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Thomas Lincoln Tally's First Movie Show Shop at 311 South Spring Street, Los Angeles c1896

Thomas Tally pioneered moving picture exhibition in Los Angeles in 1902 when he opened his Electric Theater, later the Lyric.


Already in the summer of 1896, however, Tally managed a phonograph parlor offering both Kinetoscope films and the Vitascope for projected moving images (in the photograph above). The latter attraction had previously been launched at the local Orpheum Theater. By the early 1910s, Tally was the unrivaled exhibitor in Los Angeles, in command of several spectacular, state-of-the-art moving picture theaters; he also managed a licensed exchange. Later on, he was one of the organizers of First National Exhibitor’s Circuit. He retired in the early 20s, only to return to exhibition by acquiring the Criterion Theater.

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Taken on May 9, 2011