Broadway and Houser Street,
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Previous Names: Electric Theater, Luella Theatre, Sutton Theatre
The Johnson Brothers opened the Electric Theatre showing movies in Vici, Oklahoma in 1919 following previous efforts there taking place as tent shows. The town of fewer than 500 residents was amazingly able to keep the hardtop theatre viable for around 40 years.
Clarence W. and Jennie Sutton took on the Electric Theatre in January of 1920 and quickly decided that a new-build facility was in order and they created a space at Broadway and Houser Street in downtwon Vici. Opening in December of 1921 was the new Luella Theatre. The pair had previously established the Luella Hotel and Café in downtown almost ten years earlier. Just into its run, a large nitrate film fire and explosion threatened the facility. But the Luella Theatre’s fireproof booth held and the venue was repaired briskly and was operational in January of 1922.
On February 16, 1930, the theatre switched to Vitaphone disc-based sound beginning Al Jolson in “Say it with Songs”. The theatre also changed names to the Sutton Theatre. A similar renaming had occurred in October of 1929 at the hotel - now called the Sutton Hotel and Café. C.W. Sutton died in 1937 and that same year the theatre was sold to A. Reeder. He changed the name to the Vici Theatre on April 4, 1937 with Joe. E. Brown in “When’s Your Birthday?”.
Under George Turner’s tenure at the Vici Theatre, he installed widescreen technology to present CinemaScope films beginning on January 14, 1954. High winds damaged the theatre ripping off the neon marquee in February of 1958 closing the venue. It reopened with sporadic free screenings and events. It didn’t officially reopen until a year after the storm on February 20, 1959 under new operator Charles Warren Shaw. But the theatre’s halcyon days were gone as television decimated small-town theatres.
In 1960, Shaw left, Turner returned and left, Elbin Engram came and left, and Don Moore took on the venue. Moore claimed that he had instituted CinemaScope at the Vici Theatre beginning on October 9, 1960 with Steve Reeves in “The Giant of Marathon”. He left not long after and the theatre’s regular operation concluded early in 1961 and ended permanently with a John Deere trade screening and event on December 9, 1961. The building received an exterior refresh in 1965 but did not reopen.
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