Halsey Theatre

928 Halsey Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11233

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This 2,100-seat theater, which originally presented both vaudeville and silent movies, was located on Halsey Street between Saratoga Avenue and Broadway in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant section and is listed as operating from at least 1926.

It is most notable for being the place where the legendary Jackie Gleason won an amateur contest and got his first job, as an emcee, at the young age of 15, in 1931.

The theatre was closed around 1945.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 69 comments)

IrishDJKevin
IrishDJKevin on July 17, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Zitch,

Spoke to to my older brother Ed (somehow he is now my younger brother). He thinks he remembers a Charlie Eckhardt. However, he says the landlord was Mr. Hardey (not Halsey). He brought the building in the mid 50’s. He spent a lot of money putting in central heating and hot water. The “slumlord prior to that was Mr. Giagantie.

Spoke to someone at work. He remembers a gang called the Halsey Bops. THe only gang I remember was the Chaplins.

Pax et bonum,
Kevin

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on July 18, 2008 at 4:27 am

Zitch and Kevin :

I remember both the Chaplains and the Halsey Bops, not personally, but as graffiti, the Chaplains en route on the B-52 Gates Avenue Civic Center bus from Ridgewood to downtown Brooklyn, somewhere on a building in Bushwick or Bed Stuy, and the Halsey Bops on the concrete abutments of the Cypress Avenue LIRR / Connecting Line trestle, along with “Russ and Connie” (on the northern abutment).

I remember thinking that maybe “Chaplains” was a dirty word that I should ask my parents about before using it aloud.

Please be advised : There is a Warren (G. Harris) out for our arrest for OT posting.

Any connection between the Halsey Bops and the Halsey Theatre ?

Does anyone have a chronology of Jackie Gleason’s appearances at the Halsey, first in the audience, then as a performer, on Amateur nights ?

Does anyone have any images of the Halsey, either interior or exterior, when it was still a theater ? Perhaps one of those 1930’s NYC tax photos, with the sign in the foreground, such as I have seen for the Eagle / Luxor and the Monroe ?

Pax et bonum,
Peter K.

geoj99
geoj99 on July 18, 2008 at 5:02 am

Peter, Kevin,

I am currently going through old family photos of the Halsey theater area..I have plenty so far of Sarotoga park and one of Jim Proces bar where Jackie Gleason hung out……..hopefully I will be able to find one of the Halsey theater marquee
..I am also reviewing photos of the Ridgewood hangout around the theater…if I come up with any of the marquee i’ll let you guys know…another bit of movie/tv trivia….I think I remember my mom mentioning that Jack Lord (Hawaii 5-0 ) growing up around Sarotoga and Halsey street also….Kevin????

Kevin….my uncle was Charlie Eckhardt…..sadly he passed away in Florida 1992….I believe he did indeed know your family..

Zitch

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on July 18, 2008 at 5:05 am

Thank you, Zitch, particularly, in advance for those photos you may find, and which you may be posting.

Peter K.

jflundy
jflundy on March 19, 2009 at 10:13 am

The 1924 Eagle Almanac lists the Halsey as seating 2500, with George W. Powell as manager.

Bway
Bway on April 19, 2009 at 7:06 am

It looks like the Halsey was already abandoned by 1967, it must have been torn down soon after this photo was taken. Anyone know when it closed to movies?

IrishDJKevin
IrishDJKevin on August 28, 2009 at 6:52 am

It was converted into a factory (Merimakers). My mom worked there in the early 50’s.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on February 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm

I just saw one of the “lost” Honeymooner episodes where Ralph referred to the Halsey. In this piece, he was planning a surprise anniversary party for Alice at the “Kit Kat Club', which was situated right down the street from the Halsey. (Taking Alice to the movies was the ploy he would use to get her to the club.)

My question is, does anyone remember if something like the Kit Kat Club ever existed here? Given all of the other references to local people and businesses that pop up on the Honeymooners, the possibility that this is also the case with the Kit Kat is quite likely.

I really enjoyed perusing the memories of the Halsey and its neighborhood on this page.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on February 21, 2011 at 4:01 am

After posting the last comment, I perused the Halsey’s page in the Brooklyn Theatre Index. A few interesting facts emerged.

Most significantly, the Index provides a 1943 closing date, which conflicts with the 1945 date cited in the previous comments. The Index’s documentation – a 1945 NY Times article that, in the course of describing the property’s sale, notes that the Halsey had been dark for about two years – seems pretty strong, though not absolutely conclusive.

Another 1945 article, this time from the Brooklyn Eagle, notes the possibility of the old theater being converted into a boxing venue. While it is unclear if this ever came to pass, it does provide some documentation for several previous comments. There was probably much comment in the community that the place COULD become a boxing site that may have lingered in people’s memories whether or not the move was ever made.

The last property transaction cited occurred in 1953, when it was probably converted into a factory. It is interesting to note that, between the 1945 and 1953 sales, the assessed valuation of the property had plunged from $100,000 to $50,000. My guess is that the intervening decline in the community’s fortunes during that time was not the only reason for this development.

Getting back to Jackie Gleason, it is clear that the Halsey provided many fond memories to him. Although it closed sometime in the mid-1940’s, it remained Ralph Kramdan’s movie house of choice well into the following decade. Long live the Halsey!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Two interior photos of the Halsey Theatre appear on page 39 of the January, 1913, issue of the trade journal Architecture and Building.

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