|Address||73000 Fred Waring Drive
Palm Desert, California
|Type||Performing arts center|
|Architect||Anthony and Langford/Architects|
Talk of the facility began in 1974 with the formation of an informal group calling itself "Friends of the Cultural Center." Fundraising began in earnest with thirteen sold-out performances by Fred Waring. By 1984, local developer Terry Hahn contributed US$1M to the project and Gerald Ford became part of the board of directors. Ford, in turn, convinced Bob Hope to contribute to the project. A second million-dollar grant from the McCallum Foundation coupled with private donations led to the groundbreaking in 1985.
The McCallum's early years were marked by diverse performances by the likes of George Burns and Johnny Cash and nationally televised events hosted by Elizabeth Taylor and Oprah Winfrey. By 1999, the theatre found itself more than US$7.5M in debt, almost totally due to a change in diverse performances to so-called "elitist" performances (primarily classical and easy listening concerts and elaborate Broadway musicals aimed at older, well-heeled clientele) coupled with higher-than-average ticket prices; even College of the Desert's access to the theater for their performances was severely limited. Incoming theater president Ted Giatas joined with regular McCallum performer Jack Jones for a series of humorous television ads touting a change of direction and which attempted to raise funds. Viewers responded with US$120,000 in donations and the new, all-inclusive programming led to US$15M in additional grants by 2001.
Since its inception, the McCallum Theatre has operated as a non-profit organization, with more than 400 volunteers serving as ushers and other staff during performances. An educational outreach program presents private showings of concerts and plays to teachers and their classes.
It has become customary for important performers to autograph the wallpaper in the green room and dressing room areas. Among the autographs are those of Jerry Lewis (after his appearance in Damn Yankees), Toni Tennille and Chuck Jones. Jones' autograph depicts a bust of Bugs Bunny wearing a tuxedo.
- Biller, Steven; Kleinschmidt, Janice (October 2007). "The Influencers". Palm Springs Life.
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