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Harlem on a high note: The grand Harlem Opera House

A ton of people on-stage at the Harlem Opera House in 1907. During this period, it was owned by vaudeville impresario Keith Proctor and called Proctor’s Harlem Opera House. Pictures courtesy the Museum of the City of New York   The Hotel Theresa, subject of this week’s podcast, had a rather unusual neighbor in its early […]

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Edwin Booth, American Hamlet, born 180 years ago today

Edwin Booth, the Gilded Age’s most famous American actor, was born 180 years ago today.  Here’s a few past blog posts on Mr. Booth (and his infamous brother John Wilkes Booth) to commemorate the great thespian’s contribution to New York City history: — Booth owned a theater at 6th Avenue and 23rd Street that nearly […]

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The Evangelist of Kitsch: Liberace’s final performances, with the Rockettes, at Radio City Music Hall 1986

Liberace is the embodiment of a certain California flamboyance, but New Yorkers were as susceptible to his allure as anyone. In fact, for this brightly-painted musical showman, Radio City Music Hall was a second home.  He continued to smash box office records here year after year as late as the 1980s, well past his prime […]

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Sigourney Weaver boards an off-Broadway ‘Titanic’ in 1976

Queen of the world: Weaver sets an uncharted course on a small SoHo stage. Perhaps you are as confused as I am by the picture above, one that appears to put the lovely young Sigourney Weaver‘s face upon the body of a child. Ah, the magic of the theater! The future film star was in her […]

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When New York hosted the Oscars

NOTE: In honor of this weekend’s Academy Awards, I’m expanding this article originally posted last year with some revisions and newer information. Despite the Academy Awards being a celebration of all things Hollywood, New York has actually hosted the Oscar ceremony on more than one occasion. Or rather, they co-hosted the event — from 1953 to 1957 […]

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Marilyn Monroe’s surprising link to a few Broadway classics

Monroe on the New York set of ‘The Seven Year Itch’, the film version of a Broadway box office success. The heavily-hyped ‘Smash‘ debuted last night on NBC, a glossy musical-drama unspooling the backstage tribulations of a new Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Although Monroe was once married to one of […]

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D.W. Griffith turns Central Park into a silent screen star

In honor of the grand re-opening of the Museum of the Moving Image this Saturday, we’re going all New York film and media here on the blog, posting some new stuff and re-printing some older ones pertinent to the city’s filmmaking history. Above, you can watch ‘Father Gets In The Game’, a cheeky short from […]

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Lady Day to Lady Gaga: where 20 stars got their starts

Here’s a sampling of female entertainers from the last one hundred years, focusing on one particular venue that figures into shaping that person’s professional career. Obviously, most of these women performed in dozens of places throughout the city. I’m just focusing on location pivotal to their beginnings. Billie Holiday in a jam session, 1943 (Gjon […]

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Stars of MSG: Two great Johns on a Thanksgiving night

STARS OF MADISON SQUARE GARDEN: Elton John and John Lennon LOCATION: MSG IV John Lennon’s last stage performance ever took place on 1974 at Madison Square Garden, and he only did it because he lost a bet.   Elton John, an up and coming young star fresh from the successes of his album Goodbye Yellow […]

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PODCAST: The Glory of Carnegie Hall

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Well, we can at least show you the way through its tumultuous history, from a fortunate meeting on a Norwegian cruise ship, passed a symphonic rivalry, and into the 20th Century with some of the biggest names in classical and popular music. Listen to it for free on […]

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Broadway’s first musical: The Black Crook

The Broadway theater season begins again with another new batch of musicals hitting the boards — from an unusual adaptation of War And Peace to a stage version of a Robert DeNiro drama.  Some believe that this musical tradition begins all the way back in September 12, 1866, back when musicals based on movies and popular Founding […]