Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grand Central Theatre, New York City

From back of postcard:
"The Most Intimate Theatre in America 
Up-to-the-Minute Newsreels
and press scoops...cartoons...newest short subjects...major companies' previews
News Added as it occurs"

The Brooklyn Eagle, November 30, 1936, reported "the formation of Grand Central Newsreel Theatre, Inc., which has been organized for the purpose of constructing and operating a newsreel theater and cocktail lounge on the main station level of Grand Central Terminal between the Hotel Commodore and the Graybar building."
The 242 seat theatre opening May 12, 1937 with a twenty-five cent admission and a continuous show running from "10 A. M. to midnight."
Walter Winchell, in his  January 19, 1937 column, described the audience as "travelers killing minutes before traintime... watching the films with one orb and the clock near the screen with the other."
Jack Cluett's column, of April 12, 1937, told of a woman with "four pieces of baggage" who "was lugged out of the Grand Central newsreel theater at an early hour."
"The lady was found wandering up the aisle in her nightgown looking for the washroom. She had boarded the theater by mistake, thinking it was the Boston sleeper."  
The advent of television would bring an end to tiny newsreel theatres with their programs of short subjects. Most accounts giving a rather late closing date of 1967 for the Grand Central.
According to Lorraine B. Diehl,  New York Daily News , May 25, 2002, the theatre closed its doors in the late 1950s. However she gives an opening of November 2, 1929.
The entrance of the Grand Central Theatre is now Grande Harvest Wines, near the Graybar Passage, opposite Track 17.  During a 1998 restoration, workers discovered, under a false ceiling, a small dirt encrusted mural belonging to the old theatre. Depicting Saturn with shooting stars, it can be seen above the cash registers in the wine shop.

Above postcard from the Theatre Talks LLC collection

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, awarded “2010 Outstanding Book of the Year” by the Theatre Historical Society of America.

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