About this article:
As we were preparing for our 60th Anniversary, I remembered an appearance by Addison Bragg from a theatre owners' convention which had been held in Billings a few years earlier. Bragg gave a talk during which he listed all the "other" entertainments which had threatened to kill the theatre business: Television, video games, cable TV, videotapes, disco...the list went on. None of them prevailed, and the movies are as popular as ever. I was hoping to get a copy of Bragg's talk to post in the lobby during our celebration, so I wrote him a letter asking for it. He didn't have a copy of the talk, but he did come to Forsyth and interview me for this article, which appeared in the "Enjoy" section of the Billings Gazette.
From the Billings Gazette, August 24, 1990
Whenever some of us old theater-goers get in a thankful mood we should remember to include in our thoughts a theater in Forsyth called the Roxy.
It's one of quite a few -- thank goodness - still around to let us experience show-going as it was back in those days before theaters became only buildings - and those buildings became places in which to locate "screens" on which motion pictures were shown.
And people who'd never seen the inside of a real motion picture theater paid their money, watched the film, and went home none the wiser (or poorer) for what they'd missed.
The Roxy -- the name brings back an earlier day when a pioneer showman in New York City lent his nickname to one of his first movie houses - opened in Forsyth in 1930.
Dolores Del Rio starred in "The Bad One," and there was no one in town who objected to the 35 cents charged for adult admission. The Roxy's Spanish style architecture (nine out of every ten theaters built back then borrowed from Castile) was an object of considerable pride along Main Street - and still is.
The Roxy has changed with the years. The marquee, not included in the original plans, was added during the mid '30s. The lobby concession counter came along during the 1950s.
[Original builders] Frank Faust and A. C. Wolke finally sold the Roxy to Roy Welter, who turned it over in 1967 to Don and Georgia Herndon.
And Georgia, friends say, counts among her cherished memories the time before she got into show business and was a young theater patron.
That was a time when the window to the women's restroom on the ground floor opened onto the street -- and Georgia, after paying her way into the show, went straight to the restroom and opened the window to let friends without ticket money into the show.
The Herndons sold the Roxy to Mike Blakesley and Tom Clifford in 1979.
Blakesley wasn't around when the Roxy went through such depression-era promotions as Bank Night and drawings for dishes and groceries. But he knows enough about show business to know how to celebrate an anniversary -- and that's how it happens that the Roxy will be welcoming audiences to such classics as "Casablanca," "The Ten Commandments" and "Gone With The Wind" during its month-long celebration.
Another blockbuster to fill the Roxy's screen - and hopefully its 250-seat house - will be the classic "The Wizard of Oz."
For which achievement, kudos to showman Blakesley.
Just for fun, ask yourself the question: How many of you today have seen "The Wizard of Oz" in a theater and on a big screen?
If you haven't, it just may be worth the trip to Forsyth.