Ziegfeld Theatre

141 West 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Curtained screen

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built just a few hundred feet from the original Ziegfeld Theatre, this ‘new’ Ziegfeld Theatre opened December 17, 1969 with a gala premiere of “Marooned” starring Gregory Peck. The movie house was one of the last big palaces built in the United States.

It was built from plans by the architectural firm of Emery Roth & Sons, with designs by Irving Gershon and interior design by John McNamara. The Ziegfeld Theatre was built for Walter Reade for his chain’s flagship, and was later operated by Cineplex Odeon from 1987, Clearview from 1998, and Bow Tie from June 2013.

The letter ‘Z’ appears on the door handles and in the terrazzo floor of the ticket lobby. The main lobby has an elephant sculpture, also some memorabilia of the prior Ziegfeld Theatre and of the Ziegfeld girls, a ticket taker who cheerily welcomes customers. There is a grand stairs of marble and ornate metalwork, and an escalator. Upstairs is a foyer panelled in wood in which displays busts of Florenz Ziegfeld and Fanny Brice. “Story of this Wood” plaques in the lobby and upstairs state that the wood changed colors from oak to rich charcoal by virtue of being in a peat bog for 4,000 years outside Cambridge, England. Doors lead to the concessions foyer which has elegant restrooms, a huge framed poster from the movie “My Fair Lady” since Clearview placed it there, a bust of Will Rogers, and the entryways to the auditorium.

The auditorium features 1,131 seats: 825 seats in the front section, 306 seats in the raised stadium section at the rear. There are two sets of curtains over the screen, one gold, the other closer to the screen is a sheer white curtain. The huge screen measures 52ft x 22.7ft. The Ziegfeld Theatre’s interior is decorated with sumptuous red carpeting, abundant gold trim, crystal chandeliers, and ornamentation that ranges from sconces to door handles and exit signs.

The longest movie run at the Ziegfeld Theatre was “Ryan’s Daughter” (1970, 33 weeks). There were probably more world premieres in recent decades at the Ziegfeld Theatre than any US movie theatre outside of Los Angeles, too many to list here except for some that had long runs at the Ziegfeld Theatre: “Cabaret” had its 1972 world premiere and ran for 26 weeks. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” had its 1977 world premier and ran for 23 weeks. “Apocalypse Now” had its world premier in 1979 and ran for 12 weeks. In 1988 “The Last Temptation of Christ” had its 1988 world premiere here and drew protests. The Ziegfeld Theatre was also a beloved showplace for classic screenings such as “Lawrence of Arabia”.

The Ziegfeld Theatre was, arguably, the last movie palace still showing films in Manhattan. Sadly, due to fewer premiers and with competition with multiplexes hosting the same movies, in January 2016 news was announced that the Ziegfeld Theatre would imminently close and after a renovation, reopen in 2017 as the Ziegfeld Ballroom, an event facility. The final movie to play the Ziegfeld Theatre was “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on January 28, 2016.

Recent comments (view all 4,395 comments)

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 8, 2016 at 5:14 pm

to Al A.–

thanks for the info. I saw Ryan’s Daughter twice possibly three times during its run at this theater. I’m surprised they never sold a souvenir program.

you have helped me in the past with questions I have posted so I hope you can do so again. I have a friend who e-mails questions to se how good my Internet searching skills are but I am stumped on this one. he asked me what movie was shown on all NYC t.v. stations on January 22, 1950. do you have any idea where I can find this info? thanks in advance.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on February 8, 2016 at 5:56 pm

I wonder how many movies the Ziegfeld has shown from its opening until its closing…excluding rereleases.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 8, 2016 at 6:42 pm

bigjoe59:

I posted the NYC TV listings for that date in 1950 in the Photos section of the Ziegfeld page, but I couldn’t find the name of the movie.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 8, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Joe, I envy you seeing Ryan’s Daughter at the Ziegfeld. Of all the great movies that played there, that’s the biggest one that got away from me. I finally got to see it in 70mm at the Walter Reade Theater in 2012, but there’s only one Ziegfeld.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 9, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Hello-

to Al A.– I don’t subscribe to the N Y Times so does registering for their website cost $$$? I try not to let my friend stump me but I don’t see spending $$$ to get the answer.

to Bill H.– seeing Ryan’s Daughter at the Ziegfeld was a true movie going experience. most especially during the storm sequence when the villagers are trying to bring the guns ashore.

also seeing The Rose and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 70mm at this theater was perfect.

I also saw a special screening of Gandhi in 70mm which the late Richard Attenborough attended. I spoke to him after and said he’d better get his Oscar speech for Best Director ready. he thanked me graciously for my thought but said he didn’t want to get his hopes up.

theatrefan
theatrefan on February 10, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Link to article in the NY Daily News about the seats being ripped out and thrown into the garbage: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/manhattan/ziegfeld-theater-seats-thrown-closure-article-1.2526011

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 10, 2016 at 1:02 pm

Interesting article. ast customers would’ve have purchased & cherished the end chairs with Z on them! It also looks like from that article that the neat sconces remain in the auditorium. It would be a shame if they too are trashed. Others took better photos of the chairs, but I’ve got photos of the sconces in my gallery here https://www.flickr.com/photos/howardbhaas/albums/72157634640390968

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 10, 2016 at 3:44 pm

OMG, I just posted the saddest pic in the photo section

RobertR
RobertR on February 10, 2016 at 4:15 pm

I wonder now where premieres and screenings will be held? Other than HUGE spaces like Radio City or the Beacon there are no 1000-1500 seat auditoriums. The Broadway legit houses should make some money during their dark periods and make their theaters available. After all Gigi played roadshow at the Royale

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 10, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Would like screenings at the Hollywood, now church http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/312

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