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Anybody have a photo of the two part “Fire Curtain” which was lowered every morning before house opening and lowered and raised every night after the last featured ended? I remember the first morning I worked and saw it the first time wondering what it was. Thanks in advance.
Was just noticing the July 26th note. I was working at the Hall that morning, and as was my custom I usually went off for lunch break just after the feature started. When I and the rest of the first group got back we knew by the different activity around that something had happened. Emma Heller was the nurse on duty that morning, and she was headed for the exec car (private elevator) at the front of the house and asked what all the extra activity around the front of the house was, as we heard nothing when we were in the Service Staff Quarters on the Grand Lounge Level before as we returned from outside and trying to back upstairs on time. She filled us in. As I recall as I was upstairs that day the third mezz was closed and blocked due to a shortage of staff and the light business.
I’ll take a guess and say fresh air IN TO AREA
Those tubes carry the heat and fumes of the burning arc lamps up and out of the booth. Those shown seem to be a lot larger then the ones I remember in the 60’s when I was one of the assistant managers there going up to get daily reports just into the start of the last feature every night.
Simon L. Saltzman:
Would you happen to know when you were there what the requirements were for a film to be held over? I was started there in July 1961 for 3 years, and then after Uncle Sam had me for three years I spent three more years there, but never asked the question. It seemed by the 4:00 stage show break on every Sunday the question would be answered.
I heard some news last night which brought back a personal memory of a specific day I had while I was working my matinee shift at the Executive Enterance. The feature presentation was “Spencers Mountain” a forerunner to the to the television series “The Waltons"
I was told that James MacArthur, who played the role of ‘John Boy” would be coming in to see the show. The time was getting closer for his arrival and in walks Helen Hayes. I suddenly remembered that she was his mother. Well we had an interesting ten to fifteen minutes together chatting waiting for James to arrive. They saw the 3:PM stage show and the 4PM feature. Leaving at the 6PM Feature Break. I was on the First Mezz at the feature break and even that day had a good crowd filing out. We all gave them both a good ovation, started by You Know Who!
Time tables of the shows were made up in the projection booth and at the stage managers station, as I and other assistant managers from the front of the house would have to make a quick pick up tour around the theater at the start of the last feature and get them to the senior manager at the front of the house so he could put his end of day report together once he got the box office figures.
Keeping shows on time was very serious as a few minutes over a certain number of hours at the end of the day would cost the Hall a good deal of overtime funds for a large number of staff (Union) still working at that hour. Periodically if necessary, organ intermissions would be shortened during the evening at 6PM 7PM 9PM and going into the last feature to keep the show on time. As one of the former assistant managers at the front of the house we were informed by the senior manager when he planned to do this, so we could give our staffs and patrons proper time information during the evening hours.
July 1961 The Monday-Friday General Admission prices were $.99 opening to noon, $1.25 Noon to 6:PM $1.75 6PM to Box Office Close. The Reserved First Mezz. was $2.50 Matinee (Admission from Opening to 3PM Only) and $2.75 Every Evening (Seat Held from 7PM to the Start Of the Last Overture) The Sat GA was $1.25 Opening to 3PM and $1.75 from 3PM to Box Office Close. The Sunday and Holiday General Admission was $1.75 All Day. When the Christmas and Easter Shows came around there usually was a Morning Reserved Seat Sale. The Reserved Ticket holders ha a choise of coming to the opening show (film) at 7AM or could wait until the first stage show break and come in no later then 10 AM intime for the second showing of the film which would let out the the Matinee patrons at 1PM the promised time for their seats. again up to 3PM. On Sundays the first Morning sale of Reserved had to be seated by the start of the first show at noon, (Stage Show) and out at the first feature break so we could get the next 944 patrons in within 45 min in specific seats. No one could be allowed in after 3:45PM as they might still be there three hours later when the evening seats were guaranteed. This I recall from my management of the upper floors for two three year periods. Sorry but I don’t know what the earlier year prices were.
While working at The Hall between July 61 and May 64, and then after Uncle Sam had me I went back May 67 to about January 70. I remember that portions of the carpet would ware out faster in certain areas of the theater faster then other areas and were always being replaced especially at the doors from the lobby to the foyer are and the areas were the “foyer lines” were and certain areas up stairs on the first, second and third Mezz. during the two three year periods I remember where the entire foyer was replaced on two nights after house close and also the Grand Lounge carper on another two nights. those being during the 67 to 70 years.
