323 W. 6th Street,
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Opened as Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre on January 26, 1923 with Gloria Swanson appearing ‘in person’ for the premiere of her film “My American Wife”. On stage was an ‘all-star’ Grauman prologue with Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanian Orchestra and three vaudeville acts. It was said that 30,000 fans had fought outside to buy the $5.00 tickets and the surrounding streets were blocked in all directions. Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre was the largest movie theatre in Los Angeles for many years. Not only did it have one of the largest balconies ever built, its projector had the longest projection throw in the city. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 4 manual/23 ranks organ which was opened by organist Henry Murtagh. The theatre was designed by architect William Lee Woolett, while the 5-storied office building surrounding it was by architect Edwin Bergstrom (originally planned as a 13-story office building). Rather than use plaster decorations, pre-cast concrete was used, with only the 90ft circular auditorium ceiling grill in plaster. There were originally two entrances, the main one on W. 6th Street and another on Hill Street, later a third entrance on S. Broadway was added, but this was closed off in 1929 and is the only part of the theatre still standing today.
It was acquired by the Publix Theatres Corporation chain in July 1924, and the theatre was renamed the Paramount Theatre on January 24, 1929. To help distinguish it from other Paramount theatres in LA, the theatre was also known as the Paramount Downtown Theatre. Operated by Fanchon & Marco, it was taken over by United Paramount Theatres on March 18, 1952. Later in 1952 they ‘modernised’ the theatre when it received a new marquee and the lobby’s were altered, reopening on May 29, 1952 with Alan Ladd in “Red Mountain”.
In 1960, the Paramount Downtown Theatre was closed and in 1962 it was torn down to make way for a parking lot. In the early-1980’s a 16 floor tower was was built on this same lot which contains the International Jewelry Center.
Today, if one stands in front of the Arcade Theatre on S. Broadway and look southwest towards the corner of S. Broadway and 6th Street, near the second or third building from the corner, you will see a faded sign for the old Paramount Downtown Theatre, the only trace of the theatre still visible on what was its short lived S. Broadway entrance.
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