Paramount Theatre



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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 became a popular live performance venue. The Paramount Theatre was closed in 1964 and its space converted to office and retail use. The tower which housed it, known as the Paramount Building located at 1501 Broadway, is still in commercial use as an office building and remains a Times Square landmark.
Since the Paramount Theater was demolished, two other theaters in Manhattan have had the same name; the Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden and a movie theater in Columbus Circle, now demolished.

History of the Paramount Theater
The Paramount Theatre opened on November 19, 1926, setting a box office record for the city of $80,000 in one week. Paramount Theatre housed one of the biggest Wurlitzer theater organs ever built to provide music and accompaniment to the silent films originally screened there. Dubbed the "Dowager Empress" or the "Mother of us all", it had 36 ranks and was contained 33 tons of metal and wooden pipes. Jesse Crawford, who advised on the construction and installation of the organ, was the house organist from the theater's opening until 1933.
Originally a film-only venue, the theater was the site of numerous movie premieres but was not particularly profitable until it began hosting live music as the swing era got underway. Glen Gray's orchestra was the first live band to play there during the week of Christmas 1935. Over the following years, the Paramount became the leading band house in the United States, as performers such as Benny Goodman, Jack Benny, Tommy Dorsey, the Andrews Sisters, Harry James, Phil Spitalny, Xavier Cugat, Fred Waring, Eddy Duchin, Gene Krupa, Glenn Miller and Guy Lombardo played extended runs there. Later, Leo Fuld, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis all enjoyed success performing there.
During the 1950s, along with the Paramount Theatre in Brooklyn , Paramount Theatre was the site of live rock'n'roll shows presented by promoter Alan Freed. It was also the site of the world premiere of Love Me Tender, Elvis Presley's first movie. Thousands of fans gathered outside the Paramount Building, which was adorned with a huge paperboard picture of Presley, on the night of the premier. Also, Buddy Holly & The Crickets performed "Peggy Sue" there after becoming a big hit.
On August 4, 1964, the Paramount closed for good after screening The Carpetbaggers. The Paramount Theatre was gutted and turned into retail space and office space for The New York Times. The Paramount Theatre 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 Paramount Theatre's original Wurlitzer organ was eventually moved to the Century II Convention Hall in Wichita, Kansas in 1968.