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 92 comments)

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
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
DavidZornig on May 5, 2016 at 4:55 pm

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

DavidZornig
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.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on June 3, 2017 at 11:05 am

1964 photo added courtesy of Ralph Fidelman‎.

Joseph Angier
Joseph Angier on June 17, 2017 at 9:10 am

I started going to the Victoria in the late ‘60s, and I recall that it had an unusual auditorium. The rear of the orchestra started high and then sloped downward (similar, in a way, to today’s “stadium seating”), but then raked upward again as it got the front rows, which was bizarre. Does anyone else remember the Victoria this way?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 17, 2017 at 10:02 am

Due to its central location in Times Square, there are hundreds (thousands?) of photos of the exterior, but it seems there are scant representations of the interior…

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 17, 2017 at 10:10 am

There is an interior photo on page six.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 17, 2017 at 10:16 am

That photo does seem to show the orchestra sloping upwards at the front.

Reminds me of the seating at the Thalia…

vindanpar
vindanpar on June 17, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Funny but the proscenium in this theater was larger than what it appears in that photo. I saw Lady and the Tramp here. The other film was some Disney glacial or artic adventure of which I can’t remember the title nor did I want to see it

Anyway it was in 1.85 aspect ratio and when Lady started the borders of course had not been changed and the image was playing on the borders on the sides. Surprise.

There wasn’t a peep out of the audience and of course I went to an usher to complain. He looked at me in astonishment and said nobody had said anything before. They changed it and it was a nice sized Cinemascope screen.

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