RKO Keith's Theatre
135-35 Northern Boulevard,
51 people favorited this theater
Architects: Thomas White Lamb
Previous Names: Keith-Albee Theatre, Keith's Theatre, RKO Keith's Flushing Triplex
News About This Theater
- Mar 11, 2012 — Flushing RKO Keith's for sale again?
- Jan 19, 2011 — Once-grand Qns. theater to be apt. building
- Jun 14, 2010 — Preservationists skeptical of developer's claim to restore RKO Keith's lobby
- Mar 15, 2010 — Fundraiser to save historic RKO Keith's Flushing Theatre
- Feb 10, 2010 — Flushing's crown needs polishing
- Mar 18, 2009 — Group forms to help neglected RKO Keith's
- Feb 27, 2009 — Meeting Saturday, March 7th for Friends of The RKO Keith's Theater Flushing
- Jan 6, 2006 — Petition to halt demolition of the RKO Keith's
- Dec 14, 2005 — Mixed-Use Project Gets OK at Flushing's RKO Keith's Site
- Feb 27, 2004 — Flushing's RKO Keith's to Become Condos
Once one of the most celebrated movie palaces of New York City, the RKO Keith’s Theatre in the Flushing section of Queens, became only a ghost of its former self. It was designed by noted theatre architect Thomas White Lamb who made a rare excursion into the Atmospheric style of theatre buildings. The exterior was quite plain, but once inside it displayed a magnificent blend of Moorish and Spanish Baroque styles. The Grand Foyer contained a central fountain which contained goldfish and the plain blue colored auditorium ceiling containing twinkling ‘stars’.
Opened as the Keith-Albee Theatre on December 25, 1928 with Clara Bow in “Three Week Ends” and a Pathe News on the screen, there was Keith-Albee vaudeville on stage. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3 manual 15 ranks organ. Over the years many top named artistes appeared on the stage, including: Bob Hope, Jack Benny, The Marx Brothers, Judy Garland, Mae West, Milton Berle, The Inkspots, Jimmy Durante & Jerry Lewis. In 1969 the Wurlitzer organ was donated to the College of the Ozarks.
It was closed on March 15, 1975 for conversion into a triple-screen theatre. It reopened with one screen operating on February 11, 1976 and the other two screens opened on April 7, 1976 with Robert De Nero in “Taxi Driver”, Goldie Hawn in “The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox” & Albert Finney in “Murder of the Orient Express plus "Jack Nicholson in "Chinatown” . Legend has it, in 1986, after almost sixty years of showing movies, the theatre was closed on September 4, 1986 with “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Night of the Creeps” & Gregory Hines in “Running Scared”. The building had been sold. Soon after, its owner attempted to demolish it before a hearing could be held to decide its fate.
Having already damaged its famous façade and with work commencing to gut the theatre, the demolition was halted by the city. The owner soon forfeited the property, and the damaged and stripped RKO Keith’s Theatre then sat and waited its fate.
Several plans have come and gone to convert the building into apartments, but it sat vacant for 35 years, some enthusiasts hoping that at least something could be saved. It was not to be, as the auditorium and front of the building were demolished in summer of 2021. The lobby (which is protected) has been saved to be incorporated into the new building on the site.
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