The Paramount Theatre
3300 Washington Avenue
Newport News, VA 23607

This site courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 03/11/03
Thanks, Dave!

THEN: NOW: Fire Station
1955 Monday, February 13, 1956 1959 Anchor, p. 178 About 1962 Friday, November 14, 2003
  This photo is featured at Graceland.   Attached is a picture I made of The Paramount box-office when I was on the staff of The Daily Press. The year is about 1962. It was part of a series I did about what folks in NN do for entertainment. Hope you like it.  
Courtesy of
Courtesy of Joe Drewry
('58) of VA - 08/14/13
COOL BEANS! Thanks, Joe!
03/18/06 Image by John London
(WHS - '57) of VA - 03/16/06
WOWZERS!!! Thanks, John!
Image by Dave Spriggs
('64) of VA - 11/14/03
Thanks, Dave!

It's no big deal, but I do have a memory of "The Paramount, Elvis and Me".
At the time, I was not of legal age to be by myself, so I had a babysitter in the afternoon after school for a bit.
Boy, acknowledging that really hurts a "macho man" such as I was! I was around 8-10 years old and my mother
had a teenage girl in the neighborhood watch after me until she could get home from work.

 As a reward for the babysitter, my mother took her and me to the Paramount Theater to see this new Rock and Roll
phenom that was beginning to sweep the country. I think he had released one or two records by then
and was gaining popularity very quickly. He was appearing "live", with some others on stage at the Paramount.
Remember, the Paramount had a stage?

 To say the least the place was filled with adoring teenage girls screaming to the top of their lungs.
I didn't quite understand it. So, we get to the end of the concert, and as my mother usually did,
we waited until the theater was nearly empty before we left. We go out through the front doors,
take a right toward 34th Street to head to the bus stop at 34th and Huntington to catch a bus home.
I'll add here, if you recall, beside the theater and attached restaurant, on the corner of 34th and Washington,
was an open lot with a cab stand. There was no building there at that time,
and you could clearly see to the back walkway behind the Paramount.

 To make a short story longer, as we left the theater, I noticed a huge group of people,
again mostly teenage girls, across the street, spilling onto Washington Avenue in front of Patrick and Silk's.
Remember that place? I asked what that was about and was told that some of the singers
were going over there to sign autographs.

 Taking a right at 34th, headed toward Huntington, I noticed three guys come out of the back of the Paramount
and head toward Washington Avenue in our direction. Turning around to see what all the noise
was about across the street at Patrick and Silk's, I kept walking ahead looking backward toward the noise.
The next thing I know I've "run into" one of those guys who patted me on the head and said
something to the effect of, "Be careful there, big guy" or something to that effect.
My babysitter says, "Do you know what you just did?", to which I replied with something like, "I didn't mean it."

 She said (and again I'm paraphrasing), "No, no, it's OK! You just ran into Elvis Presley!"
To which I'm sure I must have said something like, "Who's that?"
She quickly spread the word around North End of my encounter with Elvis, and for a couple of weeks every teenage girl
in North End wanted to touch the kid that had "run into Elvis!"
But, the fame was fleeting, as fame usually is, and soon I returned to being nobody.

 There you have it, "The Paramount, Elvis and Me", a true story.

Next, sometime, I'll have to tell you about Marlon Brando's version of Mutiny on the Bounty.

- Wayne Stokes of VA - 05/22/03
WOW!!!  Thanks, Wayne!

And the DEFINITE date of this grand event was February 13, 1956:

Thanks again, Wayne!

Wayne's Elvis story reminds me of one of my own. 
While not nearly so exciting or dramatic, the fact that it has remained in my head
all these many years is a sign of the impact it had on me at the time.

   Mama and Eleanor and I had gone to see "Love Me Tender" at the Paramount. 
I just checked the release date, and it was on November 15, 1956, so it was sometime shortly after that. 
Suffice to say that I was nine years old, and it was a very chilly night.

"Love Me Tender" is, of course, a tear-jerker, culminating with Elvis' death, and I emerged from the theater crying bitterly. 
The frosty air was freezing the tears as they fell on my cheeks. 
Mama told Eleanor and me (if I was nine, Eleanor was 15) to wait outside while she went to get the car for us. 
Unfortunately, I just couldn't stop crying.  I cried and cried and cried.

There was a young good-looking soldier standing nearby in his uniform. 
He took pity on me, and took a tissue and wiped my tears.
I was deeply touched by his considerate gesture to a little girl he didn't even know.

And y'all wonder why I'm such a sucker for a man in uniform!

- Carol Buckley Harty of NC - 05/22/03

(This image enlarges.)

This great piece of memorabilia courtesy of Janice McCain Rose of VA - 05/30/03
Thanks, Janice!

