Psycho at the DeMille Theater

 “Psycho” opened in New York City at the DeMille Theater (and the Baronet) on Thursday June 16th 1960.  

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The DeMille Theater was located on Broadway and 47th Street. The theater was originally known as the Columbia which opened in 1910 as a burlesque house. In 1930, the Columbia was gutted and basically a new theater was built and when opened was called the Mayfair. The Mayfair was owned by Walter Reade who leased the theater to RKO.  RKO eventually sold the lease to the Loew’s Corporation. When Loew’s lease expired the theater was leased to the Brandt organization. Around 1960, the Reade family took over management of the theater and renamed it the DeMille. “Psycho” was one of the first films to open at the theater under its new name. The theater was eventually turned into a triplex and renamed the Embassy 234, under new ownership. The Embassy 234 was one of the last movie theaters to survive on Broadway closing sometime around late 1998 or early 1999.

Below are some photo of the DeMille theater through the years.      

RKO Mayfair  (the Palace and the Loew’s State theaters are also seen in this photo). 

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Mayfair  Theater 1954 

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Mayfair Theater 1955 (on the right is the RKO Palace)

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DeMille Theater 1965  

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Embassy 234  in 1993

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Closed

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23 Responses to “Psycho at the DeMille Theater”

  1. At the two young age of thirteen, I saw Psycho at a matinee sometime during the month of June of 1960 in NYC. I’m trying to remember if it was at the Baronet or DeMille Theatre.
    Now fifty years later I recall a busy street outside, a uniformed doorman, a mammoth temple like interior with huge balcony in which this then youngster sat terrified almost all alone but for a few other audience members. I suppose that it was not too long after the movie’s premiere. Can anyone with certainty i.d. the particular theatre for me, please, as well as add any background about it in general as as specifically relating to the Psycho showing? Thanks! W. W. S.

  2. Warren, from your description, “a uniformed doorman, mammoth temple like interior with a hugh balcony” it sounds like the DeMille, a much larger theater than the Coronet which had a more modern (at the time) interior. Also during those days many of the Broadway theaters still had uniformed doorman.

    • Thanks, John, for narrowing it down to te DeMille for me.
      From what you say, it sounds as if it much be that particular theatre. The on-line photo of the exterior marquee and line there confused me, since I recall it as even much larger and grand than even that. Maybe that’s from the different perspective of a young adolescent then to elder now. During the particular matinee that I attended sometime in June of that year, there was no wait to get in and only a few other than myself in the audience. That may have been due to the time of day and day of the week more than the popularity of the movie itself. Having recently seen the full screen version as part of a fiftieth year celebration not too far from my home here in FL, I was struck by how well the movie not only stood up for me but affected youthful first time viewers already having been exposed to more explicit if less well made such fare which followed Psycho’s lead. In planning to write a memoir, my general love of movies in particular Psycho will take rightful place as a seminal moment in my life. I really appreciate you verifying that experience and invite you to add further in any way that you can to the particulars of that experience. W.W.S.

      • Glad I could help Warren. The attached link will give some information on the history of the DeMille. (It is listed as the Embassy because this website goes by the last name the theater operated under) The theater was large inside and there are some knowledgeable here who describe the interior. At one point in its history there were over 1,700 seats.

        http://cinematreasures.org/theater/501/

  3. Having already located and read on-line of the indeed interesting history of the Embassy, it was good that you, John G., verified that as one and same as the DeMille.
    Since my Mother had us always stay at the Picadilly Hotel when in NYC, am I correct in thinking that nearby the DeMille? If so, that would further make likely that is where she and my Dad walked to with me and picked me up after Psycho. Having then just returned to the U.S. after living abroad for nearly three years, I took them up on their typically kind offer of doing anything on the first day back with a movie. Film fan at such an early age, there was nothing more exciting for me than seeing a new movie. Certainly, Psycho lived up to and way beyond my then naieve expectations. Your well informed comments have reaffirmed that for me fifty years thereafter. Warren W. S.

