Monday, June 27, 2011

New Book on the World Theatre - Kearney, Nebraska

“Kearney’s World Theatre” by Keith Terry, is like that long, familiar walk down the carpeted aisle, the descending incline of a movie theatre from the back of the house to the orchestra seats. You look all around at the grand old movie temple, and anticipation builds to claim your seat. Then the magic. Even if you have never been to the World Theatre in Kearney, Nebraska, you’ve got a stake in this theater and this book.

An “Images of America” book recently published by Arcadia Publishing, this treasure trove of photos with captions takes us on the timeline from the theater’s opening in November 1927, through its heyday of the 1930s until 2008, when it closed.

But that was not the end of the story. In 2009, community efforts began to restore and reopen the World Theatre, fundraising which continues today. This book is part of those efforts, to raise awareness of the cultural significance of this theater, and to aid in the fundraising. Half of the author’s royalties will be donated to the restoration of the World Theatre.

The author, Keith Terry, is a faculty member in the Department of Communication at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He is the author of two other books on Nebraska history.

We’ve discussed many classic movie theaters on this blog, and sometimes we are lucky to find one that’s in the process of being revitalized. This time, however, we actually get a chance to help out ourselves in a very simple way. Please have a look at “Kearney’s World Theatre” by Keith Terry on the Arcadia website here, and consider purchasing a copy. The pages of photos, memories, posters and memorabilia, though centered on a small theater in a town in Nebraska, on another level is about everything readers of this blog love about old movies and preserving them.

Posters for a Clara Bow movie. The time a person dressed as The Tin Man standing out front to advertise “The Wizard of Oz” (which didn’t need much help, as it pulled in such big crowds the movie was held over).

The ushers and the live acts, the war bond drives. The theater ghost (every good theater has one). The ever-changing marquee. Most of the photos and the memories were supplied by the patrons, so there is an intimacy in the book that you feel from looking at a family photo album. It’s their theater, but the memories and experiences are universal and were shared by a few generations of millions of other Americans.

Then the demise of a theater, and an era. Now, the rebirth. Claim your seat as the curtain draws open.

“Kearney’s World Theatre” by Keith Terry is available online here from Arcadia Publishing.

(Disclosure: A copy of “Kearney’s World Theatre” by Keith Terry was supplied to me for purposes of reviewing on this blog.)

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