Roxy Theatre

153 W. 50th Street,
New York, NY 10020

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MarkDHite
MarkDHite on September 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm

What you say is true. The Roxy must have had huge operating expenses, and while I don’t think it ever lost money it must have been clear by 1960 that it’s days as a big moneymaker were quickly dwindling. However, I think the Roxy was doomed more by the value of its Midtown Manhattan real estate. From the time it was acquired by Rockefeller Center in the early 50s I imagine the plan was to just keep it going until the most advantageous deal could be made to capitalize on its location as Rock Ctr developed the west side of Sixth Ave. First the air rights were used for other development and then the lot was finally used for a new office building. Rock Ctr already had Radio City Music Hall and had no interest in keeping two huge movie palaces going. It probably never had a chance to survive after about 1952.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on September 20, 2014 at 1:42 pm

to LorinW.–

while its sad that a gorgeous movie palace like the Roxy was demolished people forget one very simple fact. at the time it was decided to raze the theater it was a HUGE financial liability for the owners. once t.v. became commonplace in the American home HUGE theaters like the Roxy were doomed. i’m sure in 1960 when it was torn down the weekly operating costs were astronomical.

LorinWeigard
LorinWeigard on September 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm

This is why people go to Europe—they don’t bulldoze their architectural masterpieces to rubble. The iconic LIFE cover of Gloria Swanson in the ruins of the legendary ROXY says it all.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 21, 2014 at 10:11 am

Jack Benny’s radio show may still be the most consistently hilarious variety show ever to have been broadcast – on radio or TV, for that matter.

robboehm
robboehm on February 21, 2014 at 7:01 am

See photo section for May 21, 1947 ad featuring a stage appearance by Jack Benny. Jack Benny and Bob Hope were then tied for favorite comedian in that, the heyday of radio. Film being shown was enough to discourage people from seeing it twice to stay for a second stage show.

robboehm
robboehm on February 15, 2014 at 10:28 am

Carousel opened with a formal premiere on February 16, 1956 with regular, continuous, performances starting the next day. There was also an ice skating review, albeit shorter for this feature, because of the length of the film. See photos.

robboehm
robboehm on January 30, 2014 at 7:17 am

Photo of 11/11/42 ad for opening of “Springtime in the Rockies”, a big hit for Betty Grable, uploaded. This movie sparked her romance with bandleader Harry James whom she married the following year. The featured song, “I Had the Craziest Dream”, became their theme song.

Simon L. Saltzman
Simon L. Saltzman on January 2, 2014 at 8:19 am

More pertinent info re above: British Gaumont helped to keep the Roxy going during the difficult years (1932 – 1937)by giving the Roxy exclusive first run rights to its releases, including “The 39 Steps.” …thus offering a buffer to the decision by the Hollywood studios to not let the Roxy have its A product because of its low admissions scale. The Roxy survived this, inlcuding the departure of Roxy himself (to run the RCMH and RKO Roxy (later to become the Center Theater), and more including Cinemascope without stage shows, Two-a-day with “Windjammer” and other policy changes that occurred during the managament of Roxy’s nephew Robert C. Rothafel who took charge during the 1950s.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on January 1, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Hello-

I thank Simon S. for his reply. the reason I asked the question was simple. during the theater’s 33 year lifespan Hollywood operated very much on the A,B or even C movie production levels. so i’m guessing for every Carousel or Anastasia they also played B or C films between the bookings of A level films.

Simon L. Saltzman
Simon L. Saltzman on January 1, 2014 at 4:08 pm

There are many answers to Bigjoe’s question. The Roxy played only A films from the time it opened in 1927 until the Depression years between 1931 and 1937 (assuming that means films produced to be the top of a double feature in subsequent release). Between 1933 and 1937 the Roxy severely lowered its admission prices and economized on the stage shows. During that time, the major studios balked at having their major films play there. It was only after/when Twentieth Century Fox contracted with the Roxy to supply it with their major films did the 6,000 seat theater regain its status. Between 1937 and its closing, the Roxy was consistently an outlet for A films. Your rating of films is presumably based on the intention of the studio and not the quality of the film. This does not take into account the many modestly produced “sleepers” that needed critical approval to succeed and a Roxy premiere was a help.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on December 31, 2013 at 10:50 am

Hello-

I didn’t start going into Manhattan by myself to see movie still the fall of 1965 at which point the Roxy had been gone 5 years. to which a question- in its 33 year life would you say the Roxy played as many B level or even C level films as it played A level films?

