Tilyou Theatre

1607 Surf Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11224

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Showing 18 comments

rivest266 on October 16, 2020 at 10:07 am

Grand opening ad posted. opened by B. S. Moss.

HomecrestGuy on December 10, 2018 at 1:21 am

Just added a “new” 1941 photo of the RKO Tilyou, gleaned from the marvelous NYC Tax Photo collection, which was digitized and released in Nov., 2018.

EcRocker on April 8, 2016 at 11:13 pm

The theatre Was named fr the Tilyou family who were major land owners in Coney Island. George died in 1914 age 52. The park closed for good on Sept 20 1964 and never reopened. Coney Island was declining and crime was rising and a good deal of businesses shut down or move and the RKO Tilyou was collateral damage.

robboehm on June 10, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I would have thought it was named because of the proximity to the park rather than any actual relationship. Always remember looking towards it while waiting to get on some of the rides in the park.

PragmaticGuy on June 10, 2014 at 10:21 am

I wonder if this theater was related to George Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park which must have been right near it.

Metropolite on December 13, 2013 at 5:20 am

Clay Cole died at 72 of a heart attack on December 10, 2010 at his home in North Carolina. His last public appearance was at the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention in October 2010.

EcRocker on February 4, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Clay Cole is retired and lives on an island off the Cape Fear River on the Atlantic Ocean on the North Carolina coast. I still till this day remember seeing King Kong Vs Godzilla there and only a few years later there was a vacant lot that as far as I know is still vacant.

BobFurmanek on February 4, 2009 at 12:11 pm

On Friday January 26, 1962, the Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly-Joe DeRita) embarked on a three day promotional tour for their latest feature film, THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES. They were accompanied by “The Herculean Giant” (almost 8 foot tall Dave Ballard) and popular DJ Clay Cole, who was one of the stars of the co-feature, TWIST AROUND THE CLOCK.

On Sunday January 28, they appeared at the RKO Tilyou at 2:35 PM.

RobertR on September 17, 2006 at 12:53 pm

A Special Engagement in 1955 for 3 days

View link

kencmcintyre on May 4, 2006 at 1:41 pm

George Tilyou owned the Million Dollar Pier in Atlantic City. I’m sure he had his hand in a few other enterprises as well.

dfinkel on May 3, 2006 at 3:48 pm

The 3 manual Wurlitzer console from the Tilyou Theatre has been completely restored including its pneumatic combination action. It is currently in a private home in Indiana and controls 24 ranks of pipes. The console was restored by Carlton Smith Pipe Organ Restorations of Indianapolis. On a side note, the Orchestral Oboe rank in the organ was originally from the Tilyou as well.

BobFurmanek on February 23, 2006 at 9:32 am

To promote his new film “The Ladies Man,” Jerry Lewis appeared on stage at this theater on July 13, 1961.

EcRocker on January 5, 2006 at 6:04 pm

I know it was in the early 60’s when I saw King Kong vs. Godzilla there. At that time I was not aware that there was a Wurlitzer Organ there. The whole area has run down. One section of Coney Island is people on public assistance and the rest is Russian immigrants.

ERD on January 1, 2006 at 6:50 am

The Tilyou theatre had such a nice atmosphere. Unfortunately, like so many distinctive and beautiful movie theatres, it did not survive our modern times.

sasheegm on May 8, 2005 at 6:42 pm

I noticed that no posting was made on this Theater that had to compete with all of the attractions surrounding it in Coney Island; my guess is that it was mostly frequented my locals——I was there once, and here is how………In 1953, my Father worked for a company that was contracted by 20th Century Fox to make Cinemascope screens for the NY theaters that were going to show their first 70mm film in over 33 years( the first was Fox’s,The Big Trail in 1930 with John Wayne)——My Father had already helped to make(he was a sewer-putting the screen pieces together) the big screen at the Roxy in Manhattan………This time he was to go along and hlp install the new screen at the Tilyou and he took me with him——-at the time, it was the RKO-Tilyou——-I sat in the balcony while my father and a group of others assembled the screen on the stage area……….It was the only time he took me with him———-when all the screens that his company was contracted to make and install were finished, all or most of the employees were let go, or laid off as they used to say…….With the screen in place, we left before the test run of a 70mm film clip was to be run————but my Dad did get a chance to see The Robe at the Roxy in its trial run at the Roxy before its premier——and I remember him saying how beautiful the picture was——-Luckily a few years ago, Fox located a negative that had not deteriorated and was able to restore the Print with the help of the Technicolor Corp, as their Deluxe process, while being cheaper, but just as radiant as technicolor at first, faded very quickly and only pinkish negatives remained in their Vaults…..Now Fox is in the expensive process of restoring many of their old films for dvd & showing on their Fox Movie Channel…….Joe From Florida—-sasheegm——P.S. Many of the early Deluxe 70mm titles had sufferd a similar fate, circa 1953/1956

William on November 17, 2003 at 2:12 pm

The RKO Tilyou Theatre’s address was 1607 Surf Ave., and it seated 2276 people.

philipgoldberg on December 26, 2002 at 7:25 am

The theater stood directly across Surf Avenue from Steeplechase park. Both were owned by the George Tilyou family. The theater’s fortunes went downhill, along with the rest of Coney Island, after the Tilyou heirs closed the Park and sold the land to Fred Trump, who wanted to but never did high rise apartments there. In the end, all he did was tear down the Park and the neighborhood with it. After opening and closing a few times, the Tilyou was taken over by the Horwitz family, which had run the Mermaid and the Tuxedo so successfully. But their luck ran out and they couldn’t make the theater profitable. Finally they closed the theater, and soon its interior, filled with memorabilia from Steeplechase Park, was vandalized and many valuable items stolen, In 1973, the wrecking ball put the theater out of its misery, and a parking lot now stands as testament to a sad time in the history of Coney Island.

philipgoldberg on November 8, 2002 at 9:47 am

It was part of the RKO chain for years. In the end, it might have been part of the Brandt chain. I believe it was also a dollar theater at the end. One of four Coney Island theaters (Loew’s Shore and the Surf and Mermaid were the other three) Now all four are close and only the shuttered Shore still stands).