Desert Hot Springs Theatre

11705 Palm Avenue,
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240

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The Desert Hot Springs Theatre opened on May 14, 1948 with a crowd of 700 showing up for the festivities and over 300 being lucky enough to see Glenn Ford in “The Mating of Millie”. The archives of the Desert Hot Springs Sentinel say that Harry Plymire closed escrow on the land on December 10, 1947 and began the ground breaking of the $100,000 theatre on December 15. The reason for the rapid construction was that the theatre auditorium was moved on to the lot and five shops were designed by architect Hiram Hudson Benedict to blend in with it. Benedict was known as a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The theatre was generally open seasonally, sometimes closing for a month or longer in the summer and open for three or four days on the weekends. Previously, residents and vacationers in this spa town had their choice of two theatres in Palm Springs, ten and a half miles away, and the Fox Theatre in Banning, 24 miles away.

Archives of the Sentinel show that in September of 1951, the management was taken over by Bill Alford, who was described as previously being associated with the Lido and Balboa theatres in Newport Beach. In November of 1951, Alford changed the name to the Twin Palms Theatre.

A newspaper ad in October of 1953 said that a spectacular panoramic wide screen would be installed for the movie “Shane”, which opened in November. It wasn’t until November of 1955 that a full Cinemascope screen was installed and they could compete favorably with their competitors.

In the early 70s it was named The Theatre in newspaper display ads. In late March of 1972, its then owner, Barbara Hunt began to offer live stage plays in addition to movies and she even built an entertainment and food arcade next to the theatre whose purpose was to attract the family trade.

The Desert Sentinel reported on November 27, 1975, that the previous Saturday night five deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s department had raided the theatre to stop the 11PM showing of “The Devil in Miss Jones”. They also seized the film and checked the 125 patrons for anyone underage, but found none. Evidently the raid was instigated by complaints that began three weeks before after a showing of “Deep Throat”. The theatre owner, Esther Primack, said that she had been leasing the theatre to a Los Angeles company. She defended herself by saying no one was forced to attend the film and that it also helped her lower the admission prices of the mainstream movies she had been showing. Soon after the theatre began its policy of movies only at $1 admission or free attendance if you bought the combo meal at Primack’s Mexican restaurant, next door.

The exact date of its closing is unknown but after 1994, The Theatre was no longer listed in The International Motion Picture Almanac. As of 2008 the building still exists, but is home to a church.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 13, 2008 at 4:45 am

Here is an item in Boxoffice magazine, October 1963:

DESERT HOT SPRINGS-The city’s newest businessmen, William Wall and Hans David, have taken over management of the Desert Theater and are showing first-run product from Hollywood and Europe.

The Desert Theater was one of the first buildings erected in this California community and was built by Harry Plymire. For years, the situation was under the management of Bill Alford, but Mrs. Ruby K. Bonce, owner, directed it last year.

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