Avenue Playhouse

1187 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10036

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 10, 2013 at 2:11 pm

In 2006, lostmemory posted th is comment on May 21:

“NYC issued a c/o to a 498 seat motion picture theater at this address in March of 1936. It was an existing building so this theater was most likely operating prior to that date. The owner at that time was Ben-Jim Amusement Corp.”
Then, on August 4, 2008, AlAlvaraez posted this:
“In early 1937 there was a 47th Street Cinema operating at 104 West 47th Street and showing Irish films. Could this have been the Miami?”
Now I’ve come across an item in The New York Clipper of December 6, 1913:
“THEATRE FOB SIXTH AVENUE.

“Walter J. Salamon, as president of Manhattan Fee Co., will build a one-story moving picture theatre at No. 821 Sixth Avenue, L shaped to Nos. 102-104 West Forty- seventh Street, New York, to seat five hundred and seventy-two. Thos. W. Lamb, as architect, filed plans for an outlay of $125,000.”

I don’t know if the address 821 Sixth Avenue was a typo or part of some earlier numbering system, but the place did apparently sit at least partly on the site of the 47th Street Cinema AlAlvarez mentioned. I wonder if these could all have been the same theater? As the 1913 building was L-shaped, the entrance might have been moved from one street to the other for a while.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 6, 2013 at 11:01 pm

A permit for construction costing $300,000 was issued for the theater at 1187-1197 Sixth Avenue in 1944, according to an entry in the Office for Metropolitan History’s Manhattan New Building Database. As new construction had to be approved by the War Production Board at that time, I don’t know if this project was carried out or not. If it was, the architects were Schlanger & Sornik.

The Avon Theatre at 6th Avenue and 47th Street also is mentioned in the John and Drew Eberson archives as a 1952 project (#1624), though the nature and extent of the project is not stated.

robboehm
robboehm on June 5, 2011 at 9:46 am

As the Avon it functioned as a TV preview theatre. When I was a teen in the early 1950’s I attended one of these sessions with my parents. Most of the pilot’s we previewed never made to it the airwaves.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm

The status of this theatre should be changed to “Demolished” as the entire odd-numbered block front of Sixth Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets is now occupied by the monolithic 1185 Avenue of the Americas.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on August 4, 2008 at 8:41 pm

In early 1937 there was a 47th Street Cinema operating at 104 West 47th Street and showing Irish films. Could this have been the Miami?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 7, 2008 at 1:09 pm

In 1946-47, the Avenue Playhouse broke all of its boxoffice records with a 30-week NYC premiere engagement of Marcel Pagnol’s “The Well-Digger’s Daughter,” according to a report in The New York Times on 4/18/47. About 320,000 tickets were sold, meaning a weekly average attendance of around 10,667. Of course, it would have been much higher in the opening weeks…Here’s a new link to an image of the theatre in its previous life as the Miami:
View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 27, 2007 at 7:42 am

Anyone getting a “page is not found” message at any of the links to my Photobucket scrapbook can contact me privately and I’ll be happy to send them the image that was removed. Once I remove an image, it’s unlikely that I will ever put it back, as there are only so many that a scrapbook can hold at a time. I presently have more than 600 links that are active. My contact address is .com

richardobrien
richardobrien on July 27, 2007 at 6:58 am

Thanks Warren. I’ll see what I can find on that photo and article. Meanwhile, interesting to find out that the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library actually has a file on the theatre.
Richard

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 27, 2007 at 6:54 am

Warren, many of the photos you have posted at Photobucket (including the one on 8/5/05, say that the “page is not found.” I hope you can activate some of these defunct links, here and on other theater pages.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 27, 2007 at 6:43 am

The exterior photo that I posted above on 8/4/05 was copied from a magazine clipping that I found in the theatre’s file at the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library. I think it was from Life Magazine, but I can’t swear by it. If the actual photo (or negative) still exists, you might be able to purchase a print from the Time-Life archives. As I recall, it was part of an article about the revival of interest in silent movies.

richardobrien
richardobrien on July 26, 2007 at 4:16 pm

As long as we’ve begun talking about the Forty-Eighth Street Music Hall, I’ve got some info I’ll post under the Belmont. All of these theatres, like the Miami, should be listed under each of their individual names. I’d have found the Miami listing years ago if it had been listed, or even cross-listed.
richard o'brien

richardobrien
richardobrien on July 26, 2007 at 8:55 am

Hi Al – I saw Pinocchio when I was six and was sorely disappointed. As far as I was concerned, Jiminy Cricket was the star, as he was the only thing I liked, except maybe Monstro the whale. I did love Jiminy.

Richard

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 26, 2007 at 8:43 am

Fuuny how the memory plays games. I saw PINOCCHIO when I was about four and I could have sworn Jiminy Cricket was the star. It took me years to find “the cricket movie”. (I bet you I dozed off after the CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT number.)

richardobrien
richardobrien on July 26, 2007 at 8:19 am

Thanks Al. I did get the Times listing sometime back, and now own “Fightin' It Out”. I was thrilled when I saw Hoot Gibson’s name appear on the screen, as my mother’s sisters had talked about him. What a disappointment! He didn’t fight, he didn’t shoot anything much, he didn’t kill anyone. Poor fare for a six-year-old boy. I did find, when I bought a tape of it, that I remembered some of it, particularly the disappointing parts!
Richard

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 26, 2007 at 8:06 am

Interesting Warren, the 48th St Music Hall had an address of 194 West 48th Street but it does appear in ads as the Belmont disappears in 1940.

