This Week in History
“The Show Place of Toronto”
For the week of Monday April 14, 2008
On April 15, 1936, Toronto’s Eglinton Theatre was opened. People from across Toronto lined up for hours to get a glimpse of the gala opening and the premiere of the first film, King of Burlesque, starring Jack Oakie.
In 1932, Famous Players agreed to help finance the theatre and Kaplan & Sprachman, a well-known architectural firm was chosen to design and build it in 1934. The theatre was built in full Art Deco style involving synthetic materials, aerodynamic lines, and the use of lighting as a design feature. The interior used of vibrant colours, zigzag lines, plush fabrics, neon lighting, massive chandeliers, and etched glass murals.
The experience at the Eglinton Theatre was more than just going to see a movie. The theatre was at one point considered the flagship of the national Famous Players chain and was a key example of the new world of Art Deco architecture emerging at the time. Newspapers praised the extravagant design as the “Show Place of Toronto.” In 1937, the theatre won the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada bronze medal for its excellence in Art Deco design.
The Eglinton continued to thrive until the 1990s when the theatre began losing business to competition from the new multiplexes. Famous Players announced in December 2001 plans to close the theatre due to the decline in business and on April 1, 2002, the Eglinton Theatre closed.
In 1993, the Eglinton Theatre was designated a National Historic Site for representing the best example of Art Deco styling in Canadian theatre design.
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