Comments from William Dakota

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William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Hollywood Theatre on Sep 17, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I worked there in 1957 and 1960. Bill Quann was the day manager and Victor Bugliosi was the night manager. Kathy McRae was the cashier. It was open all night with a First run and with a B title. Celebrities came late after the Night Spots on the strip closed. There was no air-conditioning. We had to go up on the roof and open the vents to let the cool night air come in. I liked working nights rather than days. More activity on Hollywood Boulevard. Rocky changed the marquee there and a few other theaters. It was a split owner with the Fox Theater chain. I forget the assistant manager. I named him on another Cinema Treasurers blog for the same theater.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Aug 16, 2011 at 5:57 am

How many years were you a theater manager? I worked at Grauman’s, the open all night Hollywood theater, the Apollo, Butterfield theaters in Michigan, leased a theater in Lima, Ohio and Tiffin, Ohio and the Michigan in Saginaw. Single theaters cannot out bid large theater chains because they are bidding to play the feature in “numerous” theaters across the country. I was offered “CABARET” for $30,000 up front and had to play it for six months. It played the local chain here at the mall for one week and didn’t make any money from it.

I could book independent or controversial films like “SATYRICON,” Genet’s “THE BALCONY,” or “SWEET SWEETBACK’S BADASSS SONG.” Dennis Hopper arranged for me to play his film “THE LAST MOVIE.” It played Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Lima, Ohio and flopped in all of the cities. Independent theaters can usually book foreign films, although bigger chains want them now too. Disney used to get 90% of the box-office gross. Even from the Fox West Coast theater chain.

Outbid the larger chains? Never, if it is a big film. I worked in theaters from when I was 16 years old. And planning on opening mini theaters in Michigan and Ohio. I know theater exhibition. The EGYPTIAN used to have Roadshow engagements. The only theater in California showing “Ben-Hur” for nearly a year. You never see any Roadshow Engagements anymore.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Aug 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm

The first older comments on the theater were all very interesting. What I said was regarding the fact, that these comments will be here for many years. I doubt if anyone really cares what movies are playing here or were at the Arc Light chain. I added theater history having been employed there in the late ‘50’s. I’m 2,200 miles away and couldn’t care less what they are exhibiting.

If you knew the exhibiting ways of theaters, you would know that the highest bidder gets the films. And the highest bidders are the owners of large chains. If the new owner is an independent investor/owner, he will have trouble booking major films when competing with the larger chains. I give him credit for keeping the main theater operating as the largest tourist attraction in Hollywood. In the past all the major studios wanted to premiere their feature films there. Fox West Coast, Mann’s etc., were all large chains. Opening at Grauman’s was a most important opening for world wide publicity with the foot and handprint ceremonies.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Jul 31, 2011 at 9:33 am

These comment forums for Cinema Treasurers are supposed to be in regards to the subject theater. Reading many comments here, they are aimed at what films are playing at Grauman’s as opposed to the Arc Light. That is not the purpose of Cinema Treasurers. This isn’t facebook. It is for paying recognition and remembrances of theaters across the country. There are numerous comments here that have nothing to do with Grauman’s. Everyone seems to want their 15 minutes of fame on the Internet. Go to Facebook, not Cinema Treasurers. I think Cinema Treasurers agree with me too. Don’t ruin theater sites with comments that have nothing to do with the topic theater.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Jul 30, 2011 at 10:08 am

I forgot to add. When I left Hollywood six years ago, I noticed that the Chinese theater didn’t have ample light at night for tourists to see the foot and handprints. A few were using cigarette lighters to be able to read them. I had phoned Mann’s several times about this. I was told that there was renovating taking place and that more lights would be added. It was never done. I am glad to see there is a new owner there. I wish I was years younger I would go back there for a job.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about TCL Chinese Theatre on Jul 30, 2011 at 9:29 am

I worked at Grauman’s cir. 1960 as doorman. I had to wear the black uniform with the dragon on the front and it snapped on. Ralph Hathaway was the manager. And he had a couple of assistants too. The first premiere I worked was “HEAVEN KNOWS MR. ALLISON.” It played for several weeks. The opening picture for my employment was “Oh Men, Oh Women” and the front of the theatre had the title all across the entranceway in neon letters.

