Loew's Commodore Theater

105 Second Avenue,
New York, NY 10003

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Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 20, 2012 at 2:43 am

Here’s a clickable version of the link posted by bicyclereporter. An amazing image.

There’s also a link below that photo with three more shots from the same Doors show, starting with this image. Just click on the thumbnail pics below the photo to see the other shots in the series.

bicyclereporter
bicyclereporter on March 19, 2012 at 8:53 pm

If you go inside the bank, they have a select # of pix of the theater’s interiors and exteriors, but none show the ornamentation as we’d like. There are a few Youtube videos of bands playing there, but only with shots of the columns and the proscenium.

Until today. Thanx to the Gothamist, this picture of The Doors shows a shot looking up and amazing detail! A rare shot!

http://gothamist.com/2012/03/19/flashbacks.php#photo-3

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on December 27, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Even though the theatres were air-conditioned, Jolson always worked up a sweat during performances and usually stripped down to his T-shirt by the time of his last song. At one theatre, he even performed bare-chested, causing a woman in the front row to express amazement that he had hair on his chest. “What did you expect,” he shouted back. “Dollar bills stapled to my skin?”

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 26, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Great stories to read.I think Al Jolson must have played every theatre in the USA at one timeor real close too.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on December 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm

On August 11th, 1949, Al Jolson performed on stage at Loew’s Commodore during the second night of his three-day tour of 18 Loew’s nabes to promote the soon-to-be-released “Jolson Sings Again.” That night, Jolson appeared at four Loew’s houses in Brooklyn— Coney Island, Oriental, Kings, and Metropolitan— then zoomed with police escort to Manhattan for the Commodore and finally the Orpheum on East 86th Street.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on December 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm

A few older posts (2006) on this site refer to the post-Loews brief incarnation of this as the Yiddish Village Theatre as a result of this 1966 photo of Timothy Leary from Ed Solero’s photobucket:

http://s18.photobucket.com/albums/b110/GuanoReturns/Manhattan%20Movie%20Theaters/Loews%20Commodore%20aka%20Fillmore%20East/?action=view&current=LoewsCommodoreLeary.jpg&sort=ascending.

I found an ad for this period hiding in plain sight in the New York Times.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/25725093@N07/6574751901/lightbox/

michaelkaplan
michaelkaplan on September 17, 2011 at 3:55 am

The PBS American Masters documentary on Elia Kazan (mentioned above) was shown again tonight. There was a nice exterior view of the Commodore marquee.

jonbarone
jonbarone on November 17, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Correction: Barry Stein used his middle name as his last name hence; “Barry Stuart” is listed as promotor. Also, the head of security was Kim Yarborough and the dates of operation were 1974-1975. – Jonny B

jonbarone
jonbarone on November 17, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I was a carpenter for the NFE Theater (New Fillmore East ) during its renovation in 1973 and later went on to work there as an usher. It was opened by a guy named Barry Stein who made his money selling large quantities of marijuana. He hired the old Fillmore security crew to run security for him (Kim was the head of security – do not recall his last name).

Later that year, I lost my apt & lived in the NFE in a 1 room apt (no kitchen) with a shower on the 2nd level to the right of the stage with my dog Rufus. We would roam the theater at night… it was incredible. One New Years Eve show (approximately 1973-74), featured Ike & Tina Turner.

The early show ran over into the late show. So, those who had tickets for the late show were left standing in the rain at midnight… it was terrible organization. Also, the promotor, Barry Stein did not have all the cash to pay Ike & Tina & wound up gving them a huge bag of coke as payment.

Finally, after Barry had taken proceeds from drug deals he was doing and using the cash to keep the NFE Theater business afloat, he skipped town and died of a drug overdose 2 years later.

I remember the final days after Barry had gone and I was still there waiting to relocate, walking through the theater and being totally amazed at its beauty. A sad ending for an incredible building that helped define a generation.

If anyone who has worked there or has questions and would like to email me:

LuisV
LuisV on November 11, 2010 at 10:48 pm

I feel like responding to Profjoe’s comment about the Saint. While I agree that the Saint embodied all of that was wrong with the promiscuous sex of the 80’s, it doesn’t take away that it was, in fact, one of the greatest discoteques ever built and lasted a little over 10 years, a significant part of its history. I had the pleasure of attending at the very tail end of its life and dancing under the dome was such an incredible experience. While sex may have been going on in the balcony, many, if not most were there to dance and dance they did. I’ve had the pleasure to have danced in many of New York’s storied clubs (many former theaters): Studio 54, Palladium, Club USA, The Roxy, The Limelight, The Red Parrot, Xenon’s, Bond’s International Casino, and on and on. None came close to the Saint which combined a stunning deteriorating theater with top notch lighting and special effects. The cherry on the banana split? No drinks were allowed on the dance floor. There were just four access points into the dome and they were manned to make sure the floor were always clean. Loved it and really, really miss it.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on November 11, 2010 at 9:41 pm

The Allman Brother Band recorded their album,The Allman Brothers Live at the Filmore in this theatre,in 1971.

