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Plaza Theatre Story

The historic Plaza Theatre opened its doors for the first time on December 12, 1936, for the world premiere of the now-classic motion picture Camille. The Plaza Theatre in 1936
The Plaza Theatre opens its doors.
The premiere was an exciting event for Palm Springs. Not only were the film's co-star Robert Taylor and other Hollywood luminaries in attendance, but local media also reported seeing a woman in dark glasses sneaking into the balcony as the lights dimmed. They said she bore a suspicious resemblance to the picture's star, Greta Garbo.

Theater owner/manager Earle Strebe was determined to bring to Palm Springs' seasonal celebrity audiences only the finest film entertainment available and the Plaza Theatre soon established itself as an outstanding movie house.

The Plaza Theatre wasn't dead,
the grand ol' lady was
merely dormant, awaiting
her new life!

Not only were films shown there but other entertainments as well. Bob Hope and Jack Benny broadcast many of their national radio shows from the Plaza Theatre. Each year, a Palm Springs charity revue, the "Village Vanities" (later renamed the "Village Insanities"), was presented, and the theatre was home to live performances by such stars as Donald O'Connor, Frank Sinatra, Gordon MacRae and others.

Plaza Theatre Street Sign

But with the passage of time, as people turned to other types of entertainment, movie ticket sales dwindled and the theatre finally closed in 1987, but not before suffering the indignity of having a wall erected down the center and becoming a twin auditorium.

In 1991, when the historic building had fallen into near complete disuse, the Palm Springs city fathers asked retired television producer Riff Markowitz to come up with an idea for its utilization. He conceived and created a classic Follies and then - joined by partner Mary Jardin - added one notable exception, the cast must have actually lived through the era which they were going to portray.

And thus was born the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, now in its third decade and still playing to packed houses. The Plaza Theatre wasn't dead, the grand ol' lady was merely dormant, awaiting her new life.

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