Monday, December 18, 2023

After the Roxy


Some people can point to a specific pivotal moment in their life which changed everything that was to follow. In one way, it seems as if my father could have said the same of his own life, if only he were one to talk about himself. At least in my brother's recounting of my dad's music career, it would seem that way. I've been able to find interviews of my actor brother, posted online, in which he explained that after our dad had been the music arranger for the Roxy, he went on to work for another club, the Versailles. Specifically, he'd insert this comment to mark the timeline: "after the Roxy closed."

"After the Roxy" became not only an epitaph for my dad's career, but a running commentary over the years for my mother. Life definitely changed—but whether it was after the Roxy closed its doors at the last, or when the two left its employ, I can't yet tell. For the sake of delving further into the work history of these two people significant to no one else but my own family, I want to explore this turning point more closely.

The Roxy officially closed its doors on March 29, 1960. I'm certain my family had moved from the city to the more family-friendly suburbs by that point. By then, it would not have been feasible for my father to continue working for another theater or night club in the city, given a commute situation, even though New York train lines might have made that possible for city employees with the typical daytime work schedule. If he did take on another such position in the city at the close of the Roxy, such a commute doesn't seem reasonable for anyone keeping a performer's hours. I suspect the theater's timeline and that of my dad would no longer coincide.

Though my mother didn't provide many details about this former life, one thing I remember her mentioning was that the Roxy met its demise on account of something she called anti-trust laws

When I look for specific mentions of such a possibility involving the Roxy, I don't find any such explicit statements. However, though I am certainly no attorney, it doesn't take much digging to uncover what did impact the theater's timeline—and, ultimately, the career timeline of those who remained among the musicians, dancers, comedians, and supporting performers who made up the cast of the live shows featured at this once-renowned New York City movie palace. We'll take some time tomorrow to explore that history leading up to the Roxy's closing night.

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