Richard, The New York Times does not name which Chaplin short was shown but it does mention Hoot Gibson in FIGHTIN'IT OUT on that program.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 26, 2007 at 7:49 am

I think that the 48th Street Music Hall was the theatre listed at CT as the Belmont, but I can’t swear to it. The Belmont had numerous changes of name and policy over the years that it existed. Some were of such short duration that they were instantly forgotten…Those theatres that specialized in showing silent oldies often changed the titles, so it’s sometimes difficult to track them down.

richardobrien
richardobrien on July 26, 2007 at 7:36 am

Warren – Thanks for the info, which matches what I have for the 48th Street Music Hall. But what I’m looking for is the Miami Theatre, which for the week of October 28th and the following week, had the program I saw of “The Eagle”, etc. By the way, it finally occurred to me to look up the Keaton shown in the photo of the Miami, and he never made anything called “Roaring Rails”; there was feature of that name with Harry Carey. Strange. Oh.And IS the 48th Street Music Hall listed on Cinema Treasures?
In any event, hope you have the name of that Chaplin with the “Eagle” program.

Richard O'Brien

richardobrien
richardobrien on July 26, 2007 at 7:36 am

Warren – Thanks for the info, which matches what I have for the 48th Street Music Hall. But what I’m looking for is the Miami Theatre, which for the week of October 28th and the following week, had the program I saw of “The Eagle”, etc. By the way, it finally occurred to me to look up the Keaton shown in the photo of the Miami, and he never made anything called “Roaring Rails”; there was feature of that name with Harry Carey. Strange. Oh.And IS the 48th Street Music Hall listed on Cinema Treasures?
In any event, hope you have the name of that Chaplin with the “Eagle” program.

Richard O'Brien

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 26, 2007 at 7:25 am

Richard, on Thanksgiving weekend 1940 the 48th St.Music Hall was showing:

BRAVEHEART with Rod La Roque
Charles Chaplin in THE CURE
and Pearl White in the 18th chapter of PLUNDER

The Miami was on its second week of a new Soviet film called THE GREAT BEGINNING.

richardobrien
richardobrien on July 26, 2007 at 7:13 am

Warren – Because I couldn’t correct the above, I wasn’t able to add: Is it possible that I can buy an 8X10 glossy of that photo? And if anyone knows what the Chaplin was that I saw that day in November, 1940, I’d love to find out. Plus, of course, if there’s a photo showing that program I saw…
Richard O'Brien

richardobrien
richardobrien on July 26, 2007 at 7:10 am

Oops. Sorry for all the typos in the above. I couldn’t figure out how to correct them.
Richard O'Brien

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 26, 2007 at 7:08 am

Richard, you’re quite welcome. I’m pleased that I was able to help with your search. Keep the personal memories coming!

richardobrien
richardobrien on July 26, 2007 at 6:42 am

Warren – Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been searching for years for a photo of the Miami when it was a silent-movie house. For those who might be curious, that photograph was taken the week of March 7, 1940, when Gloria Swanson was starring in “Manhandled”, Buster Keaton in “Roaring Rails”, Charlie Chaplin, or was it Billy Armstrong, possibly a Chaplin imitator, in “Call the Cops”. Chaplin didn’t make a short of that name, and IMDb gives the credit to Armstrong. Finally, “Broken Ways”, a D.W. Griffith Western short with Harry Carey and salient members of the Griffith stock company.

All this knowledge came about through my trying to track down a program I saw at the Miami when my father took me to what he said was the last silent movie theatre in New York. We got there late, so I probably never noticed the entrance. A serial was already well on its way, and as it turned out, it was the final episode. A woman was obviously the star. I was already agog. I was six years old. I loved the movies and I loved to read. I’d discovered that with silents you could do both! It was a transforming experience. I’ve loved, and sought out, silents ever since.
I still remember the program; the serial (what was it called? who was she star? I wondered virtualy all of my life; my father said he was sure it wasn’t Pearl White), a Hoot Gibson short, a Chaplin (I’ve since seen too many of his shorts to remember which one), possibly a newsreel of that period, and finally, the great “The Eagle”, with Valentino! I ate that one up, somehow even revelling in its sophistication, which it seems hardly likely I caught onto.
Anyway, for virtually all of my life I’ve thought about that program and wondered who the heroine was of that serial, and its name. On arriving home I asked the aunt I was then living with, and she suggested if it wasn’t Pearl, perhaps Ruth Roland or Helen Holmes.
Finally the computer arrived, and years of research revealed there had actually been two silent movie theatre during that period, the other being the 48th Street Music Hall (not on Cinema Treasures, unless listed under the name of another venue, as has happened with the Miami). As I searched, I noted the names of all the films at both theatres. Finally, when the New York Times went online (but not at that time to the general public) I hired a research, and almost immediately I had the answer: Pearl White in “Plunder”. Why my father didn’t recognize her, I’ll never know. Anyway, I now own the Hoot short, “The Eagle”, all of Chaplin’s shorts, and what remains (so far) of the last chapter of “Plunder”. All that I then needed was to finally see what the Miami’s exterior looked like. And you, Warren, provided that, as I discovered a couple of days ago.
If anyone has any curiosity about a movie or program of films shown at the Miami during this period (apparently from December 19, 1939 through the week of November 11, 1940, with a few short breaks during that period), I’d be happy to provide the answer.
Richard O'Brien

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 26, 2006 at 11:35 pm

It appears it remained the Irish for a little over year until it reverted back to the Miami, most likely the result of the war disrupting the Irish economy and. It then ran silent films for a while as well.