Tuesday, September 27, 2011

David Lettermen Studio (Ed Sullivan Theter, 54th St. and Brooadway, New York, NY

Capacity 1200
Opened first as The Hammerstein in 1927, it became The Manhattan in 1931, The Billy Rose Music Hall in 1934 and taken over by CBS Radio in 1936.
In 1963 it became The Ed Sullivan Theatre to produce his TV Variety show.
This is site of the first U.S. Beatles performance.
The 13-story, brown brick and terra cotta office building[3] with a ground-floor theater was designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp.[1] It was built by Arthur Hammerstein between 1925 and 1927,[1] and was named Hammerstein's Theater after his father, Oscar Hammerstein I.The original neo-Gothic interior contained pointed-arch stained-glass windows with scenes from the elder Hammerstein's operas; during a 1993 renovation, these windows were removed and stored by CBS in an arrangement with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.[3] Its first production was the three-hour musical Golden Dawn, the second male lead of which was Cary Grant, then still using his birth name, Archie Leach.[3] Arthur Hammerstein went bankrupt in 1931, and lost ownership of the building.[3]
It later went by the name Manhattan Theater, Billy Rose's Music Hall, and the Manhattan once again. In the 1930's, it became a nightclub. After CBS obtained a long-term lease on the property, the radio network began broadcasting from there in 1936, moving in broadcast facilities it had leased at NBC Studios in Radio City.[3] Architect Williams Lescaze renovated the interior, keeping nearly all of the Krapp design but covering many walls with smooth white panels, his work earning praise from the magazine Architectural Forum.[3] The debut broadcast was the Major Bowes Amateur Hour.[3] The theater had various names during the network's tenancy, including Radio Theater #3 and the CBS Radio Playhouse. It was converted for television in 1950, when it became CBS-TV Studio 50.
Newspaper columnist and impresario Ed Sullivan, who had started hosting his variety show Toast of the Town, soon renamed The Ed Sullivan Show, from the Maxine Elliott Theatre (CBS Studio 51) on West 39th Street in 1948, moved to Studio 50 a few years later. The theater was renamed for Sullivan at the beginning of the 1967-68 season, though it is still TV Studio 50 in CBS' numerical list of New York television facilities.[4]
In the 1960's, Studio 50 was one of CBS' busiest stages not only for Sullivan's program but also for The Honeymooners and The Merv Griffin Show,[5] as well as several game shows. In 1965, Studio 50 was converted to color, and the first color episode of The Ed Sullivan Show originated from the theater on October 31, 1965. (The program originated from CBS Television City in color for the previous six weeks while the color equipment was installed.

The Ed Sullivan Theater was also the first home for The $10,000 Pyramid, with its huge end-game board set at the rear of the stage, in 1973. Other short-lived game shows produced at the Ed included Musical Chairs with singer Adam Wade (1975), Shoot For The Stars with Geoff Edwards (1977) (which was an NBC show), and Pass the Buck with Bill Cullen (1978).
The CBS lease on the building expired in 1981[5] and, now a Reeves Entertainment teletape facility, it hosted the sitcom Kate & Allie, which ran from 1984 to 1989 (as it happened, on CBS). In 1990 David Niles/1125 Productions signed onto the lease, with the theater to house his HDTV studio and new Broadway show Dreamtime. During Dreamtime's successful run, [1] CBS bought the building from Winthrop Financial Associates of Boston. Niles was given four weeks to vacate. Due to the economics of moving the show and the lack of a comparable available Broadway theater, Dreamtime closed. The quick sale and vacancy of the building earned the realtor the Henry Hart Rice Achievement Award[7] for the Most Ingenious Deal of the Year for 1993.[8]
David Letterman moved from NBC to here. (See NBC Studios, New York, NY)
The new show debuted on August 30, 1993 and was taped at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater, where Ed Sullivan broadcast his eponymous variety series from 1948 to 1971. For Letterman's arrival, CBS spent $8 million in renovations.[9]
Near the beginning of the first Letterman show in the fall of 1993, a quick reference was made to Sullivan's legacy, by splicing together several short clips of Sullivan introducing various acts, including, presumably, the singing group The Lettermen. This resulted in a fake clip of Sullivan saying, "And now, here on our stage... David... Letterman!" Letterman also joked that his crew opened an old closet in the theater which contained a 45-year old woman screaming, "Ringo!"
It's been known as David Letterman TV Studio since 2004.

Jerry performed here on
David Grisman
Jerry plays an Alvarez Yairi DY99 acoustic guitar and sings Freight Train and Jenny Jenkins.

"I was sitting right in front of them for this with my old college roommate. During the break they played "As Tears Go By"."[12]

10/23/93 David Grisman (Laye Night with David Letterman)
Jerry sings Friend Of The Devil.

Ed Sullivan Theater (David Lettermen Studio), New York, NY

1. ^White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot; AIA Guide to New York City, 4th Edition; New York Chapter, American Institute of Architects; Crown Publishers/Random House. 2000. ISBN 0-8129-31069-8; ISBN 0-8129-3107-6. p.266.
2. ^ The History of the Ed Sullivan Theater at EdSullivan.com
3. ^Gray, Christopher. "Streetscapes | Ed Sullivan Theater: If the Soundproofed Walls Could Talk", The New York Times, December 23, 2009
4. ^ Ross Reports
5. ^ a b McFadden, Robert D. "A Building With a History, From Bootleggers to Beatles" The New York Times, February 22, 1993]
6. ^ TV.com listing for September 19, 1965 episode of the Ed Sullivan Show.
7. ^ "Ed Sullivan Theater Is Deal of the Year", Real Estate Weekly, April 20, 1994
8. ^ Gerard, Eric R. "Deal-of-the-year: how it got done", Real Estate Weekly, May 11, 1994. Opening of article, via encyclopedia.com
9.)^Mark Albright (March 31, 1995). "Letterman's Neighbor's Discover Spotlight's Chilly Side". St. Petersburg Times.
12.)^Michael Poirier, comments, 2013-02, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7r7COld_Bc


  1. The 1982 and 1987 performances were at the NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, in the same theater where Johnny Carson and Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Shows originated.

    Letterman did not broadcast from the Ed Sullivan Theatre until his move to CBS in 1993.

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