Jamaica Theatre

155-16 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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Opened on November 26, 1913, this large vaudeville house stood on Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica, Queens between the Merrick Theatre and Savoy Theatre. Recall that they played primarily movies with occasional vaudeville shows in the late-1940’s. During the early-1950’s, the theatre was part of the “Subway Circuit” of touring Broadway shows during the summer months.

Fondly recall seeing “Kiss Me Kate”, “Stalag 17”, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, “The Fourposter” and the late Joey Faye in “Top Banana”. As I recall, other theatres on the circuit were the Brighton Theatre in Brooklyn and the Windsor Theatre in the Bronx.

The Jamaica Theatre was closed in the early to mid-1960’s and was used as a bingo hall for a while, and later demolished.

Contributed by Erwin Markisch

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

EMarkisch on July 11, 2005 at 8:45 am

Warren…Many thanks for the splendid photo of the interior of the Jamaica Theater circa 1947, as well as all the other theater interior photos and newspaper ads that you have been sharing with us of late.

The photo was probably taken during the period when the Jamaica was presenting “third rate” vaudeville during the late 40’s. It was also during the time when they were part of the “subway circuit” of touring Broadway shows during the summer months. The increased use of the stage in both instances probably accounts for their springing for the new stage curtains.

My recollections of the Jamaica go back over 50 years. I am amazed at how vivid the murals appeared in 1947. I still remember the one above the proscenium arch in a rather faded condition around 1953/54, but not the ones on either side of the arch. But then it could have been the lighting and tricks of memory after all these years.

Can you post any interior photos of the Carlton, Alden, Merrick, Rialto/Savoy and Hillside?

mauriceski on September 28, 2005 at 3:17 am

the first movie isaw at the jamaica was this land is mine with charles laughton and maureen o'hara.they also had 8 vaudeville acts. if you missed a film at the merrick you could catch at the jamaica.

Scott on September 28, 2005 at 4:55 am

It appears that this theatre didn’t have an organ, since I don’t see organ screens. Is that the case? If so, that seems odd for a theatre like this.

Paul Noble
Paul Noble on September 28, 2005 at 8:06 am

I visited the Skouras New Jamaica (as it was known then) in the early 50’s and saw a live stage show and a double bill, all featuring Bela Lugosi. The stage acts consisted of three appearances by Bela as Count Dracula, rising from his coffin, with green and violet lighting, and at least three interludes with a magician. There were two awful Monogram pictures, with “ape” and “bat” in the titles. In later years, I learned that Lugosi, to support his drug habit and debts, did “bus-and-truck” tours nationally, and this was but one stop on that caravan.

mauriceski on October 25, 2005 at 5:52 pm

I also remember the cartoons. I think they were matinee cartoons meaning after one showing the regular program would follow.

jedweber on May 12, 2008 at 1:03 pm

I assume Warren’s photo from two posts above (no longer available) refers to Mae West’s 1951 revival of her play “Diamond Lil.”

An exterior shot of the Jamaica with the marquee for this event can be found at:

(Under “Life and Career” – “Later Stage Work”)

Bway on April 19, 2009 at 10:19 am

You can just make out the Jamaica at the extreme left of this photo:

EMarkisch on May 5, 2009 at 8:04 am

Bway….I hate to differ with you, but I, sincerely, do not believe that the building (with the arched window)that you refer to in the extreme left of the photo you posted on April 19th is the Jamaica Theatre. I know there was an arched window above the Jamaica’s marquee, but I do not recall such a tall office building above that.

Further proof is that the building with the neon sign to the left of the arched window building is, unmistakably, the 111 year old Beaux-Arts former Jamaica Savings Bank building, which is located at 161-02 Jamaica Avenue. The Jamaica was located some distance west at 155-16 Jamaica Avenue.

LugosiResearch on August 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm

In reference to the comment by Paul Noble, a frequent submitter to Cinema Treasures, regarding Bela Lugosi’s appearance at The Jamaica Theater in 1951: I am currently researching for a book on Lugosi and am interested in any information regarding Lugosi’s Horror and Magic Show that toured NYC area theaters in 1950-1951. Thus, I would really like to get in touch with Paul Noble and discuss more of his memories regarding the Lugosi show at The Jamaica Theater. Paul, if you see this, please contact me at:

robboehm on February 25, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I never remember the Jamaica ever being open. When I was a teenager I would sometimes take the bus to Jamaica to go shopping. I would pass this empty hulk on my way to Montgomery Wards. In all those years I never saw any sign of vandalism. We live in a different time.

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