Visitors to the White House can now visit the cloakroom-turned-movie theatre where Dwight Eisenhower (1953-61) used to sneak off to watch westerns and where Jimmy Carter (1977-81) screened All The President’s Men.
The decision to open up the private presidential theatre — set up in a large cloakroom by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-45) in 1942 — was made by Melania Trump, the president’s wife.
“The White House belongs to the people of this country,” the first lady said.
Among the biggest movie buffs to have occupied the Oval Office were Eisenhower, a fan of westerns and Gary Cooper flicks in particular and Richard Nixon (1969-74), who liked black-and-white musicals such as Yankee Doodle Dandy.
An even bigger cinephile was Carter, who held two or three movie nights a week.
Carter watched 480 movies while in the White House, more than any other president. His first White House movie showing was All The President’s Men, the story of the Watergate scandal that toppled Nixon.
Despite being a former actor, Ronald Reagan was not such a big viewer, although he did like to watch his own movies with his wife Nancy on his birthday, according to the White House Museum website. He did however remodel the screening room to have 51-tier seats.
George W. Bush’s (2001-09) tastes ran more to the Austin Powers spy spoof series, although — as the wars he launched in Afghanistan and Iraq ground on for years — he was said to have turned more to gritty combat movies like Black Hawk Down and the Vietnam film, We Were Soldiers.
Barack Obama (2009-17) screened To Kill a Mocking Bird to mark the 50th anniversary of the film about racial prejudice in the US south.
The first movie put on by Donald Trump when he came to office in January was Finding Dory, animated tale of a fish looking for its parents.
It was screened the same weekend that protests broke out across the US over Trump’s travel ban on visitors entering the US from seven predominantly Muslim states. f
The theatre is located in the east wing of the White House, which also features Roosevelt’s WWII bomb shelter.
The first movie ever screened in the White House was Birth of a Nation, a 1915 movie about the civil war that sparked controversy for glorifying the Ku Klux Klan.