Paramount Theatre turns 100

Austin's iconic Paramount Theatre turns 100 years old. Some big names have graced the Paramount's stage including Katherine Hepburn, Woody Allen and the Marx brothers. Even Harry Houdini left his mark.

For one century, the Paramount has lit up the faces of Austinites. It's a magical place where the audience connects with the artists and millions have seen a performance within the Paramount's walls.

The Paramount Theatre was originally named The Majestic and it has seen some big changes since it was built in 1915.

Director of Development at the Paramount, Lori Martin, says, "The opera boxes were original to the theatre but then in 1930 they were taken out because the sight lines are not good for a movie."

The Paramount was originally the home for vaudeville acts that sang, danced and performed magic.

Possibly one of the biggest performances came from Harry Houdini. Houdini reportedly loved the Paramount and played eight sold out shows. He even left a hole in the ceiling from one of his acts.

"It is reported that Houdini drilled the hole, or his crew drilled the hole, so that he, it was part of his act that there was rope and pulley system up there that helped in one of his escape acts," Martin says.

In the 1930's the theatre was purchased by Paramount Theaters and turned into a movie house. The interior was renovated and made more ornate.

"It was a way for people to come from the outside and just kind of forget their troubles and daily life when they came in to the theatre," Martin says.

As Austin grew the downtown area went into disrepair.

In the ‘60's, the Paramount lost its popularity and began showing B-movies but investors soon cleaned it up and began showing classic movies.

Then in the ‘90's the Paramount began to have live shows once again and over the years it's hosted more than 10,000 artists.

"We've had Diane Keaton, Woody Allen. All kinds of people with all kinds of talent who've graced the stage," Martin says.

The halls backstage are covered in their signatures.

Joan Rivers, Louis CK, Carol Burnett, BB King and Kathy Griffin are just a few of those that have left their mark and the Paramount has left its mark on them.

"We've had artists say they feel like they can reach out and connect with the audience and i think that makes a huge difference for both the artist and the audience," Martin says.

As the years pass and the Paramount carries on, those who love the theatre hope everyone will appreciate what it stands for.

Martin says, "It's a very historic building. It's a very expensive building to maintain but I think it's so important to do so because it links us to our past and it gives you a good idea of where were going forward."

The Paramount has a packed schedule this year.

To find out what's being shown, head to the Paramount's website here.

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