Joseph
Joseph on December 30, 2013 at 6:04 pm

The TGI Friday’s was preceded by another restaurant. I believe a Child’s was on the corner of 50th and 7th for at least a couple of decades before the Taft was closed and re-modeled into the Michelangelo Suites during early/mid 1980s. The Roxy ticket lobby is the space currently occupied by TGI. The Roxy Rotunda, which was behind the ticket lobby was destroyed along with the auditorium and the rest of the Roxy building in mid-late 1960. The THS Roxy annual, published in 1979 or 80, claims that the Rotunda was to incorporated into the Taft Hotel expansion design William Zeckendorf was supposedly planning at the time. Of course this never happened. In fact I cannot locate any reference to the Hotel Taft expansion after the Roxy building was sold by Rock Center to Zeckendorf. Zeckendorf’s visions were constantly filled with hyperbole, which probably led to his bankruptcy and downfall. Rather than expand the Taft, the partially demolished Roxy was later sold by Zeckendorf to a couple of amateur NJ real estate developers (their first venture into NYC real-estate) in order to raise cash for his crumbling empire.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 30, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I highly doubt that the TGI Friday’s retains any elements of the old Roxy lobby and foyers. I would imagine that the space was entirely gutted, with the upper portion of the rotunda converted to office space, and the ground floor reserved for retail usage. Does anyone know if this has always been a restaurant of some sort? I’m sure the TGIF chain was not in existence when the space was converted back in the early 1960’s.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on December 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I know where TGI Friday’s is..but didn’t know that the famous Roxy theater was once in that restaurant. It’s probably one of the bigger ones in the tri-state area owned by the franchise.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on November 10, 2013 at 11:29 am

Here’s a link to silent newsreel footage of the Roxy’s grand opening night in 1927: Youtube

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on November 6, 2013 at 11:24 am

Busby Berkeley’s spectacular Technicolor musical “The Gang’s All Here” was part of the Christmas holiday show that opened on December 22nd, 1943. Here’s a clip, in about the same aspect ratio as shown at the Roxy: Youtube

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on October 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I walked past this place last night and my heart was broken. TGIFridays, indeed.

While the main auditorium was demolished, is there anything left to see of the foyer, reception hall or grand foyer?

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on October 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Surprisingly, two of the greatest horror thrillers of all time, the first “Dracula” and “Bride of Frankenstein,” made their NYC debuts at the Roxy Theatre, accompanied by stage shows. They weren’t exactly what one might expect at the “Cathedral of the Motion Picture,” but those were desperate economic times. I’ve posted ads for the B&W Universal releases in the Photos Section.

rivest266
rivest266 on September 25, 2013 at 2:06 pm

At last the grand opening ad has been uploaded by me.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm

She retired from pictures in 1933 and moved to her husband’s ranch, so I wonder how many personal appearances she was making that year.

modlrfleck
modlrfleck on July 6, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Thanks.The only part left of the Playbill shows Clara’s image above the title “Compliments of the Roxy Theatre” so, at some point, she must have been a headliner there. It is possible that my relative attended the Roxy on a date other than March 26, 1933 because that date is written in ink on the backside. It could help if anyone could verify that Clara was on the bill at the Roxy at some point in the general time frame. The DNA testing might be a bit over the top for my budget, assuming someone, somewhere has a confirmed “piece” of Clara.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 6, 2013 at 10:46 am

Clara Bow was at the Roxy in person on Tuesday, November 29, 1932 when her film “CALL HER SAVAGE” was running there.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 6, 2013 at 8:38 am

That date happened to be a Sunday. In The New York Times for that day, I found a small Roxy ad with Marian Marsh in “Daring Daughters” on screen and a variety stage show topped by Rosita Moreno and Dsve Schooler. Clara Bow was still such a big star that I’m sure she would have been mentioned in the ad. But it’s very possible that she attended the Roxy as a spectator at some point that day and signed autographs for anyone who stopped her to ask for one. But adding a lock of her own hair seems bizarre, to say the least. Perhaps you could have it tested for Bow’s DNA.

modlrfleck
modlrfleck on July 6, 2013 at 7:57 am

In the effects of a recently passed family member, we have found a playbill for the Roxy Theatre in New York City, dated Sunday, March 26,1933, autographed to the deceased by 1920’s silent film star Clara Bow. The signature matches examples of Ms.Bow’s signature that I have located online. In addition the envelope contained a lock of (Ms.Bow’s ?) hair. I am trying to confirm that Ms. Bow was at the Roxy on that date. Any help would be appreciated.

Mike Fleckenstein, Virginia USA

MarkDHite
MarkDHite on May 22, 2013 at 9:20 pm

The Roxy was very much in existence in 1956 when the original My Fair Lady musical opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. And I’m sure many people who attended the Roxy had seen the Broadway musical or would later see the movie. (That’s about as close as the Roxy gets to a connection with My Fair Lady!)