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Movie house impresario Samuel Lionel “Roxy” Rothafel opened the 5,920-seat Roxy Theater in New York on this date in 1927, showing the silent film The Love of Sunya, produced by and starring Gloria Swanson. The Roxy became known as the “Cathedral of the Motion Picture.” During the 1920s, Rothafel was the manager and publicist for numerous movie palaces and had millions of listeners for his live radio broadcasts from the Capitol Theatre and his subsequent weekly variety show, “Roxy and His Gang,” on NBC. With John D. Rockefeller and David Sarnoff, he created Radio City Music Hall in 1932; that theater’s famous high-kicking dance troupe, the Rockettes, were originally named the “Roxyettes.”
“Don’t give the people what they want. Give them something better!” —Roxy Rothafel
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.