Located in downtown Austin, the Paramount Theatre is an important and historic live and movie theater venue. John Eberson, one of the most renowned theater designers in US history, designed the original classic revival-style building. He built approximately 1,200 theaters, but less than 25 are still in existence today.
The Paramount opened its doors in 1915, originally called the Majestic Theatre. It featured vaudeville shows, a popular style of entertainment during that era. Performers like Harry Houdini even graced the stage at the Majestic Theatre. As vaudeville began to disappear, silent and later talking films began to develop. The theatre was revamped in 1930 to include wall-to-wall carpeting, upholstered seats, and a state of the art sound system. After the art deco renovations were complete, the theater was then renamed the Paramount Theatre. It was during this time that the Paramount Theatre began showcasing live performances like ballet.
After World War II, with the subsequent invention of the home television and the rise of suburban movie houses, the Paramount Theatre went into a period of decline before rising again in 1973 and hosting live shows again.
By the 1980s, the theater was a cultural icon, attracting major events and shows like A Chorus Line and My Fair Lady. Celebrities like Rodney Dangerfield, Lily Tomlin, and George Carlin have performed here. The Paramount was chosen as one of the official theaters to rerun Casablanca on its 50-year anniversary in 1992.
Today, the Paramount Theatre hosts a number of events and theater screenings, and has even produced its own blockbuster comedy shows like Greater Tuna. Look for non-performing art speaking engagements as well, such as Rick Steves, a travel writer and published guidebook author.
Paramount Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It is located at 713 Congress Avenue in Austin.