Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation president J.R. Roberts informed the Palm Springs City Council at its regular session on April 7 that the historic theatre’s restoration project fundraising efforts received a new $2 million pledge of support. This new donation satisfies the matching challenge that was part of the record $5 million donation recently received from acclaimed television producer David Lee. The donation includes a challenge of its own. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, issued a challenge to the City of Palm Springs to match this donation with a $2 million contribution. The city owns the historic theatre which has fallen into disrepair and needs approximately $10-$12 million to restore it and bring it up to current code.
“We are absolutely thrilled that this new donor has joined David Lee, our Plaza Theatre Foundation Founders, and all the other people who have donated to this important preservation project,” said Roberts. “This donation challenges the City of Palm Springs to match this pledge and help us get closer to our fundraising goal.”
About the Plaza Theatre Restoration Project
The City of Palm Springs recently created a non-profit Foundation that launched a campaign to raise capital to fully restore one of its most iconic buildings – the historic Plaza Theatre. Originally built in 1936, the building was used for film premieres and screenings, nationally broadcast radio theatre programs, and other performances. In its later years, the theater was home to the long running “The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies.” Over the decades, the building has deteriorated, so the City of Palm Springs has initiated a capital campaign to restore the beloved structure to its former glory.
The comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation plan will provide essential infrastructure repairs, installation of new theatrical equipment, and structural improvements to ensure that the building meets today’s fire prevention and American Disabilities Act mandates. This historic theatre has played an impressive role in Palm Springs much like the Radio City Music Hall has in New York. When the restoration is complete, the Plaza Theatre will be poised to continue to provide the city and its visitors with top notch entertainment for years to come.
There are many ways in which the public may play a significant role in the Plaza Theatre restoration, including becoming a Founder, securing a Naming Opportunity, or making a donation. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information or to make a donation to support preservation and restoration, contact Foundation Chairman J.R. Roberts at 760-218-6330 or visit SaveThePlazaTheatrePS.com.
Background/About the Theatre:
Seminal Palm Springs architect Harry Williams designed the theatre in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The theatre opened in 1936 with the premiere of the George Cukor film, “Camille,” with its legendary star, Greta Garbo, who allegedly slipped into the back of the theatre after the lights went down. Garbo’s co-star in the film, Robert Taylor, attended with Barbara Stanwyck.
Over the years, the theatre was the venue for memorable performances by entertainment giants Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Performers Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and The Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show broadcast live radio shows from the Plaza, bringing national attention to Palm Springs. It also was one of the most popular movie theatres in the growing Palm Springs community and was the venue for a number of motion picture world premieres, including “My Fair Lady” and “Music Man.”
In the late 1980s Sonny Bono created the Palm Springs International Film Festival at the Plaza Theatre. In 1991, a vaudeville-type revue called “The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies” launched and ran there for 23 years. The long-running show brought international exposure to the theatre and in many ways helped revitalize downtown Palm Springs.
Establishment of Historic Protection
The Plaza Theatre was declared a Class 1 Historic Site in 1991. This designation prohibits any structural changes that do not adhere to the original design. The theatre is in dire need of repair and restoration and the City of Palm Springs is committed to bringing it back to its original luster as the heart of the City.