to a tux. That and because he was closer to our ages than any of the other managers and he was a good guy to work for. I am sorry to hear about your dad’s death.
I’ve been racking my brain to see if I can recall seening you and your mom. You mentioned the brass doors where you most likely entered. I sometimes worked the exec elevator. And Prince Valiant. Every now and then it shows up on TCM. I loved the final sequence with the “Singing Sword.” I was gone by the time Windjammer played. I can appreciate the imagery of you and your brother alone in the balcony. There were 2000+ seats up there.
Thanks for the memories!
Housechecker

Housechecker
Housechecker on April 8, 2010 at 5:58 am

Barb,
I knew your father. He was sort of like an inspiration to us ushers because he worked his way up from a uniform to a tux. That and because he was closer to our ages than any of the other managers and he was a good guy to work for. I am sorry to hear about your dad’s death.
I’ve been racking my brain to see if I can recall seening you and your mom. You mentioned the brass doors where you most likely entered. I sometimes worked the exec elevator. And Prince Valiant. Every now and then it shows up on TCM. I loved the final sequence with the “Singing Sword.” I was gone by the time Windjammer played. I can appreciate the imagery of you and your brother alone in the balcony. There were 2000+ seats up there.
Thanks for the memories!
Housechecker

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on April 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Hi Ziggy, Long time since hearing from you. I take it you are no longer in Gallup. Couple years ago I won 3rd prize($300)from Cinema Treasures for a piece I wrote about the Roxy. They were going to publish it in their quarterly magazine but never did. At least I don’t think so. Oh well!
Cheers, Richka

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on April 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Dear Barb,
I am indeed sorry to hear that your parents are no longer with us.
Very tragic about your Dad, and at the young age of 58!
Yes, I certainly would love to see any photos you might care to share. I may see some people I would recognize from those early years. I so often wish I had taken pictures then. Of course, at that time being just a poor, struggling student, a camera would have been beyond my means. Anyway, I just didn’t think of it. Also the theater itself. Today I regret that I didn’t realize what a magnificent palace I was working in, and at 17, my mind was mainly on survival.
Thanks for your website. I’ll take a look. Mine is www.richka.com
“Russian Music and Dance”. Cheers, Richka

Ziggy
Ziggy on April 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Babster, thank you for sharing you memories with us. Please feel free to add more if the mood should strike you. I enjoyed reading your post very much!

Ziggy
Ziggy on April 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Babster, thank you for sharing you memories with us. Please feel free to add more if the mood should strike you. I enjoyed reading you post very much!

Barbbano
Barbbano on April 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Dear Richka,
How nice to hear from you.

In response to your question – no – I am sorry to say – both Dad and Mom have passed away. Dad was killed in a car accident in 1983 at the age of 58. It was hard – we still miss him.

I have some photos of him/Roxy and I also have a web site on homestead.com and am thinking I might post them should anyone be interested. The photos are of course, of people, not the building because – who takes photos of buildings?? But some folks might get a kick out of seeing them. I’ll get to it soon.

Again – thank you for responding!
Barb

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on April 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Thanx for sharing your childhood memories of the Roxy. I knew your Dad, well, not really because at the time he was an Assistant manager and I was just a kid on the candy stand every evening. So I could only call him Mr. Banovich. From my post on the concessions bar in that giant Rotunda I often would look up and see him walking across the circular carpet that you mention. I think once or twice I was sent to get take-out for him, at the Stage Deli, as well as for Mr. Katz, the manager. I didn’t know he had once been an usher and nice to know he worked his way up.
I was a dance student at that time, longing to get into show biz. My dreams eventually came true but I always remember the Roxy as my first humble steps into the glamour of the theater.
Tell me, is your Dad still around?

Barbbano
Barbbano on April 7, 2010 at 10:11 am

Having recently discovered this woderful web site has provided an education for me in learning about the business that was so much a part of my father’s life. His name was Steve Banovich and he started working at the Roxy as a young boy – an usher. He gradually worked his way up to a managerial position and us kids literally “grew up” in the Roxy.

While I don’t have much to offer on the wonders of the growth and evolution of the cinema and the theater business, I would like to share what it was like to think of the Roxy as your own personal play ground. In fact, if it were not for the Roxy, I would not be who I am. My Mom and Dad both worked at the Roxy – Mom was an usherette (I think?? have read no mention of usherettes) but she did work there and obviously, they met and well – 4 kids later, here we are.

