Saturday, March 25, 2006

More 'State Fair' with Great Uncle Leo

Another one of Leo Satterlee's photos from the "State Fair" premiere party he crashed in the summer of 1945, at the Hotel Fort Des Moines (itself a Lost Cinema location--the spot was once home to the Airdome, an open-air "walk-in" theater, from 1909 to 1913). Once again, he's showing off his crops to a Hollywood star. "I had no idea who she was", said Leo, and it is difficult to tell exactly who this is. She resembles the lead actress, Jeanne Crain, but Crain was not in town for the premiere, and this certainly doesn't appear to be blonde Carole Landis, child star Peggy Ann Garner (seen in my trailer, getting off from an amusement ride on Grand), nor cave-woman Jo-Carroll Dennison. If any readers can clue me in, please do!

Also not at the show, ironically, was "State Fair" actress Fay Bainter, who was a regular lead over at Elbert and Getchell's legit operation, The Princess, from 1914 to 1916.

Premiere day was jammed with activity all day and night--the street carnival began at 10am; live radio coverage with Ted Malone began at 10:45 live from 6th and Grand; lunch with the stars and Governor Blue at the hotel at noon; star appearances at the Vets hospital at 2; Peggy Ann Garner entertaining kids at the Sister Kenny cottage at 2:30; a WAC style show at the Younkers Tearoom with Carole Landis; a parade on Locust at 6; "Miss Des Moines" chosen at 7; stars' appearance at 6th and Grand at 8, followed by the premiere itself at both the Des Moines and Paramount theaters, with onstage appearances in both locations.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

S.E. 14th Street Drive In Ticket - 1987

From near the end of its run, this is what passed for admission tickets to the last drive-in to remain open in Des Moines. The $3.50 price seems pretty good for the late 80s even now.

This ozoner opened as the Des Moines Drive In at 6000 SE 14th Street in 1948 (the first in town), and lasted until 1998, when it was torn down (despite solid business) to make way for a Menard's outlet.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Des Moines Theater on Grand, 1930

Watch the clip: Des Moines Theater, 1930

A short animation I created, using 4 still photographs from the collection of Bill Volkmer, who graciously consented to let me use them. (Much of his collection of trolley photos can be seen online at: Des Moines Railway) The marquee headliner, All Quiet On The Western Front, dates the view as 1930.

I especially am proud of the little guy on the other side of the avenue, walking up the street with his shadow!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

President Program, 1930

By 1928, the Garrick was a short-lived experiment as a burlesque house, and was then leased by a New York-based actor named Bronson, who re-christened the venue The President, with initial plans to stage musicals 2 days a week. Actress Frances Dale (who had a small part in the movie "King of Kings" in 1927) was headliner and spokesperson--in the pamphlet, she encourages patrons to leave feedback on a small coupon in the back pages.

Among performers who trod the President's boards: Ed Wynn, W.C. Fields, Fred and Adele Astaire, Sarah Bernhardt, Lewis Stone, Leo Carillo, Sophie Tucker, and the Marx Brothers.

Check out the map on the right--the hotel on the same block is still called the Majestic (the President's original monicker), and in the lower left, the late institution that was the downtown Younkers can be seen.

The President enjoyed a decade-long run, closing and being demolished in 1938, to make way for a parking lot.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A 'State Fair' Encounter With Uncle Leo

My apologies for the quality of this--it's a photocopy of a photo print, from the autobiography of my great uncle, Leo Myron Satterlee.

He explains:
"[This picture shows] Jean Hersholt [on right] and myself, taken at a hotel in Des Moines where there was a party in progress for Mr. Hersholt and a group of stars who were there for the premiere of a motion picture ["State Fair"]. He was an old time character actor that went back to the silent picture days. I was living in Norwalk at the time, and heard him being interviewed on the radio. He stated that he had not seen any of Iowa's famous corn. It was dark. I went out to the field, felt around and got a good sized sack of sweet corn. I took Jessie [his wife], Marie, and Leonard [their kids] with me, and took the corn to the hotel where the party was still in progress...I told the man at the door what I had. They took all of us to the party. Took all kinds of pictures, and asked me to come back the next day to the depot, where they were leaving on the train, with more corn. More pictures were taken. At the party the lady star had on one of those topless dresses that had no visible means of support. Leonard whispered to his mother, "That lady don't have enough clothes on."

At some point, I'll post a couple more Leo stories--another short one about the State Fair premiere, and a wonderful anecdote about the Garrick (a.k.a. the Majestic, Orpheum, and President, at 210 8th) during its wild, woolly days as a burlesque house.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

River Hills Tel-Op Slide

This is what most of my slides look like unrestored--I do in fact have a restored version of this, but somehow this distressed original has more character to it, even if the colors are nearly too faded to boost. Side note: unlike most slides mounted for home use, these were mounted between squares of glass, with silver reflective coating on each side, and tape around the edge--built tough for repeated use.

Another Majestic View

Another, presumably earlier, view of the Majestic at 210-8th, with a considerably less ambitious marquee. At this stage of the game, the Majestic appears only to be emphasizing itself as a live vaudeville venue. In later years, as the President and the Garrick, the Majestic returned to a generally all-live format before its final closure in the late 1930's.