Tally's Electric Theatre

311 S. Spring Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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Tally’s Electric Theatre is listed as the first permanent movie theatre designed specifically for the exhibition of films. It was opened 0n April 16, 1902 by Thomas Lincoln Tally in Los Angeles.

In later years, Tally had the idea to create an organization of exhibitors, one from each major city, which would buy, or make, and distribute their own films. He presented his idea to another exhibitor, John D. Williams of West Virginia, who liked the idea and combined forces with Tally. They named their new company First National Exhibitors Circuit.

The organization’s first office was two small rooms at 18 E. 41st Street, and their motto proclaimed, “The Good Guys Get, By Getting Together”.

Contributed by lost memory

Recent comments (view all 47 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 23, 2007 at 12:18 am

The Electric Theatre at 212 N. Main is listed here as the Roosevelt Theatre, which was apparently the last name under which it operated. I don’t know if Thomas Tally had anything to do with it.

Buffalo International Film Festival
Buffalo International Film Festival on August 31, 2007 at 3:05 pm

Sorry to post this here, but we’ve tried every other way to reach Joe Vogel. Mr. V… if you read this, could you write to us at
BuffaloFilmFestival AT gmail.com ? (substitute @ for AT) Thank you!

Buffalo International Film Festival
Buffalo International Film Festival on July 13, 2008 at 9:31 am

New research has just revealed that Tally’s Electric Theatre was NOT a free standing building: it was part of a larger building. Apparently, it was not a store-front conversion, but a purpose-built storefront.

This now leaves in doubt what the actual first “Theater” built free-standing from the ground up was.

nickb on July 30, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Buffalo International Film Festival –

Could you direct us to this new research? I’d be interested to see it… Have any pictures surfaced?

HughMN on November 6, 2009 at 1:45 am

The Spring St. address is definitely incorrect. 311 South Spring Street is the address of Tally’s Phonograph Parlour, where Edison Kinetoscopes were indeed projected. But the Electric was first opened in 1902 on So. Main St. A picture of a theater identified as the Liberty Theater may be the same building, though this site gives that address as 266 So. Main. In any event, an advertisement on the front page of the LA Times, Saturday May 10, 1902 reads:
Capture of the Biddle Brothers
NEW YORK CITY IN A BLIZZARD, THE HINDOO FAKIR and many other interesting scenes.
A REFINED Entertainment for
Ladies and Children
Continuous Performance 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.
T.L. Tally, Mgr.
Phone John 7191”

CharmaineZoe on May 9, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I have a photo of Tally’s I found in an old film magazine. The photo dates from about 1902 or 1903 or even earlier (I notice it has an awning advertising the Great Corbett Fight – This would be James J Corbett when in 1894 he took part in the production of one of the first recorded boxing events, a fight with Peter Courtney. This was filmed at the Black Maria studio at West Orange, New Jersey, in the USA and was produced by William K.L. Dickson. It was only the second boxing match to be recorded.) Unfortunately I am unable to post it here as you are not accepting any more photos, but you can see it on my Flickr photostream, at View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 24, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Thomas Tally began exhibiting movies in the curtained-off rear portion of his Phonograph and Vitascope Parlor at 311 S. Spring Street on July 25, 1896. In 1899 he moved his operation to 339 S. Spring Street, which was listed as Tally’s Phonograph & Projectoscope Parlor. As far as I’ve been able to determine, neither Spring Street location was ever operated under the name Tally’s Electric Theatre.

Tally’s Electric Theatre opened at 262 S. Main Street on April 2, 1902, and was the first location which Tally operated as only a theater, rather than as an adjuct to his phonograph parlor. It was later known as the Lyric Theatre and finally Glockner’s Automatic Theatre, the name under which it is listed at Cinema Treasures.

More details about Tally’s earliest forays into movie exhibition can be found on this page of Bill Counter’s web site Historic Los Angeles Theatres.

tovangar2 on March 22, 2017 at 7:09 pm

Tally’s Electric/Lyric/Glockner’s was at 262 S Main in the building directly north of the Liberty theater.

Its Cinema Treasures page is here: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/19875

The building is on the left in this photo of the Liberty: http://lacityhistory.pastperfectonline.com/photo/F8045E02-17CB-432C-BB54-467212534345

One can see it, in the distance, in this 1959 shot (Vibiana’s is on the left margin): http://jpg2.lapl.org/pics26/00047646.jpg

rivest266 on August 24, 2023 at 4:50 pm

Opened April 16th, 1902 per:

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