Friday, December 16, 2011

Fox and Paramount, North Platte, Nebraska

Merely Colossal* by Arthur Mayer, Paramount director of advertising, exploitation and publicity:
"...we acquired a seven-hundred-seat theatre in North Platte, a prairie town with a population of twelve thousand souls which also had a smaller independent theatre. William Fox, powerfully entrenched in the Rocky Mountain area, regarded this as the first step in an invasion of his God-given territory, and in retaliation ordered the construction of a palatial new theatre which could well have graced Broadway or State Street. On hearing this, [Adolph] Zukor reacted as he would to the rape of the Sabine women and declared an unprovoked assault had been made on one of his towns.
In order to teach Mr. Fox and all his other competitors a lesson, he issued instructions that regardless of expense we should build an even larger and more deluxe playhouse. We did. Before the competitive battle was over, North Platte had three beautiful theatres, all losing money."    

*Merely Colossal: The Story of the Movies from the Long Chase to the Chaise Lounge by Arthur Mayer, published by Simon and Schuster, 1953.

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Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Fox survives today, vertical sign intact, as the Neville Center for the Performing Arts.
Both the Paramount and the Fox were built by Keith Neville, a former governor of Nebraska. His daughters sold the Fox to the North Platte Community Playhouse for a dollar in 1983.
The former Paramount building also survives but closed as a theatre on February 6, 1963.

Fox Theatre
Paramount Theatre

And the Fox is haunted.

Above postcard from the collection of Theatre Talks LLC

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society.

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