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Cinema Theatre

1998 Photo from the Adam Martin collection
1729 W Broadway
Columbia MO 65203

Record #1020  
 Opened: June 8, 1966
 Closed: 1998
 Current Use:
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:
 Previously operated by: Commonwealth Theatres, Hollywood Theaters

Information for this tour was contributed by Darren Snow.

The Cinema opened on June 8, 1966 with "The Glass Bottom Boat".

Way back in June 1965, news of a new hardtop theatre crept into the Columbia Tribune alongside the Sky-Hi Drive-In's opening hoopla. Construction was to begin within 60 days on an 823-seat theatre to be called the Crest. The building would be 76 feet wide, located almost due east of the Broadway Drive-In's box office. Situated between the ozoner and the Broadway Shopping Center, the Crest's parking lot would usurp 100-150 of the drive-in's parking spaces.

By the time the theater opened a year later, the name had been changed to "Cinema" and the seating capacity had been upped to 837; 521 of those seats were "rockers." Gov. Warren Hearnes spoke at the ribbon-cutting. "Miss Cinema," Donna Fogle--who was also billed as "Columbia's Future Miss America"--was on hand to welcome guests and give each lady a carnation. The full-page Tribune ad of 6/7/66 promised a "modern refreshment center . . . latest in projection lens . . . climate controlled heating and cooling . . . luxurious American Recliner seating . . . Walker Super Hi-Lite Screen . . . distinctive carpet by Alexander Smith . . . Lobby teller type box office . . . The magic screen will blossom in this totally new theatre! It will bring you the world's finest motion pictures!" (Was this ad translated from Japanese or what?!) Elsewhere in that day's Trib, one can find a cool photo of the sign on the roof with its cursive logo.

Roy Tucker, director of purchasing for Commonwealth, planned and directed the opening of the Cinema, and also supervised the decorating and all purchases. "The finest theatre that Commonwealth has ever built" was two years in the planning. The interior was decked out in shades of gold, with touches of brown, pale green, and yellow. The carpet had a Hawaiian floral pattern.

Tucker had begun his Commonwealth career in 1940 in Garden City, KS, and went on to do a lot of work in Columbia theatres. At this juncture, Commonwealth operated 113 properties in CO, KS, IA, MO,AR, NE, SD, and WY.

The first manager was George Willhoite, fresh from an 11-month tenure at the Uptown. He had worked with the company since 1942, first in Monett, MO, and later in Belleville and Lawrence, KS, and Warrensburg, MO.

The last big auditorium in Columbia was closed in 1998.

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

March 2016 photos from the Adam Martin collection.

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February 1998 photos from the Adam Martin collection.

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Photos from the Darren Snow collection.

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Last featured 2/25/2005. Last edited 8/29/2016.

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