Coliseum Cinemas

4260-4261 Broadway,
New York, NY 10033

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Coliseum Cinemas

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Located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, on the northwest corner of West 181st Street and Broadway, the Coliseum Theatre boasted to be the third largest theatre in the United States, with 3,500 seats, when it opened in 1920. B.S. Moss was involved with the launching of the theatre as an entity and it later came under the management of RKO. The architects were DeRosa and Piera, who designed other movie palaces of that period.

In its heyday many of the most famous vaudeville acts came to the stage of the Coliseum. The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, Uncle Don’s Kiddie Show, and Gertrude Berg of television’s “The Goldbergs” were among the performers who had been there.

In the early-1980’s, the theatre was made into a triplex. The orchestra seats were one theatre and the mezzanine was split up into two theatres. At this time the ornate ceiling could be seen and appreciated by those who have a passion for nostalgia. The ornate marquee was taken down at this time. The theatre was later reduced to a duplex by eliminating the orchestra seating area and stage to make way for retails stores, such as New York & Co., Bravo Supermarket, Radio Shack and Easy Connections. The Coliseum Cinemas was closed due to financial problems and was re-opened under new management as a quad theatre in July 1991.

The theater closed in 2002, but reopened in July 2004, as the New Coliseum Theatre and by 2009, was named Coliseum Cinemas. It was closed in October 2011.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 136 comments)

Saturn5Dad
Saturn5Dad on April 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Website for folks interested in saving the Coliseum has changed – now please go to http://www.ColiseumArts.org! Thanks!

Saturn5Dad
Saturn5Dad on April 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Or, on Facebook, join us at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ColiseumArts/

guarina
guarina on April 25, 2012 at 1:51 am

I remember the RKO Coliseum from 1951 and it was still going strong in 1957.

RobertR
RobertR on May 23, 2012 at 7:56 pm

There are no cinemas close and still they cant make it?

guarina
guarina on May 25, 2012 at 7:04 am

I saw “Giant” there with Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Sal Mineo early one February, there was a heavy snowfall and Broadway was blocked. It was James Dean’s last movie. Can somebody tell me who played the younger boy in “Knock on Any Door” with John Derek?

guarina
guarina on May 25, 2012 at 8:06 am

Yes, thanks. Sal Mineo in “Rebel without a Cause” reminded me of him.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on May 25, 2012 at 9:46 am

Guarina, “Giant” opened at the Coliseum and other RKO neighborhood theatres on January 30th, 1957, for one week as a single feature. It did such big business that RKO decided to hold it over for an additional four days. This was only the second time in its history that RKO had extended a neighborhood circuit run (previously with “The Robe”), advertising claimed. Your mention of a blizzard suggests that weather might have also been a reason for the extension.

RobertR
RobertR on May 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

I never knew the neighborhood run was that rigid on one week playdates on the first tier. I guess when pictures still had strong legs the second and third tier really benefitted.

guarina
guarina on May 25, 2012 at 11:58 am

Tinseltoes, That was on my birthday. That was the last winter we lived in New York. We moved south in March.

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