Joy Redeaux

New Orleans’ Joy Theater has a grand history.

The Joy Theater opened on Canal Street on February 7, 1947 as a welcome addition to the New Orleans theater district. Long lines formed to see its first feature film showing: Lover Come Back, a revenge comedy starring Lucille Ball and George Brent. Photo provided courtesy of the Joy Theater.

The Joy Theater, located at 1200 Canal St., opened on February 7, 1947, with Lucille Ball’s Lover Come Back. For decades, it was a popular destination for many New Orleanians, and stars (such as Rosemary Clooney, June Allyson and Abbot and Costello) were often seen promoting their movies there.

Named for original owner Joy Houck, it cost $275,000 to build. Newer than other area theaters, it was notable for its modern look, as designed by architect B.W. Edwards – streamlined rather than ornate, steel rather than carved wood and the trademark neon fin-shaped sign and wrap-around marquee. Its freestanding outdoor box office eventually became the last one left in New Orleans (a 1991 car accident demolished it).

It had a long-term affiliation with Universal Pictures, was the first place to see Jaws in 1975 and showed The Sting for a record 39 weeks in ’74. The theater closed briefly in ’78 while exchanges in ownership took place.

The 1980s saw a more gimmicky approach to business, including installing mechanisms to shake the seats during the screening of Earthquake, free midnight slasher movies for anyone dressed in their pajamas and a breakdancing competition. The theater was forced to close in 2003.

That wasn’t the end of the Joy Theater. A $5 million renovation of the building – left inundated with water and storm damage after Hurricane Katrina for five years – has returned it to its former glory. The sign and marquee have been refurbished, and the interior gleams with art-deco décor and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems. The December 29, 2011, grand reopening featured Irma Thomas, and upcoming events take full advantage of its new designation as a multipurpose space for film, live music, and private events.

You Might Also Like

What Mom Made

Recipes worth saving

The Fresh That Binds

The Beatles And Me

Passionate for Penguins

Backstage Penguin Pass

Very Vegan

Embracing the “diet of the depraved”

Add your comment:

Latest Posts

A Second Look at CellarDoor

Table for one

Planning quality me-time to relax, rejuvenate and have fun.

A Contemplation on Celebration

Just about every day has a designated cause or product.

POLS IN PRISON

NAGIN WAS THE LATEST; RICHARD LECHE WAS THE FIRST

Alliance Française

30 years of keeping French Culture Alive in New Orleans.