80th Birthday Celebration for the Paramount Thr/Kankakee IL

Paramount Theatre
Celebrates 80 Years

FREE Presentation of the First Film Shown in 1931

Kankakee, IL – This year marks the 80th anniversary of the historic Paramount Theatre, located at 213 North Schuyler Avenue in downtown Kankakee. To celebrate the milestone event, Classic Cinemas is presenting a FREE screening of Skippy, the first film shown at the Paramount on opening day in 1931. This free presentation is slated for Sunday, September 11, 2011, at 1 p.m. There will also be a special cake-cutting ceremony before the screening at noon to mark the celebration.


The Paramount’s history dates back to the Famous Players-Laskey Film Company, who, in the early 1920s, expanded as a result of the success of motion pictures and became known as Paramount Pictures. Showing primarily movies produced by Paramount Pictures, the company established theatres across the country. It continued building theatres into the early 1930s. And, on April 11, 1931, the Kankakee Paramount opened its doors. At that time there were at least six other theatres in downtown Kankakee, but by the 1980s only three remained.


When Classic Cinemas purchased the Paramount theatre in 1988, they renovated and modernized the building in keeping with its heritage. The auditorium is decorated in a style that is very typical of Paramount theatres with a cobalt blue ceiling and intricate geometric designs in green, red, gold and silver. All the painting was done by local painter and artisan Gary Reynolds. Today, all auditoriums feature digital sound using HPS 4000 Dolby Digital Sound systems, and three screens have Digital 3D capabilities!


Skippy (1931): Skippy Skinner, played by Jackie Cooper, spends most of his time trying to avoid doing those things that his parents want him to do, while doing those things his parents don’t want him to do. Instead of playing with “clean” neighborhood kids like Sidney and his sister Eloise, he spends time across the railroad tracks in Shantytown. Skippy’s father, Dr. Herbert Skinner, the city’s head of the health board, doesn’t like him spending time there. On Skippy’s latest visit to Shantytown, he meets a new friend, Sooky Wayne. After Sooky tells him that Shantytown is to be torn down and its poor residents have to move, he confronts his father who condemned Shantytown. Skippy was one of the first films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, in 1931, and to date is the only Best Picture nominee based upon a comic or graphic novel. Also, Jackie Cooper was the first child actor nominated for Best Actor for his role in Skippy.


To continue the celebration, Classic Cinemas will host free theatre and booth tours of the historical Paramount on Saturday, September 17th, from 10 a.m. to noon.


About Classic Cinemas

Classic Cinemas, based in Downers Grove, Illinois, is a family-owned company operated by Willis, Shirley and Chris Johnson. Established in 1978, Classic Cinemas operates 13 theatres with 99 screens in the northern Illinois area. For more information on Classic Cinemas, please visit www.classiccinemas.com.



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For further information about Classic Cinemas or this free screening,

please contact Falk Associates at 847.675.2580.

One Comment

  1. Jackie Lord

    Doing some research on my grandfather Earl James Adams. Looking at a newspaper clipping it was said he worked at the Paramount in 1925. I was wondering if you have any photos of workers during that early period. Jackie Adams lord fondue46@gmail.com Thanks

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