Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mae West: 1501 Broadway

MAE WEST and Paramount Pictures for awhile, it was a happy marriage, and the actress's latest release would always be booked at the Paramount Theatres in her hometown: Brooklyn and Manhattan.
• • Built in 1926 right in the heart of Times Square was the 40-story Paramount Building [at 1501 Broadway], originally a home to the late, great Paramount Theater and also the eastern headquarters of the production company that was to become Paramount Pictures.
• • Like the movie giant it wanted to be, the structure commands attention, spanning an entire city block on Broadway between West 43rd and West 44th Streets. The architects were Cornelius W. Rapp and George Leslie Rapp.
• • On 19 November 1926, the eight-story Paramount Theatre had its star-dusted opening with an elaborate live show staged by John Murray Anderson, and the motion picture God Gave Me Twenty Cents starring Lya de Putti.
• • All of Mae West's motion pictures for Paramount opened with exclusive engagements promoted with great fanfare. The Brooklyn bombshell once caused a frenzy by arriving at 1501 Broadway with an escort of handsome New York City policemen on motorcycles.
• • The house could seat 3664 ticket-holders.
• • The lobby of the [now demolished] Paramount Theatre was modeled after the Paris Opera House with white marble columns, balustrades, and an opening arms grand staircase. Inside the auditorium, the drapes were red velvet and the rugs were a similar red. The theater had a grand organ as well as an orchestra pit that rose up to the stage level. The ceilings were fresco and gilt. The railings were brass, the seats plush. There were Greek statues and busts in wall niches. The rest rooms and waiting rooms were as impressive as the facilities at Radio City or the Roxy. The main lobby was decorated with an enormous crystal chandelier.
• • Over the years, many of the top stars performed there, including Sinatra and dozens of the era's luminaries.
• • A who's who of entertainers performed or headlined here from Amos and Andy, Fred Astaire, Jack Benny, Ray Bolger, Bing Crosby, Maurice Chevalier, Gary Cooper, Eddie Cantor, Ruth Etting, Betty Hutton, Bob Hope, George Jessel, Dorothy Lamour, Gertrude Lawrence, Bea Lillie, Ethel Merman, Mary Pickford, Ginger Rogers and Buddy Rogers, Gloria Swanson, Red Skelton, Dinah Shore, Rudy Vallee, etc.
• • Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis had many sold-out shows here.
• • Frank Sinatra was one of many who began an illustrious career at The Paramount.
• • Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Guy Lombardo, and Paul Whiteman all led their bands there.
• • After years of showing movies and shows, after 1964 the theater was gutted to make way for office and retail space.
• • Today, the Paramount Building is occupied in part by the Times Square location of the Hard Rock Cafe.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/

• • Photo:
• • Mae West • • 1933
• •

Mae West.

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