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 and re-opened 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 948 comments)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 23, 2018 at 6:05 am

I have posted the Mad Magazine parody on the Cinema Treasures Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156665651544886&set=gm.10157719732744832&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 23, 2018 at 2:13 pm

Thanks, Al. Very funny. It reminded me of the time I saw the soundtrack album of Hello, Dolly!, not too long after its big 70mm premiere at the Rivoli on Broadway, in the cutout bin at a record store, selling for $1.99.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 23, 2018 at 2:19 pm

I would have enjoyed watching movies at the Belch Art or the Art Burp.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 23, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Hello-

I enjoy chatting with fellow movie buffs via this site since IMDB did away with their message boards. to which a thought- I wish people would stop equating being able to reserve seats online nowadays with traditional roadshow engagements popular from 1952-1972.

vindanpar
vindanpar on August 24, 2018 at 12:37 pm

Thank you for posting it. I’ll check it out. Some of those Mad magazine parodies of the films themselves were pretty funny. Especially Sound of Music and the combined parody of 3 films: On a Clear Day You Can See a Funny Girl Singing Hello Dolly Forever. Still the best most scathing send up of Streisand and I’m a fan of hers and those 3 films.

Any many of those big roadshow lps ended up in the bargain bins which is how I was able to afford them as a kid. It was the bombs not the hits. You wouldn’t find Funny Girl, Oliver or Sound of Music. The cutout of Finian’s Rainbow came wrapped with the souvenir program.

vindanpar
vindanpar on September 12, 2018 at 2:19 pm

If there ever was a Music Hall film Magnificent Ambersons was it. But like Kane Radio City passed because of Rockefeller ties to Hearst?

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on September 12, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Was the Capitol one of Loews' flagship theatres?

MarkDHite
MarkDHite on September 13, 2018 at 4:19 am

The Capitol was the number one flagship theatre of the entire chain.

BobbyS
BobbyS on September 13, 2018 at 9:49 pm

I thought the State was. Which one had the larger stage?

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on September 14, 2018 at 7:48 am

A good case could be made for Loew’s State as “flagship” of the circuit. Marcus Loew certainly intended that when the State first opened in 1921, adjacent to the new Loew’s HQ building at 1540 Broadway. The company inherited control of the five-year-old Capitol in 1924 as part of the merger that created MGM Pictures, but never marketed it to the general public as Loew’s Capitol until a modernization in 1959. The Capitol was the largest cinema in the world until the Roxy’s opening in 1927.

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