RKO 81st Street Theatre
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Architects: Thomas White Lamb
Previous Names: Keith's 81st Street
Opened by June 1, 1916, this theatre became part of the Keith-Orpheum Circuit. James Cagney made his acting debut here as a chorus girl. Seating was provided in orchestra, balcony and upper balcony levels. The theatre was later known as the RKO 81st Street Theatre when the Keith-Orpheum became part of RKO. In 1939 the auditorium was remodeled in a Streamline-Moderne style.
It closed in late-December 1953 with Richard Burton in “The Robe”. In 1954 it became a CBS Television Studio named CBS Studio 72.
"Love Sydney" and "Sesame Street" were shot here in later years.
In 1966 it was briefly used as an off-Broadway live theatre. Last known information was that Conran’s home supply store occupied the former theatre’s upper level.
The former theatre was demolished in 1986 except for its facade to make way for an apartment building. The original theatre entrance has been preserved as a grand lobby for the 21-story high rise apartment building.
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