RKO 86th Street Theatre

1284 Lexington Avenue,
New York, NY 10028

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RKO 86th Street

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This theater was located in Yorkville on Lexington Avenue, on New York City’s upper east side. It was built in 1926, opening on May 16, 1927. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3 manual, 15 rank organ. It was taken over by RKO in 1929.

After being demolished in 1965, a Gimbels department store was built on the site, which in turn has been replaced by an apartment building.

Contributed by Jean

Recent comments (view all 51 comments)

Tinseltoes on August 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Here’s a link to some unnarrated newsreel coverage of an invitational screening of the Rock Hudson starrer, “Battle Hymn,” at the RKO 86th Street in 1956: View link

bazookadave on July 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Stripped down to its steel frame, It appears that the old marquee now used for Duane Reade is being renovated or demolished. This marquee was for the smaller RKO movie house that was built into the Gimbels East Ibuilding that replaced the original RKO 86th. If I recall correctly, this smaller theater was supposed to make up for the loss of the palace.



djc on February 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Anyone remember the old RKO on 58 St-3 Ave acroos from Alexanders

Tinseltoes on March 23, 2012 at 10:35 am

Fifty years ago this weekend, Hollywood sexpot Jayne Mansfield made a three-day tour of twenty RKO theatres in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Westchester to promote the current engagement of “The George Raft Story,” in which she portrayed a fictional composite of some of his celebrated Hollywood conquests. The RKO 86th Street was Mansfield’s last stop on the first night. She made a brief stage appearance at each theatre, with radio disc jockey Murray the “K” as emcee. Ray Danton played the title role in the B&W biopic, which was running on the RKO circuit with the B&W “Look In Any Window” as the supporting feature.

Tinseltoes on March 23, 2012 at 10:48 am

Here is the complete schedule for the Jayne Mansfield tour of RKO theatres: Friday, 3/23/62—Franklin, Royal, Fordham, Coliseum, Regent, 86th Street; Saturday, 3/24/62—Castle Hill, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains, Yonkers, Flushing, Richmond Hill, Madison, Bushwick, Kenmore; Sunday, 3/25/62—Strand, Tilyou, Dyker, Prospect.

tone10029 on August 5, 2012 at 2:14 am

This was a really cool “twin "theatre.It was there for a long time.In the summer of 1978,my two older brothers,some little league freinds and myself saw"Jaws 2"on its opening weekend.I remember the police were there to help control the crowd.I also saw "Alien”,“Gremlins”,“Superman III”,and “The Untouchables"at this great theatre.

bazookadave on August 5, 2012 at 9:41 am

It wasn’t this theater. You may be remembering the small RKO replacement theater that is now Duane Reade. The original building at this site housing the RKO 86th Street was completely demolished in the late 1960s, then replaced by Gimbels East, which included a small RKO theater meant to replace the lost movie palace.

bazookadave on November 6, 2012 at 9:15 am

Here is a picture of the Gimbels East department store in 1971. This is the bland modern building that replaced the original RKO 86th movie palace, which was completely demolished in 1968/1969. The marquee lower left is the new smaller RKO theater that was supposed to make up for the loss of the original RKO on the site.

After Gimbels closed it stores, this East 86th location was stripped down to its steel skeleton and renovated as the current luxury apartment house. The theater became the Duane Reade that is there today. The marquee was finally removed in 2011.


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