Paramount Theatre

1501 Broadway,
New York, NY 10036

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Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 28, 2008 at 7:47 am

In September, 1949, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis topped the stage show during the engagement of their first movie, “My Friend Irma.” This ad notes that the Paramount was “The Nation’s First Theatre to Reduce Prices.” General admission on weekdays was 55 cents from opening until 1PM: View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 28, 2008 at 7:19 am

Yes, Sinatra did perform on stage during the run of “Johnny Concho.” I doubt that the movie would have drawn flies without his “in person” support. This was probably the last time that he ever played a theatrical engagement anywhere of that type.

edblank on May 27, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Do I remember correctly that Frank Sinatra appeared here during the engagement of his “Johnny Concho”? He (oddly enough) co-produced this minor western, which he later dissed on the TV special “Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back."
I saw "Johnny Concho” at the Paramount and vaguely recall Sinatra making a live appearance.
Also caught “The Carpetbaggers” here on a mobbed Saturday night in the summer of 1964.

jflundy on May 25, 2008 at 9:45 am

Great pictures Warren !
Here is a lesser quality image from election night of 1928 showing part of the marquee as well as the Rialto vertical in the distance:
View link

The crowd in the square is there to see the election results as hometown favorite Al Smith was defeated by Herbert Hoover.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 19, 2008 at 9:30 am

Here are new links to two views of the Paramount’s marquee:
View link
View link

ErnieN on May 7, 2008 at 9:18 am

Great picture. I attended that show. Estrogen was rampant.


Ernie Nagy

kencmcintyre on May 2, 2008 at 8:14 pm

This 1944 photo from the NYT may have been posted before. Apologies for any duplication:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 9, 2008 at 8:40 am

Here’s an ad for Charlton Heston’s debut at the Paramount Theatre in October, 1950. The B&W “Dark City” proved a boxoffice disappointment, ending up on the Loew’s neighborhood circuit as supporting feature to the Fred Astaire-Betty Hutton Technicolor musical, “Let’s Dance”: View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 6, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Charlton Heston’s first movie for a major Hollywood studio, Paramount’s “Dark City,” played its premiere New York City engagement at the Paramount Theatre in October, 1950, accompanied by a stage show. Due to a lengthy production schedule, Heston’s next movie, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” produced and directed for Paramount by Cecil B. DeMille, did not get released in NYC until January, 1952, when it opened at Radio City Music Hall, supported by a stage show.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 14, 2008 at 8:29 am

In July, 1927, Britain’s Gertrude Lawrence topped the stage show at the Paramount, with a Louise Brooks film on screen. This was probably Lawrence’s first engagement in a movie palace and possibly her last. She performed numbers from her Broadway stage successes, which included the Gershwins' “Oh, Kay” and two Andre Charlot revues. Within a few years, Lawrence would become one of the most beloved “legit” luminaries on both sides of the Atlantic, most memorably in “Lady in the Dark” and “The King and I”:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 9, 2008 at 8:48 am

P.S. “I’m No Angel” opened simultaneously at the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre, also with a stage show. Attendance was reported record-breaking there as well, but I haven’t been able to find figures. The dual booking apparently had no drain on attendance at the New York Paramount, and may have sent some disappointed turnaways subwaying to downtown Brooklyn to see the movie.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 9, 2008 at 8:13 am

In October, 1933, Mae West’s second starring vehicle, “I’m No Angel,” broke all existing attendance records at the Paramount, with about 180,000 tickets sold in the opening week (an average of 25,714 per day). To speed turnover, the stage show’s length was reduced to twenty minutes. The Paramount’s ushering staff was increased from 43 to 74 members, and police frequently had to be called to control the street crowds:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 1, 2008 at 7:39 am

At the Paramount, Gary Cooper performed four shows M-F and five on Saturday and Sunday, a total of 24 for the week. The front rows of the orchestra were always packed with women, many of whom stayed from opening to closing. Cooper needed a police escort to get back and forth to his suite at the nearby Astor Hotel. Here is an excerpt from a review in The New York Times: “What you feel about Gary Cooper ‘in person’ will all depend on (1} what you feel about Mr. Cooper on the screen and (2) what you feel about personal appearances in general. He is supported by Sari Maritza and Raquel Torres, and the little makeshift ‘skit’ which serves as a pretext for his adorers to gaze at him is no stupider than others of its kind. Screen players, as a rule, are predetermined successes on the stage, and do not have to stoop to the vulgur expedient of ‘putting themselves across.’ Otherwise, they must somewhere have discovered that ‘being cute’ is not acting and that looking handsome is not the end and aim of all stage technique.”

