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Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel (1882–1936) built an influential and prolific career as film exhibitor, stage producer, radio broadcaster, musical arranger, theater manager, war propagandist, and international celebrity. He helped engineer the integration of film, music, and live performance in silent film exhibition; scored early Fox Movietone films such as Sunrise (1927); pioneered the convergence of film, broadcasting, and music publishing and recording in the 1920s; and helped movies and moviegoing become the dominant form of mass entertainment between the world wars.
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Samuel ‘Roxy’ Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, recently published by Columbia University Press. Reading this weighty and groundbreaking tome, I feel a bit like a proud mother hen with her chicks, because Melnick’s project started life as a final paper in my UCLA Silent Film course, some time at the beginning of the century. Even that first paper was so bloody good and far beyond the capabilities of most beginning graduate students that I had serious suspicions it might have been plagiarized
The Roxy Theatre was a 5,920 seat movie theater located at 153 West 50th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, just off Times Square in New York City. It opened on March 11, 1927 with the silent film The Love of Sunya, produced by and starring Gloria Swanson. The huge movie palace was a leading Broadway film showcase through the 1950s and was also noted for its lavish stage shows. The theater's stage innovations included a rising orchestra pit which could accommodate an orchestra of 110 and a Kimball theater pipe organ with three consoles which could be played simultaneously. The film projection booth was recessed into the front of the balcony to prevent film distortion caused by the usual angled projection from the top rear wall of a theater Courteous service to the patron was a key part of the Roxy formula.
Roxy was the first man to have the courage and finesse to elevate the exhibition of moving pictures beyond the store show level. He made the motion picture theatre the community art center and compelled public appreciation of films for their true artistic values. We can only wonder now what motion picture exhibition would have been in the classical period without the unique contribution of Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel. Yet, just as that era of movie palaces has faded into history, so has the memory of Rothafel. What remains of his legacy are anecdotes, legends, and incomplete histories. This essay will attempt at least partially to reconstruct the story of this important pioneer of American movie theater history.
This is the original Roxy ! In addition to the catchy handle, the brilliant entrepreneur’s most lasting legacies were the two magnificent theatres he created for Rockefeller Center: Radio City Music Hall and the RKO Roxy (the latter was torn down in 1954). While these were his crowning achievements, there were many more before them. Born on this day in 1882, the son of German immigrants, he started out playing semi-pro baseball, which is where he got his nickname. While bartending at his father-in-law’s saloon, he began to show flickers in an adjoining room.
Walks of New York Blog and Travel Guide to New York City. By Walks of New York on October 23, 2012 in. Ghosts in New York: The City’s Most Haunted Theaters. To paraphrase Frank Loesser's 'Guys and Dolls,' with the publication of American Showman, the question 'What's playing at the Roxy?' can now be answered: 'First-rate cultural history. Mindy Aloff, Washington Post.
Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel (1882-1936) built an influential and prolific career as film exhibitor, stage producer, radio broadcaster, musical arranger, theater manager, war propagandist, and international celebrity . The first book devoted to Rothafel's multifaceted career, American Showman examines his role as the key purveyor of a new film exhibition aesthetic that appropriated legitimate theater, opera, ballet, and classical music to attract multi-class audiences.