Reviewing the "now" photos of our old beloved theaters brought forth two thoughts -
well, more than that but only two that I can share!
One is a question, the shot of the "now" Paramount Theater (Fire Station)
appears to be on the corner of 34th & Washington, right?
The theater was more toward 33rd.  No big deal!  It's the same area.

- Wayne Stokes of VA - 11/18/03
Thanks, Wayne!

My best memory of this old theatre is when I was in 10th grade and a girlfriend and I skipped school
and went to see "Cool Hand Luke".......I loved that movie.  My mother found out I had skipped school
and she called the school office and told on me and I got into trouble!

- Dianne Hunter Preston ('64) of FL - 02/02/05
Thanks, Dianne!

Dear Carol,
Historical Tidbit Department...
Several of your web pages mention Ms. Gladys Lyle, onetime organist at the old Paramount Theater.  They brought back some fond memories. 
However, does anyone remember the Wurlitzer organ that used to be played by Gladys Lyle, and have they ever wondered what happened to it?  Here's your answer.
As of 2002, after a circuitous route, it ended up in Phil Maloof's house in the Las Vegas area.  See details below. 

                                       Pipe Organs in the
                                 Las Vegas Valley - Nevada
Residence Organs/ Studio Organs/ Theatre Organs
Residence of Phil Maloof 6 Manual 45 Theatre 1931/1999 Barton
4 Manual 18 Theatre 1926/2002 Wurlitzer

Barton Op. 350 of 10 ranks and three manuals was originally installed in the Paramount Theatre in Newport News, Virginia. It has the distinction of being the last instrument shipped from the Barton factory in 1931. It was later installed in a theatre in Alexandria, Virginia for a few years, moved to the Midwest where eventually the organ was purchased by the Granada Historical Society and installed in the Granada Theatre in Kansas City in 1986 and had 11  ranks added to it. The Granada Theatre closed, and in 1997 it was purchased by Phil Maloof and installed in his Music Room here in Las Vegas. About the same time the six-manual console from the Barton 55-rank organ in the Chicago Stadium (which was torn down to make way for the new United Center, the pipes of the instrument were never relocated to a new home, and while in storage, 75% of the organ was destroyed in a fire) was also purchased by Phil Maloof and was completely restored and connected to operate the Barton Op. 350. The original console has also been retained. Another 10 ranks were added making a total of 32 ranks. In addition the organ has some "classical" ranks added bringing the total to 43 ranks. Bob Maes was the principal technician responsible for the current installation.
I was curious to know who Phil Maloof is so I looked him up on the internet. Here is an excerpt from one page:
"Former State Sen. Phil Maloof ran against Congresswoman Heather Wilson in 98' (in New Mexico) but now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Maloof family still has considerable business interests in the state. Their Palms hotel in Vegas is a smash hit, despite a wavering economy."
The family owns the Sacramento (CA) Kings basketball team among many other profitable interests.
The below web pages provide a little detail of the Maloof family.
There was another aspect of Gladys Lyle's Paramount Theater entertainment that is not mentioned anywhere else that I can find.  At some point between each film feature, 
Gladys would play the organ and the audience would sing to the lyrics projected on the screen.  She didn't do this every day, and I cannot remember on which days or times she did play (likely the weekends) but I do remember her name, that it was a Wurlitzer organ, and that I enjoyed singing the songs while following the "bouncing ball.
I remember a man's voice announcing over the public address system, "And here is Gladys Lyle on the Wurlitzer organ."  The music would begin playing but with no organ in sight.  Slowly, the organ - along with Gladys - would rise out of a pit near the front of the stage.  The theater screen would then show the title and words to various songs and the bouncing ball would give the tempo as it bounced over each word.  Gladys would say before each tune, "Just follow the bouncing ball!"  Most of the audience would sing along to the popular tunes of the day.
According to one of (the) web pages (of Charles Wicke - '45) (, Gladys ran off with Harry Blackstone, Sr. and his magic show one year.  I don't remember that either. 

- Jack Nelson ('54) - 02/11/06
WOWZERONI!!!  Thanks, Jack!


I have another story that I would like to see if anyone can clear up. Back in the late 50's or could have been in the 60's but I think Elvis was in Newport News and sang at the Paramount Theater and I think I heard that he got caught driving drunk. Is that a true story or can anyone remember that happening? It's funny the older you get how all these flashbacks seem to come to you.

- Glenn (Dye ('60) of TX - 07/29/07
Thanks, Glenn!  I tend to think it is totally apocryphal, but we'll need to turn it over to the group.

