Theater Workers

The people who owned, managed and worked in movie theaters.

Youth Labor in Portland

Underage Workers in Early Exhibition


Union Dispute Leads to Picketing, Stink Bombs, and Court Cases

The Moreland Theater, among others, was involved in a dispute against the Portland motion picture machine operator’s protective union. This was a major battle for better working conditions that began with the union demanding that there be two projection operators, instead of just one, and an increase in pay. This led to a long series of picketing, which eventually led the case to end up in the Oregon Supreme Court.

Welcoming Windus & the Wurlitzer to the Blue Mouse Theater

As theater exhibition increased during the 1920s, theater owners went about making changes to their theaters; adding more seats, hiring more help, etc. For John Hamrick, owner of the Portland Blue Mouse theater, installing a new, custom designed Wurlitzer organ was just the trick. According to an article in the Oregonian, Hamrick had the Hope-Jones Wurlitzer organ installed at the local theater in the spring of 1922. As the first of its kind in the city, the new organ, on its own, was sure to stir up some attraction.

The Heilig Utilizes New Advertising Strategy for its Theatre

The Heilig theatre, located in Portland Oregon, was a vibrant and thrilling addition to the Portland theatre scene in the 1900s. It was built in 1910 and slowly became a staple for movie patrons in the Portland area. Although the Heilig was well known as a movie theatre, it was also extremely popular for showing comedic operas and vaudeville shows. One of its most notable performances included a production of Zandonai's Conchita starring soprano Tarquinia Tarquini in 1912 (1).


With the moving picture industry expanding at a rapid pace, film censorship was quickly growing as a potential threat for those involved in the industry. According to an article from The Sunday Oregonian in 1915, there was an opposition to film censorship by men of The Portland Press Club. The president of the club made the argument "if exhibitors in Portland show flagrant pictures, the public itself will be the censor". He continued to explain that if a picture is disliked by the public, it will fail and no longer be shown.

The Infamous Mr. Pantages

Alexander Pantages was a Greek immigrant who opened more than 60 theaters across the western United States and Canada. The Pantages Theater circuit was quite successful, and three of its theaters still function today in Hollywood, Minneapolis, and Tacoma. During the 20th century, the theaters would showcase both films and live vaudeville performances.

Charming and Well-Priced Theatre "The Esquire" Becomes a Staple for the Nob Hill Community

Located on NW 23rd and Kearny St, The Esquire Theatre was an entertainment staple for the Nob Hill neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. The theatre was well known for featuring silent films and vaudeville acts, which steadily gave them an immense amount of support from their local community and became a neighborhood favorite[1].