Family Theater—1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, USA
The February 25, 2011 issue of the Washingtonian Magazine gives us the scoop on a small theater at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C., simply called Family Theater. Although the first movie screened at the White House was “Birth of a Nation” in 1915, the actual theater wasn’t built until 1942 during the presidency of Franklin. Roosevelt. President Eisenhower saw more than 200 movies there, mainly westerns. President Kennedy screened 48 films including “From Russia With Love,” which he watched the night before his assassination. President Johnson invited many to the theater with him but usually fell asleep during the film. President Nixon watched 150 movies, his favorite being “Patton."
Records of Paul Fischer, who was White House projectionist from 1953 to 1986, show President Jimmy Carter to be the number one movie fan, watching 480 movies. It was said both President Ronald Reagan and President Bill Clinton were partial to "High Noon.” In 1990 President George H.W. Bush personally requested a copy of “The Hunt for Red October” from MPAA chief Jack Valente. The Washingtonian notes that President George W. Bush invited Tony Blair and his wife for a screening of “Meet the Parents” at Camp David. The article says that President Obama viewed the World War II miniseries “The Pacific” with Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg there but generally likes to watch movies with just his family.
The cinema presently has 40 theater-style seats behind four larger armchairs. To view photos of how the theater decor has changed over the years and the presidents, personalities, and public who have visited it go to: whitehousemuseum.org. It is found under East Wing.