Town Theatre

840 Ninth Avenue,
New York, NY 10019

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Town before and after

Viewing: Photo | Street View

At 840 Ninth Avenue, northwest corner of 55th Street, the Town Theatre (originally called the Chaloner) was converted by CBS into a television studio in the early 50s. TV production continued until the building was demolished in October 2002 to make way for the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre.

Contributed by Doug Douglass

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

DougDouglass
DougDouglass on March 16, 2006 at 2:45 am

From the 1950s to ‘63, The Little Theatre was home to ABC’s “That’s Entertainment” a weekday variety show plus many quiz shows. After '63 Westinghouse (Group W) leased the theatre for syndicated shows.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 16, 2006 at 6:27 am

This was originally the Chaloner Theatre before being re-named Town. After being converted to a TV studio, it had many tenants, most notably “Sesame Street,” which was there for quite a few years before a move to Long Island City. I don’t recall Dick Cavett being based there, but perhaps he was at one time or another. I do remember Cavett broadcasting from the ex-theatre on West 58th Street between Seventh Avenue & Broadway (since demolished for an Episcopal choir school).

LoRe
LoRe on August 25, 2006 at 7:57 pm

Sesame Street moved its production to the Reeves Tele-Tape facility at 81st Street & Broadway until the late 80’s prior to moving to the Kaufman Astoria Studios.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 14, 2008 at 9:50 am

The theatre and replacement building can be seen here: View link

KGordonMurray
KGordonMurray on April 11, 2009 at 11:24 pm

CBS designated the Town Theatre as Studio 58. Studio 59 was the Mansfield Theatre @ 256 W 47th (now called Brooks Atkinson).

Also, to confirm “Benjamin’s” 2007 entry above re: Merv Griffin being taped @ the Little Theatre — he’s correct. I have a ticket for Merv Griffin dated October 12, 1965 at the Little Theatre. Griffin also had a short tenure at the Cort Theatre (138 W 48th St) which CBS occupied. It was designated as CBS Studio 54!

As for his recollection of Dick Clark having a one a week show in the Little Theatre, I recall seeing documentation to that effect.My memory isn’t clear enough to say 100% absolutely though. I can say for sure, however, that Beech-Nut Spearmint Gum presented “The Dick Clark Beech-Nut Show” from ABC’s studio center on 67th Street. Again referencing a ticket, this one dated Aug 11, 1960. Clark also taped “Dick Clark’s World of Talent” at the same studio (26 W 67th St. – likely ABC’s TV-2) on Oct. 6, 1959.

Warren Harris' mention of Cavett at a 58th Street “ex-theatre”: that was ABC Studio TV-15 @ 202 W. 58th St. a.k.a. the Elysee Theatre. ABC owned the theatre for over 30 years. Demolished in 1985, it was home to countless ABC shows, notably Dick Cavett and “The $20,000 Pyramid.” The last tapings to take place there were “Kids Are People Too” in the summer of 1980 after “Pyramid” was canceled in May 1980. And after “Kids” wrapped its season, the syndicated “The $50,000 Pyramid” utilized TV-15 in early 1981. After that, I know of no other shows. There was, though, an ABC Stockholders Meeting held there one morning sometime after the theare went dark for good. I happened to attend it!

Warren, thank you for your Feb 2004 entry re: the Town Theatre. I always wondered about its early history.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on October 25, 2009 at 4:51 pm

A mention is made in Boxoffice Magazine (December 18, 1961) that the Town was to be reconverted from a CBS TV studio back to a first-run movie location in May 1962 by Brandt after 12 years serving as a studio.

That move apparently never took place.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on October 5, 2012 at 10:04 am

I’ve just posted a rare view of the Town Theatre’s marquee in the Photos Section for this listing.

chris319
chris319 on January 13, 2013 at 3:45 am

The Little Theater housed the 1969 season of syndicated Beat the Clock (organist Dick Hyman played from the balcony) and was used by Westinghouse for David Frost when Merv went to CBS in 1969. I understand Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beechnut Show and Johnny Carson’s Who Do You Trust? originated there when it was occupied by ABC.

Interesting story about the Elysee and Pyramid. After being cancelled by ABC, producer Bob Stewart struck a deal with Colgate Palmolive to tape a barter-syndicated version of Pyramid for 1981 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. On November 21, 1980 the MGM Grand suffered a major fire, causing Pyramid to return to its former home at the Elysee to tape that season. It was likely the last show there.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 13, 2013 at 9:28 am

Although the Little Theatre (currently the Helen Hayes) is not listed on Cinema Treasures, it did show porn films briefly in 1973.

KGordonMurray
KGordonMurray on January 13, 2013 at 10:50 am

Alas, our posts are wandering off topic (the Town Theatre) which CT’s guidelines request we not do. Therefore, one last OT mention from yours truly and any further discussion re: the Elysee/ABC Studio TV-15 will be posted at that that theatre’s listing.

Yes, I was aware of that MGM Grand fire story! Fascinating stuff. The Elysee (ABC Studio TV-15) was home to the last season of KIDS ARE PEOPLE TOO! which ended its run in Sept ‘82. I may have misspoken above re: THE $50,000 PYRAMID being the last occupier of the theatre. I worked for ABC at the time and have a ticket for one of the KAPT! tapings. I have to double-check the date as $50K ended its tapings in April '81.

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