Robert L. Lippert
Posted March 4, 2011on:
ROBERT L. LIPPERT BIOGRAPHY
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…