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The DeVoto Theatre launched on Thanksgiving, November 25, 1937. The opening film was Betty Grable in “This Way Please”. The main floor was reserved for White patrons with the balcony for persons of color. The downtown Yazoo City theatre was situated in the existing B.S. Ricks Building at Main Street and Jefferson Street which most recently had housed the utility company’s billing office. An advertisement offering $10 to the first person identifying the name of the theatre was offered six weeks prior to its opening. When DeVoto was the name selected, ten people each guessing “DeVoto” each received a dollar.
Mrs. J.B. DeVoto was a pioneer film exhibitor when she operator the local Star Theatre and took over the Yazoo Theatre in the mid-1910’s. So successful was the town’s coal and oil service operator that she sold the theatre on April 1, 1920 to Saenger Amusements Circuit out of New Orleans. When the Yazoo Theatre burned in 1924, Saenger abandoned the market. But DeVoto - who was still the theater’s manager - rebuilt it. She then added this theatre as a discount, second run theatre when the Dixie Amusement Circuit announced its intention to build a theatre in downtown Yazoo City.
Her strategy worked and DeVoto sold her interests to the Dixie Theatre Company which had then opened its Dixie Theatre on July 18, 1938. The circuit closed the DeVoto immediately upon its purchase on October 29, 1938 with “Magnificent Obsession” and shelved the Yazoo Theatre temporarily.
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