Mackay Gets Moving Pictures Shows (1910)

Early residents of Mackay felt the same need for entertainment that we feel today but their options in 1910 were restricted to local dances, an occasional traveling minstrel or stage show, and sporting events. That is until the spring of 1910 when two enterprising businessmen, a Mr. Jackson and a Mr. McKibbon, took a lease on the old H.E.. Gilbert building, and readied it for Mackay's first moving picture shows. It would be called thereafter the Crystal Theater and would be the site of the debut of "silent films" for the residents of this growing community.

According to an article in the Mackay Miner, on May 3, 1910 a large opening night crowd was thoroughly entertained. Illustrated songs were sung by a Mr. Williams who also played the piano, and was a accompanied by one of the proprietors, Mr. McKibbon, with a set of trap drums. It maybe difficult for today's movie goers to grasp that "silent films" were just that, silent; that the actors words were printed at the bottom of the screen to be read and that all mood and background music and any sound effects were added by in-house musicians. There was no electricity in those years, so the pictures on the screen were projected by a carbide lamp and the film fed through by means of an operator turning a hand crank. The "Crystal" featured new pictures three times a week and for the adult price of 15 cents and 10 cents for children, theater goers got their money's worth.

With the coming of electricity to the town in 1912, better and more elaborate pictures shows followed, leading to the establishment of the "Louise", "Madios", and "Paramount Empress", theaters which all had their days of popularity. The "talkies" would come to Mackay some years later, and will be the subject of another "Bit of Mackay History."


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