Boxoffice (Jul-Sep 1939)

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A Silver Anniversary For Denis J. Shea Boston— A quarter century in celluloid, a long time for this industry, is the record set up by Denis J. Shea of Turners Falls. The Massachusetts theatreman, a sports and entertainment promoter for the past 35 years, entered the field in September, 1914, in the old Colle Opera House in the Bay State town. Supplying entertainment for Turners Falls and the surrounding area had already occupied Shea for a decade previously. Shea celebrated another anniversary this month, his 56th birthday. He was born in Ireland in 1883. He came to Turners Falls with his parents when he was eleven years old. Two years later, young Shea earned the name of ‘Banisher.” He is still known by the cognomen to many throughout the Connecticut Valley. It came about while he accidentally burned down a chicken coop while trying to banish hen lice from a South End flock. D. J. Shea has been active outside of the motion picture industry. He is vicepresident and a director of the Turners Falls Industrial Development Corp. He also is a director of the Turners Falls Trade Ass’n. He helped to form both organizations. Shea is a former fire chief and a former school committee man. He is a past president of both the Interstate Basketball and the Interstate Baseball leagues. He has long been a member of the Elks, the gUNDAY shows were approved in local option voting at Bath September 11, a procedure authorized by the recent legislature. Calais, however, rejected them. Bath accepted by a vote of 1,048 to 1,010; Calais turned them down with 487 to 366. Houlton is also said to have refused them, but the vote count was not available. With tourists almost entirely gone and school just getting under way, business at local theatres is temporarily in the doldrums. Managers claim that a week or two of good, crisp fall weather ivill put it on its feet again. Pending headaches: A Food Exposition with several cars to be given away during the course of the week, beginning September 25; Sunday football games at the local stadium, one of the most popular fall sports and the exhibitor’s worst competitor during the i>eriod; homework, to be done by Portland’s school-age youngsters, the theatres’ matinee crowds. According to word received here September 11 from Hollywood. Albert Dekker, Bowdoin graduate of ’27 and former tackle on the Bowdoin Eleven, has just won a contract with Paramount and has been elevated to star rating. His work in “Beau Geste” proved to be his “leg up." Filmrow visitors: Dan Sullivan and Phil Brown of Transit Advertisers, Boston . . . The last of the summer legits closes next Knights of Columbus, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Masons. Shea, an insurance agent, took over the Opera House 25 years ago after several had failed to maintain films at the situation. His first deal was a one-year lease, with option to renew, from the late Mrs. Christian Colle. The Opera House was renovated some 14 years ago. The Shea Theatre, a new house, was opened in an adjacent block week — Lakewood, at Skowhegan. It winds up a summer made memorable by the number of prominent stage, radio and screen stars appearing at the leading theatres in Maine. They included such personages as Edward Everett Horton, Ethel Barrymore, Jane Cowl, Rudy Vallee, Elissa Landi, Dame May Whitty, Madge Evans, Glenda Farrell, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Grace George, Diana Barrymore, Libby Holman, Helen Claire, Fay Wray, Sinclair Lewis and Owen Davis jr. Maine’s only “Motor-In” Theatre, located at Saco, is still open, due to unseasonably warm weather. The theatre advertises heavily in local sheets and over the air. Much to the exhibitor’s chagrin, the Portland Evening Express amusement page has been cut almost in half. Where Hollywood releases and local publicity once shone, display ads from local five-and-tens and chain department stores, and miscellaneous news, ranging from sports to war, now catch the eye. The Empire Theatre is offering dishes to its customers on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings . . . The State Theatre is spicing its “Recess Time” juvenile program, broadcast from the stage on Saturday mornings over WCSH, with eight bicycles, which are to be given away to lucky youngsters, one each week, beginning September 30. in February, 1927, and the demise of the landmark was dated. Clubs and amateur groups used the Opera House stage for a while, and it lasted one season as a miniature golf layout. Turners Falls A. C. has since maintained clubrooms in the building. Shea turned baseball diamonds into money long before he went in for silver screens. He began organizing baseball teams shortly after the turn of the century. Dancing entered the picture when he leased the Hibernian Hall and brought in bands to entertain, following games. He also promoted a number of boxing matches in the town. He at one time managed Wilson’s singing orchestra which was a popular New England musical aggregation. He managed the Gable Ballroom in South Deerfield for more than two years. Shea, at present, is serving on a committee of five townsfolk in negotiating a site for a proposed air base. Denis J. Shea is married and has two sons, Harold and Phillip. “The next 25 years, I expect,’’ Shea tells Boxoffice, “will be the hardest.” Film Rental Library Is Started by University Durham, N. H. — Education through “movies” will be possible for New Hampshire school children and parents as a result of the opening of a rental library of educational films by the General Extension Service of the University of New Hampshire here. The film library also will benefit schools, fraternal organizations and other community groups. When the Cavalcade Started — Harry F. Shaio, New England division manager for Loew’s, Inc., holds in his protective grasp the tape which Mayor Maurice J. Tobin of Boston cut to start the Loew-Crosley motor cavalcade to the New York World’s Fair. Left to right are: Shaw; H. M. Addison, Loew northeastern division manager; Mayor Tobin; Louis J. Brems, Boston city greeter; Mildred Alice Farwell, selected as Boston’s Myrna Loy, and Loew Publicist Joseph A. DiPesa. 78 BOXOFTICE September 23, 1939