Known Years of Operation

Feb 15, 1910 - Feb 15, 1914

Number of Seats



Harry Holmes, People's Amusement Company, Al Friedman, J.C. Green

Additional Facts

  • In 1914, the space known as the Oh Joy Theatre was sold to Al Friedman and J.C. Green and a modern up-to-date market was opened.

The Oh Joy Theatre in Portland, Oregon was a perfect venue for the picture loving public in the early 20th century. The Oh Joy Theatre was owned by Harry Holmes under the People's Amusement Company. The theatre shows various forms of entertainment and is located on Morrison Street near Third. In mid-February 1910, the Oh Joy Theatre featured the program entitled "Taming A Husband" and a unique art film imported specially to the Oh Joy Theatre from the Pathe Factory in Paris, France entitled "Ouchard, The Merchant". A vaudeville acrobatic presentation of "Harry Brothers, the Acrobats" was equal in quality the renowned first class vaudeville house productions of the time. Motion pictures debuted with regular appearances on vaudeville program bills in the Portland area during the turn of the 20th century. (4) The Portland vaudeville theatres of the time strived to become more like the big-time east coast vaudeville circuit.

One of the typical trends of Oregonian's (including the familiar names of George Baker, Calvin Heilig, Fred Merrill, Edward Shields) in this pursuit was the inclusion of the family unit in the entertainment environment, an idea that served the east coast circuit with profitable returns. Another trend of the Portland circuit was to show vaudeville in theatres that serve liquor that were often thinly disguised gambling joints. Several instances of filmmaking during this period in Oregon made use of commercial firms for advertisement or promotion. After vaudeville in Portland developed for a few years, demand grew intensely for a first class vaudeville theatre, and the Portland area would get its very first on the 20th of November, 1904. On the orders of Proctor's, Keith's and the Orpheum, Considine opened Portland's Grand Theatre (formerly Cordray's) which is the largest, finest and most heavily financed theatre west of Chicago. Old and New World views of the time were on display in the theatre's presentations and Oh Joy's own impressive orchestra accompanying the talented baritone balladist of the house named Al Saither was a very popular attraction. A show known as "Haba Haba" was a rousing hit in in 1910 for the Oh Joy Theatre. (1)

The promotional strategies used by the Oh Joy Theatre included weekly announcements detailing the new programs available to local spectators, as well as showtimes. Other promotions related to the Oh Joy include lost and found reports (one specifically citing a lost set of false teeth) and advertisements concerning prices and typically the Oh Joy's current program of three to five shows. The Oh Joy Theatre opened at 11:00 am in the morning and ran until 11:00 pm in the evening, the entire program bill changed every Wednesday. (3)

Oregon Daily Journal. People's Amusement Company Theatre Listings. June 26th, 1910. P1.
"The Big Four" major Theatres in Portland at the time included the Oh Joy. Oregon Daily Journal, June 26, 1910, p. 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

Although no information regarding explicit audience participation in the Oh Joy Theatre was discovered in my research, I did gather enough information on the program changes in order to ensure the knowledge that the theatre was popular for at least the three years of known business, from 1911 to 1914. Further and deeper research in a wider variety of fields will hopefully supply me with more direct information about the audiences who regularly attended the Oh Joy. In the years of success for the Oh Joy Theatre, photoplays and ventriloquists, and short films were all regulars on the program and shown in the attractive and comfortable theatre space that had become very popular among picture-loving audiences. (2) In December of 1911, The Oh Joy Theatre held its Amateur Night on Friday evening, declaring "all amateur's admitted" and mentioning of the possibility of prizes. The film and/or performance genres that were shown at the Oh Joy were known to range from Comedy, Satire, Drama, Industrial Novelty, Amateur, Acrobatics, Musical, Indian Stories, or Educational. (5)

Works Cited

  • (1) Oregon Daily Journal. Pictures at the Oh Joy Theatre. February 27, 1913. P. 16. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

    (2) Oregon Daily Journal. Habba Habba and three other films. March 6th, 1910. P. 1. 

    (3) Oregon Daily Journal. People's Amusement Company Theatre Listings. June 26th, 1910. P1.

    (4) Oregon Daily Journal. People's Theatre Program Listings. April 1st, 1911. P.1 

    (5) Media History Digital Library. Pictures at The Oh Joy Theatre. February 27th, 1914.