THE "TALKIES" COME TO MACKAY (1930)
An earlier article reminisced about the first moving picture show in Mackay in 1910. But by the 1930 gone were the Crystal, Louise, and Maddios theaters where countless valley residents were entertained by stars of the silent film era. A new age in the movie business was at hand and, as in many other areas of progress, Mackay was not to be left behind. "Talking" moving pictures were about to make their debut.
In 1918 a building was constructed on Mackay's Main Street which would house the Custer Hotel and, in addition, the "American" theater. The "American" theater, along with Brown's "Liberty Theater" for a few years, continued to provide silent film movie entertainment for area resident until early in 1930. Then, according to articles in the Mackay Miner Newspaper, Mrs. G B Dickinson, who was leasing the Custer Hotel and theater from owner Steve Murgic, investigated the new sound pictures on a film purchasing trio to Salt Lake City. In April, the "Perfectone" moving, talking picture system was purchased and installed in the "American" theater. It was the latest in movie sound equipment, costing $5000, and required a number of changes to the theater auditorium to improve the acoustics. Central Idaho was about to get their "talking movies" and it was happening in Mackay. The following ad appeared in the Mackay Miner of April 16, 1930.
100 Percent talking
April 23,24,25 &26
" The Virginian"
" The Greatest Outdoor Talking Picture Ever Made"
Starring Gary Cooper, Walter Huston, Richard Arlan & Mary Brian
You see, hear the spectacular action. You live the glamorous, swaggering,
cattle- range days of the pioneer West. A theme as might as " The Covered
Wagon". Filmed with sound on backgrounds of stupendous natural beauty.
You see, hear, the gigantic round-up, 3000 cattle swimming a raging river.
You see, Hear the bronco bustin'; the beef roastin'; and the cowboys crooning
range ballads. The days of the golden west reborn. Plus a newsreel and
comedy, "The King", --all talking.
Admission 25 cents and 50 cents
The coming of the "talkies" to Mackay proved to be a big hit, drawing movie goers from all over the valley and beyond. Later innovations in the movie business, cinema scope, technicolor and stereo sound, would all find their way to Mackay, not only in the "American" theater, but also in the "Main" theater as well.
The "Main" theater, which first played host to movie goers in 1940, was the brainchild of present Mackay resident Joe Ausich. He purchased the old Con Hurst grocery store and empty saloon building next door, where the "Main" and "Marjo" buildings ar presently located. Extensive reconstruction of the old grocery resulted in a first class theater.
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