Howard Otway, revival movie theater

Howard and Florence Otway

Howard Otway (1922 – 1994, an actor, author and singer owned and directed Theater 80 St. Marks, the longest continuously running movie house devoted exclusively to revival films and plays in New York City. His theater, at 80 St. Mark’s Place in the East Village, began its film revival program in 1971 with an opening-night celebration at which Gloria Swanson was the host. Designed and built by Mr. Otway in 1966, the theater was previously the home of the Manhattan Festival Ballet and of theatrical productions that included the 1967 musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Mr. Otway began his professional career at the age of 14 as a band and radio vocalist in the Middle West. He moved to New York at the age of 19, acted in stage productions and toured with Ms. Swanson in “Let Us Be Gay” in the early 1940’s.

He bought the building at 80 St. Marks Place in the East Village in 1964 from known Gangster Walter Scheib and found safes that had been left by  Frank Hoffman, a Bavarian-born bondsman turned bootlegger , but they were empty. Scheib held the mortgage until the $64,000 was paid for the building. Otway did fall behind in payments for about 6 months and hid from Scheib, but that all changed in 1967 when You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown was successful and allowed him to pay off the loan.

The building is now occupied by Theatre 80 St. Marks, The Museum of the American Gangster and the William Barnacle Tavern. It is owned by Lorcan Otway, Howard’s son.

The Theater is struggling. You can support the theater by going to one of its many shows or making a contribution through their website.  

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