The year was about 1969. I was a young, energetic second assistant to Sid Myers. I was also into
collecting all sorts of ‘memorabilia’. I guess I must have mentioned to Sid that day, I was headed out for lunch with some friends to go a few blocks away to what was then the Paramount Theater. I had read that the Paramount was about to close it’s doors for good and they would be stripping the theater bare. To me, that was like an engraved invitation.
A few buddies of mine from DDB and I went the block and a half to 7th Avenue and snuck in through a side door. We found ourselves alone in this vast auditorium. We had even been prepared enough to take flashlights and screwdrivers with us. We scavenged through the place and found very little to take … then we looked up. What we saw were these beautiful art deco-ish red glass and bronze ‘Exit’ signs. I swear to this day they actually read “Take Me”.
So we unscrewed about a half dozen or so of these beauties and since they were too heavy to carry around with us, placed them outside on a fire escape to keep them safe, while we looked around form more stuff. After rummaging around backstage and through a few dressing rooms, we realized we had found the best we could expect. So we headed back to the fire escape to pick up our booty, only to find that we had been ripped off – in the midst of us ripping off the Paramount. We looked all around, but those beautiful 12″ x 24″ signs were gone. Dejectedly we walked back to 10 West 42nd Street.
Over the next few weeks we forgot about our little “heist” and moved on with more important things. That was until about six or seven months later. I was called into Len Sirowitz’s office for some reason I can’t remember, Len being a heavyweight at Doyle, Dane had a large corner office with enough space that he even had a closest in it. We sat and chatted for a while before he suggested that I get something down from the top shelf in his closet I got up from my seat, reached high into the darkness and found whatever was up there, which was quite heavy. Upon carefully bringing it down, I was amazed to see and realize that these were the “Exit” signs from the Paramount Theater.
A sly smile and slight chuckle came over the face of Len as he started to laugh and tell me that Sid had come to him that fateful day and told him of my plans. The two of them decided that they would follow us and when they saw us place the stuff on the fire escape, that was their opportunity.
They always knew they would eventually give us ‘our’ stuff back – but not until they had their fun with us.
And yes, I still have 2 of those signs.
DDB Art Director