Center Theatre

1236 Sixth Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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Showing 1 - 25 of 90 comments

MarkA
MarkA on July 2, 2013 at 2:33 am

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. (http://www.nycago.org/Organs/NYC/html/CenterTheatre.html) 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.

JohnElwood
JohnElwood on November 30, 2011 at 12:10 am

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
MarkDHite on June 25, 2011 at 12:53 am

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
robboehm on June 23, 2011 at 11:43 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.

MarkDHite
MarkDHite on June 23, 2011 at 7:02 am

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
MarkDHite on June 23, 2011 at 6:58 am

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
Hicks on June 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm

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
robboehm on June 7, 2011 at 4:27 am

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.

moviebear1
moviebear1 on June 6, 2011 at 4:55 am

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
robboehm on February 28, 2011 at 9:49 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
EMarkisch on February 28, 2011 at 4:12 pm

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
robboehm on February 28, 2011 at 1:49 am

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

Ziggy
Ziggy on February 27, 2011 at 11:40 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.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 5, 2010 at 5:28 pm

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

View link

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 4, 2009 at 7:59 pm

The Center auditorium can be seen here:

View link

RCMH
RCMH on March 19, 2009 at 1:46 am

Richard,

You would have to pay a fee to use any of the photos they have. But you should probably contact them to discuss what you are looking for.
They may another option for you. Hope that answeres the question.

RichDesign
RichDesign on March 19, 2009 at 1:01 am

How does it work with the archives? Can I call them up and ask for them to look for something and make a copy or take a picture or do I need to pay something or go in person? Let me know what you think. thank you!

RCMH
RCMH on March 16, 2009 at 3:41 am

Richard,

When I had access to the archives, I only saw the binders with pictures of the theater. I don’t recall seeing any of pictures of the stage lifts in action, but would not doubt that they are there. As for floorplans and architectural drawings, I did not see them, although I did not have access to an adjoining room. I would seem logical that they would have the the Associate Architects original plans of the theater.

RichDesign
RichDesign on March 14, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Are there pictures of the lifts in action in any of the books mentioned above? Or a stage diagram/floor plan which shows the layout?

RichDesign
RichDesign on March 14, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Yes, I am with Bob Jones. I work at the stage and see the lifts being used on a daily basis. I’m doing a heritage type program about our theater and the people who were involved in the early days. I think the story of the lifts is interesting and wanted to find out which is what brought me here to this blog.

thank you to ChuckClutz for the info.

RCMH
RCMH on March 14, 2009 at 3:30 am

According to Daniel Ockrent, author of Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, Edward Durell Stone was not involved in the design of the Center Theater (RKO Roxy). Eugene Schoen was the interior designer of the the theater (after he came in second to Donald Deskey on the interior design of the Music Hall.)

Christine Rousel is the archivist of Rockefeller Center. The archives has many binders of photos of the Center Theater.

Didn’t the stage end up at Bob Jones University when the theater wqas demolished?

CharlesClutzNCARB
CharlesClutzNCARB on March 13, 2009 at 5:29 pm

The stage equipment was supervised and built under the direction of Peter Clark, Inc, and the stage and orchestra elevators and revolve were built by Otis Elevator, Inc. The archives of these firms may have the shop drawings and photos of their installations. They are both in existance.

Other potential sources of information are the Library at Lincoln Center and the Avery library at Columbia University. Architectural magazines of the time: Architectural Forum and Architectural Record. If you can gain access to the Rockefeller archive, they may help. Nelson Rockefeller was the brother actively involved with the two theatres.

Edward Durrell Stone’s archive at the University of Arkansas (I believe) may have some information since he was actively involved in the interior design, not the exterior as some have claimed.