Rialto Theatre

1481 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Rialto Theatre

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Originally on this site stood Oscar Hammerstein’s Victoria Theatre, which was demolished and a new movie theatre was erected, designed by Thomas Lamb and opened in 1916 as the Rialto Theatre.

The first Rialto Theatre was torn down and this second Rialto Theatre was built in 1935. The new Rialto Theatre was one of the new Art Deco style movie houses built in New York City.

The theater was also outfitted with a TV studio that was used by everyone from Gerald Rivera to Montel Williams.

The theater’s fortunes were often in sync with the vitality of Times Square for better or for worse. By the 1970’s, the Rialto Theatre became an adult house and then clung to life for the next two decades.

Finally and sadly, the theater was razed in 1998 to make way for the 30-story Reuters building.

Contributed by William Gabel, John Chappell

Recent comments (view all 116 comments)

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 14, 2010 at 9:52 am

Excerpt from the New York Times' review of a Dead End Kids picture “Call A Messenger”

“To say that "Call a Messenger” fits in with the policy of the Rialto, which is to improve on any time-tested formula for shock by the simple expedient of doubling the dose, is to say everything. It doubles the dose, and although this method, on a few unfortunate occasions, has been known to prove fatal, it ought rather to be good for a minute portion of amusement in the present case."

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on March 14, 2010 at 9:59 am

From the post above, the Dead End Kids fit the policy:

42nd Street Memories * Jerry Kovar on Aug 15, 2006 at 5:52am

  • Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

“The Rialto opened for Christmas of 1935 with Frank Buck’s ‘'Fang and Claw.’‘ The theater’s manager, Arthur Mayer, saw the Rialto as distinctly masculine in tone. Most theaters, he said in a newspaper interview after the opening, were ’‘rococo, luxurious palaces for the uxorious,’‘ both in styling and choice of films. His theater, both in styling and presentations, sought to satisfy the ’‘ancient and unquenchable male thirst for mystery, menace and manslaughter.’‘ He was soon called the ’‘merchant of menace.’”

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 16, 2010 at 10:13 am

Sinatra and Abbott & Costello on the same bill. Now that’s entertainment, folks.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on October 19, 2010 at 5:33 am

Woody, I think that photo may have been just after the opening as the Warner. By the time it closed the 42nd Street marquee was long gone.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 26, 2010 at 8:26 am

Can you post the ad that you got that info from, Tinseltoes?

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on March 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm

The Cineplex Odeon run lasted from 6/12/1987 (opening with Predator) to 7/5/1990 (closing with The Hunt for Red October).

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Times Square porn theatres circa summer 1970.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Jkbx53LjKU&feature=related

rivoli157
rivoli157 on November 18, 2011 at 7:31 am

I believe this theatre had legit fare in the late 70s ,early 80s. “Musical Chairs”,“Marlowe” and a revival of the musical version of “Canterbury Tales”

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 17, 2012 at 11:14 am

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

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