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I suppose an actual note-by-note digital replication of a Wonder Morton played from the original console is a decent compromise, given the situation. But I wish people would stop saying it will be indistinguishable from the real thing. That’s just not possible. I wonder what the source instrument will be for the digital version, the Loew’s Jersey’s instrument? Are any of the others currently in playable condition?
Has anyone seen the film bits of the Roxy at the beginning of the film “The Naked City”? You see the auditorium, empty at night, and the lobby rotunda. The latter, which I think was always carpeted, here through the magic of the movies appears to have a massive marble floor which the night cleaning lady is shown scrubbing on her hands and knees, while having dark thoughts about all of the feet that keep dirtying her floor.
If you haven’t already seen it, here’s a brief 1938 newsreel clip of the Gae Foster Girls rehearsing on the roof of the Roxy.
Gae Foster began her tenure as director and choreographer at the Roxy in 1933. The Gae Foster Girls were famed for their precision routines and for balancing on large wooden balls, bicycles, etc. This photo is interesting. It shows the original rug and drapes in the rotunda, but rubber mats have been added at the perimeter of the rug. The Roxy was massively redecorated in the early 40s and the rug was replaced by carpet. I’d guess this is from the mid-1930s.
How are trucks hitting the marquee? Does it extend past the sidewalk?
Interesting interview with Anne Dornin who designed the interior decor for the Ohio and many other theaters as an associate of Thomas Lamb. It’s from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1931.
Here’s a link to interesting interview with Dornin in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1931. There are nice photos of her face and in Loew’s Ohio in Columbus OH. Very interesting to learn that her professional association was not so much with Loew’s as with Thomas Lamb, gradually taking greater responsibility over the years for the decor and construction of the theaters he designed.
Thanks Matt. I’ve never seen it spelled any other way but you are absolutely correct. Anne Dornin. Her married name was Anne D. Scudamore. Her obit can be found in the NYT on Sept 18, 1960. That explains a lot. Thanks again.
Never seen these before. These are not the standard shots from Loew’s. Looks like something from a trade magazine regarding the plaster work.
This is a photo of people lined up to see Roger Garrett in his Farewell to the Ohio Concert in Feb. 1969. Fortunately the farewell was premature and he returned to play the Ohio’s Mighty Morton several more times.
Maybe the Broad?
Also not from the Ohio.
These seats were not from the Ohio. Maybe the Palace? It had seats with a scroll aisle standard like that.
The theatre has already had a “major alteration” with all of the mezzanine and the front of the balcony removed. Even with a lot of beautiful restoration, the theatre will never be as it was in 1928. But I think it’s spectacular that it’s coming back! And can easily imagine it with 1500 seats. Bravo to Brooklyn! Again!
And, for what it’s worth, Ann Dornan ( with an a ) was the name of the decorator who worked for Loew’s in the late 1920s.
For an old theatre, or any historic place, to survive decades of neglect and to be revived in splendor, two basic things need to have happened. One, there need to have been selfless volunteers to spend hundreds and thousands of hours to keep the building alive for years and years when no one else cared. This first group is almost solely motivated by love for the place and the community. Two, there need to be powerful politicians, fundraisers and entrepreneurs to get the huge amounts of $$$$ and combine those with the right expertise to make a restoration happen. Naturally enough, the second group get all of the headlines and awards. But without the first group no restoration would or could ever have happened. They tend to be forgotten, but deserve the accolades just as much as the politicians for making it all happen.
Location, location, location. Broadway and 7th Avenue real estate is just too valuable to expect much in historic preservation there. The Loews Wonder Theatres have all survived in part because of their less lucrative locations. The Palace survives because it’s a Bway theatre and protected as such. And makes money.
Simon, thanks for clarifying this point once again. It’s interesting to remember that during the original five year run under Roxy himself it was the theatre itself that was the main attraction with its huge orchestra, organ, and stage spectaculars including the ballet corps, the male choir, and the Roxyettes. For those who don’t already know, these shows were created by the same people who later made the Radio City Music Hall famous for its stage spectacles: producer Leon Leonidoff and choreographer Russell Markert. The movie was just one piece of the whole amazing show.
After the exit of Roxy and all of his staff and performers to the Music Hall the Roxy Theatre really struggled for a few years, as Simon tells us. It’s parent company Fox Pictures was in receivership and didn’t have enough top product to fill the Roxy’s screen. After the advent of the 20th Century-Fox merger and better corporate support of the Roxy Theatre through Fox’s theatre arm, the Roxy flourished again, especially during WWII as all theatrs did. It remained a leading World premiere film showcase until its demise in 1960. Remember that 20th-Fox’s CinemaScope process had its world premiere at the Roxy with the film “The Robe”.
The Roxy remained a major first run house until the very final weeks of its existence. MGM’s “The Gazebo” with Glenn Ford had its New York debut run at the Roxy, opening January 15, 1960 along with a Roxy stage show. This ran until February 26. Then the Roxy’s last two engagements, filling out the weeks until it closed, were a rerelease double bill of “On the Waterfront” and “The Caine Mutiny”; and then, opening on March 9, “The Wind Cannot Read”. There was no stage show during these last two bills. “The Wind Cannot Read” was a British import starring Dirk Bogart. Not a major release in the US, but by no means a B-picture.
Well here’s another photo that show women ushers at the Roxy as late as 1947.
Dated 1947, it has this caption: “Roxy usherettes (l to r) Marie Prange, Sheilah Knox, and Jo Ann De Santis dispense coffee and doughnuts to line of movie patrons headed by Mrs. Lily Vieder, at the premiere of "Forever Amber” outside the Roxy Theater, New York City
Date Created/Published: 1947.
Here’s the link. Only a tiny thumbnail is available. Pic is under copyright.
The year of this news release is 1944. Thanks, this is very interesting. I like how the Roxy takes credit for inventing the idea of women ushers, while I would guess they were already employed in theatres around the U.S.
I’m guessing this photo and the news release next to it are related? If so, this is from November 1944.
This is amazing! Was the original a slide?
Here is a link to the photo I mentioned. It is from the Library of Congress, dated 1945 with the caption “Head usherette Capt. Rosemary Smith inspects line of uniformed usherettes who are holding gloved hands up to be examined, Roxy Theater, New York City.”
Here is a link to the page, the photo may be opened in three different formats and resolutions.
Women were probably employed in concessions, box office, and as secretaries and receptionists. Earlier, there would have been a “matron” in the ladies lounge and a nurse in the theatre’s medical rooms. And of course, as cleaners. It’s an excellent question. Perhaps someone with direct knowledge can recall what jobs were open to women, other than as performers, at the Roxy in the 1950s and earlier.