Rory
Rory on October 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm

In a recent “American Masters” documentary on Elia Kazan by Martin Scorsese, Scorsese states that during his childhood he saw many films at Loew’s Commodore for the first time, including “On The Waterfront.” It was one of the Second Avenue theatres he often frequented.

gd14lawn
gd14lawn on September 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm

ProfJoe, I feel the Fillmore East also did it’s part by “showing films or popular entertainment that held society together” and “giving and reinforcing a sense of community and belonging”. It was a different community and culture than in the past, but the theatre adapted with the times. I’ll bet when it changed from a Yiddish theater to a cinema, there were people that were also very unhappy, and thought the neighborhood was ruined. You celebrate the time it was the Loew’s Commodore, so as unhappy as you were with the Fillmore, please allow us to celebrate it. Myself and many of my friends consider that site hallowed ground.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 1, 2010 at 6:34 am

Lighten up guys.

aarfeld
aarfeld on June 1, 2010 at 5:59 am

Joe,
You’re a superficial pinhead. You give far too much power to a little theater if you imagine that “it ruined a neighborhood.” The East Village was in serious decline, just as much of the rest of the city was, long before and long after Fillmore East existed. It was only in business for three years, provided a workshop where NYU students learned valuable theater craft, and brought a lot of additional business to Ratner’s Deli next door—as their clientel were slowly dying off or moving out of the city. Live performance is what has kept many such theaters in existence—as in the case of the Beacon Theater and many others. If Bill Graham had kept it going the theater might still be intact today. Up and down Second Avenue dozens of other such theaters are long gone—for all of the reasons that movie palaces have been unable to compete in the modern market. Find another scapegoat, for you are a black-eye on the soul of civilization.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on March 6, 2010 at 6:13 pm

“Rock was, and is, a black-eye on the soul of Western Civilization.”

LOL. I thought it was disco.

It’s those crazy kids having another of their Led Zeppelin Hootenannys.

Profjoe
Profjoe on March 6, 2010 at 3:37 pm

aarfeld,
I grant you certain superficial points. That it became internationally famous is worthy of note. But it ruined a neighborhood, making it unsafe and filthy and helping destroy the purpose the neighborhood served for 100 years. That it served as an incubator for the whole Rock industry is, to me, not. Rock was, and is, a black-eye on the soul of Western Civilization. (but that’s a whole different discussion). That it served it’s neighborhood for 50 years showing films or popular entertainment that held society together, that whole families attended together, giving and reinforcing a sense of community and belonging. This is, to me, much more important. And what is this website about? I think it’s more about the celebration of tradition and a connection to the community and to the past.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on March 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Here’s a 1969 image as Fillmore East. Much of the Loew’s signage and entrance were retained, with modifications: View link

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 28, 2010 at 6:27 pm

The Commodore opened on September 2, 1926 as an M & S movie house.

The last films to show appear to have been “A TICKLISH AFFAIR” and “HOOTENANNY HOOT” on October 8, 1963.

aarfeld
aarfeld on January 10, 2010 at 7:14 am

Profjoe, it was as the Fillmore East that the theater became internationally famous and history was made there on many nights, and it served as an incubator for the professional development of the whole Rock concert industry that we know today. As the Commodore it was known in the neighborhood—but hardly in the rest of the city, which was filled with many such theaters, many more opulent than the Commodore.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on January 8, 2010 at 8:13 pm

A 1971 view as the Fillmore East can be found here, currently at the bottom of page 6 of the Photo Gallery. Then click on the photo to enlarge: http://manhattanboard.com/pgal.php?p=6&b=m

Profjoe
Profjoe on January 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Also,

As “The Saint,” this venerable old building became a center for the spread of AIDS. I have been told by two gay male friends who frequented the Saint, that the balcony was used for rather open sex acts. “The Saint,” was in reality a loosely organized orgy with music and some dancing. But, of course, you can’t say that. Oops. I just did.

Sadly, both of those two dear friends from long ago are gone, victims of that horrible disease.

So let’s not weep for the closing of the Saint, or romanticize its existence. For me, that location will always be where the great Commodore stood, from 1926 till the mid-sixties. That’s quite a tenure and bespeaks the stability of what was once a grand neighborhood.

But from the amount of praise and focus placed on the building’s tenure as the Fillmore East, you’d think the period of years were reversed, and it was the Fillmore for 40 years.