This-Just-In-Ultra-Rare-Photos-Of-The-Colonial-Theater-Marquee-Thanks-to-Tom

Back on Jan. 24, I posted about Tony Bennett singing Pennies From Heaven in the street at night on the Steve Allen Show of June 29, 1958. As fire hydrants were opened, Tony sang and danced with the kids and even was soaked while frolicking in the spray. The children obviously weren’t neighborhood kids—they danced and sang too well. Also, I’m fairly certain that Tony, the kids and the band recorded the soundtrack inside the studio earlier and then lip-synced to the recording as they danced outside and moved down the block later. Here’s the clip (Pennies From Heaven starts at 1:50)…

What baffled me, though, was the location. I knew it was the Upper West Side. I also knew it wasn’t two-way Broadway. And I knew the camera had to be shooting the action facing west or north, since there were no Midtown Manhattan building lights in the background.

Bob Waldman, who originally sent me the clip’s link, knew that Steve Allen taped his show at the Colonial Theater, which used to stand at 1887 Broadway, on the west side of the avenue. But none of the cross streets were that wide. Did they close off Columbus or Amsterdam Ave. for the Tony taping? Or was it all done on an NBC sound stage?

Well, kudos to Bob. He managed to get his hands on the entire show and sent it along. While the YouTube clip ends with Tony and the kids waving from a fire truck, there was a little more to the show that Sunday night. At the very end, Steve and the entire cast, including a wet Tony, were out in the street gathered on the corner of Broadway and 62nd St., with the Colonial marquee in the background.

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So, thanks to Bob, the mystery has been solved. They used 62nd St. between Columbus Ave. and Broadway, moving east from Columbus to Broadway and shooting west. What threw me was the width of the street. Then again, much of the area was demolished starting in 1960 when construction began on Lincoln Center and looks completely different today, including the street’s width.

Here’s the location today (2013) where Steve, Tony and the cast stood on Broadway…

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Here’s the view of the block used in the clip, facing west…

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The street was much wider then because the building line was likely where the iron fence is now in the background…

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Here’s where 46 W. 62nd St. used to be. In the clip, it’s shown in the opening scene…

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Our Esso station…

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…was about here…

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And the facade on the right below belongs to the American Automobile Association (AAA) building, which still stands…

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At one point in the ’90s or ealry 2000s, its windows were stripped of their original pediments seen above, though the triangular pediment still existed above the doorway…

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Now the windows are completely masked by Ameritrade’s sleek base…

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A big thanks to Bob Waldman. Fine detective work tracking down the original show!

      

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