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 29, 2008 at 6:50 pm

Cooper’s subdued laconic on screen style doesn’t strike me as one that would have effectively translated on stage. I wonder how well it went over in the upper reaches of the Paramount. If his claims of exhaustion are to be believed (and there’s no reason to doubt it), I wonder if he didn’t tucker himself out from having to project to the theatre’s back rows. I can’t make out the details on the ad… does it say how many performances were scheduled for the day?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 29, 2008 at 10:21 am

Unlike some of his rivals, Gary Cooper became a Hollywood star without prior theatrical experience. In December, 1933, he acted on the stage for the first time anywhere at the Paramount Theatre, teamed with Raquel Torres and Sari Maritza in a one-act parody of his latest movie, “Design for Living” (which just happened to be showing across the street at the Criterion Theatre). The playet ran about ten minutes, and was augmented by the usual Paramount stage revue, including singer Gertrude Niesen, the Diamond Brothers, and Charles Previn & Orchestra. On screen was Paramount’s “Sitting Pretty,” with Jack Oakie, Jack Haley, and Ginger Rogers in an peppy musical that introduced the chart-topping “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?” The first week grossed a smash $51,000, enough to warrant a hold-over, but Cooper claimed exhaustion and the run continued without him, with several new variety acts replacing the playlet.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 10, 2008 at 7:30 am

The Paramount had to cover all bases in its marketing. The Daily Worker had the lowest ad rates of any newspaper in the metropolitan area, so it wasn’t unusual for movie theatres to advertise there. 1946 was also a time before the Communist “witch hunts” started.

AlAlvarez on January 10, 2008 at 7:04 am

I suspect that since Hollywood was producing so many pro-Soviet films during the war at the government’s request, it was a worthy investment at the time.

SPearce on January 9, 2008 at 9:52 pm

In my May 10, 1946 copy of the NYC edition of the (Communist) Daily Worker are some select movie ads (obviously not all theaters in NYC advertised in this newspaper), including one for Paramount Times Square indicating:

Paramount Presents Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix in “The Blue Dahlia” A George Marshall Production, Doors open 8:30 a.m., then a musical note separating columns and on the right side of the ad:

In Person DUKE ELLINGTON and his Orchestra, Stump & Stumpy, Extra The Mills Bros. (This is the show I would have wanted to see.)

I look at this historically as someone then determined it was worthwhile to run this ad for this show in the Communist Daily newspaper. If it wasn’t for the content, then perhaps management had a vested interest.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 4, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Sinatra also performed at the Paramount in the spring of 1943, opening May 26th with “Five Graves to Cairo” on screen. I believe this was the first time that Sinatra received top billing in the Paramount’s stage shows. The supporting acts were Gracie Barrie & Her Orchestra and comedian Gene Sheldon. Sinatra’s portion was entitled “Frank Fiddles” due to the Paramount’s house orchestra being augmented with a large string section.

AlAlvarez on January 4, 2008 at 1:43 pm

The engagement was three weeks but it was hampered by a weak film title (Columbia admitted it was expecting Sinatra to bring in the crowds) and missing dates when Sinatra developed laryngitis shortly after opening.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 4, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Sorry, Ed, I don’t have any boxoffice figures. But I’m sure that you can find them reported in issues of weekly Variety from November, 1947. The engagement started on November 14th, and might have been for two weeks to include the Thanksgiving holiday.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 4, 2008 at 11:49 am

I’ve read that those Capitol Theatre shows drew disappointing attendance. As I indicated above, Sinatra saw his popularity tail-off around this time and I’m curious as to just how well (or poorly) these shows at the Capitol were received by the public. Do you have any B.O. figures, Warren?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 4, 2008 at 9:18 am

Frank Sinatra defected from the Paramount for an engagement at the larger Capitol Theatre in November, 1947, with Columbia’s “Her Husband’s Affairs” (Lucille Ball-Franchot Tone) on screen. The Capitol booking marked the first time that Sinatra appeared on the same bill with future Rat Packer Sammy Davis, Jr., but they didn’t perform together. Davis was still attached to the Will Mastin Trio, one of the supporting acts on the bill, along with Lorraine Rognan and Skitch Henderson & Orchestra.

JohnMLauter on January 3, 2008 at 7:31 pm

Sonnyboy—the war ended in 1945, some men like my uncle stayed in Germany as occupation troops, but my Father came back home in 1945, his tour of duty having been satisfied as the war had ended. He was in the service from 1942-1945, and that was about the normal duration of service. Was your father a career man?

sonnyboy on January 3, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Fantastic. I think we may have it. My parents are going through their memory banks to see if it was Benny G or Johnny L with that extra added attraction: Young Blue Eyes.

Personally, I’d rather have been at the Benny Goodman, Jack Benny show.

And I am going to buy Pete Hamill’s book to make sure we know just who’s horse head it was.

Thanks all. I believe the investigation is being erased from the board.