Ed Sullivan Theater

The Ed Sullivan Theater is located at 1697-1699 Broadway between West 53rd and West 54th, in Manhattan, New York.  The theater is a 13-story brick building that was designed by architect Herbert Krapp and built by Arthur Hammerstein.  Arthur Hammerstein named the theater in honor of his father, Oscar Hammerstein I.

Hammerstein’s Theater opened its doors on November 30, 1927 with a three-hour musical play called “The Golden Dawn.”  One of the stars of the show that evening was Archie Leach, who later became better known as the famous actor Cary Grant.

In 1931, Arthur Hammerstein, who was facing financial troubles, lost ownership of the building.  Over the next five years the theater underwent numerous name changes until in 1935, when CBS secured a long-term contract on the building and began using the theater for radio broadcasts.  In 1950, with the growing popularity of a new medium, CBS converted the theater into a television studio named CBS-TV Studio 50.

Ed Sullivan, who had been hosting his variety show “Toast of the Town” out of CBS’s Maxine Elliott Theater, moved into Studio 50 in 1953.  The studio went on to become the home of The Ed Sullivan Show for the rest of the variety show’s 23-year run.  On December 10, 1967, to mark The Ed Sullivan Show’s 20th year, the studio was named The Ed Sullivan Theater in honor of the great host.  Like its namesake, The Ed Sullivan Theater has withstood the test of time and to this day remains the studio’s name.

A Timeline of The Ed Sullivan Theater

  • 1925-1927 – Arthur Hammerstein builds Hammerstein’s Theater in honor of his father, Oscar Hammerstein I.
  • November 30, 1927 – Hammerstein’s Theater opens its doors with a three hour musical play called “The Golden Dawn” which features Archie Leach who later became known as Cary Grant.
  • 1931 – Hammerstein’s Theater is renamed Manhattan Theater.
  • 1934 – Manhattan Theater is renamed Billy Rose’s Music Hall and becomes a nightclub.
  • 1936 – Billy Rose’s Music Hall is renamed the WPA Theater.
  • 1936 – CBS takes over the theater and converts it to a radio theater using various names including Radio Theater #3 and CBS Radio Playhouse.
  • 1950 – With the advent of television, the theater is converted to a television studio named Studio 50.
  • 1953 – Studio 50 becomes the home of The Ed Sullivan Show.
  • 1960s – Studio 50 also becomes the home of “The Honeymooners,” “The Merv Griffin Show,” “To Tell The Truth,” “What’s My Line” and “Password.”
  • 1965 – The studio is converted to a color studio for the beginning of the television season.
  • December 10, 1967 – Studio 50 receives its latest name, The Ed Sullivan Theater, to honor its host’s twentieth year.  Some people say it was the proudest moment of Ed’s life.
  • 1970s – “$10,000 Pyramid” and a few other game shows call The Ed Sullivan Theater home.
  • 1980s – The sitcom “Kate and Allie” is filmed in the theater from 1984 to 1989.
  • 1981 – CBS’s lease expires and the theater is taken over by Reeves Entertainment.
  • 1993 – David Letterman leaves NBC to join CBS. CBS buys the theater for $4 million and redesigns the space to hold a 400-seat audience.
  • July 15, 2009 – Sir Paul McCartney returns to play on the roof of The Ed Sullivan Theater more than 45 years after The Beatles Ed Sullivan Show performance on February 9th, 1964.

The Ed Sullivan Theater Address:

1697 Broadway, New York, NY 10019