The Golden Rondelle

A Remarkable Theater for Remarkable Films

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. 

World's FairImagine 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 alive. 

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.

On the SC Johnson Campus

After 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. 

Current Golden Rondelle TheaterToday, 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.


Ready to come for a visit? Tours are free and open to the public. We look forward to welcoming you soon!

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