On this Day in Movie History, November 16, 1932: The Palace NYC Closes to Vaudeville

On this day, November 16, 1932, the Palace Theatre in New York City closed its doors to vaudeville. Located at 1564 Broadway (at 47th) in midtown-Manhattan, it was the flagship of the monopolistic Keith-Albee organization. Operating as a vaudeville theater from 1913 through about 1929, the Palace attained legendary status among vaudeville performers as the most desired booking in the country.

Designed by architects Kirchoff & Rose, the Palace, a 1,740-seat theater funded by Martin Beck, a vaudeville entrepreneur based in San Francisco in an attempt to challenge Keith-Albee’s east-coast monopoly soon fell under the control of the Keith-Albee Circuit.

Wired for sound in 1929, it became a movie theater in November 1932. The RKO Picture Citizen Kane had its world premiere at the theatre on May 1, 1941.

Beginning in 1949 under Sol Schwartz, the refurbished RKO Palace tried to single-handedly revive vaudeville, with a slate of eight acts before a feature film. It attracted acts like Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye, Lauritz Melchior, Betty Hutton, and Harry Belafonte. Judy Garland staged a record-breaking 19-week comeback here in October 1951. But while the shows were successful, they did not lead to a revival of the format.

Bought by the Nederlanders, in 1965, the Palace was renovated and returned to legit use, reopening on January 29, 1966.

1907 – (Oliver) Burgess Meredith (Emmy Award-winning actor: The Big Event: Tail Gunner Joe [2-6-77], Batman, Gloria, Mr. Novak, Search, The Day of the Locust, Rocky series, Advice and Consent, Grumpy Old Men, In Harm’s Way, Of Mice and Men; TV host: Those Amazing Animals; author: So Far, So Good a Memoir; died Sep 9, 1997)

1922 – Royal Dano (actor: Mr. Lincoln, Ghoulies 2, The Red Badge of Courage, Huckleberry Finn, The Right Stuff, Johnny Guitar, The Trouble with Harry; died May 15, 1994)

1934 – Guy Stockwell (actor: The Richard Boone Show, Beau Geste, Return to Peyton Place, Airport 1975, Columbo: Columbo Goes to College; brother of actor Dean Stockwell; died Feb 6, 2002)

1935 – Clu Gulager (actor: The Killing Device, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Return of the Living Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, Kenny Rogers as the Gambler series, Force of One, The Other Side of Midnight, Smile Jenny You’re Dead, The Last Picture Show, The Killers, The Virginian, The Tall Man, The Survivors, San Francisco International Airport)

1942 – Joanna Pettet (actress: Best Sellers, Casino Royale, Double Exposure, Captains and the Kings, Knots Landing)

1958 – Marg Helgenberger (actress: C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation, Ryan’s Hope, China Beach, Through the Eyes of a Killer, Fallen Angels, Fire Down Below, Gold Coast, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town)

1966 – Dean McDermott (actor: Earth : Final Conflict, La Femme Nikita, Spenser : Small Vices, The Outer Limits, Rookies, Due South, Power Play, Brian’s Song)

1967 – Lisa Bonet (actress: The Cosby Show, A Different World, Angel Heart, Bank Robber)

1970 – Martha Plimpton (actress: The Goonies, Parenthood, The Mosquito Coast)


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