Brooklyn Paramount Theatre

385 Flatbush Avenue Extension,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Showing 276 - 289 of 289 comments

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on June 10, 2004 at 4:50 pm

Warren, thanks for the clarification. Do you accept personal e-mails?

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on June 10, 2004 at 3:33 pm

The 1989 film “Great Balls of Fire” about Jerry Lee Lewis includes a scene set in the Brooklyn Paramount. (Remember that incident when JLL set the piano on fire?) The Memphis Orpheum was the stand-in hall. Maybe I should say the Orpheum acted the part of the Paramount. Of course the Orpheum looks nothing like the Brooklyn Paramount, but the film was made in Memphis and the it’s a big, pretty hall so in the eyes of the director, close enough. They used the Orpheum’s marquee with the Orpheum name covered. There were a couple of absolutely ridiculous changes to the interior which are, mercifully, only briefly seen and were taken down after filming. The director appearantly had never been in a movie palace before: he certainly didn’t know ANYTHING about basic cinema presentation. He didn’t even know that the Brooklyn Paramount had had anything to do with Paramount Pictures. Clueless. CLUELESS! The whole film was awful beyond words.

DaveCandler on June 10, 2004 at 5:02 am

In response to Warren pondering the ‘Gala Holiday Stage & Screen Show’ and artists involved, I found the following on the web. Hope it helps:
W.-M. 1/1-6/58 UNRECORDED: Buddy Holly and the Crickets finish the 12-day tour for Alan Freed’s “Holiday of Stars” at the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, New York. They are each billed separately along with Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, the Rays, Danny and the Juniors, Paul Anka, Lee Andrews and the Hearts, the Shepherd Sisters, Little Joe Dubs, Thurston Harris, the Teenagers, Jo Ann Campbell, the Twin Tunes, Terry Noland, Earl Warren, and Sam “the Man” Taylor.

muray on June 7, 2004 at 1:28 pm

Warren, you are absolutely correct. It was the Brooklyn Strand, not the Brooklyn Paramount. I had second thoughts after posting my comment.

muray on June 6, 2004 at 2:59 pm

My rememberance of the Brooklyn Paramount was plugging a song in Anita O'Day’s dressing room on a small piano. This was in 1942 and O'Day was Gene Krupa’s vocalist at the time. The Brooklyn Paramount featured the big bands during that era, same as the NY Paramount.

RobertR on April 28, 2004 at 5:32 pm

But dont we put “the” in front of names such as this? Did you say I went to Rivioli to see Around The World in 80 Days or The Rivoli?

RobertR on April 27, 2004 at 1:29 pm

Would it be great to recreate this marquee?

JimRankin on April 1, 2004 at 11:50 pm

When I described the “box” faces as back-lit in my previous post, I did not mean to imply that the BP had actual opera boxes, but only that the fascia of the mezzanine was configured in projections reminiscent of boxes. This meant that there was an inner face of the knee wall that confronted the feet of those seated there, and an outer face on its opposite side made of the textured glass set as panels into frames, with light bulbs concealed behind the frosted-like glass. Those light bulbs, like the thousands of others in the auditorium, were in several colors and could be turned on in varying degrees to create many wonderful color moods. The BP had no box seating, since it was never to be an opera house or vaudeville theatre, though it was a ‘Presentation House’ which means that it did have full stage facilities capable of vaudeville and production numbers on stage; but its mainstay was always movies.

JimRankin on April 1, 2004 at 7:30 pm

The writer of the Description of the fabulous 4,084-seat Brooklyn PARAMOUNT, William Gable, says: “Many argue that the gymnasium’s organ is the finest in the country, if not the world. [a 4-manual, 26-rank Wurlitzer]” One could answer, tongue-in-cheek, that it is probably a favorable comparison, since there are very likely no other ‘gymnasium organs’ in the country! But seriously, this theatre was probably one of the very finest to have graced this country, and when one simply sees the famous photos of it in that landmark book: “The Best Remaining Seats, The Story of the Golden Age of the Movie Palace” by the late Ben M. Hall, one falls in love with the dazzling proscenium at first glance, even if he has never set foot in there! In a number of ways it was landmark styling in itself, being one of the first indoor/outdoor themes appearing in the country, and unquestionable the finest (and largest) done. Similar photos can be found in the book: “American Theatres of Today” by Messrs. Sexton and Betts in 1930.

