Victoria Theatre

1547 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Victoria Theatre

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The Gaiety Theatre was opened by Klaw and Erlanger in 1908 at Broadway and 46th Street, designed in Louis XV style, containing two balconies, boxes, and a large proscenium arch. Seating a little over 800, the Gaiety Theatre was designed by the firm of Herts & Tallant, the duo also behind the New Amsterdam, Liberty and Follies-Bergere Theatres (better known as the first Helen Hayes Theatre, and before that, the Fulton).

Home to numerous successful legitimate shows in its first nearly two decades of operation, such stars as Helen Hayes, John Barrymore and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. all appeared onstage during this time. The Gaiety eventually switched, like so many other Broadway houses, to movies in 1926 (except for a short-lived foray into musical stage shows in 1931-2). In the mid-30s, in addition to movies, the Gaiety began to present burlesque acts, and soon the Gaiety was the city’s premier burlesque house, even hosting the occasional big-name Hollywood act onstage, like Abbott and Costello.

In 1942, an attempt at reviving vaudeville at the Gaiety Theatre failed, and later the same year, the theater was renamed the Victoria Theatre, and returned to movies.

In the 1970’s, the Guild Theatres chain acquired the Victoria Theatre and renamed it the Embassy 5, being their fifth house in the Times Square area.

By the late-1970’s, however, it had closed. Despite the efforts of preservationists, the theater met the wrecking ball in 1982. During the demolition, however, a section of the 46th Street facade collapsed into the street, forcing its closure for more than two days.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 86 comments)

Cimarron on March 26, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Pic of 1948 Ad for World Premiere “Joan of Arc” added to Photo Section

DavidZornig on June 30, 2015 at 9:46 am

1944 photo added courtesy of the IM STILL SO NYC Facebook page.

DavidZornig on November 6, 2015 at 9:06 pm

1963 photo added courtesy of Richard Thurbin.

robboehm on November 7, 2015 at 7:53 am

It’s indicated this was once the Laffmovie. Is that correct? I remember the Laffmovie as being on 42nd Street where the Empire 25 now is.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on November 7, 2015 at 8:45 am

There were two in 1943, Robboehm.

NYer on March 18, 2016 at 6:44 pm

October 11 1954 a dual Times Square “Formal” Premiere for “A Star Is Born”. Never heard the term formal premiere. With Guest Of Honor Judy Garland and “just about every celebrity in town will be there! ABC also broadcast from both theaters. Ad is in photo section.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on March 19, 2016 at 7:01 am

“Formal” premiere meant that guests were expected to dress “formally,”— men in tuxedos, women in evening gowns.

DavidZornig on April 24, 2016 at 7:14 am

1954 photo added. Photographer unknown. Via Al Ponte’s Time Machine – New York Facebook page.

DavidZornig on May 5, 2016 at 4:55 pm

1947 photo added courtesy of the Hemmings Motor News Facebook page.

DavidZornig on February 6, 2017 at 2:55 pm

New Years Eve 1936 photo as Minsky’s Gayety added, courtesy of Al Ponte’s Time Machine – New York Facebook page.

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