Opened 1931   .     Closed 1985 .

In the 1960s Elvis used to rent the Memphian Theater, now the Circuit Playhouse, to watch the latest films with his friends. These viewings were often all night affairs. It was the only way for him to have such a gathering out of view of the public.  Though its days as a movie theater ended more than two decades ago, the Memphian remains in use today, as one of the city's best-known smaller live theaters, a role it has served since 1986.  That was the year the vacant Memphian was renovated and transformed by the Circuit Playhouse Company into Playhouse
on the Square, a showcase for legitimate theatre, musicals, comedy and children's theatre. 


Kemmons Wilson writes about that Popcorn Machine:  Kemmons bought that popcorn machine for $50 and the theater where he started selling popcorn was actually The Memphian Theatre.  =>

  Click here to read the full story in his own words.  


In 1992 and 1997, the Playhouse expanded into empty storefronts adjoining the old theater and the Playhouse on the Square moved to a new building.  The Memphian became Circuit Playhouse.  The Playhouse Company now offers acting classes in its fnew facilities.

In the 1929 Memphis Directory the AMERICAN opened at this address.  In the1931 Memphis Directory, this address is listed as THE MALCO.  In the 1932 Directory it becomes THE MEMPHIS.  In the 1933 Directory it become THE MEMPHIAN and is listed continuously through 1958.   We have not verified beyond that date.




Memphian Original Doors        

Elvis-Memphian 1962

1940 Ad

1956 Ad

1964 Ad      


      1931 Malco (Memphian)

Malco (Memphian) Auditorium

Memphian Circa 1977

1953 Ad


Walter Bolton:  "In the mid-60's, the Malco turned the Memphian into a first- run theater"

Gene Gill, Pasadena:  "I remember seeing 'Gone With the Wind' at the Memphian in 1940.  I was only 7 years old, but still vividly remember this experience.  Two years later I saw 'Bambi' here and cried like all the other kids in the audience.




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