The ‘BP’ is an absolute symphony in back-lit grillework —even the columns and box faces were fronted with grilles backed by textured “Lalique” glass— so much so that a most unusual article about the entire lighting arrangement appeared in the technical journal “Transactions of the Illuminating Engineering Soc.”, Vol. XXIV, 1929, pages 890 through 907, still to be found at some libraries or via the Union List of Serials. Within the test and drawings by Frank Cambria (noted designer mentioned favorably by Ben Hall in the book mentioned above which is available via Inter-Library Loan at any large library) is shown the wonderful techniques pioneered in the BP and copied (always to lesser degrees) elsewhere. Among the 5 b/w photos there, are two that have not been published elsewhere, of the Cosmetic room and the Ladies' Lounge, both off their mezzanine lavatory. The photos reveal the Lounge to be one of Rapp&Rapp’s typical and lovely elliptically-shaped rooms, the mild Art Deco decor of which was said to be very popular with the patrons. It would be a thrill to be able to restore all the many thousands of lights in the auditorium and see the wonderful vista that awaits, though I very much doubt, sad to say, that anyone with that much money will step forward even for this monumental example of the finest theatre architecture that this nation has ever seen.

Perhaps the best collection of photos, aside from the sources mentioned, is the issue of “Marquee” magazine of the Theatre Hist. Soc. of Vol. 30 #3, Third Qtr., 1998 where there is the article: “Brooklyn Paramount Photo Feature” where on the cover, page 3, and on pages 10 through 18 are minimal text, but 13 large b/w photos of the BP in its prime. The Society also has a number of latter day photos in color, including the depredations brought by the university.

To obtain any available Back Issue of either “Marquee” or of its ANNUALS, simply go to the web site of the THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA at:
and notice on the sidebar of their first page the link “PUBLICATIONS: Back Issues List” and click on that and you will be taken to their listing where they also give ordering details. The “Marquee” magazine is 8-1/2x11 inches tall (‘portrait’) format, and the ANNUALS are also soft cover in the same size, but in the long (‘landscape’) format, and are anywhere from 26 to 40 pages. Should they indicate that a publication is Out Of Print, then it may still be possible to view it via Inter-Library Loan where you go to the librarian at any public or school library and ask them to locate which library has the item by using the Union List of Serials, and your library can then ask the other library to loan it to them for you to read or photocopy. [Photocopies of most THSA publications are available from University Microforms International (UMI), but their prices are exorbitant.]

Note: Most any photo in any of their publications may be had in large size by purchase; see their ARCHIVE link. You should realize that there was no color still photography in the 1920s, so few theatres were seen in color at that time except by means of hand tinted renderings or post cards, thus all the antique photos from the Society will be in black and white, but it is quite possible that the Society has later color images available; it is best to inquire of them.

Should you not be able to contact them via their web site, you may also contact their Executive Director via E-mail at:
Or you may reach them via phone or snail mail at:
Theatre Historical Soc. of America
152 N. York, 2nd Floor York Theatre Bldg.
Elmhurst, ILL. 60126-2806 (they are about 15 miles west of Chicago)

Phone: 630-782-1800 or via FAX at: 630-782-1802 (Monday through Friday, 9AM—4PM, CT)

RobertR on February 10, 2004 at 2:32 pm

Is it true the college is moving out of this space? I have been told that the theatre is pretty intact inside. About ten years they had a rock and roll reunion concert presenting many of the acts that played here during the Alan Freed and Murray The K shows.

egoemil on November 2, 2002 at 9:10 pm

if you walk along the side of the building, as pointed out by theater historian Cezar Del Valle, you may notice there is an original sign reading “Paramount” alongside in large, faded lettering. There is an organ room where two special older folks work upstairs they will tour you if you find them, and the Wurlitzer rises up from the ground,one of the most magnificent sounds EVER heard.

Kim on February 22, 2002 at 10:29 am

Yes, it was great to see the movie over here

Maureen on December 2, 2001 at 7:22 am

Nice site, but I’m looking for a list of concerts played at the Brooklyn Paramount in the 1950s, staged by Alan Freed. Would appreciate it if you have any links.

RobertTMorelli on November 9, 2001 at 5:57 pm

Growing up in Brooklyn early 20s and 30s was treated to the movies and Mighty Wurlitzer. The Paramount illustrated was located at Fulton St. and DeKalb Ave. Now how about the Prospect Theater? Apparently you can’t come up with a similar photo showing the Marquee etc. I have written the Bklyn Public Library to research the Brooklyn Daily Eagle or Daily News for such a shot. I am an officer for PATOS in Pgh,Pa. who have the Prospect Theater Wurlitzer completely restored and regular concerts. Can you help locating a photo to publish in our Society Journal? Not the present retail mart you list. Theater was located at 4thAve and 9th St. & I went there as a boy. Thanks.