Radio City Music Hall

1260 6th Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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Radio City Music Hall

Viewing: Photo | Street View

One of the greatest Art Deco style structures ever built, Radio City Music Hall is one of the most well known landmarks of New York City. Opened on December 27, 1932, with a variety show, it screened its first film Barbara Stanwyck in “The Bitter Tea of General Yen” on January 11, 1933. The proscenium is 100 feet wide, the stage 66 feet deep. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer organ, which has twin 4 manual consoles and 58 ranks. The organ was opened by organists Dick Leibert and Dr. C.A.J. Parmentier.

Showing a mixture of movies and stage shows in the program for 45 years, the format was ended on April 25, 1979 with Kathleen Quinlan in “The Promise”. Thereafter the programming changed to concerts, stage shows and special events.

Reborn after a $70 million renovation in 1999, Radio City has been restored to all of its original opulence.

Recent comments (view all 3,199 comments)

michaelkaplan on February 21, 2018 at 9:55 am

Those hanging speakers really look bad. I agree about “A Chorus Line.” Miserable screen adaptation. Was a natural for 3D, too. Speaking of 3D: the Music Hall never showed it in the 50s. The theater was too large, and the projectors just couldn’t put out enough light. “Kiss Me, Kate” was shown flat, while it later toured in 3D. (The restoration on Blu-ray is stunning.)

Jay Franklin Mould
Jay Franklin Mould on February 21, 2018 at 10:24 am

Regarding the number of Rocketts. During my time at the Music Hall 61 to 64 & 67 to 70. The number on the payroll was 46. There were always 36 on stage, and the rest were on days off.

vindanpar on February 21, 2018 at 3:19 pm

And eventually in the 70s after the ballet company was eliminated the number of Rockettes on stage was reduced to 30 and they started selling popcorn which of course ended up all over the place.

The Rockefellers were doing everything they could to run the place into the ground. But then the entire way of marketing films had changed and exclusive city engagements would no longer even be considered. I just wish the inevitable end of the Music Hall as a stage show and movie palace had been a bit more dignified.

curmudgeon on February 22, 2018 at 11:54 pm

I agree vindanpar, that false proscenium within the original proscenium just looks tacky and cheap. Clearly, the glory days are over.

vindanpar on March 12, 2018 at 1:12 pm

Supposedly King Kong did very poorly at the Music Hall because that was the week Roosevelt closed the banks. Just saw this recently in a documentary on the Roosevelts. This was news to me. I thought it had been a hit.

Very bad timing indeed. Anybody have access to Variety on microfilm to see what the week’s gross was?

PeterApruzzese on March 12, 2018 at 4:46 pm

The RCMH and the Roxy did humongous business:

vindanpar on March 13, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Thank you for that. I thought it odd it was put into a doc on the Roosevelts and the depression. It seems to come out of nowhere as a consequence of the bank holiday.

vindanpar on March 13, 2018 at 3:52 pm

NYer with all due respect I appreciate many of your photos but do you feel perhaps in the photo section we should concentrate on the Music Hall’s history as a presentation house rather than a concert venue? Personally I feel a bit of a pang when I see these ads. I realize the Hall still exists because of these concerts but I like seeing people celebrate its glory years as a film and stage show house which made it a cinema treasure.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on March 13, 2018 at 7:59 pm

I just posted a NY Times ad for King Kong in the photo section. It says “50,000 Seats Were Not Enough”. The date was March 3, 1933.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on March 13, 2018 at 8:23 pm

If you look at the Wikileaks entry, “KING KONG” opened at 99,000 seats in NYC, (so 50,000 was more than enough). The second week dropped 50%, due to the Roosevelt bank holiday and the fact most exploitation films do just that. Still, it was a huge success.

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