Helen Hayes Theatre

238 W. 44th Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Helen Hayes Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Winthrop Ames Theatre was opened March 12, 1912 with a production of John Galsworthy’s comedy “The Pigeon”. It is one of the smallest Broadway legitimate theatres. It was designed in a Neo-Federal style by architects Harry Creighton Ingalls & F.B. Hoffman, Jr. with just 299 seats. In the 1910’s architect Herbert J. Krapp was employed to add a balcony to increase the seating capacity to 450. In 1919 it was taken over by Oliver Morosco and in 1920 John Golden was the operator. In 1931 it became part of the Astor families property empire and was sold to the New York Times in January 1942 to be renamed Times Hall Theatre, used mainly for conferences, lectures and recitals.

In 1959 it was leased out to ABC as a TV & radio studio. It reopened, again as the Winthrop Ames Theatre on September 7, 1964 with a move-over from the Royale Theatre of “The Subject Was Roses”. Later in 1964 it was renamed Little Theatre and leased to the Westinghouse network who televised “Beat the Clock” in 1969 also “The Merv Griffin Show” and the “David Frost Show” from the theatre. In September 1973 it had a brief run screening gay male pornographic movies. In April 1974 it returned to legitimate theatre once again and among its ‘hit’ runs were “Gemini” from May 1977 and “Torch Song Trilogy” from October 1983.

In July 1983, following the demolition of the Helen Hayes Theatre on W. 46th Street in 1982, it was renamed Helen Hayes Theatre. On November 17, 1987 it was declared a landmark building by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 11, 2017 at 6:31 pm

I am sure your aliases as Warren G. Harris and Tinseltoes would agree with you, but Ken Roe wrote the intro and I agree with Ken Roe. This is a historic cinema treasure even more for the opposition to it by moralists and the projectionists Union. (thanks for that Union photo!).

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on July 12, 2017 at 6:01 am

The intro was copied in large part from the entry for the Little Theatre in historian William Morrison’s “Broadway Theatres,” which makes no mention of a cinematic connection. I don’t think that a three-day run of 16 mm. movies, whether mainstream or pornographic, qualifies the now renamed Helen Hayes as a “Cinema Treasure.” I have no aliases as Warren G. Harris and/or Tinseltoes. I run only this single membership. I have no connection with that other person running many memberships simultaneously, including one called “Comfortably Warren,” the intent of which escapes understanding.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm

The Internet Broadway Data Base has the seat count at approximately 597, which sounds right since I believe the minimum seating to be considered a Broadway house is 499…

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 12, 2017 at 12:08 pm

And I agree with Comfortably Cool: Three days a porno theater does not a cinema treasure make…

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on July 16, 2017 at 8:24 am

The theatre turned 104 years old in March of this year. Showing movies for three days would amount to about 0.0000113 percent of its lifetime, which is close to nothing. The subject matter of the movies is not the issue here. The person(s) responsible acted without permission of the owner.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 16, 2017 at 9:57 am

Stretching CT’s rules doesn’t bother me. (I recall that someone once set up a page here for a highschool auditorium somewhere). I like to see the CT database growing. I think that there should be a sub-program in CT called “Stage Treasures” for all the legit theaters, opera houses and concert halls.

HowardBHaas on July 16, 2017 at 10:10 am

There is no harm to this website’s having a page for this wonderful theater, no matter how little it may have hosted film. I can assure you that Ken Roe’s volunteer work is much appreciated by the site’s owners.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on July 16, 2017 at 10:12 am

By that reasoning, why not re-name the website Entertainment World? Any venue that ever presented entertainment at one time or another could be listed.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 17, 2017 at 11:21 am

That’s a great idea, Comf. Cool ! How about “Entertainment Venue World”, or “Cinema & Stage Treasures”? Thousands of additional buildings could be listed here.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 18, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Good luck figuring out whether or not to allow a church in the midwest that once hosted “TONY & TINA’S WEDDING” for three days, a listing.

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