Lido Theater

2830 Samuell Boulevard,
Dallas, TX 75223

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Phil Isley Theaters

Architects: Raymond F. Smith

Firms: Pettigrew & Worley

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Major Theater

Nearby Theaters

Lido...Dallas Texas

Located in suburban East Dallas, this originally opened as the Major Theatre in 1947. It was built for Phil Isley Theatres Inc. Interior decorations were by R.V. Churchill, and a feature of the seating was the provision of double ‘lovers’ seats on the aisles of the balcony and a 24-seat cry room located on the left of the projection booth at balcony level.

It was renamed Lido Theatre in 1965 when it went over to screening adult movies. After closing an attempt was made to convert it condominiums or loft apartments.

A colorful and unique stand alone theatre was sacrficed in the process. It had a large marquee with "Lido" spelled out with unusual white letters on both sides on a red background with a large decorative tower on one side and lots of lighting and neon.

Contributed by Billy Smith / Don Lewis

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

unihikid on February 19, 2008 at 4:46 pm

i always thought it wasnt in dallas but carollton.i mean im not from dallas but i would think since its in the carollton town square….

legsdiamond on March 27, 2008 at 4:28 pm

It was the Major Theater up until the late 50s / early 60s, then became the Lido. I was always intrigued by the ads in the paper for the attractions at this theater during the 60s because it seemed like the quintessential ‘burlesque’ theater—showing films with Mamie Van Doren and featuring live strip-tease. That’s what the Lido was, at least according to the ads in the paper. A fun research subject for someone who has the time would be to document the list of double-features that played this place for a decade when it was the Lido.
In the early 90s, someone bought it, reclaimed the ‘Major’ name, and tried to show alternative films and cult films for about two weeks.

I always thought the Lido would be fun to go to, but I was just a pre-teen…now it’s an office facility, I think.

Christinada5 on April 9, 2008 at 5:28 pm

I thought I was the only one who remembered the Lido. Right across from Samuell Park. They use to show porn movies, in the mid 80s early 90’s. I was still a preteen, but every kid seemed to know what type of theatre this was. Back in the day, you would drive through there and it looked like an ordinary neighborhood. At night, that whole block looked kind of seedy with neon lights and the other strip clubs,and liquor stores that use to be up Samuell blvd.. Those were the days.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 8, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Boxoffice of May 9, 1966, mentions the Lido: “Ramon Lence, who operates the Lido (formerly the Major) in Dallas, is converting the house to live talent and art movies….”

The house was still called the Major in 1965, when the March 29 issue of Boxoffice reported that Phil Isley had sold most of his circuit to John Rowley, but had retained ownership of the Major Theatre in Dallas and the Canyon Drive-In at Snyder.

I’ve found Phil Isley’s Major Theatre mentioned in Boxoffice as early as the issue of February 11, 1950, in an item saying that R.V. Scott had taken over as manager of the house. I haven’t found the opening date for the Major, but judging from the style of the building I’d say that it might have opened in early 1950 or in the late 1940s.

matt54 on May 22, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Did the opening of this theater lead to the closing of the East Grand (which closed in 1951, according to a poster on the East Grand page /theaters/27561/),,) which was located just a couple blocks west at the intersection of Samuell and Grand?

matt54 on November 21, 2010 at 8:51 pm

One more question about this location: what is (was) the “ex-theater-y” looking building presently right next to the Lido in the google maps street views (called the Beverage Depot)? it has the same stair-stepped roof profile of so many old theater buildings – – – but that can’t possibly be, right?

dallasmovietheaters on December 14, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Phil Isley Circuit opened the Major Theater with “California” on May 28, 1947 with Monte Hale and Chill Wills making a personal appearance. The 1,200 seat theater had a cry room and free parking. At the end of June 1964, the Major closed briefly and became an independent under Ramon Garcia Lence of the Casa View, Arapaho Drive-In and REX cinema. During September of 1965, the Major went from suburban double-features to adult fare. In October of 1965, the theater’s name was changed to the Lido Theater — a very successful and oft-raided adult theater that added live shows in 1966. That theater went into 1970 when operators mulled over the impact of a Texas obscenity law that had survived a legal challenge. It was subleased and had a very brief run as a Hispanic Theater for three months in 1970 and reverted to playing X-rated fare that same year.

On March 18, 1971, it rebranded as more of an XXX adult house under new ownership and rediscovering its audience. With the neighboring Tamlo Club and Show Lounge which had live shows and some XXX films, the neighborhood drew crowds. The Lido continued all the way into the 1980s until city restrictions were placed on adult theaters within 1,000 feet of a city park. With the home video revolution occurring, it could have been a challenging marketplace for the Lido moving forward with or without the restrictions.

In 1991, the Lido reverted back to its original name, the Major Theater. It started with live shows and then mixed in films with many fewer seats. It made a little news by showing Dial M for Murder in 3-D. Since the film had been shown flat at the Majestic in 1954, it was Dallas' first chance to see the Hitchcock film in 3D. The theater closed in 1992 and re-opened in 1993 showing classic films. The lineage was that the Edison Theater had opened as a revival house that moved to the Granada Theater. The Major was the follow-up location after the Granada changed its operation. Partners Rob Clements and Bryce Gonzalez changed from retro movies to live shows beginning July 15, 1995. That appears to have lasted just over a year. In 1998, the Propel Group doing web development and digital media opened and was still in the space as of the 2010s. As for the Lido name, the tradition carried on and was in used into the 2010s as the name of an adult theater at 7035 W. John W. Carpenter Freeway in Dallas.

tgaston on April 7, 2014 at 8:35 pm

I went to the matinees at the Major Theater every Saturday afternoon after it opened in 1947. Sat in the couples seats in the balcony with my girlfriend. They had personal appearance there by major movie stars like Roy Rogers. They also held the Dallas Yo-Yo championship there sponsored by Dunlop. It is the only theater I have ever seen with a sound proof baby crying room were parents could go with their baby and still watch the movie. Great idea. A movie company made a short movie at our elementary school (Bayles Elementary) using the students as the cast and it was shown during the matinee. They planned to do the same at other schools but it never happened.

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