The Golden Rondelle Theater was originally built as the SC Johnson
Pavilion for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. And there's a great
story behind it...
While most companies that participated in the
World’s Fairs offered small exhibits in industrial halls,
then-company-leader H.F. Johnson Jr. wanted to do something different.
He wanted to build a golden pavilion and make a film.
the world in the early 1960s. Political and social upheaval were
rampant. A U.S. President was assassinated, people feared nuclear war,
the Berlin Wall was rising in Germany, issues in Vietnam were
escalating, and the battle for civil rights raged throughout
America. Against that backdrop of pessimism and fear, H.F. championed
the creation of a film about peace, understanding and the joy of being
But it wasn’t an easy sell. In fact, when H.F. presented
it to his own leadership team, they all agreed the project was too
costly and risky. They offered up many reasons why H.F. shouldn’t
proceed. He simply looked them straight in the eye, and said,
“Gentlemen, some decisions are only for the brave.” And he walked out.
When the 18-minute film To Be Alive!
premiered at the Fair, critics and audiences alike showered it with
praise. Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower called it “… a most
imaginative film and very beautifully done. It shows the world through
the children’s eyes, where there is no room for prejudice or arrogance.”
The film became one of the most popular exhibits at the Fair.
the Fair was over, The Golden Rondelle was dismantled and its steel
framework was shipped back to Racine, where it was re-designed by
Taliesin Associated Architects, the architectural business formed by
Wright's apprentices after his death.
the building continues to function as a theater for both company and
public events. Visitors to SC Johnson can arrange to view the
Academy-Award-winning To Be Alive! and Carnaúba: A Son’s Memoir, which tells a remarkable story of family and adventure. Learn more about the company's films here.