Back in 1950, when it was still known as the Miami Beach Municipal Auditorium, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and Frank Sinatra could be seen in the audience acting like average Joes while enjoying song-and-dance shows and boxing bouts. Throughout the following decades, the entertainment mecca has remained a magnet for famous entertainers. In 1964, when the city of Miami asked famed funnyman and honeymooner Jackie Gleason to move his television variety show from New York to Miami Beach, he relocated in a bang-zoom, declaring “Miami Beach audiences are the greatest in the world,” then muttering under his breath, “and New York audiences smell like Art Carney’s hat.”
Rechristened as The Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts in 1987, the theater hosted the best in Broadway shows, dance and classical-music performances, and concerts throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. In 2007, the venue underwent a multimillion-dollar face- and body-lift, adding even more glitz to the sleek columned entrance and the spacious multichandeliered auditorium. Now merged with California’s famed Fillmore chain, the theater has inherited a rich rock ‘n’ roll history to add to its already lofty annals.