Rialto Theatre (New York City)
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Manhattan, New York City
|Opened||April 21, 1916|
The 1,960-seat theater opened on April 21, 1916, on the former site of Oscar Hammerstein's Vaudeville venue the Victoria Theatre. Together with Strand Theatre, they were the most important movie theatres on Broadway at the time. It exclusively played Triangle Film Corporation films but beginning in 1919, the Rialto Theatre premiered many releases by Paramount Pictures (then known as the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation) until being supplanted by the newly built Paramount Theatre in 1926 as the movie studio's flagship theater in New York City.
When Paramount sold the building in 1935, the Rialto Theatre was demolished and rebuilt on a smaller scale, with the rest of the building dedicated to shops and office space.
By the 1970s, the theater had become an adult movie theater. In February 1980, it abandoned adult films in lieu of legitimate theater, becoming host to live theatrical productions. The building also contained a TV studio called Times Square Studios (not related to the studio owned by ABC). It was once home to daytime talk shows hosted by Geraldo Rivera and Montel Williams.
The building was torn down in 2002 and a high-rise office building was erected in its place.
In popular culture
The Rialto's predecessor, the Hammerstein vaudeville venue, is featured in the 1948 film Portrait of Jennie. Jennie's parents are high-wire trapeze artists who perform at Hammerstein's until tragedy strikes. The Rialto itself also makes an appearance in the film, with a Mickey Mouse cartoon playing in the background. Box office receipts from the premiere at the Rialto Theatre (New York City) of Paramount Pictures's 1926 movie Old Ironsides (film), directed by James Cruz went to the USS Constitution restoration fund.