Now, on to Glenn (Dye
- '60 - of TX) and Elvis. As you remember way back a few years ago when the few of us were the only contributors to the newsletter (remember, I said that we were "priming the pump" and eventually others would chip in? Boy, did I get that right! However, it shattered my perfect record of always being wrong!),, oh, back to Glenn and Elvis. The date that he appeared at the Paramount was Feb. 13th. 1956, his "breakout" year! To my knowledge he was not arrested for drunk driving while here. He didn't smoke or drink at that time. Sadly, of course, his doctor would later help kill him with prescription medications.
I just recently watched a documentary on amphetamines and found out that Elvis was introduced to "speed" by the Army!! They, "speed", were heavily used in the services during WWII, both sides, and afterwards to keep everyone awake. Little was known of their addiction qualities.

- Wayne Stokes of VA - 08/03/07
Thanks, Wayne!


Here's a story for Glenn Dye
('60 - of TX) about Elvis that probably very few people know about...It goes like this...

This the only thing I remember about Elvis being in Newport News is Pam Pennington's ('58) insane crush on him. One day, soon after Elvis' visit, I saw tiny little Pam struggling on Washington Avenue with this huge cardboard cutout. I couldn't tell what if was from the back so I tapped her on the shoulder and as she turned around I saw that it was a life-sized cardboard Elvis. Pam, also life-sized was no match for the "Hunk 'a Burning Love" she was trying to wrestle it to the bus stop so she could take it home. She said it was for her room, and with tears glistening in her eyes, from frustration, I watched as she, all by herself, got Elvis up the bus steps and took him home. I hope she still has him stashed somewhere because that was quite a PRIZE for a smitten 'teen as Pam definitely was! This is the only story I know about Elvis being "STIFF" in Newport News, and HE wasn't driving...the bus driver was!!!!

If Elvis was playing in Newport News I doubt he had a car, He and his group probably came in on a bus...I know I saw him leave on one, and he was with Pam Pennington!!!!!!

Love from Sepi a.k.a. "Dimples"

I still don't know how she got this marvelous cutout; small but determined, our tiny Pam!

- Sepi Dinwiddie Prichard ('58) of NC - 08/03/07
Thanks, Dimples!

- Courtesy of Bill Lee (WHS- '54) of NC - 03/13/10
Thank you so much, Bill!

The blonde lady buying tickets in John London's (Warwick HS - '57 - of VA) image (above) carried
in Bill Lee's (Warwick HS - '54 - of NC) article looks a lot like Codi Sinclair. 

- Norris Perry (Warwick HS - '59) of VA - 03/15/10
AHA! Thanks, Norris!



Dear Miss Typhoon,
You may wish to send the following account of attending the Elvis Presley concert at the Paramount Theatre in February of 1956 to Luca for the book. 
My friend, Archie Dail (who is now deceased), and I were there. Surely we were, and we saw and heard the Great Elvis.  I remember it like it was yesterday and it will never be forgotten--that is the screaming girls, the great songs and Elvis shaking his boody.  The theatre was full, not any standing room left, and after waiting for at least a half an hour and listening to the screaming girls and watching them jump out of their seats and yelling, "We want Elvis".  The lights finally went dim and his band came out on the stage and played one or two of his hit songs.  Finally Elvis made his way out onto the stage with his big smile and his head somewhat bowed and headed toward center stage.  He walked over to the edge of the stage and as it was some three feet higher than the aisles, he was careful not to get too close for fear of falling off in the darkness.  He brought a stick of gum he was chewing to his lips, took his fingers and pulled it out of his mouth and threw it on the floor.  The place went wild and every girl in the audience ran down front, fell on their knees and starting yelling and feeling for the gum in the dark.  Pandemonium broke out and the place went crazy.  Fifty girls started jumping up and down holding a piece of gum high above their head proclaiming that they had found Elvis's gum.  The entire time Elvis was just standing there with a big grin on his face waiting for the girls to settle down.  I think a few of the boys even wet their pants.  What a show Elvis gave, one that will always be remembered for eternity. 
A side note, Archie was a great Elvis fan and collected every record that he ever made.  We listened to them over and over until the 45's and 33's were smooth and no songs were left.  What a sad closure to one's life. 

- George Helliesen ('61) of MI - 06/23/10
WOWZERONI! Thanks, George!  

Do you remember February 13, 1956?

Elvis Presley did a series of shows at the Paramount Theater on February 13, 1956. He was originally scheduled t
o perform 3 shows, but when they quickly sold out, he added a fourth. It also sold out.

Did you attend one of the shows?

Do you know how many people could have been in attendance at a sold out show?

Do you remember who was president of the Peninsula Elvis Fan Club?

- Joe Drewry ('58) of VA - 08/14/13
Thanks, Joe! My own answers are: No, No, and No. Let's see who really remembers!

Paramount Studios Theme wav file courtesy of - 11/18/03

Sparkling Theater Lights clip art courtesy of - 05/22/03

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