Rialto Theatre

616 S. 4th Street,
Louisville, KY 40202

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fourth Avenue Amusement Co.

Architects: Alfred Joseph, Oscar Joseph

Firms: Joseph & Joseph

Styles: French Renaissance

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Rialto Theatre

The 3,500-seat Rialto Theatre was considered the finest and most costly (at one million dollars) theatre in Louisville. It opened on May 12, 1921 with Elliott Dexter in “The Witching Hour”. It was equipped with a $30,000 Pilcher theatre pipe organ. It was closed on July 31, 1968 with Rex Harrison in “Doctor Dolittle”. It was demolished in 1969.

It had chandeliers of Bohemian crystal, a great marble staircase, walls of Rockwood tiles. It was Louisville’s first grand movie palace, but is now the site of a parking lot.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Scottoro on October 3, 2006 at 8:41 am

I met Robert Wise about five years ago when he was giving a lecture at DreamWorks, where I work. I told him I was from Louisville (Mr. Wise perked up because was from Indiana) and that The Sound of Music had played at the Rialto, Louisville’s grandest movie palace, for an entire year, reserved seat. His face lit up and he seemed genuinely surprised and immensely pleased.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on December 11, 2006 at 4:54 am

A colorful post card rendetion of fourth avenue, the RIALTO and a LOEWS/UNITED ARTIST (now the Louisville Palace Theater).

A closer look at the Rialto marquee shows that “CAREFREE” with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire was playing.


kalpal on April 19, 2009 at 8:01 am

Need info on a magician named “ASKA” who was represented by the manager of the Rialto in Louisville? It would be between WWII and 1964 since the address for the theater is Louisville 2, KY, ratehr than having a zip code. The suits worn by the magician appear to be vintage 1950s.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on May 9, 2010 at 9:01 pm

From 1942 a postcard image of the Rialto Theatre along with a view of the Loew’s State marquee on the right.

Coate on April 7, 2015 at 2:17 pm

It was 50 years ago today that “The Sound of Music” premiered at the Rialto. With a reserved-seat run of 64 weeks, it’s almost certainly the long-run record holder for this venue. (Anyone know of something that ran longer?) It was one of more than 70 engagements in North America that ran the movie longer than one year.

DavidZornig on May 5, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Scotty Moore was Elvis' guitarist in his early years. His website has some incredible photos of the Rialto being built and it’s completion. Copy & paste to view.


DavidZornig on May 5, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Great 1945 facade photo added courtesy of Rick McCauley.

Coate on May 22, 2017 at 9:55 am

New Showcase Presentations in Louisville article includes mention of the numerous roadshow, Cinerama and 70mm engagements here at the Rialto (along with other Louisville cinemas).

Scottoro1 on August 8, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Coate is correct. The Sound of Music ran longer than any other movie at the Rialto. You can see ads for all of the movies to play the Rialto by going to my blog: http://scottsantoro.blogspot.com/ I started with 1968, when the theatre closed, and I just posted the ads for 1934. I intend to take it all the way back to 1921.

50sSNIPES on May 3, 2024 at 10:47 am

The actual opening date is May 12, 1921 with Elliott Dexter in “The Witching Hour” (unknown if any short subjects were added).

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