Paramount Theatre

323 W. 6th Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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Paramount Theatre balcony

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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 4/23 organ which was opened by organist Henry Murtagh. The theatre was designed by architect William Lee Woolett, while the 13-storied office building surrounding it was by architect Edwin Bergstrom. 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 S. Broadway (which was closed off in 1929).

It was acquired by the Publix theatre 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. In 1952 it was ‘modernised’ when it received a new marquee and the lobby’s were altered.

In 1960, the Paramount Downtown Theatre was torn down to make way for a parking lot. In the early-1980’s, a bank was built on this same lot.

Today, if one stands in front of the Arcade Theatre 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.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 120 comments)

bruceanthony on August 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm

The Metropolitan/Paramount was the second largest movie palace ever built on the West Coast the largest was the Fox in San Francisco. My friend Dick who worked for Disney and United Artists said this was the most impressive Movie Palace in LA. brucec

rickmechtly on August 17, 2009 at 8:20 pm

When the theater went to screening B films in the late 50s a basement bar called the Metro that was a gay scene opened just east of the box office on 6th next to the alley. Also a post razing Wm.Reagh photo of the necktie stand @ the corner of Hill and 6th- it’s in the picture catalog of California State Library – search terms: Reagh and Hill ( he didn’t i.d. the site )

kencmcintyre on December 10, 2009 at 9:51 am

I think the necktie photo mentioned on 8/17 is on the Clune’s Auditorium page.

kencmcintyre on January 30, 2010 at 5:47 pm

An ad campaign concerning the new, modernized Paramount was in Boxoffice in June 1952.

TLSLOEWS on June 1, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Very Very nice too bad its gone now.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 7, 2010 at 5:46 am

I have now come across multiple references to George Edwin Bergstrom having been one of the architects of Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre. Both Soutnwest Builder & Contractor and the national trade publication Engineering and Contracting mention his involvement in the project. The latter publication’s issue of April 27, 1921, carries this item, which mentions Bergstrom supervising construction on the project in conjunction with engineer R.C. Mitchell.

Various items in Southwest Builder & Contractor indicate that William Lee Woollett designed the interiors of the Metropolitan Theatre, but that the lead architect on the project was Bergstrom. Woollett probably designed the details on the facade of the building as well, but I haven’t found any specific sources saying he did. Woollett was apparently the sole architect on the later project creating a Broadway entrance for the theater.

Gooper on March 14, 2014 at 1:19 pm

This house, in its original Grauman condition, is so powerful, it’s spooky.

nonsportsnut on March 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I originally posted:nonsportsnut on June 7, 2009 at 6:03 pm The Three Stooges Fan Club is trying to document a 1957 personal appearance of Joe Besser, Moe Howard and Larry Fine as The Three Stooges at the Paramount. This would be the only personal appearance by Besser with the Three Stooges. Any documentation, such as a newspaper ad or review would be greatly appreciated. My email address is: Thanks, Frank Reighter

In the Spring 2014 Three Stooges Fan Club Journal, the true story of this is written. The ad never was for a Joe Besser appearance, but was erroneously used for several appearances for the Three Stooges Moe Howard, Larry Fine and (Later to be known as Curly Joe) Joe DeRita in Portland, Oregon, Tacoma and Seattle Washington in December 1959. As far as is known, Joe Besser NEVER made any personal appearances as a member of the Three Stooges.

Frank Reighter

Gooper on April 24, 2014 at 7:24 pm

If I had even a little bit of Warren Buffet-style money, after I’d tended to some charities, I’d locate the blueprints of Grauman’s Metropolitan (they must exist somewhere!) and have it rebuilt in its original form. And most importantly, in a location where it would never be wrecked by alteration or demolition. This house is one of the most unique in the world, right up there with Radio City, the NY Roxy, the UA in LA, and the Shrine Auditorium. Maybe I’ll give Mr. Buffet a call…

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