Little Carnegie Playhouse

146 W. 57th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Little Carnegie Theatre, New York, NY in 1928 - Auditorium

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1928, the Little Carnegie Playhouse was for many decades one of the premiere art houses in Manhattan, along with the Paris Theatre, Beekman Theatre, Sutton Theatre, Plaza Theatre, Fine Arts Theatre and Baronet Theatre. It was located on 57th Street, adjacent to Carnegie Hall and the Russian Tea Room. It had a very sizable lobby and waiting area for a theatre its size, and the plush seats and eveything about the theatre spelled Class…with a capital C.

It was remodeled in 1952 to the plans of architect John J. McNamara in a Streamline Moderne style. All seating was on a single sloping floor. The Little Carnegie Playhouse was closed in April 1982. It is sorely missed.

It is not to be confused with the Carnegie Hall Cinema, which was around the corner on 7th Avenue.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 63 comments)

miclup on August 30, 2011 at 5:34 am

I was very fortunate to work at the Little Carnegie as a teenager in the late 70s/early 80s. What a magnificent place! Like a smaller version of the Beekman but even better. The doors to the theater were amazingly deco. Seeing the photo of the interior posted in one of the comments was shocking. In my mind, this place was huge. It was actually quite teanie. But what programming! Because they were a premiere platform theater, everything opened here to huge crowds, celebrities, and very long runs. I worked there for several years during high school and the only 2 films I remember are PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK and MANHATTAN. They were hugely successful and played for months.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm

“Plein Soleil” was later successfully remade in English as “The Talented Mr. Ripley”.

robboehm on September 1, 2011 at 2:19 am

Loved Purple Noon. Didn’t see the English remake. They never hold up.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm

“The Talented Mr Ripley” is actually a very fine movie.

marcystarnes on October 14, 2011 at 3:25 am

Most of the films that Played at The Little Carnegie Theater in the seventies and eighties, were a big sucess: Annie Hall, Tess, Tommy, The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I would like to see a photo.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm

There are probably few people who remember the original 1928 look of the Little Carnegie Playhouse. It was a strikingly modern design, most likely inspired, at least in part, by the work of the German Bauhaus. Here are two photos from the December 1, 1928, issue of Motion Picture News showing the auditorium and lounge.

I don’t know how much of the original design was lost in the early 1940s remodeling by Thomas Lamb’s office, but whatever might have remained after that was wiped out in the gut renovation designed by John McNamara that was undertaken in 1952. So far I’ve been unable to discover who the theater’s original architect was.

nyer13 on October 8, 2013 at 12:18 am

I worked at the Little Carnegie from ‘71 to '77 (usher/doorman). Among other notables – We played new Woody Allen films & his agents/producers had offices further east on the block. We did a screening for WNEW-FM of “Catch My Soul” – a rock Othello with Iago played by the actor who later played the colonel chasing “The A Team.” We also did screenings for Richard Brown’s film appreciation course which was then associated with The New School. As an unofficial perk I got to attend the course & met Peter Yates of “Robbery” “Bullitt” chase fame, a very nice fellow whose UK movie history is interesting as there are a few precursors to both Robbery & Bullitt in his earlier & often non-directorial work.

& John & Yoko did come in one time when I was working. John Wolgamot was the long-term mgr when I was at the theater.

nyer13 on October 8, 2013 at 12:32 am

In the ‘70s we usually sold out @ approx. 480 seats. We also day dated with either the Baronet or Coronet depending on the movie.

The most disappointed audiences I saw were for “La Grande Bouffe.”

marcystarnes on December 8, 2014 at 10:34 am

I worked there for many years, one of my favorite jobs. It was an exciting place where I got to meet and speak to my favorite movie stars; Jodie Foster, Anthony Perkins, etc. Those were the days, with blockbuster movies that sold out in an hour and a half! Management staff was steady with a mature manager staff. John Crisman was the nicest manager we had. It was during this time the home company was the Walter Reade Organization, a name that confused customers as they associated it with the hospital. It was run strictly as a business for them. Walter Reade Organization which owned roughly eight theaters within the theater circuit, never once closed early for Christmas or even Thanksgiving. After they closed their doors, I worked at nearby location. Over the years, I worked within the circuit at The New Yorker, the Ziegfield, the Waverly and the Festival. I was offered two jobs after they closed. What I enjoyed most about the job was the wonderful friendships I made that endured for years, that made it a great job.

simonlucas on June 5, 2015 at 12:13 am

@ nyer13

It’s great to hear from someone who worked there. Can you tell us any more about John Wolgamot, please?

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