Chief Theatre

4650 S. 24th Street,
Omaha, NE 68107

Unfavorite 3 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 27 comments

dallasmovietheaters on August 12, 2015 at 11:40 am

John Latenser and Sons architected the Chief, a $200,000 theater built in 1945 just after WW2 had ended.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Black light murals had been around for about a decade before the Chief Theatre was built. The first use of black light decoration in a theater that I know of was at the Academy Theatre in Inglewood, California, designed by architect S. Charles Lee. It opened on November 7, 1939.

On December 17 that year, the Tower Theatre in Fresno, California, was opened. It, too, was designed by Lee for the Fox West Coast circuit, and featured black light murals painted by Tom and Frank Bouman of the A. B. Heinsbergen Company. The Tower even had fibers that would fluoresce under ultraviolet light woven into the auditorium carpets.

I’m not sure if the black light murals of the Academy, which now houses a church, have survived, but those in the Tower are intact.

bigchief on March 18, 2013 at 9:49 am

Ok, I got the link this time….I remember they did a make over mid 60’s…Maybe they just retouched the paintings then. I remember the murals looked new then. I was 11 or 12 y/o then.

bigchief on March 18, 2013 at 5:16 am

Bob,,,that link does not exist….I dont think they did the black light murals till mid 50’s…Are you sure that article was in a 1949 mag ?

BobFurmanek on March 17, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Here’s a 1949 article about the black light murals:

bigchief on May 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm

The phone number was 731-8383…. :–)

bigchief on May 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I grew up in that same area. Those junk yards were my playgrounds. …Slim Jims would be that bar on the corner of 24th & L… I had a paper route with the fire station, Polish home, Johnny Cafe etc. I actually worked at Johnnys cafe once….Many memories of the Chief theater tho…..

starvin on May 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm

our family live on 25th and L street. Johnny’s Cafe, the stockyards, the fire station, the junkyard (behind the fire station) is where we grew up. Our step father used to own a bar right on the corner of 24th & L. I remember my brother and I used to climb up some stairs and ‘hang out’ on the roof of the theater……man this is going back for me…..

bigchief on December 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I like the pic…Would be great to have t-shirts made…lol….I first attended movies at the Chief about 1960. I saw all the Beach Party movies ( Annette Funichello n Frankie Avalon ) all the James Bond Movies,and many more. It was our regular entertainment. I think it was 35 cents admission ( under 12 y/o ) .for a double feature and a cartoon…Those were the best days.

rivest266 on December 4, 2011 at 1:18 pm

This opened on April 5th, 1947. An grand opening ad with an small picture has been posted.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm

J Street: Yes, the photos ken mc linked to are gone. Boxoffice Magazine no longer has its archive online at, which is where the link to the pictures went. Boxoffice has moved the archive to their own web site. I looked there for the article with the photos and couldn’t find it. Boxoffice published nine different regional editions of each its issues, as well as a national edition, and the edition now on their web site is apparently one of the regional editions, while the one that used to be at and had the photos in it was probably the national edition.

Jstgang1 on March 21, 2011 at 8:17 am

Im pretty sure that the first girl I ever kissed was in the Chief Thater…

Jstgang1 on March 21, 2011 at 8:15 am

I remember the guy that was like an off duty cop that used to patroll the place…The name Cadwell comes to mind ( old man Cadwell we called him ).Maybe that was the managers name.

Even though this was after racial segregation. I remember there were three sections. Usually blacks sat on the left section and the other sections were open for the rest, only cause thats the way everyone accepted it.

Jstgang1 on March 21, 2011 at 8:08 am

I tried to look at that link Ken,( and there was nothing there that I could find of the “ Chief” theater.

Jstgang1 on March 21, 2011 at 8:03 am

Well Joe…I couldnt remember for sure. I do remember see “The Continental Twist” there also, now that you said that. So that must have been the flick. The years have fogged my mind some. I do know that I saw her there in person…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm

J Street: “Rock Around the Clock” was released in 1956, but June Wilkinson wasn’t in it. If the movie you saw was in the early 1960s, it might have been “The Continental Twist” (1961) in which June co-starred with Louis Prima and Sam Butera. It’s even possible that “Twist” was double-billed with a re-release of “Rock,” and that’s why you associate June Wilkinson with the Bill Haley movie. In the days of double features, new movies that distributors feared might be weak at the box office were often paired with older movies that had been very successful.

