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Roxy Theatre in Medford, Ore., Offers Good Times

The Roxy Theater owners, Gene and Mae Childers, opened for business in 1932 on East Main in Medford, Ore.  The modern and luxurious theater had comfortable, overstuffed seats, the latest RCA sound equipment and a 25-foot neon sign.

The “talkies” had just arrived in town and moviegoers stood in line around the block for the first Friday night showing of “Shanghai Express” starring Marlene Dietrich.

Tickets were 20 cents for adults and 10 cents for children. On Saturdays, children watched cartoons for 5 cents.  Popcorn was forbidden initially, but was soon brought over from the Craterian Theater and kept hot for Roxy customers.  An usherette who grew up in Medford, Verna Forncrook Wilson, moved up to cashier, making $9 a week.  She remembered arriving early to work and listening to phonograph records played for the audience before the show.

The Roxy closed in 1947 and reopened briefly as the Esquire Theater.  Facing stiff competition from television and drive-in movies, the Esquire never gained the Roxy’s earlier popularity.

The present-day Interstate 5 viaduct passes over East Main Street where the Roxy once stood just west of the Bear Creek Bridge.


Sources: "New Theater to be Opened in Medford Friday." Central Point American, 23 June 1932 [Central Point, Ore.], p. 1, www.Id.mind.net/~truwe/tine/roxy.html/. Accessed 8 Feb. 2017;  “Roxy Opens Film Showing.” Medford News, 24 June, 1932, [Medford, Ore.], p. 11 www.Id.mind.net/~truwe/tine/roxy.html. Accessed 8 Feb. 2017; “Mr. and Mrs. Gene Childers’ New Roxy Theatre Opens Tonight.” Mail Tribune, 24 June, 1932 [Medford, Ore.], p. 8. www.Id.mind.net/~truwe/tine/roxy.html/. Accessed 8 Feb. 2017; Wilson, Verna F. "The Roxy Theater." Southern Oregon History, Revised, edited by Ben Truwe, 5 Dec. 2011, www.Id.mind.net/~truwe/tine/roxy.html. Accessed 8 Feb. 2017.

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.