150 Boise Icons: The Egyptian Theater

awebb@idahostatesman.comFebruary 8, 2013 

Did you know? The theater opened for business in April 1927. “Don Juan” was the first movie screened. The original poster’s tagline: “A super spectacle depicting the romantic adventures of the lord of all lovers!”

CHRIS BUTLER — cbutler@idahostatesman.com

The Idaho Statesman is marking Boise's 150th anniversary by highlighting 150 classic icons that help make Boise the city it is.

Readers, staffers, local historians and others have contributed to the evolving list.

The icons will appear in the paper and online (in no particular order), leading up to the citywide birthday celebration in July.

Nominate your own local icon and tell us why: awebb@idahostatesman.com.

The theater, a Frederick Hummel design built in 1927, was the result of the wave of Egyptomania that swept the world after the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922.

Through the decades, the Egyptian has been known as the Fox and the Ada. It returned to its original name in the 1970s.

Boisean Earl Hardy bought the theater in 1977, saving it from the urban renewal wrecking ball with mere days to spare. His daughter Kay Hardy and the Hardy Foundation led the 1999 restoration that returned the theater to its 1927 splendor, down to the green glass fruits that hang from its chandeliers.

Nearly all of the imagery in the theater is taken directly from art historical sources, including the blue-gowned women who saunter across the proscenium. They're mourning ladies, copies from the Papyrus of Ani. That's a famous version of the Book of the Dead, the scrolls written to guide ancient Egyptians through the afterlife.

There is fantasy in The Egyptian, too. The Statesman asked noted Egyptologist Stephen Harvey to "decipher" the theater's imagery in 2007. Harvey confirmed that the fanciful hieroglyphics throughout the theater's interior are just that — fanciful. It's the same story for the proscenium's gold swans. You would not have found gold swans in ancient Egypt, Harvey said. But you will find them at Grauman's Egyptian Theater in Hollywood — one of the sites architect Hummel visited when forming his vision for Boise's beloved movie palace.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service

Top Jobs

View All

Find a Home

$1,250,000 Boise
4 bed, 3.5 full bath. This smart rim location has Boise ...

Find a Car

Search New Cars