Ziegfeld Theatre

141 W. 54th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Bow-Tie Cinemas, Cineplex Odeon, Clearview Cinemas, Walter Reade Theatres

Architects: John J. McNamara

Firms: Emery Roth & Sons

Functions: Ballroom, Banquet Hall, Special Events

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News About This Theater

Curtained screen

Built just a few hundred feet from the site of original Ziegfeld Theatre (demolished in 1966), this ‘new’ Ziegfeld Theatre opened December 17, 1969 with a gala premiere of “Marooned” starring Gregory Peck. The movie house was one of the last big palaces built in the United States.

It was built from plans by the architectural firm of Emery Roth & Sons, with designs by Irving Gershon and interior design by John McNamara. The Ziegfeld Theatre was built for Walter Reade for his chain’s flagship, and was later operated by Cineplex Odeon from 1987, Clearview from 1998, and Bow Tie from June 2013.

The letter ‘Z’ appears on the door handles and in the terrazzo floor of the ticket lobby. The main lobby has an elephant sculpture, also some memorabilia of the prior Ziegfeld Theatre and of the Ziegfeld girls, a ticket taker who cheerily welcomes customers. There is a grand stairs of marble and ornate metalwork, and an escalator. Upstairs is a foyer panelled in wood in which displays busts of Florenz Ziegfeld and Fanny Brice. “Story of this Wood” plaques in the lobby and upstairs state that the wood changed colors from oak to rich charcoal by virtue of being in a peat bog for 4,000 years outside Cambridge, England. Doors lead to the concessions foyer which has elegant restrooms, a huge framed poster from the movie “My Fair Lady” since Clearview placed it there, a bust of Will Rogers, and the entryways to the auditorium.

The auditorium features 1,131 seats: 825 seats in the front section, 306 seats in the raised stadium section at the rear. There are two sets of curtains over the screen, one gold, the other closer to the screen is a sheer white curtain. The huge screen measures 52ft x 22.7ft. The Ziegfeld Theatre’s interior is decorated with sumptuous red carpeting, abundant gold trim, crystal chandeliers, and ornamentation that ranges from sconces to door handles and exit signs.

The longest movie run at the Ziegfeld Theatre was “Ryan’s Daughter” (1970) 33 weeks. “Gandhi” (1982) was shown for 31 weeks. There were probably more world premieres in recent decades at the Ziegfeld Theatre than any US movie theatre outside of Los Angeles, too many to list here except for some that had long runs at the Ziegfeld Theatre: “Cabaret” had its 1972 world premiere and ran for 26 weeks. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” had its 1977 world premiere and ran for 23 weeks. “Apocalypse Now” had its world premiere in 1979 and ran for 12 weeks. In 1988 “The Last Temptation of Christ” had its 1988 world premiere here and drew protests. The Ziegfeld Theatre was also a beloved showplace for classic screenings such as “Lawrence of Arabia”.

The Ziegfeld Theatre was, arguably, the last movie palace still showing films in Manhattan. Sadly, due to fewer premiers and with competition with multiplexes hosting the same movies, in January 2016 news was announced that the Ziegfeld Theatre would imminently close and after a renovation, reopen in 2017 as the Ziegfeld Ballroom, an event facility. The final movie to play the Ziegfeld Theatre was “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on January 28, 2016.

Recent comments (view all 4,525 comments)

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 26, 2021 at 2:29 pm

Hello-

to Bill H.-

recently we were discussing our movie souvenir program/ brochure collections. in my collection 14 of the souvenir programs/brochures are hardcover- Around the World in 80 Days South Pacific Windjammer Ben-Hur The Alamo Spartacus King of Kings El Cid The Wonderful World pf the Brothers Grimm Mutiny on the Bounty How the West Was Won My Fair lady The Greatest Story Ever Told Hawaii

did you ever come across others that were hardcover?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 26, 2021 at 3:27 pm

I have the hardcovers of Ben-Hur, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm and My Fair Lady.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 28, 2021 at 2:59 pm

Hello-

to Bill H.- thanks for your reply. I was just wondering if you’ve ever come across any movie souvenir programs that were hardcover other than the 14 I mentioned.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 28, 2021 at 3:01 pm

Hi Bigjoe. Unfortunately I never did.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on October 20, 2021 at 3:02 pm

Hello-

to Bill H.-

do you ever get a message in your inbox that says “someone has responded to your comment” but when you click on the link there are no new replies?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 20, 2021 at 3:43 pm

Hey Bigjoe… Happens all the time. And when it does, it typically means some spam account posted some nonsense comment on the page, just trying to bait people, and the administrator quickly removed it.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on October 20, 2021 at 4:15 pm

Hello-

to Ed S.- thanks for your reply. it happens ever so often and I have always wondered why it occurs.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on October 20, 2021 at 5:05 pm

Thanks, guys. It happened to me today. The Ziegfeld page used to be so popular, but now …

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on October 21, 2021 at 8:10 am

Possibly because CT is still considered “Not Secure,” despite longtime promises by management to remedy that.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 4, 2021 at 8:16 am

The spam account and comment & photos by ffffffffff have been removed.

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