Loew's Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Loew's Capitol Theatre

The Capitol Theatre was located where the Paramount Plaza stands today, directly across Broadway from the Winter Garden Theatre.

Opened October 24, 1919 with Douglas Fairbanks in “His Majesty, the American” (United Artists first production) plus on stage Ned Wayburn’s “Demi Tasse Revue” which featured Mae West early in her career. It was equipped with an Estey pipe organ which had a 4 manual console and 45 ranks opened by organist Dr. Mauro-Cottone Melchiorre. The Capitol Theatre was initially not a great success and closed on June 1, 1920. It was taken over days later by Samuel Goldwyn who installed S.L. ‘Roxy’ Rothafel to program the theatre and it reopened with a Goldwyn picture “Scratch My Back”. In July 1923 the Estey organ console was replaced by one with illuminated stops and a horseshoe design and 12 more ranks of pipes were added to the existing 45 ranks. It was advertised as ‘Broadway’s Finest Organ’.

It was taken over by Loew’s Inc. in 1924 and became the flagship movie palace for MGM Films. The Loew’s Capitol Theatre hosted world premiere’s of many now classic films. The theatre presented movies and stage shows except from 1935 to 1943 when no stage shows were included in the program. The shows were too expensive to produce during the Great Depression and were only revived when World War II brought an economic boom. In 1952 stage shows ceased to be held. A larger, 25ft x 60ft wide screen was installed for the June 1953 engagement of “Never Let Me Go” starring Clark Gable.

In 1959 the Loew’s Capitol Theatre was modernized to the plans of architect John J. McNamara and re-opened on December 25, 1959 with Yul Brynner in “Solomon and Sheba”. The movie palace became a Cinerama showplace in 1962 with a huge 33ft x 93ft wide screen.

World Premieres of 70mm films included “Cheyenne Autumn”(December 23, 1964), “Doctor Zhivago”(December 22nd, 1965), “The Dirty Dozen”(June 15, 1967) and “Far From the Madding Crowd”(October 18, 1967).

The Loew’s Capitol Theatre auditorium was never twinned or divided into more than one auditorium. In 1968 the Capitol Theatre was playing the Roadshow engagement of “2001:A Space Odyssey”. The movie was transferred to the Warner Cinerama Theatre, and the Loew’s Capitol Theatre closed, and was demolished.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 1,003 comments)

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 31, 2020 at 12:00 pm

An entire 3-strip Cinerama film was on 6 giant-sized reels: the first half played on 3 reels synched together. Then, after the intermission, the rest of the film played on the next 3 reels. At a showing of How the West Was Won that I attended at the Dome, they invited people into the booth at intermission, and I got to see the reels.

vindanpar on January 31, 2020 at 1:08 pm

I didn’t realize that. Thanks. The projectionist invited me into the booth at the Ziegfeld when the Robert Harris restoration of Lawrence was shown. He was very proud. And rightfully so. He told me on opening night Lean, O'Toole and Sharif came to see him in it. I would have been floored.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 31, 2020 at 1:32 pm

I was standing outside the Ziegfeld on that opening night, and I saw Lean, O'Toole and Sharif leaving the theater to great applause. I also saw Geoffrey Holder (“Live and Let Die”, the 7 Up Uncola nut commercials in the ‘70s) as he was leaving, and I asked him how it was. His great answer: “FAAAAAbulous.”

MarkDHite on January 31, 2020 at 1:33 pm

And not to forget there is also a fourth giant reel synched up for each half which contains just the soundtrack!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 31, 2020 at 1:53 pm

I did forget that. Thanks!

A projectionist running Cinerama must have felt like a football player going to the Super Bowl.

bigjoe59 on January 31, 2020 at 3:37 pm


I thank everyone for their replies about Grimm. an additional question which I should have asked to begin with. would someone who knows the technical side of remastering for a Blu-ray disc explain why a HD transfer can’t be made from the 3 panel print shown at the Dome. if it was in damn good enough condition to show why not? thanks in advance.

vindanpar on January 31, 2020 at 7:17 pm

Was that the SP screening that was also attended by Kerr and Nuyen? Interesting that the cast of WSS was there.

Anybody see Planet of the Apes here? Did it use only a portion of the Cinerama screen? As well when Heat of the Night played was it shown on the curved screen but masked for the proper screen ratio?

vindanpar on February 1, 2020 at 9:37 am

I have most of them but I haven’t had a chance to sit and watch them. Also somebody said they aren’t worth watching unless you have a 10 ft screen. Well that’s not happening.

There was a screening of SP a number of years ago where I saw a photo of Gaynor, Kerr and Nuyen posing in front of the theater. Kerr looked very old which is always surprising when you only know how a person looked in their youth. Nuyen and Gaynor looked really good.

PeterApruzzese on February 3, 2020 at 7:30 pm

Big Joe – it could be, but it’s not the kind of thing Warner does. They would want to perform a full restoration based on surviving negative, etc., elements.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on February 4, 2020 at 11:33 am

Pete is a true expert in this field. He once gave me a tour of a projection booth he was running at the Lafayette Theater in Suffern, NY, one of the finest theaters in the US.

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