Capitol Theatre (New York City)

The Capitol Theatre

Capitol Theatre program (1922), mentioning Edward Bowes and S. L. Rothafel, manager and producer.
Address 1645 Broadway
New York City
United States
Coordinates 40°45′43″N 73°59′02″W / 40.76195°N 73.9839°W / 40.76195; -73.9839
Owner Loews Theatres
Type Movie palace
Capacity 4,000
Opened October 24, 1919
Closed September 16, 1968
Demolished 1968
Years active 1919–1968
Architect Thomas W. Lamb

The Capitol Theatre was a movie palace located at 1645 Broadway, just north of Times Square in New York City, across from the Winter Garden Theatre. Designed by the noted theater architect Thomas W. Lamb, the Capitol seated 4,000 and opened October 24, 1919. After 1924 the flagship theatre of the Loews Theatres chain, the Capitol was known as the premiere site of many Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films. The Capitol was also noted for presenting live musical revues and many jazz and swing bands on its stage.


The Capitol Theatre in 1920
Newspaper ad for the film The Lotus Eater (1921) at the Capitol, "The world's largest and foremost motion picture palace"

The Capitol was one of the first of the large lavish movie theaters that dominated the film exhibition business for the next 40 years. The theater was acquired in 1924 by the entertainment magnate Marcus Loew and became the flagship of his deluxe Loew's Theatres chain.

The Capitol was the frequent site of the world premieres of films made by the Loew's-owned Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio. This was the theatre at which the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz had its first New York run.[1]

After having been converted for the presentation of Cinerama wide screen films in 1964, the theater's last engagement was the New York premiere of MGM's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Capitol closed September 16, 1968 with a live all-star benefit featuring Bob Hope and Johnny Carson.[2] The theatre was replaced by the Uris Building (now Paramount Plaza) office tower.


Airing for the first time in November 1922, The Capitol Theatre Family Show was a 45–60 minute program broadcast Mondays on the NBC Blue Network March 7, 1927 – July 27, 1931.[3]

Leo Zeitlin (1884–1930) was a violinist, violist, conductor and impresario who was active in Saint Petersburg's Society for Jewish Folk Music. In 1923, he emigrated to New York, where he became the violist and arranger for the Capitol Theatre. In 1925, he began arranging orchestral and small ensemble pieces for the Capitol's radio program on WEAF, which became the flagship station of the NBC Red Network in 1926.

Beginning in 1926, the series of light classical concerts titled Capitol Theatre was broadcast by the NBC Red Network on Sunday evenings from 7:20pm to 9:15pm. This series continued until 1929, not long before Zeitlin's death.[4][5][6]

See also


  1. Nugent, Frank S. "Movie Review…The Wizard of Oz", The New York Times, August 18, 1939.
  2. Crowther, Bosley. "Old-Time Star-Filled Benefit to Close Capitol Theater Tonight". New York Times, September 16, 1968.
  3. Hickerson, Jay. The Ultimate History of Network Radio Programming and Guide to All Circulating Shows. Hamden, Connecticut: Jay Hickerson, Box 4321, Hamden, CT 06514, second edition December 1992, page 346.
  4. Eisenstein, Paula. "Leo Zeitlin's Musical Works on Jewish Themes for New York's Capitol Theatre, 1927-1930", Shofar, Vol. 20, No. 1, October 31, 2001. (Preview online at Questia website.)
  5. Baker, Paula Eisenstein and Robert S. Nelson (eds.). "Leo Zeitlin: Chamber Music". A-R Editions, Inc. website, "Recent Researches in the Music of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries". Archived February 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. Howard, Aaron. "Finding Composer Leo Zeitlin", Jewish Herald-Voice, February 26, 2009.
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