Winter Garden Theatre

1634 Broadway,
New York, NY 10019

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Winter Garden Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Best known in more recent times as the home of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Cats”, which ran for 19 years, the Winter Garden Theatre was once home to movies as well.

Originally built in 1896 by William Kissam Vanderbilt as the American Horse Exchange. It was leased to the Shubert Brothers who employed architect William Albert Swasey to convert it into a live musical theatre. It was given a Georgian style facade facing Broadway and the auditorium was decorated with an Atmospheric English garden theme, with a blue sky between the open roof trusses. On the 50th Street/Broadway corner of the building was a 3-story Winter Garden Roof Theatre, which over the years operated as the Palais de Danse, Montmartre and Singapore among other names.

The Winter Garden Theatre opened March 20, 1911 with “Bow Sing” and the Jerome Kern musical “La Belle Paree” which starred Al Jolson and launched his career. In 1922 the theatre was completely remodeled in an Adam style to the plans of architect Herbert J. Krapp. The theatre switched to film in 1928 when it was taken over by Warner Bros. opening with Al Jolson in “The Singing Fool”. It went back to live theatre in September 1933. Although movies returned to the Winter Garden Theatre in 1945 when it was taken over by United Artists, the three year run would be the last time movies would be a staple of the program.

The Winter Garden Theatre was renovated in 1980 and opened “Cats” in 1982 and became the longest running show in Broadway history. “Cats” finally closed in September 2000 and the theatre closed for renovations. It reopened in 2001, renamed the Cadillac Winter Garden Theatre (due to Cadillac’s winning naming rights), with the ABBA-inspired musical, “Mamma Mia!”. The Cadillac name was removed at the end of 2006, and is once again going by its original name.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 74 comments)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 3, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Looks like someone already “corrected” the street view so it can’t be adjusted to the proper main entrance around the block on Broadway.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on December 30, 2013 at 1:48 pm

As a kid, I always wanted to see “Cats” on broadway based on the memorable ads on tv with the yellow cats' eyes and the footage from the musical. When I saw it on tv, i thought it was silly.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 2, 2015 at 6:13 pm

Circa 1958 photo added courtesy of Stephen P Talaga.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on January 2, 2017 at 7:56 pm

1977 photo added of Beatlemania at the Winter Garden. Photo credit Herb Silverman.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on January 3, 2017 at 6:41 am

“Beatlemania” was a stage booking, not a movie, and thus not part of the Winter Garden’s links to cinema history.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on January 3, 2017 at 8:55 am

“Live On Stage” on the banner is a pretty good clue. Any bookings or photos of such at any theatres, at any time on CT are relevant. Because they add to that given theatre’s complete history, and going forward. Not limited only to it’s “cinema history”. Nowhere in the Community Guidelines does it say that that is a criteria. Some theatres converted back & forth from live events to film several times. Cinema Treasures = the theatre’s buildings.

By your logic, no photos should ever be posted of any theatres that have since converted to live events only. Which would be most of them, if they survived at all. How many theatres opened as vaudeville houses, and then converted to film? Should all their early history be omitted as well, because it is not “cinema history”? Photos of specific bookings or events whether film or not, can sometimes jar the memories of members and encourage them to post again about that given theatre. Particularly when years pass in between comments. Also, some members like to see any alterations to the buildings that may have occurred over the years. I only comment when I add photos, because it sometimes helps keeps CT active. Usually in a positive manner…

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on January 3, 2017 at 11:57 am

I think my dad went to this theater years ago when he saw Cats…i was way too young to see it as it was kinda adult for a family musical. Seeing the commercials i thought the cats looked scary and the yellow eyes filling the screen gave me nightmares. Thankfully i saw the musical on video and enjoyed it. That recording is from a London show.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on January 3, 2017 at 12:48 pm

All Broadway theaters operated as movie theaters at one time. All the Broadway house have photo’s of Broadway shows. If you look at the Palace it has more stage shows than movies. I think it’s cool that a theater that once operated as a movie theater and is now a legit theater shows all photos. If it was in the CT guidelines they would be deleting thousands of pictures. Happy New Year all. Looking forward to another great year here on CT

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 3, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Not ALL Broadway theatres showed movies.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 18, 2017 at 12:15 am

From a New York Times review dated October 4, 1945:

In returning to the cinema fold last night after a span of thirteen years, the Winter Garden opened another chapter in its distinguished theatrical history on a gay and frivolous note, for in film form Noel Coward’s amusing spoof on spiritualism, “Blithe Spirit,” comes through as a generally delightful divertissement…

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