Friends of the Boyd


Click here to read a Description of Boyd Theatre from 1928 Opening Day Program

Click here to read the most extensive history of the Boyd Theatre


Many more actors, actresses, and other celebrities appeared in person at the Boyd for movie premieres, which were usually for local charities, but we don’t yet have a complete list!

  • Mayor Mackey for the 12-24-1928 opening of the Boyd.
  • Loretta Young 7-27-1932 for local premiere of “What Price Hollywood”
  • Jeannette MacDonald 1934 for “The Merry Widow” & 11-14-1940 for “Bitter Sweet”
  • “Celebrities” attended 11-1939 world premiere of “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex”
  • Philadelphia “notables” 1-18-1940 for gala premiere of “Gone with the Wind”
  • Nelson Eddy 11-14-1940 for “Bitter Sweet”
  • Kitty Foyle” 12-27-1940 world premiere, haven’t researched who attended
  • Virginia Mayo & her actor husband Michael O’Shea 1949 for “The Girl from Jones Beach”
  • Mario Lanza & Kathryn Grayson for 8-29-1949 world premiere of “That Midnight Kiss”
  • Denise Darcell, 1950 for “Battleground”
  • Joan Evans, 1950 for “Our Very Own”
  • Farley Granger, 1952 premiere of “I Want You”
  • Grace Kelly, 7-27-1952 for premiere “High Noon”
  • Mayor Clark & governors of PA, NJ, DE for the benefit premiere “This is Cinerama”
  • Charlton Heston for 1959 “Ben Hur” & 1965 “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (benefit for American Cancer Society)
  • Brigid Bazlen for 11-1-1961 premiere (benefit for the Heart Association) of “King of Kings”
  • Jill Hayworth, for 2-1-1961 premiere of “Exodus”
  • PA’s political, business, society leaders for 3-9-1966 premiere benefit of “Doctor Zhivago” for Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
  • Fred MacMurray, John Davidson, Hermione Baddeley, Joyce Bulifant, for 10-21-1966 East Coast premiere of “That Happiest Millionaire”
  • Director Robert Wise for 11-6-1968 premiere (to benefit Philadelphia Museum of Art) “Star!”
  • Battle for the Planet of the Apes” 5-23-1973 world premiere
  • Mr. T & Talia Shire 5-24-1982 “Rocky III” world premiere
  • Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, director Jonathan Demme, Mayor Rendell for 12-17-1993 world premiere “Philadelphia”
  • Director James Foley for 11-28-1995 Philadelphia premiere “Two Bits”
  • David Morse for 12-13-1995 Philadelphia premiere “Twelve Monkeys”


  •  ‘Philadelphia Theaters, A Pictorial Architectural History’ (author Irvin R. Glazer, publisher Dover, 1994)
  • “The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Search for a New Home” (author Irvin R. Glazer, publisher Sutter House, 1995)
  • ‘Popcorn Palaces, the Art Deco Movie Theatre Paintings of Davis Cone’ (authors Dennis D. Kinerk & Dennis W. Wilhelm, publisher Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 2001)
  • ‘The History of Japanese Photography’ (publisher The Museum of Fine Arts 2003, with 1978 black and white photo by Sugimoto Hiroshi of the auditorium)
  • ‘Philadelphia Architecture’ (author Tom Nickels, publisher Arcadia, 2005, with a photo of the 1952 Boyd exterior)
  • ‘Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture’ (author Peter Kobel, publisher, The Library of Congress, 2007, with a pre-construction watercolor rendering of the Boyd auditorium)
  • ‘Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square’ (authors Robert Morris Skaler and Thomas Keels, publisher Arcadia, 2008, with a photo of the 1928 Boyd exterior)
  •  “Movie Roadshows, A History and Filmography of Reserved-Seat Limited Showings 1911-1973” (author Kim R. Holston, publisher McFarland & Company, Inc. 2013, with the book’s front cover being a photograph of 1959 Boyd Theatre exterior).

The below is from Irvin Glazer’s book Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z: A Comprehensive Descriptive Record of 813 Theatres Constructed Since 1724.

In 1928, center city’s only art deco palace, The Boyd opened; its huge polychrome mirror interior is the last intact large movie theatre in the city. The decor, still in style, emphasizes the reserve of architects Hoffman and Henon.

The Boyd was the only Art Deco first-run moving picture theatre erected in the city. Its carved limestone facade was etched with touches of color. A towering vertical sign with many angular surfaces towered over the handsome marquee, the underside of which was crafted into swirls of crystallized glass illuminated from within. A deep and broad recessed promenade, lined with shops, led from the Chestnut Street frontage to a series of handsome lobbies and foyers. Twenty floodlights sunk into the top of the marquee brilliantly illuminated the front at night with intense and changing colors. On the inside, custom designed area and aisle rugs, ceiling height carved mirrors of many hues, modern statues in wall niches, and multitudinous crystal and glass lighting fixtures added to the rich ambiance. The Boyd had a fully equipped stage and an organ and orchestra pit, which could be raised and lowered electrically. There were twelve dressing rooms backstage.

Far in advance of its time, the rich beauty of the decoration was dedicated to the progress made by women in the history of the world. Murals and stained glass insets symbolized the supremacy of woman with a great painting atop the proscenium depicting the defense of the Amazon Queen against the warriors of Asia on one side and tribes from Asia on the other side. This theme was continued by a succession of murals down the sides of the prosecenium and along the walls of the auditorium. The opening was Christmas Day, 1928.

For the first time in the East, a section of five rows of reserved seats at the rear of the orchestra were elevated on steps. These were armchairs, sumptuously upholstered and unmatched in luxury compared with any of today’s seating. The proscenium was fifty feet wide and thirty feet high although the Boyd has always been used solely as a motion picture theatre. A three manual, nineteen rank Kimball theatre organ played between shows for the first few years. The organ was removed after a farewell concert on Washington’s Birthday, 1969. It was augmented and re-installed in the John Dickinson High School in Stanton, Delaware. The final concert at the Boyd was the last time a theatre organ was played in any theatre in the city of Philadelphia.

The Boyd, for decades, was the most elegant theatre in Philadelphia’s premier shopping area, Chestnut Street. Its first run policy featured the best Warner Brothers’ product until the advent of Cinerama in the late 1950’s. Sight line requirements then mandated removal of 400 seats on both sides of the theater, and three projection booths were erected at the rear of the orchestra level. When Cinerama product was no longer available, the Boyd had a brief period of porno. In 1971, the Boyd, its vertical sign removed, was changed to the Sameric with a new plastic marquee. The interior was substantially unchanged. To the West of the Boyd’s lobbies, since the theatre opened, the land had been a parking lot. Since the theatre lobbies are at right angles to the auditorium, it was decided in 1980 to build two small theatres in the parking lot space. Those theatres are now built, each seating 450 and the marquee now reads “Sameric I, II, and III”. These two small theatres are almost devoid of decoration. They are first run theatres as is the main theatre. (Sameric IV in 1985)