Plaza Theatre (Palm Springs)

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The historic Plaza Theatre, 1951

The Plaza Theatre is a historic theater located at 128 South Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, California. From 1990 through 2014[1] the theatre housed The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies which was featured on ABC's 20/20, The Today Show, the New York Times, NPR[2] and other media since its founding.[3]


Earle Strebe, sold the very first ticket to Annette Freeman

It was December 12, 1936 that the historic Plaza Theatre opened with the Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor premiere Camille. The theatre's owner at the time, Earle C. Strebe,[4] sold the very first ticket to Annette Freeman.[5]

The Plaza Theatre became a venue for a number of world premieres, including the musicals My Fair Lady and Music Man. The Plaza was a popular theater during the 1940s for famous stars to do their broadcasting. Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Amos 'n' Andy all did radio shows from the Plaza, bringing national attention to Palm Springs.

— Greg Niemann[6]:139

In the early days of Palm Springs began the "Desert Circus" for which an annual show was staged by Melba Bennett called the "Village Insanities". Originally performed on the grounds of the Desert Inn, the "Insanities" would later perform at the Plaza Theatre under the name of the Village Vanities during the 1940s.[7]

The Plaza Theatre remained active for many years, finally becoming dormant in 1989.[6] It was at this time that television producer Riff Markowitz (The Hitchhiker),[8] decided to renovate the cinema and create a "Broadway-caliber celebration of the music, dance, and comedy of the 30's, 40's, and 50's with a cast old enough to have lived it!".[9]


The theater seen in 2012

The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies ran late October through May from 1990 to 2014. The Managing Director and MC of the show, Riff Markowitz, is known for his cult classic television series The Hilarious House of Frightenstein and the HBO TV series The Hitchhiker. Among the theatre's stars were Dorothy Kloss, "the World's Oldest Showgirl",[10] Leonard Crofoot, often remembered for his roles on Star Trek The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager, and Markowitz himself.[8]

The Plaza Theatre was the subject of a documentary, through the Follies, entitled Still Kicking: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, directed by Mel Damski, which was nominated for an Oscar in 1998.[11]

The Follies held their last show in May 2014.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ , Retrieved on 2008-11-03
  4. ^ A Golden Palm Star at the theater, part of the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, was dedicated to Strebe in 1992. Palm Springs Walk of Stars: By Date Dedicated Archived 2012-12-08 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Desert Memories Historic Images of the Coachella Valley, Page 24, by The Desert Sun, ISBN 1-932129-01-4
  6. ^ a b Niemann, Greg (2006). Palm Springs Legends: creation of a desert oasis. San Diego, CA: Sunbelt Publications. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-932653-74-1. OCLC 61211290. (here for Table of Contents)
  7. ^ Palm Springs First Hundred Years, By Mayor Frank M. Bogert, Page 154, ISBN 0-9618729-0-X
  8. ^ a b , Retrieved on 2008-11-03
  9. ^ , Retrieved on 2008-11-03
  10. ^ Guinness Book of World Records 2009, Page 90, ISBN 1-904994-37-7, ISBN 978-1-904994-37-4
  11. ^ , Retrieved on 2008-11-03

Coordinates: 33°49′21″N 116°32′47″W / 33.8226°N 116.5465°W / 33.8226; -116.5465