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The Phantom Reveals the Secrets of the Fox Theatre : RadioPotato

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Friday, October 18th, 2019

The Phantom Reveals the Secrets of the Fox Theatre


I was Christine Daae when I was Fifteen Years Old.  When I discovered my favorite play, Phantom of the Opera, I would belt the leading lady’s high notes with gusto (I’m SURE my voice was just as amazing, too) and I was cast under the Phantom’s hypnotic spell.  Oh wait…no, I wasn’t on stage, but I wished I was.  The mystery of The Phantom.  Who was he really?  What went on underneath that stage?

What most people don’t know is that Atlanta’s Fabulous Fox Theatre has its very own phantom lurking in the catacombs and shadows of the theatre.  JOE PATTEN is known as The Phantom of the Fox.  He is an intriguing 83-year old man that lives for free in a 3,600 square foot apartment nestled in the heart of the theatre.  Um, how do I get hooked up with that kind of pad?  Next best thing?  An interview.

There are rumors about a confederate soldier’s ghost walking through the hallways and about the Fox being haunted.  There’s the lore of saving this beloved treasure after funds fell short in the 1970’s and the Rolling Stones saving it.  The Fox Theatre is so rich with deep history and has defined decades for Atlanta.  Quoted from the Fox Theatre’s website:


Photo courtesy of Sara Foltz

“Entering the huge auditorium, an early reviewer for the Atlanta Journal described “a picturesque and almost disturbing grandeur beyond imagination. Visitors encounter an indoor Arabian courtyard with a sky full of flickering stars and magically drifting clouds; a spectacular striped canopy overhanging the balcony; stage curtains depicting mosques and Moorish rulers in hand sewn sequins and rhinestones.””

I met with Joe in his apartment earlier this year.   He looked like a little taller Yoda with black thick-rimmed glasses and wears a belt with a giant metal buckle that simply says “FOX.”  He has a loooong memory and a love affair with the Fox like you wouldn’t believe.  He knows every inch of that place and would spill details about his times with Mick Jagger and Crosby, Stills, and Nash.  No subject was off-limits and he answered the question as to whether the Fox is actually haunted.  So cool.

As always, you can get the full scoop in a seventeen minute Podcast you can listen to within the site or on-the-go at iTunes.  The mini-story is right here: 

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I also  found a really well-done short video that Russ Taylor did profiling Joe.

Phantom of the Fox from Too Busy To Hate on Vimeo.

Thank you so much, Joe!  You are as much of a treasure as The Fox is to Atlanta. For those of you reading this article, please leave comments of your experiences at the Fox!  Thanks for reading.


(thumbnail photo on Home Page courtesy of Brian Hall. A giant THANK YOU to the The Fox Theatre – Atlanta for permissions and clearances)

About the author

Allison Hare wrote 138 articles on this blog.

A modern-day dame with a bionic ear for discovering emerging artists and a penchant for live shows. Admitted radio junkie



7 Responses to “The Phantom Reveals the Secrets of the Fox Theatre”
  1. Diana Adams says:

    I love this post! The Fox Theatre is such a special place here in Atlanta, full of magic and mystery. These pics are great too. Thank you for this. 😉

  2. Everyone loves the Fox, and this just makes it FOX-IER! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Chad says:

    This is so awesome, Allison!!! Thanks for sharing such a great story about our hometown with us!

  4. Brad Broadrick says:

    I was lucky enough to work with Joe, although he never knew me, I worked as an usher in high school at the Fox so that I could see free shows and concerts. Who knew it was going to lead into a career for me? Great piece Allison.

  5. Allison Rizk says:

    Brad, thanks so much for your comments. That’s so cool that you got to work with Joe. What was he like to work with? I’m dying to know.

  6. Shawn Lemley says:

    This is an outstanding video and interview for anyone who loves the Fox Theater to listen to and watch. Many of us had no idea that the saving of the Fox could attributed to one very unassuming person. It truly is a great testament to the human spirit. As an Atlanta resident, I am truly grateful to Joe Patten.
    Now that Joe is in need of help, I am trying to step up an provide that help. I am the CTO of an Aging in Place integration company and want to give Joe and the Fox Theater one of our solutions to allow him to stay in his home for as long as possible. No one has earned that right more than Joe Patten.
    If anyone is reading this wants to help us to help Joe, let me know–Shawn Lemley 770-552-7777 office. We are in contact with the Fox and Atlanta Landmarks and just want to give Joe and his family the opportunity to see if we can meet their needs.
    In any case, I hope that the Fox and Atlanta Landmarks do the right thing(s) for Joe and he remains the Phantom of the Fox.
    Good Luck and Good Health Joe!

  7. Allison Rizk says:

    Shawn, I couldn’t agree more. Joe Patten IS the Fox and deserves to have his original agreement honored. He’s living history and there’s no one who cares about the Fox more then he does. Thanks for posting-

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