RKO Boston Theatre

614 Washington Street,
Boston, MA 02111

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RKO Keith-Boston Theatre, Boston, MA - 1935

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened as the Keith-Albee Boston Theatre on October 5, 1925, with 3,231 seats. This house still ran combo live shows and movies through the mid-1940’s.

Cinerama came in Christmas week of 1953 and stayed until around 1969. They sealed off balcony with a foot of cement and twinned the downstairs running Asian films and porn until around mid-1970’s.

Contributed by Richard Dziadzio

Recent comments (view all 101 comments)

dickdziadzio on June 2, 2012 at 5:27 am

Responding to Dickneeds111 post. I did the original post on this Theatre. < Cineramatopcities > has some photos I was able to get back in 1977. The photo looking at the original booth in the balcony rear shows another 2-port booth that I believe Cinerama added for the intros. The original booth still had the bases and huge Peerlees condenser arcs but no heads. The “newer” booth was stripped clean. I had always assumed that the Cinerama sound head was upstairs in the intro booth.In the years going there I never noticed the Sound Head downstairs location so thanks for the information.

When they converted to x rated they twinned the downstairs, built one long rear booth with 2 projectors in each theatre running 1 hour reels each.

pianomusic7 on June 7, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Some of you may enjoy this- I currently work in the building that houses the RKO (now used by the state) and did some exploring underneath the theater. Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIItcIl_SGA

SHOPPING28 on July 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm

my uncle Johnnie Perkins was in Melody Mad Parade with Sophie Tucker in the 30s – I have a picture of this theatre and would like to find out more information on uncle John – thanks

telliott on July 7, 2012 at 9:20 am

Got back from Boston last week and walked around this theatre. It IS hard to believe that there is a large theatre hidden in this building at all. It got me wondering, what was the layout of the theatre in there? Was the auditorium straight back from the lobby entrance on Washington St, or was the lobby a long one with the theatre itself to the left. If the backstage area was at the corner of Hayward Pl and
Harrison Av then was the theatre running north and south at the back of the block?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 8, 2012 at 10:37 am

telliot- yes, the theater ran north-south at the back of the building. From Washington Street you walked down a long lobby to a foyer at the back of the auditorium. Then you turned left to enter the back rows of the theater. The recessed steps on Essex Street lead to the foyer. This is at the south side of the building at the rear. At the opposite, north side, is the rear stage wall. Most of the exits on the east side wall have been covered up, and the fire escapes there have been removed. So it’s hard to tell where the theater is now from the outside.

telliott on July 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Thanks Ron! From the outside or from the Google satellite shots or Bing map birds eye view you can’t tell a thing.

Mudballina on November 6, 2012 at 10:31 am

Hi- I am trying to find info on my Grandfather Charles Wm Cyl-Champlin who was employed by RKO Theatres in the 30’s and 40’s as an artist (Painter, Oil Pastels) I believe he was employeed at this wonderful theatre. Any ideas about where I might find out anything? I am hoping to see some of his work. I know it’s a slim chance, but still am hoping. Thanks for any ideas. Sara

ejones880 on July 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Three Stooges Connection!

Moe Howard of the Three Stooges had fond memories of performing at the RKO Theater in Boston with the Stooges. He used to walk down the street and purchase gifts at Filene’s for his wife and loved the delicatessen around the corner from the RKO.

You can here the interview here http://www.rerunit.com/index.html?video=howard1

DavidZornig on June 19, 2015 at 9:48 pm

1954 photo added courtesy of MIT Libraries. Cinerama marquee.

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