RKO Alden Theatre

165-16 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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robboehm on February 25, 2014 at 9:09 am

Ad from February 24, 1929 uploaded to photos. The, at that time, Shubert. Ad for nearby neighbor Valencia, too.

techman707 on May 1, 2013 at 11:20 pm

“Willburg145 on October 5, 2012 at 4:11 pm I doubt the interior is still intact. I remember going to a DMV office located in what probably was the auditorium. As I recall the lobby was located on Jamaica and the theatre on the side street. Does anyone know what the interior was like?”

I had the MISFORTUNE of working as a projectionist at the Alden for a few years after it was “quaded”. The motor vehicle office was NOT in the theatre building, it was a separate NEW building.

techman707 on May 1, 2013 at 11:15 pm


I believe that Bela Lugosi did the same show at the RKO Keith’s in Richmond Hill.

LugosiResearch on December 29, 2012 at 7:34 pm

On Monday 1 January 1951, Bela “Dracula” Lugosi presented his in person Horror and Magic Stage show at RKO Alden. Currently I am conducting research on all things Lugosi; if anyone out there actually saw this show and/or has memorabilia (poster, handbill, photos) related to this show, please contact Bill at Thanks in advance for any assistance!

johndereszewski on October 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I think TT’s point that visitors to this site can easily overlook the picture sections and just go straight to the comment section is well taken and that it makes sense to remind us of this resourse. (I know that I was quite slow in appreciating the value of the photo section when CT was upgraded.) So let’s both encourage the posting of new pictures as well as good comments in going forward.

robboehm on October 7, 2012 at 7:11 am

What’s wrong with that? We need more photos and less of some of the comments.

Tinseltoes on October 6, 2012 at 9:15 am

I posted an image of the auditorium in the Photos Section for this listing. I have a feeling that many readers are missing the photos because most of them are not displayed as part of this page. And I don’t think that alerts are sent out as they are for the comments page. Unless one goes to the Photo Section, you won’t know what new photos have been posted. I’ve also noticed that since the Photos Section was added, we seem to have attracted a new sort of member who only posts photos and rarely or never makes comments.

Willburg145 on October 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I doubt the interior is still intact. I remember going to a DMV office located in what probably was the auditorium. As I recall the lobby was located on Jamaica and the theatre on the side street. Does anyone know what the interior was like?

Tinseltoes on September 12, 2012 at 11:34 am

More importantly, some of the introductory “facts” need to be corrected. Herbert J. Krapp was the architect (not Charles Sandblom). The theatre first opened as the Shubert Jamaica on 12/31/28. It quickly flopped as a “legit” playhouse and had a brief flirtation with burlesque before an indie management took over and turned it into a cinema called the Alden. RKO bought control in the mid-1930s, when the theatre finally became the RKO Alden.

Tinseltoes on September 12, 2012 at 11:11 am

The address ribbon across the top of the introduction has one “Jamaica” too many. And why include a Flushing cinema as a “Nearby Theater” when several theatres right there in Jamaica are unlisted, such as the Merrick, Savoy, Skouras Jamaica, and Loew’s Hillside?

jimwhite on July 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Hi, I just found this wonderful site and here’s my story. In June of 1960 upon completion of our freshman year at Richmond Hill HS, my friend Alan Wood and I went to EVERY movie theatre in Jamaica looking for work. Alan was hired but I had to wait until September when I turned 16. We were hired by the manager, Mr. LaRocca. Some of the people who were already working there included HEAD Usher, Jimmy Ward, two lovely old matrons (who loved to drink), Tony Sacco, porter, Malverna, cashier, Patricia, the candy counter girl and an elderly doorman. Alan and I quickly became friends with everyone especially Jimmy Ward who was 18 and could proof us at the local bar ajacent to the 165th St. train station, The Paddock Bar. We continued working there thru graduation in June of 1963. During that time we had our friends/classmates Sonny Spiller, his girl friend Rosann DeGruccio and my almost girl friend, Emma Haines. Being an usher is a lonely job, often times boring after you have seen Gypsy 40 times! So part of the fun was exploring the old vaudville back stage dressing rooms where we would find old movie posters, accounting ledgers with hand written accounts of weekly takes from the different stage shows and films. The stage itself was a wonderful array(?) of electrical switches and ropes for the curtains and scenery. Lastly, if Brooklyn Jim is around, I went to Saint Michael’s in East New York.

Tinseltoes on July 21, 2012 at 9:16 am

The Alden and other RKO theatres in the Greater New York area are mentioned in the second column of this 1964 trade article: Boxoffice

markp on May 30, 2012 at 8:06 am

In looking at Ed Solero’s ad on the top of the page, I see 2 theatres in New Jersey that I actually worked at as a projectionist years ago. The Ritz in Elizabeth and the Royal in Perth Amboy, where my father also worked, and I was working the last day it was opened, July 13, 1988.

