Loew's Capitol Theatre

1645 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Loew's Capitol Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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 915 comments)

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 25, 2018 at 5:49 am

Yes, that’s one of the perks of being born in 1954. Actually, I wish I’d been born a few years earlier. Then I’d have been able to see The Ten Commandments at the Criterion, North by Northwest at Radio City, Ben-Hur at the Loew’s State, Doctor Zhivago at the Capitol, etc.

BobbyS on May 27, 2018 at 9:38 am

The Oakbrook was a wonderful theatre & screen! Then they chopped it up & then torn it down for a Cheesecake Factory. Now a dine-in AMC was carved into the top floor of the Sears store there. Too bad these xtra-large screens are only a memory! I would think a once-a-month classic film at Radio City would draw big crowds. I am surprised they don’t try it. It would fill the empty seats for all the days that the theatre isn’t doing anything…Imagine the sales at the refreshment counter & liquor sales alone!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 13, 2018 at 10:50 am

For three out of the past four weeks, the highest grossing movie in the US based on per-screen average has been “2001”. If only Stanley were still alive to see this.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 15, 2018 at 5:39 am

June 15, 1968, 1:30 PM: today is my personal 50th anniversary with “2001” and the Capitol. An incomparable movie/theater combination. Who’s got a time machine?

vindanpar on June 15, 2018 at 7:22 am

Hey you got your chance. I’m the one who needs that time machine!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 15, 2018 at 7:42 am

You’re right. If I could, I’d take back everyone who ever posted on this Capitol Theatre page.

NYer on June 15, 2018 at 8:09 am

But Bill, in a very often dark world, you have a great memory that brings you joy. That’s the magic of movies and the cinema treasures we saw them in. Happy Anniversary!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 15, 2018 at 8:20 am

Thanks, NYer! Haven’t got too many anniversaries like this. Only other movie one is Star Wars (5/25/1977). I have a couple of album ones, like Sgt. Pepper’s (6/1/1967) and Led Zeppelin IV (11/8/1971).

MarkDHite on June 16, 2018 at 8:05 am

Bill, you actually have taken us back. Your descriptions make me feel like I was there! Thanks for that.

FYI: If you didn’t know: 2001 is still running at the Village East, at least through June 21, per their website. Also it is now at the AMC Garden State 16 in Paramus, June 16-19.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 17, 2018 at 5:26 am

Mark, thanks for that great compliment. By the way, I am going to see it today in Paramus. I’ve got to see it in as many different theaters as I can!

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