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Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Home Theatre In The Thirties


This is a private screening room in the home of RKO star Ann Harding. The picture was taken in 1934. Just in case anyone thinks home theatres are a recent phenomenon, I’ll repeat that date --- 1934. For all I know, Miss Harding might have just ordered up a double-feature of brand new releases for this evening’s show --- The Black Cat and Tarzan and His Mate perhaps? How about The Thin Man and It Happened One Night? Either of those combos would suit me. They say big stars had their pick of studio product to bring home for private shows. Check out the stats on Ann’s personal Bijou --- two 35mm projectors at $10,000 each --- a viewing area twenty feet wide with a sixty foot throw from the booth to the screen --- electronically operated, hand-painted stage curtain. How could the woman drag herself away from all this to report to work, let alone eat or sleep? Others in Hollywood no doubt had their own miniature picture palaces, but the caption here suggests that Ann Harding’s was "the finest privately owned theater in the United States." Those chairs look substantial enough to have survived to this day. Could they possibly be adorning some latter-day screening nook?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've all heard of the great home theatres Harold Lloyd and William Randolph Hurst had in the 1920s. It seems the fad began then among the very wealthy. Personally, I have had home theatres since 1977.
EC, Toledo, Ohio

8:58 AM  
Blogger East Side said...

Pretty nice set-up for someone who wasn't exactly A-list -- was she?

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