Village Theatre

207 N. Palm Canyon Drive,
Palm Springs, CA 92262

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Mayor Frank Bogert’s “Palm Springs First Hundred Years” notes that Earle Strebe and Zaddie Bunker opened the Palm Springs Theatre in 1932. Earle was also married to Zaddie’s daughter Frances. Palm Springs historian Greg Nieman notes that the theater was built on the former site of Bunker’s Garage.

Zaddie Bunker (1888-1969) later became known in the press as Palm Springs ‘flying great-grandmother’ for her aeronautical exploits after earning her wings at 65. According to the Los Angeles Times, in 1959 at the age of 71, she flew faster than the speed of sound as a passenger in a North American Super Sabre.

By 1947 the showhouse was called the Village Theatre and the Film Daily Yearbook listed it with 675 seats. In January of 1974 the Village Theatre and Plaza Theatre joined the Century Cinema Circuit, but by 1977 the theatres were again listed as independent. On May 18, 1981 the Village Theatre and all Palm Springs and Palm Desert theatres became listed under the Metropolitan Theatres banner in the Desert Sun.

The Desert Sun covered the last day of operation for the Village Theatre on May 13, 1984. For the occasion Metropolitan Theatres screened two William Powell films from the 1930’s, “Libeled Lady” and “The Thin Man". It was said that Metropolitan was unable to find a 35mm print of “Lawyer Man", the very first movie to play at the Village Theatre. Admission for the theatre’s last run was 50 cents with 25-cent popcorn.

After the Village Theatre was demolished, an addition to the Desert Plaza shopping center was built on the site and the Strebe family enjoyed a $5 million dollar payday.

In 1992 Earle Strebe (1906-1994), who also ran the Plaza Theatre and El Paseo Theatre, was recognized for his contributions to Palm Springs. His star was placed on the Palm Springs Walk of Fame in front of the Plaza Theatre.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm

The Village Theatre might have been listed as an independent house in the newspapers before 1981, but before the end of 1977 it had already been taken over by Metropolitan Theatres. It was Metropolitan that twinned the Village and Plaza Theatres in 1977, as noted in this brief article in Boxoffice of January 2, 1978. The article features a drawing of the twinned auditorium of the Plaza, but says that the Village got new carpeting, draperies, and lobby treatment. Both houses got all new projection and sound equipment. Both theaters reopened shortly before Christmas, 1977.

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