Rivoli Theatre

1620 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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A “sister” to the nearby Rialto Theatre, this lost theatre was a palatial early delight and once one of the grandest theatres on the east coast. The Rivoli Theatre opened December 28, 1917 with Douglas Fairbanks in “A Modern Musketeer”.

In its middle years, the Rivoli Theatre was one of New York City’s finest ‘roadshow’ theatres and was converted to 70mm Todd-AO with a deeply curved screen by Michael Todd for his feature, “Oklahoma!” which had its World Premiere on October 13, 1955 and was shown for 51 weeks. Other World Premieres of 70mm films included “Around the World in 80 Days”(October 17, 1956 and was showcased for 103 weeks), “The Big Fisherman”(August 4, 1959), “West Side Story”(October 18, 1961 and was screened for 77 weeks), “Cleopatra” (June 12, 1963 and was shown for 64 weeks), “The Sound of Music”(March 2, 1965 and was screened for 93 weeks), “The Sand Pebbles”(December 20, 1966), “Hello Dolly”(December 16,1969), “Fiddler on the Roof”(November 3, 1971) and “Man of La Mancha”(December 11, 1972).

The 1950’s deeply curved screen was enormous and generated the illusion of peripheral vision. The Rivoli Theatre, along with the nearby Capitol Theatre, showed event films and both movie houses showed “2001” on their giant screens. Patrons also recall that the sound quality of the six track stereo was as impressive as it’s visuals.

After it was twinned in December 1981, and the curved screen was removed. It became the United Artists Twin from October 26, 1984. One of the last features to play there was Richard Haines' low budget movie, “The Class of Nuke ‘Em High”. It was closed as the United Artists Twin in June 1987.

Where urban blight had at once shuttered, but saved the Rivoli Theatre from development, a turn around in the city’s fortune made the site too tempting for developers. The Rivoli Theatre, one of the greatest of all New York City theatres, was demolished after closing in June 1987. It has been replaced by a black glass skyscraper.

Contributed by Richard Haines, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 894 comments)

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 30, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Well, you are using a computer so here are two simple ideas:

  1. Find a friend with a smart phone or a tablet, take pictures with his device, sign into Cinema treasures, and then post the photos.

  2. Find a friend with a smart phone or tablet, take pictures with his device, have him email you the pictures, and then you can save them to your computer and then post them here.


vindanpar on September 30, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Who owns a cell phone anymore?! That’s so 20th Century.

Just kidding bigjoe.

I’ve gotten a few I didn’t have on ebay and it was a mistake. Very worn.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 30, 2019 at 3:36 pm

So please post some of yours, VinDanPar, or anyone else… It’s the one element that is missing from many of these threads

HowardBHaas on September 30, 2019 at 3:44 pm

Ok, I have started to post photos of books- but please, post them at the right theater! where those movies were roadshown.

bigjoe59 on September 30, 2019 at 4:20 pm


to vindanpar- you comment is the very problem i was discussing. many years ago i was at a memorabilia shop in L.A. and the owner let me browse thru the stakes in back since i had shopped there for many years. just as i was walking into the stacks the owner said “we just got in the program for The Birth of a Nation”. my heart almost jumped of my chest. unfortunately the program while not falling apart was so worn there was no point in buying it eventhough he was only charging $25.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 30, 2019 at 4:23 pm

I think I linked to many images I had in a photobucket account long ago. But yes, I’ll have to take some new photos of what I have and upload them appropriately. Though, I don’t have many from the classic roadshow period… most of my collection are of the mainstream release variety, picked up at both NYC houses and at the neighborhood theatre candy counter.

vindanpar on September 30, 2019 at 6:43 pm

I knew years ago a guy who collected souvenir programs and there were so many variations of Birth of a Nation from this country and in Europe I couldn’t believe it.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 30, 2019 at 7:51 pm

Do any of the programs have the name of the theater in the outside? Or the inside?

HowardBHaas on September 30, 2019 at 7:59 pm

Not the ones I have from NYC or Philadelphia.

vindanpar on October 14, 2019 at 3:20 pm

For anyone who wants to see the back wall of the Rivoli with its 7th Av billboard when it was showing 80 Days there is a photo of it on ebay. I had never seen it before though there are a number of photos of the front marquee. From France $165.There must be some fan of the Rivoli with deep pockets.

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