|Radio City Music Hall
the largest indoor theater in the world
Radio City Music Hall is
located at 1260 Sixth Avenue, New York City,
within the complex commonly known as Rockefeller
Center. The design of the auditorium insures that
every one of its 5,933 seats provides an
unobstructed view of the stage, meaning there is
literally "no such thing as a bad seat at
Radio City." The venue is also famous for
being the home of the "Mighty
Wurlitzer" pipe organ, which was built
especially for the theater, as well as the world
famous Radio City Rockettes.
Radio City was the brainchild
of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who had originally
intended to build a magnificent new home for the
Metropolitan Opera on the site. But when the
stock market crashed in 1929, Rockefeller had to
come up with another way to use the tract of land
in Midtown Manhattan he had recently acquired.
Despite the terrible economic conditions of the
day, Rockefeller decided to erect an entire
complex of buildings that were so superior in
design and construction that they would attract
Radio City Music Hall was the first part of
Rockefeller's ambitious project to be completed.
To make it a reality, he entered into a
commercial partnership with the Radio Corporation
of America, which was already enjoying success
with its NBC Radio network and RKO movie studio.
The partnership then enlisted the aid of S.L.
"Roxy" Rothafel, who had earned a
reputation as a theatrical genius by employing an
innovative combination of vaudeville, movies, and
"razzle-dazzle" to revive struggling
theaters across the country.
Radio City (as RCA head David
Sarnoff dubbed it) opened its doors to the public
on December 27, 1932; the program that night was
a stage show featuring Ray
Bolger and Martha
Graham. Entertainers who have appeared on the
massive Radio City stage since then include Frank
Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt, Bill
Sammy Davis, Jr., Ann Margaret, Johnny Mathis,
John Denver, The Count Basie Orchestra, Itzhak
Perlman, Jose Carreras, Ray Charles, and BB King.
The first film to be shown at
Radio City was The Bitter Tea of General Yen,
which was screened two weeks after the grand
opening. Over the years Radio City hosted more
than 700 movie premiers, including King Kong,
National Velvet, White Christmas,
Breakfast at Tiffany's, To Kill a
Mockingbird, Mary Poppins, 101
Dalmatians, and The Lion King.
After undergoing renovation in
the late 1970's, Radio City reopened in 1980 with
a focus on concerts and live stage shows.
Although it no longer hosts movie premiers (nor
any other movies for that matter), and the
general public's entertainment tastes have
changed dramatcially since its grand opening,
Radio City Music Hall is still considered one of
the greatest entertainment venues in the world.
The Official Radio City Music
Hall site is at www.radiocity.com.
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