The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

The Star Theater

222 East Main.
Opened September 23, 1911; renamed November 30, 1918.

    In one of the rooms to be vacated by the Medford Furniture Company a moving picture show will open.
"Many Firms Are To Move Soon," Medford Mail Tribune, July 23, 1911, page B1

People's Amusement Company Lease and Remodel Webb Block,
Formerly Occupied by Medford Furniture Company, on Main Street.
    W. B. Armstrong, superintendent of construction for the People's Amusement Company, owners of many show houses in the Northwest, arrived in Medford yesterday for the purpose of remodeling the Webb building, formerly occupied by the Medford Furniture & Hardware Company on Main Street. About $5000 will be spent in making the location a very high-class, modern theatre with every new novelty and convenience. Mr. Armstrong estimates about three weeks to make the changes.
    Al Sather, the popular singer and entertainer, will take charge of the new play house when open and endeavor to please the theatregoers of Medford.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 17, 1911, page 6

    W. B. Armstrong, superintendent of construction for the Peoples Amusement Company of Portland, is in the city and has commenced work on remodeling the room recently vacated by the Medford Furniture Co., next door west of Daniels' clothing store, for the new theater to be run by that company. It will be opened about September 10. The management will put in a model front, opera chairs and run one of the leading amusement places in the city. Al Sather, the well-known singer and actor, will be the local manager.
Medford Sun, August 18, 1911, page 1

Portland Company Will Open Moving Picture House Soon.
    MEDFORD, Or., Aug. 27.--(Special.)--The Star, a new theater, is nearing completion and will have its grand opening Saturday night, September 2.
    The new theater will seat 400 persons, is equipped with opera chairs, and is provided with lighting, heating and ventilating apparatus.
    The Star is owned and will be operated by the People's Amusement Company, of Portland, will be added to its circuit of theaters. Following the policy of the company, the Star will be devoted exclusively to motion pictures and music.
    Al Sather, late manager of the Tivoli Theater, Portland, has been selected as resident manager. All other employees will be from Medford. Officials of the company will be present at the opening Saturday night.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, August 28, 1911, page 6

New Moving Picture House Ready by Sept. 15--
Delay Caused by Non-Arrival of the Opera Chairs Ordered.
    Superintendent W. B. Armstrong of the People's Amusement Company returned yesterday to Portland, after the alterations necessary for the opening of the Star Theater of Medford, the latest acquirement of the People's Amusement Company.
    The People's Amusement Company prides itself upon the character of photoplay attractions, and to open a house of that character without the opera chairs, which had been previously ordered, would not be in line with this policy, hence the peremptory order delaying the opening. Heywood Brothers, through whose neglect the non-arrival of the chairs can be attributed, has put a tracer now all along the line, and promises the management that no later than the 15th the chairs will arrive.
    When the new Star Theater of Medford does open its doors the people will realize that the People's Amusement Company was acting in good faith, by the perfection of every detail in connection with the opening.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 9, 1911, page 2

Medford Sun, September 23, 1911

    W. B. Armstrong, superintendent of the People's Amusement Company, who recently made numerous alterations in connection with the opening of the new Star Theater in this city at the time of his stay here, evinced much surprise and regret in being unable to open the house on schedule time, the work having been brought to a close so very rapidly.
    However, upon his return to Portland the reason was fully explained to Mr. Armstrong, that in lieu of the policy of the company, put in effect in the opening of all new theaters, under no condition can the People's Amusement Company afford to open a new theater until it is thoroughly equipped in every detail, everything in order for a successful career. The People's Amusement Company owns and operates a chain of theaters throughout the Northwest, and aims to put in nothing but the best theaters, with absolutely the cream of photoplay productions.
    Heywood Brothers, who are supplying the opera chairs, and by whose neglect the delay was caused, have a tracer out all along the line, and assure the Star management that not later than the 15th of September the chairs will be delivered, thus when the new theater does open its doors to the Medford patrons they will realize that the management was acting in good faith.
Medford Sun, September 10, 1911, page 4

    Al Sather, newly appointed manager of the People's Amusement Company's local house, arrived in the city yesterday and immediately plunged into the work of putting on the final touches for the grand opening of the Star Theater.
    "It may seem peculiar to the people of Medford," said Mr. Sather, "that our company went to the expense necessitated by the delay in the opening of this house, but when our superintendent, Mr. Armstrong, first arrived on the scene he promised the people of Medford the most completely equipped and up-to-date motion picture theater in this part of Oregon, and it is a fact beyond contradiction that without opera chairs this promise could not have been fulfilled.
    "The Heywood Chair Company of Portland, Or., who were to supply the chairs, absolutely promised delivery of same by September 1, and on this promise the People's Amusement Company based their plans.
    "Now the chairs are here, they are being installed and the theater will be officially opened to the public of Medford on the 23d day of September at 7 o'clock p.m., with a splendid array of photoplay attractions, appropriate music and the latest popular ballads. I want to say right now to the Medford public that while we expect to be honest competitors of everybody in our own field, we will conduct our business legitimately and will study at all times to deserve public favor."
Medford Sun, September 21, 1911, page 3

    The new Star Theater on East Main Street opens tonight. It will be a high-class, strictly moving picture show, with illustrated songs, music and effects.
    The Medford band will play for the opening, and they have a strong bill for the first night.

