Belmont Theatre

121 W. 48th Street,
New York, NY

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Opened by producer/actor/director Jack Norworth in 1918, this relatively small playhouse seated just over 500, and featured a Venetian Renaissance facade, complete with a pair of large bronze lanterns on each side of the arch window over the marquee. Its understated interior featured a single balcony and just a set of boxes on each side of the proscenium arch.

The decor was neo-classical, featuring oak paneling, several kinds of marble and elegant plasterwork. The Norworth’s architect was Eugene DeRosa.

Norworth opened his theater with a comedy called “Odds and Ends” which was moved from the Bijou, where he was starring in it. After the failure of this show, Norworth lost the theater, just weeks after opening it, and the new owners, continuing legitimate theater, had it renamed the Belmont.

In 1919, the theater was briefly renamed the Theatre Parisien when French dramas played there until 1920, when its next owners renamed it the Belmont, and straightforward legitimate theater returned.

By 1933, with the Depression on, and having had a long string of unsuccessful shows, the Belmont was shuttered. It was reopened in 1937, but only for a week, when the play bombed. Later in the same year, it was reopened as a movie theater, playing foreign features, although the occasional live performance was staged at the Belmont as well.

It was closed during the early 50s and later razed.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

AlAlvarez on December 25, 2006 at 12:59 am

This theatre is mentioned in Rogelio Agrasanchez, Jr.’s excellent book MEXICAN MOVIES IN THE UNITED STATES.

As a Spanish language house, the Belmont hosted the NY premier of the Mexican classic AY JALISCO, NO TE RAJES! in 1943 to packed houses. The owner, who also ran Spanish films at the WORLD 49th Street, took a gamble on a Spanish language Broadway house and won big time. He moved several Mexican titles into the World 49 during the second world war most likely to compensate for the diminished European product.

mikemorano on May 9, 2007 at 1:45 am

Very cool. The photo appears to jump off the screen at you. haha

richardobrien on July 26, 2007 at 4:43 pm

There seems to be some confusion between the Belmont and the West Forty-Eighth Street theatre, which apparently was across the street at 124 West 48th Street. It had previously been Uncle Sam’s Music Hall, which Robert Benchley reviewed in the January 27, 1940 New Yorker. He found their show offensive, “not one a father could take his children to”. He did admit his protest was somewhat “vitiated by the fact that the child in question was at the moment towering over me from a height of six foot two and was accompanied by his wife”.
Apparently undaunted, Uncle Sam’s continued on, and in the March 16th, 1940 Cue Magazine, advertised “She Gave Him All She Had”, and
suggested audiences “hiss the villain”. Nevertheless, on May 12,1940 Uncle Sam’s became the 48th Street Music Hall, and initiated a run of silent movies. Many stars attended the festivities on the opening night, Walter Huston, Madge Evans, Gertrude Lawrence, etc. The silents continued until May 26, 1941. At times the theatre had free admission, the bucks apparently being brought in by beer, liquor and food.
Richard O'Brien

AlAlvarez on July 26, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Richard, I think it gets more complicated.

There was another 48th St theatre (217 West 48th St) that ran movies concurrent with Belmont/Music Hall from 1940-1945. It also ran Spanish language films, Swedish films and occasionally silent programs.

AlAlvarez on July 26, 2007 at 6:38 pm

By the way, that 48th Street I mentioned above is probably the Walter Kerr, currently running the musical GREY GARDENS.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 25, 2007 at 3:22 pm

When Naples Sings at the Belmont circa 1931.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 3, 2008 at 4:29 pm

I just watched the 1945 movie Doll Face with Viviane Blaine and Perry Como. Blaine’s character is in a stage show she is to perform in at the Belmont Theatre in New York. In the last half hour of the movie we see the theatre exterior at night with lights and the theatre name “Belmont” as well as interior shots of stage and audience. I have no way of knowing whether the actual Belmont was used for exterior and interior shooting or whether other locations were employed for either or both. Perhaps it was all done in Hollywood, but it’s supposed to be the Belmont in New York. Perhaps someone can look at the DVD and come to a conclusion.

AlAlvarez on January 29, 2010 at 11:21 am

Still listed in the 1953 Film Daily Yearbook as CINEMA 48, an Ansell theatre, a chain that runs Spanish language theatres.

RickB on August 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Jack Norworth is in the Songwriters' Hall of Fame, on the strength of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and “Shine On Harvest Moon.”

AlAlvarez on August 18, 2011 at 7:46 am

The 44th Street theatre roof showed movies in 1920 as the NORA BAYES

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