Of course it was exciting to work there. There were two trees on each side of the forecourt that had leaves constantly falling down. I had to sweep them up along with cigarette butts from tourists who walked around looking at the hand and footprint of famous actors. There were two fish ponds by the trees with large goldfish in them.

There was a small private balcony that seated around ten people. A few celebrities were allowed there to avoid fans chasing after them. I remember one time that Lawrence Olivier was there and also Marlon Brando. There was often name stars who came though the front entrance and sat in the audience with other theatre patrons.

I was told I had to sweep the gutter in front, and I felt this was below my job as doorman. The theater was later renovated for a film that flopped. The interior was changed as well as parts of the lobby. I have forgotten the name of the film…….(Windjammer), but Fox West Coast had a turnover of executives after that failure. I never worked there for that fiasco.

The biggest premiere, before I worked there was “GIANT.” Hollywood Boulevard was shut down a block to Highland. It was jammed with tourists and James Dean fans. There was a “canopy” made of Klieg lights that were shown over the theatre and unlike Klieg lights for premieres, they were stationary. It was awesome to see. Like “Oh Men Oh Women” the film’s title with the three star’s names, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson lit up in neon. There was an early ceremony with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and director George Stevens placing their hand and footprints in the cement in the forecourt. It is still there although more worn that the others. The originator of the cement mixture had died and a new mixture for the concrete was used. It wore down pretty fast but it is still readable.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Ritz Theatre on Jul 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I knew there was another one on N. Saginaw Street. THE STAR. I just saw the name in the list of Flint theaters. You could pass them walking up N. Saginaw Street. It too was like a small storefront theatre.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Ritz Theatre on Jul 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I had forgotten about the RITZ. It was close to the Regent. I remember seeing the TARZAN movies there. There were a string of theaters along N. Saginaw Street. The Regent, Ritz, Gem, the Flint and Nortown. I may have missed a few too. Any theaters left are out in the boondocks. I don’t remember much about the interior or the exterior for that matter. The Gem was like a small storefront theatre with a wooden floor. Just glad to see the Ritz name remembered as past Flint history.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Rialto Theatre on Jul 28, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I managed the Royal theater when it had changed from the Rialto. It was an open all night theater and drew the gay audience. When it was the Rialto they had Vaudeville shows and later talent stage shows. It was long and narrow. It had a nickname the Rathole, because they claimed rats came into the theater from the back alley. I never saw any.

It had been remodeled with new seats and carpet in the lobby and aisles. The entrance was also made over and it was a clean theater and got over the rathole name calling. It was still open all night and they even had “THE HUSTLER” with Jackie Gleason and Paul Newman first run. I left to operate the book store next door, Le Stag Shoppe. When the downtown Flint died with ten large businesses moving out to the malls, the Royal lost their lease. They opened a store front theater a block away and exhibited porn films. Now that too is gone.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Palace Theatre on Jul 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm

The Palace used to have stage shows every Friday night. It aired on W.T.A.C. radio. They had a talent show (Yes, Flint had talent too and their own American idols). Smiling Max Henderson was the MC who had a daily radio show on W.T.A.C. Tiny Don Faulkner (who wasn’t too tiny), played the accordion. He also played schools with Ltn. Lagree who sang safety songs. Russ Waters was on the electric steel guitar. He taught guitar at the Honolulu Conservatory of Music near the Flint River Bridge.

I got to know Max from his daily radio show. I used to go to the station when I got out of school. So, when the Cowboy Jamboree started at the Palace, I would go there after school and save three seats for three of his fans, in the front row. The program started at 9:00 which meant I had to watch the feature film twice. But, I always had the three seats saved every week. The theater filled up every Friday night. They made so much money that they closed down and renovated the front and the interior. It looked good and they always had slopped floors, similar to stadium seating today. But, after they remodeled, they canceled the stage shows.

