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Paramount Building, 2003

The Paramount Theatre was a noted movie palace located at 43rd Street and Broadway in the Times Square district of New York City. Opened in 1926, it was the premiere showcase for Paramount Pictures and also a live performance venue before it was gutted and converted to office and retail space in 1965. The office building housing it, known as the Paramount Building, remains a Times Square landmark.

Contents

The building

Paramount Pictures, already one of the major American motion picture companies in the 1920s, built its headquarters building in Times Square in 1926, and built this theatre of over 3600 seats behind it to serve as the company's flagship venue, where its major films would be premiered. Company president Adolph Zukor had acquired a controlling interest in the Chicago-based Balaban and Katz theater chain, and with it the services of Sam Katz, who became the head of Paramount's theatre division.

Balaban and Katz had a long working relationship with Chicago architectural firm Rapp and Rapp, which had designed numerous theaters for his company in the Midwest. Paramount hired the Chicago firm to design their new Manhattan flagship and office tower. The Rapp brothers created a thirty-three story office tower which was influenced by the Art Deco style, and a theatre in the palatial Neo-Renaissance style.

The theater entrance was marked by a five story arch on Broadway, and a long gallery passed from there through the office building to reach the theater itself, which occupied a lower building extending through the middle of the block from 43rd to 44th street. This structure included both a grand lobby at the north end and a stage at the south end. A large orchestra pit could be raised and lowered from the basement.

From north

To this day, the Paramount Building is known for its large four-faced clock near the top of the pyramidial structure, and an ornamental globe at the very top of the building.

History

The Paramount opened in November 1926, setting a box office record for the city of $80,000 in one week.[citation needed] It then continued in operation for only four decades. During that time it was the site of numerous movie premieres, and was also one of the city's most popular locations for live performances. It presented such performers as Benny Goodman, Jack Benny, Tommy Dorsey, Leo Fuld, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. During the 1950s, along with the Paramount Theatre in Brooklyn , it was the site of live rock'n'roll shows presented by promoter Alan Freed. It was also the site of the world premier of Love Me Tender, Elvis Presley's first movie.[citation needed] Also Buddy Holly and the crickets performed peggy sue there after becoming a big hit

In 1964, the Paramount closed. The theater was gutted and turned into retail space and office space for The New York Times. The entrance arch was closed in and the marquee removed. There was no trace of the theater remaining, but in 2000, a large section of the Broadway office building was leased by World Wrestling Federation, which recreated the famous arch and marquee (with the Paramount logo restored) and developed the space into WWF New York, a themed club and restaurant. The WWF operation closed some years later, and the location then became home to the Hard Rock Cafe, relocated from its previous home on 57th Street.

The theater's original Wurlitzer theatre organ was moved to the Century II Convention Hall in Wichita, Kansas.

In 1988 the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building a Landmark. Three years later, Sinbad performed his HBO comedy special "Afros and Bellbottoms" here.

See also

  • Madison Square Garden. For a short while in the late 1980s early 1990s, The Theater At Madison Square Garden was called The New Paramount Theater after a corporate merger. Before it was called the Paramount, it was known as the Felt Forum.

External links

Coordinates: 40°45′26″N 73°59′11″W / 40.75713°N 73.986488°W / 40.75713; -73.986488

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