Robert L. Lippert

Posted on: March 4, 2011

Anyone interested in a bio on exhibitor/producer/distributor, Robert L. Lippert?  History kind of passed him by!


Future movie exhibitor and producer scion, Robert L. Lippert, was born March 11, 1909, and abandoned on the doorstep of the San Francisco Catholic Charities Orphanage.  He stayed at the orphanage for almost two years until he was adopted by Leonard and Esther Lippert of Alameda, California.

Lippert grew up in Alameda, and at age17 quit high school to marry his high school sweetheart, Ruth Robinson.

Capitalizing on his skill at the keyboard, he started show business as an organist for silent movies.  Through on-hand experience, he became knowledgeable about all aspects of motion picture exhibition. In 1929 he rented portable equipment and became a road showman, traveling to theatreless towns throughout the west, by then he was completely enamored by the motion picture business.

In 1936 he made an arrangement with a Detroit dish manufacturer and soon announced his greatest gimmick, “Dish Night.”  The concept called for exhibitors to give away a different dish, saucer, etc. every Tuesday over a period of 52 weeks.  Over the period of one year, the loyal movie patron would be rewarded with a complete set of dishes and, of course, countless hours of entertainment!

He toured the country selling his plan (and dishes) to exhibitors around country.  Not only did he make money, he developed relationships with exhibitors around the country…an asset to be used later when he went into motion picture distribution.

Lippert later used the same concept to promote “Book Night.”   This time inexpensive encyclopedias were given away weekly.  Miss a Tuesday and you have an incomplete set of books!

The origin of the Lippert Theatre Circuit came about in 1942 with his ground-up construction of the Grand Theatre in Richmond, California.  He particularly embraced drive-ins beginning in 1945 with the Malaga in Fresno, the first of its kind Northern California.  Eventually Lippert owned 118 theatres.

…okay, the part about his productions will follow…

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2 Responses to "Robert L. Lippert"

R.I.P. Mr. Robert L. Lippert Sr., I managed the Country Squire Theatre and the Fig Garden Cinemas in Fresno, California for you in the ’70’s. I have worked in live theatre and film since you passed away. You used to tell me that I had lots of “Moxey!.” I carry my Moxie with me everywhere. I have produced many plays. My last production was “, The Price,” by Arthur Miller at the Sunshine Brooks Theatre in Oceanside, Ca. I have written 5 plays and am working on a “,Science Fiction,” now. I am a Conceptual Artist and have worked as a Professional Scene and Set Designer for years. I have gotten many awards for the promotions for major motion pictures, example: “300,” I had 15 Romans and 15 Barbarians fighting in front of an Oceanside Theatre for 4 hours to promote the movie. The stuntmen and women talked to patrons and displayed armor and items that could have been have been used. I sent film into Warner Brothers and they put it on their website to promote the movie “,300.” It remids me of years ago when I built you a 6′ Bugs Bunny for the movie “.What’s Up Doc?.” with Barbara Streisand and I built you a 12′ red and white stripes popcorn box for the front of the Hayward 5 Cinemas to just promote popcorn. It was an eye catcher. Mr. Lippert you are truly missed. I shall always remember how kind and sharing you were to me. You loved theatre and so do I. Theatre never was work it was an adventure. God Bless. See you later aligator…..break a leg. Eugenia Bizzaro, City of Oceanside Arts Commission, Vice-Chair, Oceanside, California


I knew Robert Lippert personally. Our family ran the Americana Theatre in Van Nuys Calif. back in the 70s and the Peppertree Theatre in Northridge Ca. from 1978-1986. We frequently flew to San Francisco and had lunch with Robert. He was like family. And when he passed away I was deeply saddened. He was a very loving and giving man.


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