It was first run like the Capitol. Art black was the manager. He had worked for Paramount Studios creating names for movies. Someone stole some of his ideas so he moved to Flint and managed the Palace. He always looked like a manager, nice suit and always had a cigar in his hand. He did the candy inventory after hours, alone.

The Palace had a lot of movie stars appearing in Person. The line for Sal Mineo stretched around the block. He was there for his film, “Dino.” His brother Mike was with him. I got to know Mike in Hollywood. He too is gone now. Yes, the Palace could still be operating. But, like most cities today, the younger generation don’t seem to care about saving historical buildings.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Nortown Theater on Jul 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I was very young when I used to go to the Nortown with my aunt and grandmother. The theater used to give away free dishes, a plate a week to all of the patrons. I was around five or six and I would get one too. Later in life, I would go to see a film now and then. It had a large auditorium. When I was a kid, I used to play on the carpet with a small model car. I didn’t care about watching any movies. There was a large fish aquarium in the lobby and I used to watch the fish most of the time, until the usher would tell me to sit down.

I recall there was limited parking and when I went the parking lot was dusty and not paved or tarred. I enjoyed the theater and hated to see it closed. Those things inspired me and I went to Hollywood when I was around 18 and worked at Grauman’s Chinese theater. Later I would work for Butterfield theatres and managed the Flint Della and worked in Battle Creek at the Michigan It is so sad to see all of the 8 Butterfield theaters in Flint closed, except for the Capitol. They just received a grant to renovate it. I will add a photo of the Nortown here in a few days. Yes, I worked at all 8 of the Butterfield theaters too. Flint was fun to grow up and work in. I may open a mini theater there this year, members only.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Garden Theatre on Jul 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I worked at the Garden theater when I returned to Flint from Hollywood, where I worked at Grauman’s Chinese theater. The Capitol was being renovated and was closed. The Garden was showing their films. I remember that “THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER” with Bob Mitchum and “MARTY,” the Oscar winner played there. The Garden was a small theater 950 seats. It was the only Art Deco decorated theater I had ever seen. And there was a small balcony. I had tried to get a job there when I was 15. But, I lasted a week until they found out my age. I worked for the showing of “CAN CAN,” a controversial picture for those days.

I used to go to the Garden quite often. They had teenage themed family films and Superman chapter plays. Earl Berry, was the manager. He used to have a box in the lobby with quizzes on movies. The winners would get a free pass to the theater. I won several times, and I never cheated. Earl used to park his car three or four blocks away on a side street, near where I lived. When I would see him we would walk to the theater. Of course he often let me in free. He would later work at the Capitol and become city manager for Butterfield theaters. And I would be his assistant after being usher, doorman, and the his assistant and then relief manager for all the Butterfield theaters. He started his career the same way. Although he loved movies, I just learned, or actually I knew, he never watched a movie he played, all the way through. His daughter at his Flint Memorial Service mentioned that to me. She couldn’t believe it either. I miss the old Flint. The best town to grow up in. I have written about it too. It is called THE GOSSIP COLUMNIST. I mention the Flint theaters.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Della Theatre on Jul 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Before I worked at the Della the theater cashier was murdered. A security guard was questioned over and over. He used to take the managers to the bank after closing. I just remember his first name was Bill. It ruined his life, although he continued working security. He later worked for the Capitol theater’s manager, Earl Berry, and walked him or drove him a block to the bank night depository. I felt sorry for Bill. All the publicity made him a nervous wreck. His hands always trembled until the day he died. They never did find the murderer of the cashier. I have a photo of the Della that I will post in a few days.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Della Theatre on Jul 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I managed the Della around 1960. It was a large theater in a small, but elegant neighborhood. A small mall opened across the street and took away the theater parking. It had a large auditorium and a small balcony. It was a Butterfield theater. They owned 8 indoor theaters and later bought up the Drive-In theaters before the chain was bought out and all but the Capitol was torn down.

