Dal-Sec Theater

1900 2nd Avenue,
Dallas, TX 75210

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Dal-Sec Theater

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The Del-Sec Theater opened in September 1930. In the early-1940’s, the Dal-Sec Theater was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary Hoblitzelle & 0'Donnell. It was operated by an independent from 1951 and was closed in 1969.

Contributed by Billy Smith / Billy Holcomb / Don Lewis

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dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on September 25, 2013 at 7:27 am

The Dal-Sec Theater was in the Second Avenue business district at the corner Dallas Street adjoining Fair Park nicknamed Dal-Sec by some locals. Its design was by architect W. Scott Dunne who designed Dallas' Interstate Circuit properties Melba and Arcadia, as well as the Dal-Sec’s nearby neighbor, the Fair Park Amphitheater and the venerable Texas Theater in Oak Cliff. The Dal-Sec was run by M.S. White who also opened The White Theater at Forest and Oakland. The Dal-Sec became part of Karl Hoblitzelle’s circuit on August 31, 1935 when Interstate bought the Dal-Sec, White, and Forest theaters. The Dal-Sec remained an Interstate property until April 1951 and was a second run neighborhood house. It would then be operated by Howard Hiegel who seemingly ran no advertisements but kept the theater going until 1969. The theater’s demolition was part of the Fair Park area expansion in the late 1960s and into 1970 as the city tried to increase parking around Fair Park.

Arguably, the Dal-Sec’s main claim to fame was that it becomes a peripheral party in two legal battles, one of which altered the film industry. A 50-50 merger between Hoblitizelle and Paramount placed the Dal-Sec and many others in the Hoblitzell and R.J. O'Donnell portfolio within the Interstate Theatre Circuit in 1933. Business practices between the exhibition arm half-owned by Paramount and the production/distribution of Paramount films was closely scrutinized.

The U.S. v. Interstate Circuit (1937) challenged Interstate’s practice of controlling admission prices and the exhibition of second-run features in second-run houses including the Dal-Sec. But the more important case came a decade later in Edelman v. Paramount, a legal challenge that was brought in the courts, and a Justice Department investigation U.S. v. Paramount that led to the famous consent decree in which Paramount agreed to to separate itself from domestic theater exhibition selling out joint ventures such as Interstate and Publix. Only the Dal-Sec and Varsity were ultimately targeted within Dallas for dispersal within the reformulated, post-Paramount decision Interstate Circuit. Those properties had to be excised within three years of the 1948 decree.

The Dal-Sec was sold to Howard Hiegel who took over on May 1, 1951 while the Varsity became part of the Trans-Texas Circuit. Hiegel had operated Dallas' Avon Theater but had sold it earlier in the year and took on the theater for almost two decades. He probably could have eked it out for two full decades had it not been for the city’s redevelopment plans. But the theater’s last years were such that Hiegel said that he shed no tears when the city-mandated end came. In 1961, the theater was robbed of thirty cents and the manager was battered while the nearby Dal-Sec Drug Store suffered at least three separate armed robberies as fortunes and property values had turned in the neighborhood.

The theater soldiered on through lean economic times and high crime rates until 1969 when a combination of Fair Park expansion combined with highway development led to the demolition of the property. Hiegel said that the dollars weren’t rolling in and he had expected the city’s ambitious planning. Just five years earlier, the theater was endangered as a cross-town freeway was going to go through the property. The Fair Park expansion, however, was the death knell as the city bought out more than 300 properties in all and much of the Dal-Sec businesses including the theater which were closed and the buildings demolished. The only reference to the opening date was that the theater made it 45 years which would place its opening in 1924 though there’s not much evidence of that actual opening date as the theatre’s regular advertisements were from Sept. 1930 into the 1950s.

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