Because of holiday times being prime show times, Dad was often not at home during Easter and Christmas, but, Mom took us to him. We always took a taxi from Brooklyn and as we neared those wonderful, shiney brass side doors to the theater (I never, ever remember entering through the front entrance) I knew Dad would soon emerge. We’d come into the theater (my older brother and I) before the public and we had the whole place to ourselves.

One Easter, I imagine I was about 3 or 4, I took leave of my mother’s hand and got it into my head that the huge rug in the rotunda – everything was huge at the Roxy – just needed me to tumble-sault clear across it. Easter dress, hat and all. My mother was horrified – my Dad mildy amused. I’m probably one of the few who can boast having lain right down on the floor beneath that enormous chandelier and looked up at it. It was a sight I will never forget.

We always stopped at the candy concession by the stair case and my Dad always bought us Bon-Bon’s which we were not permitted to eat till we ran up the stairs to his office and were properly seated. That was my mother’s contribution in keeping melted chocolate drips off the Roxy furnishings. Our clothing was another matter but at least she could preserve and protect the Roxy.

While we always loved the movies – Prince Valiant, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, the King and I, I loved the bathroom the best. The ladies room consisted of a number of rooms, the first of which you entered was beautiful. If memory serves me correctly, there were tables with wall mirrors and chairs for the ladies to primp their make-up but my favorite furnishing was a very large couch in the middle of the room. This was no ordinary couch. It resembeled a two-tiered cake with the lower tier providing the seating and the second tier, the back to lean on. I used to take my shoes off and run around and around and around the circular couch till I fell off dizzy. I often emerged from the ladies room looking as if I’d been shot out of a cannon carrying my shoes. My father never asked – I think he really didn’t want to know.

I clearly recall sitting up in the balcony?? to watch the Windjammer and my brother and I were the only two people up there. Why I don’t know – but we felt as if we had the entire theater to ourselves up there. From time to time during the show, an usher would come up and check on us. My Dad had told us we needed to be careful to not shake the cameras (maybe it was his way of keeping us contained) but I do remember tip toeing in and out and feeling very special.

Mom used to tell us that Danny Kaye (he and Mom both having red hair) used to call her his Irish Colleen and he used to playfully chase her up the aisles much to my Dad’s amusemet. Dad also told us when Mom met Jerry Lewis she could not stop laughing in the poor man’s face. She just could not hold it together. She couldn’t even say hello.

I learned to ice-skate at the Roxy and one of the Roxyettes taught me. I don’t remember her name. I do recall that Dad’s friend, Jack Galloway eventually married one of the Roxyettes (I think??) Her name was Mel.

The Roxy was also the place and moment my Mom used to announce their 4th and final pregnancy – my younger brother – to my Dad.

But the Roxy was to be torn down before he or my younger sister ever had a chance to share precious moments in that theater. Dad was with the theater till the end and the only time I had seen him cry to that point in my life was March 29, 1960. He went on to work at Madison Sq. Garden. That was just a job – one he didn’t even like – the Roxy was his life.

Having lost our parents early – Mom was 43 and Dad 58 when they died – having this site to read about what they did not have time to share fully with their children is very special for me. They recalled “The Roxy” as the best time of their lives. It sure was a special time for me.

I am now headed to amazon.com for a copy of “The Best Remaining Seats.”

Barb Banovich-Mroz

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on April 2, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Bill, I know, navigating web sites can be troublesome if you’re not used to them. I’ve been there. You can find my email address by clicking PROFILE above and a doing a search. Or, if you cannot manage that, here are two of my email addresses. That’s probably an easier way to communicate. I don’t like to put a mail address on this but I live in Tucson, Arizona.

Thanx, Richka

BillSavoy
BillSavoy on April 2, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Sorry, Richka, I am Computer-challenged (to say the least) and will answer every email or snail mail I know of! Forgive me and please try again: Bill Savoy, 2 West Main St. P.O.Box 428, Brookfield MA 01506, 508 612 5669 or 615 East 14th St. Apt 10-A, N.Y., N.Y. 10009. 212 505 6254. As I shuttle back-and-forth between N.Y.C. and my compter-less country house, some things get lost in the shuffle! Apologies, and I hope to connect with you soon,
Bill

Richard G Holden
Richard G Holden on March 27, 2010 at 11:48 am

Bill Savoy,
You offered to share some pictures and models that you made. I am very interested in seeing and answered you with an email but no reply. Disapointing? of course.
Richka

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.