RKO 86th Street Theatre

1284 Lexington Avenue,
New York, NY 10028

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Proctor's, RKO

Architects: Thomas White Lamb

Previous Names: Proctor's 86th Street Theatre, RKO Proctor's Theatre

Nearby Theaters

RKO 86th Street Theatre

Proctor’s 86th Street Theatre was located in Yorkville on Lexington Avenue, on New York City’s upper east side. It was built in 1926, opening on May 16, 1927 with vaudeville on stage and Rin-Tin-Tin in “Tracked by the Police” on the screen. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3 manual, 15 rank organ. It was taken over by RKO in 1929. It was closed in October 1968 with Sidney Poitier in “For Love of Ivy”.

It was demolished in early-1969, a Gimbels department store was built on the site, which in turn has been replaced by an apartment building.

Contributed by Jean

Recent comments (view all 41 comments)

tone10029 on August 4, 2012 at 11:14 pm

This was a really cool “twin "theatre.It was there for a long time.In the summer of 1978,my two older brothers,some little league freinds and myself saw"Jaws 2"on its opening weekend.I remember the police were there to help control the crowd.I also saw "Alien”,“Gremlins”,“Superman III”,and “The Untouchables"at this great theatre.

bazookadave on August 5, 2012 at 6:41 am

It wasn’t this theater. You may be remembering the small RKO replacement theater that is now Duane Reade. The original building at this site housing the RKO 86th Street was completely demolished in the late 1960s, then replaced by Gimbels East, which included a small RKO theater meant to replace the lost movie palace.

bazookadave on November 6, 2012 at 6:15 am

Here is a picture of the Gimbels East department store in 1971. This is the bland modern building that replaced the original RKO 86th movie palace, which was completely demolished in 1968/1969. The marquee lower left is the new smaller RKO theater that was supposed to make up for the loss of the original RKO on the site.

After Gimbels closed it stores, this East 86th location was stripped down to its steel skeleton and renovated as the current luxury apartment house. The theater became the Duane Reade that is there today. The marquee was finally removed in 2011.


bigjoe59 on July 18, 2016 at 12:46 pm


looking at pics of the original movie palace I noticed an incorrect caption. one of the 2 pics posted by Al A. on April 13, 2009 gives a date of June 1965. now the marquee is advertising My Fair Lady. the film opened at the Criterion the fall of 1964 and i doubt its roadshow engagement had ended yet.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 18, 2016 at 2:01 pm

bigjoe, that was a link to another website, not a photo posting. “MY FAIR LADY” went wide in June 1966.

Orlando on February 27, 2017 at 11:08 am

The RKO 86th Street wasn’t demolished in 1965 as the heading says, It was closed in late October 1968 with “For Love Of Ivy”. Demolition probably occured in early 1969. The top description should be changed to 1969!

Moose on July 4, 2021 at 11:09 am

I worked here in the Fall of 1968 as a manager. The theatre was absolutely amazing. On one one side of the stage, there were nine floors, with elevator access, of dressing rooms, many with a toilet and bathtub. I cleaned one of the rooms and used it for my tuxedo worn on special occasions. There were two movie previews for special guests. One I remember was “Rough Night in Jericho”. The top floor was reportedly the party place for performers.

grindhouse on January 2, 2022 at 9:42 am

As well as promoting “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?”, by making an appearance on the RKO 86th Street Theatre stage, Bette Davis visited Andy Williams and sang the theme song.


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