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According to Bisbee Public Radio’s “The Copper Chronicle,” Lowell boasted the first movie house in the district to show talkies. The first feature was “In Old Arizona” starring Warner Baxter as the Cisco Kid.
The Grand Opening ad is a great find. I was 13 years old, and we rode our bikes over to the theater when we saw the searchlight (the old carbon arc version). There were reporters interviewing people on the red carpet. It was a big deal for an otherwise boring part of town. The date had to be June 1966, though. The movie wasn’t released until December 1965.
I visited the Naked Harem several years ago, for cinematic research purposes only. Apparently, the screen and theater seats had been removed long ago, replaced by a couple of stages with odd-looking support beams right in the center of them. Stranger still, the stages were so small they could only accomodate one performer at a time. It seems I arrived early, as I saw two young women who appeared to be changing their clothes, oblivious to the people in the darkened seating areas around them. Immediately recognizing my error, I beat a hasty retreat to the exit. It is no wonder the theater was closed by the police, as most of the performers seemed to be sitting very close to the members of the audience instead of performing their acts on stage.
Shouldn’t the theater title above be “Sands Theater” since that is what the marquee in the supplied photos says? Alamogordo is close to White Sands National Monument, and the main drag is White Sands Blvd., so the confusion is understandable.
Contrary to the description above, the Northgate Theatre was/is a free-standing building, not part of a strip mall. The building included a few small retail spaces to the left of the theatre entrance. The theatre was built near the Southwest corner of Northgate Shopping Center, a large and popular mall in the 1960’s. Patrons parked in the shopping center parking lot. It was the only walk-in theatre in Northeast El Paso for decades, and offered first-run movies as well as 50-cent Saturday matinees for kids. Sonny and Cher actually made an appearance there when their movie “Good Times” made its El Paso debut in 1967. It was originally a single-screen theatre, and later divied into two screens.