Tinseltoes on May 29, 2012 at 8:18 am

The address ribbon across the top of the listing has one Jamaica too many. It should read “New York>Jamaica>RKO Alden.” And the Merrick Theatre should be on the “Nearby theaters” list instead of the Main Street Cinemas, which is in Flushing.

RobertR on February 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm

So is this place still intact? The retail seems to be just in the lobby.

bigscore on February 3, 2012 at 1:02 am

I saw “The Warriors” at the Alden and that came out in 79….i believe.

I also saw Blacula, Dr. Phibes, Enter The Dragon, etc there. I also frequented the Valencia (across street from alden as well as Rochdale Movie Theater when i was a teen…..great times

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Hi vyurkevich… If you mean the ad for the movie “Bigtime” that is at the top of the page, I posted it. It’s just a photo I took of a page from an old Daily News paper that I have. My grandfather saved it for some reason – not sure what it was in that particular edition that held significance for him, but when he passed, I got possession of it. I hold no ownership, since it’s a newspaper ad, so you are free to use it. If you like, I will send you a copy of the original photo file, which you’ll be able to open up much larger than is currently allowed here on Cinema Treasures. Just let me know your email address and I’ll forward it.

vyurkevich on July 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Hello. Who posted this picture? and is it possible to use it for a story I am working on about the theater for Ny1news? Thank you

DLC on July 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm

So do I !The Florida one is the first, so perhaps there’s hope.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Hey Ed! Great name! I grew up in Laurelton and went to many a movie in Valley Stream, Lynbrook, Lawrence, Rockville Centre, etc.

DLC… did not hear about the Florida cruise. I’m hoping that, one of these days, TCM brings its film festival out east to NYC!

DLC on July 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Changing gears a bit [although related to old movies]: has anyone seen the info on or signed up for Turner Classic Movies first cruise, out of Florida?

Ed Miller
Ed Miller on July 14, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Ed (my name is also Ed), I have no intention of being argumentative either, especially not with people who share my passion for the old movie palaces. People on this website are extraordinarily knowledgeable, as well as civilized, and how often do you see that, in this day and age? Ed, your documentation is superb, and I will defer to you. That said, lol, I’m certain that there was a period in the 70s when the Alden was shuttered, and you’ve come up with a perfectly plausible explanation. Here we are, the two Eds, both of whom used to ride the Q5! I actually grew up in Valley Stream, just over the county line, and the Q5 stop that I used on Hook Creek Boulevard was just two blocks from my home. I took the bus to and from Jamaica to catch the E and F trains at 169th Street.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm

No doubt that typos abound in movie ads. But I’m sure the RKO Alden is correctly listed. I rode the Q5 bus up and down Merrick Boulevard on a daily basis from 1977 through 1982 to get to and from both my junior high school and my high school. And I was one of those kids who loved just looking out the windows at the passing scene, day in and day out. I used to pay particular attention to the progress of dismantling the old elevated tracks and took pleasure in seeing the two movie theater facades being revealed as the structure came down. My memory might not be as sharp as rafaelstorm – as I don’t remember the Alden’s closure – but I’m sure that the Alden was in operation (even if briefly interrupted) during the entire time I rode that bus back and forth for school. I think the newspaper ads help to support that as fact. And please understand, I do not mean to be argumentative, just trying to arrive at the true history of the theater and reconcile our collective memories here. I hope my efforts are taken in that spirit!

robboehm on July 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm

But these ads have errors so they are not 100% reliable. Case in point on the ad Ed posted. It shows that one of the theatres which was showing Bigtime was the Rialto in Riverhead. Never was a Rialto in Riverhead. There was (and is) the Suffolk and the former Riverhead (which started out life as the Capitol)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 14, 2011 at 12:14 am

Dug through some more newspaper clippings. While I don’t have all the gaps, I do show that the Daily News edition on January 25, 1978, has an ad for a movie called “Big Time” which played the RKO Alden (I’ve posted the ad here). Jump forward to December 11, 1980, and an ad in the Post for “Flash Gordon” shows it playing at the “RKO Alden 2.” While some newspapers listed the theater only as “Alden 1, 2, 3 and 4” in ads and movie clocks (with no “RKO”), I do see a March 6, 1982, ads for the movies “The Seduction” and “Death Wish II” that list the theater as “RKO Century’s Alden” (the same paper has ads for “Enter the Ninja” and the 3D re-release of Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder” that list only “Jamaica Alden.” My guess, rafaelstorm, is the theater was closed for renovations by RKO to divide the auditoriums, sometime between early 1978 and late 1980. This is when you remember seeing it shuttered. RKO evidently held on to the theater into the 1980’s, even if it neglected to list it in block ads.