Mae heads back to Broadway
• • 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.
• • Though the Paramount Theatre is no more, 1501 Broadway continues to be the elite address of many talent agents, entertainment companies, and theatre industry professionals. And it is the NYC headquarters of the Dramatists Guild.
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• • "COURTING MAE WEST: Sex, Censorship and Secrets" — — a Staged Reading of a new version of this play — — based on true events during the Prohibition Era.
• • Address: 1501 Broadway [on Broadway at West 43rd Street], New York, NY 10036
• • Room: The Dramatists Guild, the Frederick Loewe Room, Suite 701
• • When: Friday October 17th starting at 5:45 PM — — you must show photo ID to get into the building
• • We have been given a 90-minute time slot and the reading will END at 7:30 PM.
• • The reading is free and open to the public and there are about 50 seats for producers and members of the audience.
• • Portraying various people in Mae West's life, the excellent cast of seven features the scintillating Yvonne Sayers as Mae West and includes: Gloria M. Buccino, Mary Murphy, Neal Sims, Steven Viola (who performed these roles onstage July 19 — 22, 2008), and Duvall O'Steen and Christopher Yustin.
• • The building, built by Paramount Pictures, was a popular stopping place for Mae West when she was in New York City.
Courting Mae West
• • Photo: Mae West • • 1933 • •