Ziegfeld Theatre

1341-47 Sixth Avenue,
New York, NY 10105

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Ziegfeld Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Long before the 1969 opening of the current Ziegfeld single-screen movie theater, there was an earlier Ziegfeld Theatre, an Art Deco masterpiece designed for legit theatre use. The original Ziegfeld Theatre opened February 2, 1927 with 1,628 seats and Florenz Ziegfeld’s production of “Rio Rita” The theatre was designed by Ziegfeld’s favorite designer, Joseph Urban, with architect Thomas W. Lamb serving as consultant. The theatre’s construction was financed by William Randolph Hearst.

“Show Boat”, one of the greatest of all American stage musicals, debuted on December 27th, 1927 at the Ziegfeld.

During the Great Depression, the theatre became a second-run movie house. Loew’s Ziegfeld opened on April 21, 1933, with advertising that ‘The Home of the 'Follies’ Becomes Manhattan’s Glorified Home of Talking Pictures'. At noon that day, 200 alumnae of Ziegfeld shows took part in a tribute to Ziegfeld, who died the previous year.

The last movies at the Ziegfield Theatre were “Once Upon A Time” and “Shadows In the Night” in August 1944. In 1944 Billy Rose bought the theatre and returned it to legitimate stage use with Cole Porter’s “Seven Lively Arts”. “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds” and “Kismet” were among the hit shows to open at the theatre when it was owned by Rose.

Refitted by NBC in 1955 as a Television studio for color television, Perry Como’s Saturday night variety program originated here among several other programs. The theatre was renovated in 1959.

Converted back to legit use in 1963 for “An Evening With Maurice Chevalier”, this show was followed by Bert Lahr in the musical “Foxy” and then a special appearance by Jack Benny, followed by a personal appearance by Danny Kaye which were among the last attractions before the flop musical, “Anya”, directed by George Abbott, closed the theatre in 1965. Despite public outcry, the Ziegfeld Theatre was demolished in 1966 to make was for an office complex.

A few hundred feet west on 54th Street, a new single-screen movie house, which still bears the famous ‘Ziegfeld’ name today, opened in 1969. This theater, which was once the premiere Walter Reade and, later Cineplex Odeon house, is now part of the Clearview Cinemas circuit.

The newer Ziegfeld Theater (which has its own separate entry on this site) displays pictures of the old theatre and the “Ziegfeld Follies”.

Contributed by William Gabel, Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 82 comments)

Tinseltoes on June 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Here’s an exterior view of the orginal Ziegfeld Theatre: columbia

AdoraKiaOra on April 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Which is the biggest screen showing ‘Titanic’ 3D in Manhattan this week, many thanks!

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm

It seems you have to manually sign up for alerts now; simply posting a comment doe not automatically register you. (Signing up is easy, though — just click the link at the bottom of the page.)

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Here’s a direct link to hdtv’s terrific site discovery.

Tinseltoes on April 21, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Eighty years ago today, Loew’s turned the Ziegfeld into a second-run cinema playing day-and-date with other Loew’s houses in Manhattan. I’ve posted an ad in the Photos Section. More details can be found in my comment above dated April 21, 2011.

Tinseltoes on May 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm

The Ziegfeld’s cinematic lifetime as Loew’s Ziegfeld amounted to 11 years, four months, and one week— from April 21st, 1933 through August 27th, 1944. After refurbishment by producer Billy Rose, the Ziegfeld returned to the “legit” fold in December with the satirical revue “Seven Lively Arts,” with Beatrice Lillie, Bert Lahr, and musical score by Cole Porter. I’ve posted a closing day ad for Loew’s Ziegfeld in the Photos Section.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 4, 2013 at 3:14 am

Wasn’t 1933 the year a lot of the 42nd Street playhouses — including Ziegfeld’s Follies' home the New Amsterdam — converted to first-and-second run grindhouses?

AlAlvarez on May 4, 2013 at 3:43 am

Not necessarily 1933, Mike, but throughout the early thirties as the live shows closed, the cheaper movie options were more attractive to audiences as well as less risky to put on.

Tinseltoes on May 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Due to its unique design, the Ziegfeld’s interior was extremely difficult to photograph successfully. The auditorium was egg-shaped, with the stage at the narrow end. The walls and ceiling were covered by a gigantic mural depicting the joys of life, with fanciful figures of humans, animals, birds, fish, flowers, and foliage. The predominant color was gold, and the rest were in pastel shades.

CConnolly1 on July 28, 2014 at 4:47 pm

My father told me that it was difficult to demolish The Ziegfeld theater due to its solid construction. I don’t recall exactly what he said made it so difficult but it had to do with some kind of reinforced concrete (something more elaborate than the steel reinforcement that was/is used). My father worked for Burlington Industries in the 1960s and I believe the construction of its headquarters building was one of the reasons for the old Ziegfeld being demolished so it would make sense that he would know about this.

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