Center Theatre

1236 Sixth Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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Showing 1 - 25 of 123 comments

MarkA on July 1, 2013 at 6:33 pm

The Center was certainly fabulous. Many years ago, information was posted about the Center’s 4 manual/34 rank Wurlitzer. I found some detailed information about it (and many other New York City theaters) on the city American Guild of Organist’s website. ( I heard the Center organ many when it was owned by Jimmy Boyce … had a chance to play it, but never got around to it.

Tinseltoes on June 13, 2012 at 10:37 am

Here’s a 1933 trade ad reporting the first four days gross of “King Kong” in its dual engagement at the New Roxy and Radio City Music Hall (both with stage shows). Amount is equal to about $1.59 million in 2012: archive

Tinseltoes on June 6, 2012 at 8:00 am

Here’s a pre-opening trade ad for the two new Radio City theatres: archive

Tinseltoes on June 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Here’s a two-page trade ad for the opening film, “The Animal Kingdom”: archive

Tinseltoes on December 22, 2011 at 6:13 am

Halfway through the following link, you can see a B&W “Cubby the Bear” cartoon spoofing the grand opening of the RKO Roxy: youtube

JohnElwood on November 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm

If you want to see some great photos of this place, find a library with a copy of American Architect December 1932. It has a multi page spread from when it was still the RKO Roxy. Lots of great detail shots of things like the ashtrays, drinking fountains, and various lounges.

MarkDHite on June 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Right. I didn’t make my point clearly. I wasn’t suggesting that CBS’s Ed Sullivan bcast from the Center, just that he had his audience downstairs and close to the stage also.

robboehm on June 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Mark, Ed Sullivan didn’t broadcast from the Center, but from the theatre on Broadway which now bears his name. In the day, I believe, it was Hammerstein’s.

Tinseltoes on June 23, 2011 at 8:05 am

Status needs to be changed from “Closed” to “Demolished.”

MarkDHite on June 22, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Also – Ed Sullivan every night looked into the theatre and pointed out the celebrities in the audience. All seated downstairs, close to the stage.

MarkDHite on June 22, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Re Tinseltoes comment, kinescopes of “The Voice of Firestone” show a large audience on the main floor of the theater. Many seats may have been removed to accommodate the cameras and lights but there were many rows of folks seated downstairs. Likewise, remember skits in “Your Show of Shows” where the performers ran into the audience? Most memorably when they pulled Sid Caesar kicking and screaming out of his seat and pulled him onstage for “This Is Your Story” lol – hysterical! Cheers.

Hicks on June 16, 2011 at 11:18 am

As the son of the architect, Edward Durell Stone, as well as the author of his upcoming biography, “Edward Durell Stone: A Son’s Untold Story of a Legendary Architect” being released by Rizzoli in October, I am eager to dispel a few myths contained in the postings below.

At the relatively young age (for an architect) of 29, Stone was made the architect-in-charge of both the Center Theater and the Radio City Music Hall. This fact is acknowledged not only in my father’s 1962 autobiography, but in the biography of one of Rockefeller Center’s lead architects, Wallace K. Harrison, written by Victoria Newhouse. This information is well-established and can also be found in other sources. In fact, Harrison later characterized Stone as one of “the three great designers at Rockefeller Center.”

Eugene Schoen and Donald Deskey were the interior decorators on the projects respectively. As most architects will tell you, the differences in the areas of expertise of interior decorators and architects are clear-cut and substantial. The form and architectural detail of the theaters, both inside and out are the responsibility of the architect, in this case Stone, and as such he deserves credit for them.

robboehm on June 6, 2011 at 8:27 pm

That was the norm. They did the same thing with the RKO Colonial on Broadway in Manhattan where I saw Steve Allen. Believe the same for the Ed Sullivan.

Tinseltoes on June 6, 2011 at 10:53 am

When the Center was converted into a TV studio, I believe that the main floor was stripped of seats. For shows that were presented before a “live” audience, the guests sat upstairs in the mezzanine. I doubt if more than 500-750 tickets were issued for any show.

moviebear1 on June 5, 2011 at 8:55 pm

After reading a book on Sid Ceaser I found out that Your Show of Shows originated from the Center. For those not familiar with it …. This was very similar to todays Saturday Night Live. Interesting that they filled the theatres 3510 seat for these TV shows.

robboehm on February 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Erwin – I could swear the lyrics specifically mentioned the Center Theatre coming down, or at least that’s what I heard. But that was 60 or so years ago.

EMarkisch on February 28, 2011 at 8:12 am

Referring to rvb’s comment, I too remember the show he wrote about. If I recall correctly, it was the “Texaco Star Theater” aka “The Milton Berle Show”. At the end of the last show broadcast from the Center Theatre, the entire cast faced the audience and sang a song, which I belive was called “The Curtain’s Coming Down For the Last Time”. Certainly a nostalgic moment, which has stuck with me all these years.

robboehm on February 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm

I remember a rather bizarre show, presumably on NBC, celebrating that “The Center Theatre’s coming down”.

Ziggy on February 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I just saw the cartoon “Opening Night”, and decided to visit this site to read more. All very interesting, but the description at the top of the page states the lobby had “opaque windows”. Opaque means that no light gets through, which would simply mean the windows were a wall, and useless as far as being a window is concerned. I think the word should have been “translucent”, which means that light gets through, but not so that the window can be seen through. Of course the best description would probably be just to say the windows were frosted.

Tinseltoes on October 16, 2010 at 7:37 am

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Center’s world premiere engagement of RKO’s “The Last Days of Pompeii,” an historical spectacle in the DeMille mold with special effects by the creators of “King Kong.” The Center had only recently become a cinema again, after a highly-successful 44-week run with a spectacular stage musical, “The Great Waltz.” With its new film policy, the Center no longer presented stage revues, but it had a resident orchestra conducted by B.A. Rolfe, which played during the intervals, as well as an overture prior to the start of the film. Every Center program also included the latest installment of “The March of Time” series.

AlAlvarez on July 5, 2010 at 9:28 am

By the time the Rockefeller Center subway station opened this site was already doing ice shows.

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AlAlvarez on July 4, 2009 at 11:59 am

The Center auditorium can be seen here:

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