Built by Florenz Ziegfeld, it became a cinema after his death in 1932. It was bought by Billy Rose and restored, reopening in 1944. From 1955 to 1963, NBC leased the theatre for broadcast of The Perry Como Show. It returned to live theatre in 1963 but was demolished three years later.
Burlington House now stands on the site. Behind it, Loew's built a new theatre and named it the Ziegfeld, just west of the original site.
The demolition of the Ziegfeld caused public outcry at a time when historic buildings were being demolished and there was little interest in preservation. The razing of this building along with that of Penn Station sparked interest in preservation.
The only known piece of the facade sits alongside a trashcan at a private residence (52 East 80th Street; part of it can be seen in Street View on Google Maps, the brownstone with the rounded bay window to the left of the stairs). The contents of the cornerstone of the Ziegfeld Theatre are in the Billy Rose Theater Collection at the New York Public Library.
The theatre was designed by Florenz Ziegfeld's favorite designer Joseph Urban, who designed almost all of the settings for Ziegfeld's shows from the Follies of 1915 on.
The exterior was made of a tan stone and it was bowed to suggest the auditorium, which was a perfect oval. Because of the shape of the auditorium, there was no carving or ornamentation. Instead of the gingerbread in most theatre interiors, the decor was a mural that covered the entire auditorium (the mural was designed by Urban's pupil, Lillian Gaertner). The mural, entitled "The Joy of Living" was a brightly colored scene featuring harlequins, cupids, stags, lovers and other medieval figures. Contrasting the elaborate mural, the proscenium was finished simply in gold.