The Show Folks Shoe Shop hiding in Times Square

Partly obscured by a Maxell billboard and a red and white TGIF restaurant awning is a subdued two-story structure on Broadway and 46th Street.

It’s a grimy yet elegant find. Turn the corner, and you can see a curious phrase carved into the limestone facade: “”The Show Folks Shoe Shop Dedicated to Beauty in Footwear.”

What’s the story? The building opened in 1926 as an upscale I. Miller shoe store, a chain that thrived until the 1970s. Early on, I. Miller specialized in footwear for show business types.

No wonder there are four life-size statues of famous actresses set in pockets of the facade. Mary Pickford (at right, as Little Lord Fauntleroy) and Ethel Barrymore are still well-known.

But the other two, Marilyn Miller and Rosa Ponselle, have fallen into obscurity. 

Kind of the way the building has fallen into disrepair. Landmarked in 1999, it needs a good cleaning, especially around the statues.

Ethel Barrymore, above left, as Ophelia in Hamlet; musical comedy actress Marilyn Miller as the lead in a play called Sunny.

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7 Responses to “The Show Folks Shoe Shop hiding in Times Square”

  1. rick Says:

    I had occasion to spend a lot of time in Meriden CT, and although too young to have heard of Rosa Ponselle, she is still remembered there to at least some extent. She was Meriden’s most famous native and there was even a museum to her, which (see link) closed. I think when someone’s work is not preserved on film/TV they are much more likely to fade away.

    http://www.ctmuseumquest.com/?page_id=1660

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks! Rosa’s quite a looker in those photos.

  3. Jon Says:

    This is a real treasure that most visitors to Times Square never even notice!

  4. Herb Moskovitz Says:

    I walked by the building on Sunday, December 9, 2012, and it was covered with scaffolding and the statues were gone. I am hoping it is going to be restored. But New York being New York, anything could be happening.

  5. On the Street: I. Miller, “The Show Folks Shoe Shop” of Times Square | Tinsel Creation Says:

    […] can read more about this semi-obscured bit of New York theater history at¬†Ephemeral New York and Lost New York […]

  6. Bob Says:

    See it today at http://www.scoutingny.com/?p=7981&cpage=1#comment-154861

  7. Herb Moskovitz Says:

    The statues are back, restored and cleaned and the side of the building looks wonderful. Be sure to check it out.

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