Wilkinson was also the female lead in a 1962 comedy (and early example of soft-core near-porn) called “The Bellboy and the Playgirls,” which was co-directed by the young Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola also got a writing credit for some extra scenes. Apparently he couldn’t leave a script alone even in his early twenties.

As for the Chief, I still can’t reconcile the reported seating capacity of 328 with the reports and photos (which I can no longer find) in Boxoffice, or with the various comments above by people who actually attended this theater. It had to be way bigger than that.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 20, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Some really good stories on this theatre.thanks for posting them.

Jstgang1 on March 20, 2011 at 11:15 am

Updated memory…..I believe the movie was “Rock Around the Clock” ( Bill Haley and the Comets ). June Wilkinson was in the movie and she was there live signing autographs. I got a 8x10 glossy black & white signed by her and kept it for many years. It finally vanished. What a hot babe she was in my pre teen years. It was early 60’s I think. Someone correct me if this info is wrong…..“J"st Gang

kencmcintyre on March 17, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Here are the photos as mentioned by Joe Vogel in April 2009:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 7, 2009 at 10:03 pm

The Chief Theatre was designed by the noted Omaha architectural firm of John Latenser & Sons, according to an item in the June 15, 1946, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. Owner Ralph Blank said that work on the new house was progressing steadily, but the completion date would depend on the availability of materials and labor. The house was open by late 1947, as five photos of it appeared in the November 15 issue of Boxoffice that year.

There’s a large discrepancy between the seating capacity of 328 currently listed above, and the Boxoffice projection of 1,254 seats for the Chief. The photos published in Boxoffice show that it was a very large house, with three pairs of double doors flanking each side of the box office at the entrance, and a wide auditorium that appears to have had four aisles. The frontage of the building must have been at least 80 feet, and was probably more. Judging from the photo of the auditorium, the Chief must have had nearly 1000 seats at the least, if not as many as Boxoffice claimed.

bigchief on October 8, 2008 at 4:06 pm

I also spend many hours of my youth at the Chief Theater in the late 50’s and 60’s. I lived only 2 blocks away and was probably sitting there with others of you that speak of seeing all the beach party movies, all the James Bond movies, Manchurian Candidate, Echos of the world, and More Echos of the World.( those freaked me out, but today that stuff if mild compared to what you see ). The wild Ones and other biker movies. I remember a few times there were stars there too. I once got a signed autograph of June Wilkinson ( she was either in a beach party flick or Bill Haley and the Comets flick ). I saw a lot of movies there. 35¢ admin. under 12 years old and 50¢ adults. And that was for a double feature with a cartoon between. It was a lot of time for necking with your fav. gal. …Years after it closed I remember the old chief head sat up against the bld. out back and kids threw rocks and busted up all the neon. Genenean….Sad….Good memoried though

Thewho on October 7, 2007 at 5:15 pm

The Blank family also owned Cornhusker Bank and W.C. Frank’s pinball and video arcade and also a bowling pro shop called Professional Bowlers equipment in the late 1970s. I grew up across the street from them and still am friends with Richard and his wife Sharon.

burnettjames on January 24, 2007 at 7:05 am

My brother and I used to ride the bus to this theatre wahen we were about 6-7. 50 cents allowance would pay for the bus ride, theatre entrance, treats with money left over. I have some old photos but I am unable to load them at this time

cindyriches on November 4, 2006 at 7:43 pm

Is there any way to get a list of employees of the Chief Theater from 1948?

zoot on May 28, 2006 at 2:30 am

The Chief Theatre was owned by the Blank Family in Omaha. They also owned the Admiral & Sky View Drive In theatres which also were torn down after the Chief was torn down. They also owned the Jet-O-Space gas station right below the Sky View Drive In on 72nd & Hartman St. When I was in Jr. High at Bancroft Jr. High I was a ticket taker at the Chief & when I was in high school at South High, I was a projectionist at the Chief & Admirel theatres. When the Chief was first built, it was considered very high tech for it’s time as the projection equipment was state of the art for it’s time. Also it was a beautiful theatre with it’s wall murals in the theatre. Years ago they even used to perform weddings on the stage of the theatre. Up on the second floor where the ladies rest room was, they even had a glass enclosed room which was called the “cry room” for people with noisy or crying kids. I have a lot of great memories from those days. Alan