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Just a bit of trivia…the letters that spelled R-I-T-Z on the Ritz/Lawton were purchased at the urban renewal sale and now sit atop the marquee at the Ritz Theatre, Shawnee, Oklahoma.
The Cinema East was built by Video Independent Theatres of Oklahoma City, OK. on property adjacent to the Rancho Drive-In Theatre. Larry Blackledge was the architect. The theatre was designed with the intention of adding a second indoor screen making the indoor twin and the drive-in a triple theatre complex. The plan was never completed. The theatre had continental seating (single section), wide spacing and rocking chair seats.
The Penn Theatre was built by Video Independent Theatres, Inc. of Oklahoma City, OK. Larry Blackledge was the architect. When Martin Theatres (later Carmike) purchased the circuit, the Penn was divided down the middle into two auditoriums.
One of my treasured childhood memories was my parents taking me to the Palace to see “The Music Man”. I remember the goosebumps when that organ rose from the pit with the melody “76 Trombones” filling that wonderful theatre. That was real showmanship and a memory that brings a smile to my face.
If my memory serves, the state was the home of Todd-A-O in Oklahoma City. A series of roadshows followed in years to come. I remember seeing “My Fair Lady” at the State. The entire lobby and front was redecorated for the opening—-even the sidewalk was painted pink. The only candies sold in the concession were Mounds and Almond Joy because their packages were pink. (I think). I later remember seeing “El Cid” in 70mm at the state. What a grand and spectacular presentation. Too bad such a landmark is gone.
Not true. The theatre opened as a triple by Video Independent Theatres of Oklahoma City. (I was there opening night). There were two auditoriums on the main floor and a third screen upstairs. Larry Blackledge and Associates of Oklahoma City was the architect.
The Showcase was built by Lippert Theatres as a single screen. A very small second screen—sorta’ve a screening room—was added over the lobby at a later date. The main auditorium had a curved screen and was designed in the “roadshow” tradition of the day.
The Oakwood 5 Theatre lease was sold by Leroy Mitchell to Carmike Cinemas while under construction. Carmike opened the theatre and operated it for several years before opting out of their lease from mall owners. Dickinson Theatres has re-opened the theatre.
I believe the architect of the Leachman was Jack Corgan and Associates of Dallas, Texas who designed many theatres for Video Independent Theatres in those days. Video partnered with local theatreman Claude Leachman in the ownership. Video was purchased by Martin Theatres in 1984 which lated became Carmike Cinemas.
The Esquire was built by Griffith Theatres, later called Video Independent Theatres of Oklahoma City. A major fire gutted the building in the 60’s, but it was rebuilt and remodeled.
This theatre was re-named the Diana Theatre during a major renovation by owner Video Independent Theatres of Oklahoma City in the late 50’s/early 60’s.
This theatre was built as a Jerry Lewis Twin. Video Independent Theatres of Oklahoma City bought it under construction and opened the theatre. Video Theatres was sold to Martin Theatres of Georgia in 1984. Martin Theatres became Carmike Cinemas and Carmike added three screens to the complex.
The Bison Theatre was located on the corner of Main Street and Philadelphia. It was built by Griffith Theatres, later called Video Independent Theatres of Oklahoma City. The theatre seated over 1000 people originally. It had a domed ceiling with twinkling lights to resemble stars. The theatre had a working stage and could accomodate traveling stage shows and entertainers as well as movies. In 1947, with the opening of the Hornbeck Theatre in Shawnee, the Bison was changed to a second run policy. In 1954 Jones Theatres, Inc. partnered with Video in the Bison’s ownership. The Bison was a victim of television in the mid-1950’s when it closed. The V-shaped marquee on the Bison was moved to the Ritz Theatre in Shawnee during a major renovation of the Ritz in 1966. The building was sold and first became a western wear clothing store, later a church and now an antique mall. The stage area is still intact in the antique mall.
The Will Rogers, Tulsa, was built by Griffith Theatres, later called Video Indpendent Theatres of Oklahoma City. It had a sister theatre—the Will Rogers—in Oklahoma City.
The Rancho Drive-In was operated by Video Independent Theatres of Oklahoma City. In the 1970’s an indoor theatre—-the Cinema East was built adjacent to the drive-in.
The Starlite Drive-In was built by Griffith Theatres in 1947. Griffith Theatres became Video Independent Theatres in the early 1950’s. In 1954 Jones Theatres, Inc. partnered with Video in the ownership of the Starlite. In 1980 the Starlite became a triplex with the indoor Cinema Centre Twin sharing a common lobby, concessions area and a new projection booth. The drive-in sported a giant 90-foot CinemaScope screen as well as a full cafeteria style concession. In 1987 the drive-in closed and the property was used to expand the indoor twin to an eight screen complex. The Cinema Centre 8 is still operating today. For a photo of the Starlite, see the history page of the Jones Theatres website at www.jonestheatres.com
The Boomer Theatre was built by Griffith Theatres, later Video Independent Theatres of Oklahoma City circa 1947-48. I think the architect was Jack Corgan and Associates of Dallas, Texas, who designed many of the company’s theatres in those days. The Boomer—in the campus corner retail area—was a favorite of University of Oklahoma students for many years. I especially remember the Boomer as the home of art, specialty and foreign films in the mid to late sixties.
The Tower Theatre was one of the first suburban theatres in Oklahoma City. My father managed the theatre for Cooper/Paramount for a brief time in the early forties. In the early sixties Ferris Shambour bought the theatre and gave it a deluxe renovation—-70mm, rocking chair seats, very plush and very comfortable. Roadshow attractions were the staple with “Sound of Music” running at the Tower on a reserved seat basis for almost two years. I also remember seeing “The Sand Pebbles” and “Cleopatra” at the Tower during those roadshow/reserved seat days.
The Hornbeck is still open 7 days a week, just no matinees on weekdays. Thanks, Jones Theatres, Inc.
Please update your listing. The Ritz is OPEN and is being used for concerts and meetings. Renovation continues as funds permit, but the theatre is being used as a performing arts center and anchor in Downtown Shawnee’s revitalization
Jones Theatres, Inc. operated the Ritz until 1987. For further information go to www.jonestheatres.com and read the history page.
The Downtown Shawnee website has some recent photos of the restored sign and exterior.
The architect for the Winchester was Larry Blackledge & Associates of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The Winchester was built by Video Indpendent Theatres of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1966. It was the circuit’s first all-roadshow, reserved seat theatre. Many long run engagements followed “Doctor Zhivago”, notably “Thoroughly Modern Millie”. Video Theatres was a unique theatre chain orginally made up of theatres that were co-owned by local partner-managers who insured the best local supervision. The Winchester was a spectacular house—-deeply curved screen, 70mm projection/stereo sound, rocking chair seats, spacious lobby and amenities—the best of it’s day. Video Indpendent Theatres was purchased by Martin Theatres, predecessor to Carmike Cinemas in the early 1980’s.