738 El Camino Real,
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Previous Names: Le Duet Theatre
An aptly named twin theater, Le Duet cinema, opened on December 22, 1965 with Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady”. Ralph Shrader and his wife, Mimi* (my first wife’s paternal grandparents), lived several blocks away on Kennard Way, and, at Ralph’s urging, were first in line at the opening; they were admitted free. The theatre was set back from El Camino Real by a parking lot and beckoned to patrons with a pleasing neon sign in aqua-colored script. When one auditorium was divided, making the theatre a triplex, a new name had to be found, so the theatre took its name from its location in the Hacienda shopping center. The signage was somewhat hastily retrofitted to advertise the additional screen. I attended one movie there, in 1989, and have only a vague memory of the auditorium walls being colored in light aqua blue-grey fabric or paneling.
In the 1990’s, the entire shopping center was rebuilt from the ground up, leaving only the name Hacienda to hint at what once was.
*Interestingly, Mimi (Graves) Shrader was cashier at the El Capitan in San Francisco when it opened. Later, she rose to the position of Head Usherette.
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