Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Capitol Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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

Opened October 24, 1919 with Douglas Fairbanks in “His Majesty, the American” plus on stage Ned Wayburn’s ‘Demi Tasse Revue’. The Capitol Theatre was taken over by Loew’s Inc. in 1924 and became the flagship movie palace for MGM Films. The 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, 25 foot x 60 foot wide screen was installed for the June 1953 engagement of “Never Let Me Go” starring Clark Gable.

In 1959 the Capitol Theatre was ‘modernized’ and re-opened as Loew’s Capitol Theatre with “Solomon and Sheba”. The movie palace became a Cinerama showplace.

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 was never twinned or divided into more than one theatre. 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 735 comments)

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 29, 2017 at 2:42 pm

The balcony was in use when I saw 2001 at the Capitol on 6/15/1968. I was 13 years old. My dad and I were in the front row of the loge (what they called the divans) and I remember looking up at the balcony, filled with people. Although it was probably just the lower part compared to what it was in the 30’s and ‘40s, it seemed huge to me.

My dad missed seeing the stage. He used to go there all the time for stage show/movie combinations.

vindanpar on June 29, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Was there a curtain behind them? As older pictures show on this page the lower balcony was separated by a curtain from the upper balcony.

I wonder how the seating was configured for the roadshow Windjammer at the Roxy. I doubt they were selling the entire house.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 29, 2017 at 3:07 pm

I don’t recall the curtain, although there must have been one up there. I just remember that the seats seemed to go on forever, up and up. That theater made a huge impression on me. It’s still the most awesome screen I’ve ever seen, after almost 50 years.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 29, 2017 at 3:12 pm

They called the balcony the Upper Mezzanine in this ad. Either way, it was still the cheapest seat.

vindanpar on June 29, 2017 at 6:50 pm

Divans-how good could they be at $4.25 for a weekend evening? The far classier Criterion loge seats were $5.50 back in ‘64 and were $6 for tickets they were selling in advance for Funny Girl. Clearly the middle class Capitol even on hardticket was for the hoi polloi.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 29, 2017 at 9:31 pm

The Criterion may have been classier, but nothing compared to the Cinerama screen at the Capitol!

MarkDHite on June 29, 2017 at 10:08 pm

Well of course the Capitol was for the middle class. The whole idea of the movie palace was to recreate an ambience of aristocratic refinement for working and middle class audiences. Some theatres may have been nicer than others but every movie theatre on Broadway (and elsewhere) was for the hoi polloi. The only real upper class moviegoing experience was that at a screening room in a private home or estate! The superior feeling that a loge seat at the Roxy or Criterion provided was just one more piece of the marketing genius of the movie moguls.

vindanpar on June 30, 2017 at 1:57 am

Of course if you had real class you had reserved seats to see GWTW at the Astor rather than waiting on line to see it with the mobs at the Capitol.

Bill I so envy you!

vindanpar on August 13, 2017 at 2:26 am

As per The Parent Trap ad:

In her autobio O'Hara’s story about the billing is pretty funny.

It was in her contract to have star billing which she does have. But as you can see Uncle Walt pulled a fast one on her. She was not happy. Her lawyer told her not to go near it. Walt would nail her to the wall.

BobbyS on August 21, 2017 at 7:06 pm

Saw them at the Chicago Theater in the 1950’s along with their movie showing. Huge crowds! Doubt they ever played neighborhood palaces for so many dropped the stage show policy here in Chicago. Too bad!

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