Greetings To Everybody:
Been traveling around the country with 6 months in Las Vegas, gave up on Florida with the what seems “bi-weekly” hurricanes, but returned to upstate New York last month. Saw the show last night on TV and it was good to see a former co-workers from the front of the house (FBI) and back of the house Violet Holmes. Regards to all.
Jay F Mould
Here is a little challange for some of you. I am not looking for a quick answer as this requires some long term remembering. Those of us who were ushers, usher captains and managers or assistant managers of our theatres. Think back of all the notable persons you had the opportunity in assisting as they arrived at the theatre and you had the job of seeing them in, or thanking them for spending the time at your theatre as they departed. Also any extra special details of their visit to your theatre. I’ll give you my list in a couple of months.
While one of the assistant managers at the front of the house, I remember from time to time when I was working with the senior manager in the lobby or on the orchestra floor he would have a number of situations to consider in keeping the show running on time. (ie did excess applause during parts of the stage show cause the show to run late, did a large number of seniors attending an earlier show require an organ break to run longer, He also had to keep stage show starting as close to noon, 3 PM, 6PM and 9PM according to the pre printed show schedule.) Regarding the last show the last film had to start and end with in a certain time periods and not run over or it would cost the management in the payroll due to certain agreed to terms in union contracts. Depending on the street line outside before house opening and what may or may have not been going on in the auditorium, rehersals, maintenance, (lighting) and it the house lights were on, The cashiers, and service staff were usually ready to go up “on the floor” an hour to an hour and ¼ before the scheduled start of the first film or stage show to start the sale of tickets and start foyer lines and lines to the 2nd or 3rd Mezz. areas. Those with reserved seat tickets were admitted to the foyer and first mezz promanade areas but were not admitted to the mezz area until the fire curtain was down and the house lights on normal and the electrician in the pit at the front of the orchestral elevator yelled back that the house was ready.
I did some searching and found a news item regarding the new screen. Seems it an high defination video screen. Its a LED creation and the Music Hall was having problems with it and they sued in Federal Court back in May 2006 for the $4 million plus cost and the costs of installing it $1.8 million. Please see: View link
for the story I found. By the way what would the qualifications of a theatre have to be today for a theatre to get an exclusive film contract, and what might it cost the theatre more then a regular contract?
Your right, some of us had a louder or softer “cluck” then others, but we always looked in the direction it was coming from as it could be one of your equals or one of the front of the house management or higher management. It was understood that all Music Hall employees knew that was the way the Service Staff communicated. After the party had our attention a number of established hand signals were given either asking a question, such as “check” – people sitting down or empty seats in your area, which Aisle were you filling now, or maybe open or close a door. Also a number of had signals had been established to the effect that managment wanted a line to move or a few hundred were headed in your direction NOW. Ah yes, those were the days…. I was reading most of the entries yesterday, and I noticed a number of them signed by “Warren” I knew a Warren who worked at The Hall. Actually he was a department head at time “Sound” and also I worked for him after a day shift downstairs at the front of the house, at Plaza Sound. This was a recording studio on the top floor of The Hall. I wonder if this Warren is one and the same? Thanksgiving will be here soon and that reminds me of the times some of us on the Service Staff marched in the Parade a few times I marched in 1961 and 1962.
I worked at Radio City Music Hall also. It was my first job out of high school. I was there for two, three year periods. First was July 1961 to May 1964. My second period was May 1967 to January 1970. I started as an evening usher for $1.00 a hour, and switched to days when management found out I was able to work days. I worked my way up to being one of the twelve assistant managers at the front of the house. I was usually upstairs in charge many a weekday matinee and evening shift. I will never forget The Hall and all the regular patrons,who had a 10 show subscription of tickets and all the opening matinees with top management coming down to view the first couple of days of a new show. I remember many a Opening Night as the time was getting close to the start of the Last Overture we would expect Mr. and Mrs. Gustave Eyssell (The Chairman Of the Board) to come down after having dinner for The Studio Apartment, on the upper floors, and see the show with other noted guests in attendance. I have met many a star, diplomats of The United Nations, and heads of State, and the New York State Officials and a few from Washington. All on the job.. Oh the memories. Jay F. Mould Just now RETIRED….Anybody remember me?