Hornbeck Theatre celebrates 60th birthday

posted by RonnyJones on June 29, 2007 at 7:45 am

SHAWNEE, OK — A Downtown Shawnee, OK. landmark turns 60 on July 10th as the Hornbeck Theatre celebrates six decades entertaining Shawnee moviegoers.

Built in 1947, the historic theatre was opened by former Shawnee mayor Adam Hornbeck, in partnership with Griffith Theatres, Inc. of Oklahoma City. Designed by Dallas architect, Jack Corgan, the spacious theatre originally seated over 1100 with its main floor and large balcony.

In the early 1950’s Griffith Theatres became Video Independent Theatres and in 1954 Hornbeck sold his interest in the theatre to Johnny H. Jones and sister Ruby Jones. The Jones Family has operated the theatre ever since, now in a joint venture with national cinema chain, Carmike Cinemas, which succeeded Video. That spacious balcony was remodeled in 1972 into a separate theatre, called the Penthouse.

Festivities for the Tuesday, July 10 evening celebration include a special showing of a locally made “Little Rascals” type short subject, “The Kidnapper’s Foil.” Filmed in Shawnee in 1947, the short film featured local children in the cast. Area children auditioned and parents paid for their youngsters to appear in the film. The Oklahoma Historical Society has researched and restored the film adding interviews with some of the surviving cast members. A nitrate print of the short was discovered stored at the Hornbeck and was given to the Oklahoma Historical Society for preservation. Nitrate film is unstable and was in danger of decomposing.

Completing the program on screen that evening will be a print of the 1947 box office hit “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,” a romantic comedy starring Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney. The film was one of 20th Century-Fox’s top releases in 1947. The evening will also include a talk from researchers with a brief history of the locally made film and its producer.

Doors will open at 6:30pm, with festivities beginning at 7:00pm. Admission is free up to the theatre’s 450 seat capacity. Instead of birthday cake, there will be free popcorn and soda for all attending.

Jones Theatres, Inc., now in its 94th year in business, operates the Hornbeck and Penthouse Twin in downtown Shawnee as well as the Cinema Centre 8, at 3031 N. Harrison. More information is available on the Jones Theatre website.

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