  4. with hopes of another follow-up comment

  5. [...] recta final del curs així que avui hem trobat el motiu perfecte per renovar la secció. I és que tal dia com avui de fa 50 anys es va estrenar en una sala novaiorquesa, Psycho, una de les obres mestres del cinema de terror i [...]

  6. I was wondering if anyone might have any photos of theater maquees showing 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA? The movie came out on Christmas Day 1954 and played around the US to the end of 1955.

    I know that it premiered at the Astor Theater, but I’ve never seen any photos of the marquee. I’d love to see something on this.

  7. With appreciation for the information about the opening of Psycho at the DeMille, I wonder how you know so much about matters such as this. So impressed by your knowledge, I wonder if you are a film buff, historian, or what?

    • Warren,

      I am more of a “what?” (lol). Actually, I have been a film lover just about my whole life. Sometime in the mid-60’s I began hunting in the libraray for film books which I started reading and have been reading since, along with other non-film stuff. The web is also a good place to do research, you just have to keep hunting..

  8. Sounding much like my own approach in acquiring movie info, you’re just much better at it. And, at that, I again thank you for sharing.

  9. While PSYCHO was certainly one of the DeMille’s most famous pedigree, I remember buying the New York Times down here in Virginia during Christmas 1964 and seeing that James Bond’s GOLDFINGER was such a huge it at the DeMille, they were showing it 24 hours around the clock. To a 12 year old that was unbelievable!

    • I can imagine the wonder, Ray. There were some films back in those days when the crowds were large enough they would run the film 24 hours a day. Long before the drab multiplexes we have today. thanks!!!

      • Way . . . way . . . way later I finally checked into your blog. Still searching their for the listing of your favorite movies, I’ve in the meantime been very much pleasured by the rest of what’s on that site. Warren W. Spencer

  10. Having had the rare pleasure of serving as a seat filler for the 85th Academy Awards (late February, 2013), I wonder if you have any special knowledge, leads, or tidbits of interest on the Oscars which you might please ever so kindly share. With eager anticipation and appreciation,
    W.W.S. (1960 summer PSYCHO premiere engagement @ the DeMille)

    • Warren,

      Unfortunately, I do not, or at least nothing that I can think of right now. If something comes to mind I will let you know.

      • Thanks anyway, John, per my Oscars probe.
        As has been my custom for many years, I inquire of film buffs such as you their all-time “favorite” (if not necessarily so-called best, although not necessarily mutually exclusive) movies. To me, it tells much of the person themselves by way of such choices. How fascinating it would be for me and perhaps others on this link to hear of yours.
        Warren

      • Warren,

        I have actually been working on a list of favorite films and will be publishing it over at my Twenty Four Frames blog. Not sure when but it will not be in the not too distance future.

      • Please be sure to let me know when and where I may access that list of your film favs.

        Warren W. S.

  11. Wonderful information and photos here. Thanks for sharing them!

    I found this page while searching for info on the theatres seen in the original “Shaft”, which has some fantastic shots of 1970s Times Square.

    In one scene, you can see a large flashing arrow advertising the DeMille Theatre.

    Right after Shaft buys some chestnuts (about 18 minutes in), a taxi refuses to pick him up and picks up a white guy about 40 feet in front of him. When the camera cuts back to Shaft, the DeMille Theatre flashing arrow is right there in the background.

    You can also see “Love Story” and “There’s A Girl In My Soup!” on other theatre marquees in the same sequence — in non-cookie-cutter font, at that!

    Thanks again for sharing this information.

    • Cee Bee, thanks for the kind words. I am glad you enjoyed the post. SHAFT, as you mention, has some great shot of 1970’s Times Square.

      As an FYI, this blog is no long longer active but I am still blogging at Twentyfourframes.wordpress.com on classic films. I recently did a posting on Woody Allen films and all the now long gone NYC theaters that appear in his various films. Please feel free to stop by and browse.


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