I had worked at the Capitol, transferred to Battle Creek to the Michigan theater. Then sent back to Flint to manage the Della. I was only 20 years old. We were second run and didn’t have money to run large newspaper ads. I did the best I could using a one column ad in a two column space that made the ads stand out. We did a pretty good business and I enjoyed working there. I didn’t own a car and had problems getting back home after the buses stopped running.

We did good business and they installed a new screen. Unfortunately, an after hours party had a drag queen on stage who accidentally bumped into it and it left a dent in it until the day they closed.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Flint Art Theatre on Jul 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I think it should be Saginaw Street not road. It was an Art House theater that exhibited foreign films. They also had recent news reel clips. I remember seeing the Atomic Bomb explosion, that shocked the world. I used to go there quite often. Other than the Garden, it was the only theater showing foreign films. I am glad it is now remembered.

Too bad there isn’t a photo showing what the front used to look like. I remember seeing “THE RED SHOES” there. I don’t remember the interior at all nor what the concession stand looked like. I just faintly remember the theater and for years could never remember the name.

My dad worked at a gas station nearby.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Cinema Blue on Jul 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I think Cinema Blue and DeJa Vu are still there side by side. Owned by Harry Mohney and Larry Flynt.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Capitol Theatre on Jul 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Good news. The Flint Journal had a story about the Capitol. They have received a grant to get the place back together. Hopefully, they will have enough and not spend it carelessly. I heard it needs new air-conditioning, heating, projectors, outside fire escape and a lot of material things. It can never be restored to look like it did when it first opened. Just get it cleaned up and operational. The marquee is in perfect condition. New marquee letters will be needed too. I can hardly wait. I loved this theater. I just hope the druggies stay away. That is what the theater doesn’t need. Good security and it can succeed as a showplace downtown. That can bring over 2,000 people on weekend nights.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Michigan Theatre on Jul 20, 2011 at 9:38 am

I managed the Michigan theater around 1960. I was transferred there from the Capitol in Flint. Butterfield theaters was the owners. I also had to work for the Bijou manager. I had to take his concession inventory every week. He was weird and I didn’t like him. I liked all of my employees and we had a ball. The theater was old and I tried cleaning up the lobby with displays and repairing the wall covering.

I had never been to Battle Creek before and I loved the city. There used to be after hour jazz sessions in private homes. A group from Chicago, THE THREE SOUNDS used to visit and play.The people were all friendly and the few bars I was able to get served in, were all nice. I was only 20 at the time. The cleaning lady and her husband took me to Chicago. I had never been there before. I was wearing a tuxedo from the theater, and we visited the poor black section of the city. I felt embarrassed. They all thought I was rich-smile!

We ran old Laurel and Hardy shorts that went over real well for the young crowd unfamiliar with them. There was a military regiment there. I forget if they were Army, Marines, or Air-force. They came to the theater weekends with their dates.

Bob Smock replaced me when I was transferred back to Flint to manage the Della theater there. Bob had also managed the Regent theater in Flint. Then he moved to California and managed a theatre, them moved back to Lansing, married a former concession worker from Battle Creek, and unfortunately died at a young age.

I was saddened to see that the two theaters, The Michigan and Bijou had been demolished. The 8 Butterfield theaters in Flint all closed too and were demolished. The Capitol remains but it is closed.

I was Bill Kern in those days and later Dakota. I lived in Hollywood many years and now back in Lima but moving back to Flint in a month or so (8/30/2011). My email is

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Bijou Theater on Jul 20, 2011 at 9:13 am

Robert Smock replaced me at the Michigan. He later married a concession girl who was living in Lansing, the last I heard. Bob was also a manager at the Regent theater in Flint for Butterfield theaters. He managed a theater in California then moved back to Lansing where he died.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Bijou Theater on Jul 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

I worked for Butterfield theaters cir. 1960. I managed the Michigan a block or two away. The manager at the BIJOU was a retired school teacher, I have forgotten his name. He was lazy. I had to take his concession inventory every week in addition to mine. The Michigan wasn’t in as good condition as the Bijou, but, I enjoyed working there and created a lot of exploitation. We played the HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM and I had an artist paint the front doors to look like a graveyard. We used to party and played flashlight tag after hours. Really nice group of workers. When we played GIGI, the Bijou manager came up and saw a line waiting to buy tickets. He yelled at them, that they should have seen the movie at his theater when it played first run. He was a real jerk. Across the street from the Michigan was a wonderful old theater that looked like a Opera house. Too bad someone with an imagination didn’t keep it open. I missed Battle Creek when I was transferred back to Flint.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Capitol Theatre on Sep 5, 2009 at 8:26 am

Earl Berry passed away August 2009. He had been city manager of the Butterfield Theatre chain in Flint.
His daughter, Pam Peck, had a memorial service at the First Presbyterian Church in Flint, attended by members of the Lions and Elk’s club and a few ex-employees. Earl was 90 years old. His wife Vivian passed away three years before. He leaves behind many fond memories. He loved theatre exhibition, his life-long career. His offices were in the Capitol theater.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Hollywood Theatre on Aug 10, 2009 at 7:06 am

I received the poster mentioned above. I want to thank Ken mc. It is one of the best posters I have ever seen or bought. Not a flimsy thin one sheet, but a roll up that has no wrinkles and looks wonderful in a Wal-Mart frame. It is so clear and it brings back my memories of when I worked there. The marquee has two titles from the forties and I worked there in the latter ‘50’s. I just stand and stare at it and dream. It is so life like, unbelievable. It’s the most wonderful picture that I have. I wish you knew how much it means to me to have the poster, especially now that it is no longer a theater. I remember having to clean the soffet. Mr. Quann paid me extra and it took several days cleaning around all those light bulbs. Those were the best years of my life.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Hollywood Theatre on Jun 17, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Thank you for the poster information. I went to the site and saw the photo of the Hollywood. It looks great. I emailed them for the size and cost. Although it is quite a few years before I worked there, the marquee looks great and brings back memories of the fun days of my youth when I worked there. Can’t wait to frame it on my wall.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about Capitol Theatre on Jun 12, 2009 at 11:29 pm

As a teenager, I worked at the Capitol, from usher, to doorman and assistant manager. I moved to California and then back in 1960 for the renovation. The interior had salmon and gray walls, It looked terrible. They took out all of the things that made the Capitol special. The front entrance was improved from the old one. It was a modern look for that time.
The Garden was open during the renovating and had first run films, as did the Palace, two blocks away. Now they want $40,000,000 to restore it. Are they crazy? Does this include the whole block that contains the theater? There used to be women’s clothing stores, and antique shops there. To the right was Sackrider’s Clothing store, and Beneficial Loan was to the right on the alley. Downstairs was a bowling alley and a small restaurant.
To lease the theater they want $1,000,000 in advance, The theater needs new air-conditioning, furnace, outside fire escape, and much more. They donated the two 35 mm projectors and the pipe organ. They were perfectly well working projectors. Will the owners replace these things? it can be operational for millions less, if it is for the theater only. Yes, Flint needs a downtown theater, but not a $40,000,000 restoration.

William Dakota
William Dakota commented about University of Michigan may make use of the Capitol Theatre on Jun 12, 2009 at 10:18 pm

The theater was renovated around 1960. They took out the statues and other things that made the Capitol special. The front entrance was improved but the auditorium lacked the atmosphere it once had. I heard that previous leasers put in a bar? And Farah gave away the 35 mm movie projectors. How could they lease a theater without projectors? I was recently told, the owners wanted one million up front to lease it. It needs a new air-conditioning system, heating, and outside fire escape.If the roof has been leaking, then this is a mess to clean up. But, 40 million is way too much to get it operating. I worked for Butterfield, from being an usher, doorman, assistant manager, etc. Does the 40 million include all of the outer rental spaces and up stairs offices?