Medford Sun, September 23, 1911, page 3

    One of the greatest if not the greatest picture that has ever been produced will be shown at the new Star Theater tonight. The picture is taken from the Vitagraph Monthly and represents a head-on collision of two locomotives going at the rate of over sixty miles an hour.
    The new theater has one or two other good bills for tonight. Many of the Medford people attended the opening of the new theater last night, and all were generous in their appreciation of the new house. The place is very clean and well arranged. Music is also very good, and the management in the person of Mr. Al Slater [sic] is all that could be desired as a person fully appreciates the wants of a live town. The Medford band played for the opening.
Medford Sun, September 24, 1911, page 8

Medford Sun, September 27, 1911

A Little Talk About the Star Theater
By Mgr. Sather
    We don't claim that we have the best theater in the West, but we do claim that we have one among the best. We get the best pictures to be obtained, irrespective of cost. We try to get pictures that will please everybody, men, women and children of all classes, and we usually succeed. Correct effects are never accidental. It is no accident that makes our pictures so steady, clear and free from eyestrain. It's simply because we have the best operator to be obtained, and the latest and most modern machinery made, our new curtain is now completed, and in use. It was made by ourselves after weeks of experimenting, and which we think shows a better picture than the most expensive patent curtain made. Then again we have one of the best pianists on the coast, who knows how to play the pictures, our drummer is second to none, we have a theater that could not be more sanitary, and better ventilated, kept cool at all times.
    Now this may sound like an essay on the supremacy of our theater over all other theaters on earth, but it isn't that really. We talk a whole lot, but we try always to back our talk up with actual deeds. We set a splendid standard a year ago and have maintained it. Do you recall who it was gave you the first good pictures you ever had in this city? Who was it who put on the first musical accompaniment to the picture that enhanced its value over fifty percent? That never spared pains and expense to give you the best? What's the answer? This is the "excuse" our patrons have for liking our show, and it isn't such a worse "excuse." Is it?
Medford Sun, August 31, 1912, page 3

Tracy Wellman, Star Theater, Astoria, Oregon 1912
 Star Theater, Astoria, Oregon 1912

    The People's Amusement Company, operators of the Star Theater, have leased the property next door to their present quarters, occupied by the M. M. Department Store, and will begin at once the making of improvements to cost $10,000. The plans call for the enlargement of the theater and equipment with latest accessories.
    The new quarters, when completed, will be 50x130 feet, with a marble lobby, a stage the width of the two buildings, and a seating capacity of 900. An up-to-date ventilating system and steam heating plant will be installed, and provisions made for emptying the building in less than five minutes. An exhaust electric fan will keep a supply of fresh air throughout the performances.
    The Medford Realty & Improvement Company, Charles Lebo, manager, has charge of the improvements and represented the amusement company in the deal. Al Sather, the manager, will have charge of the operation of the theater as now, and performances will be held daily while the changes are being made.
    Al Sather, manager of the company's interests here, is one of the best all-around theater men that has ever been in Medford and has certainly made a success of the Star. He knows the game in all its details, is pleasant and obliging to everyone, and the company certainly have in him an able, live wire representative.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 12, 1912, page 4

Medford Mail Tribune, March 7, 1913

    The finest studio in southern Oregon has been opened by Gerking and Harmon at 228 East Main Street, first stairway east of Star Theater.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, August 9, 1913, page 4

    D. C. Burkhart, the popular manager of the Star Theatre the past year, has been promoted by the Peoples Amusement Company and leaves today for Portland, accompanied by Mrs. Burkhart and their son. They have made a large number of friends during their short residence in the city, and will be greatly missed.
    Mr. Burkhart understands the business thoroughly, looks after every detail for the pleasure and comfort of the patrons and has made the Star one of the best moving picture shows in Southern Oregon.
    Edward O'Neill, the new manager, comes from Astoria, has been with the company for some time and will maintain the popularity of the theater, being a live wire.
Medford Sun, June 14, 1914, page 8

    Scott Hubbard, employed for two years as operator at the Star Theater, will leave shortly for Klamath Falls. The Woolworths, who have furnished the music at the theater for the last 18 months, will also leave within a few days.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, June 29, 1914, page 2

    Edward O'Neil, manager of the Star Theater for the last six months, left last night for Portland, where he will take charge of the National Theater in that city.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, October 21, 1914, page 2

    The Star Theater will be enlarge shortly after the first of the new year, and plans for the improvements are now being made by a well-known contractor.
    The most important change will be the increased seating facilities in the way of a balcony that will have 180 chairs of the very latest pattern. Two stairways, one on each side of the lobby, will lead to the balcony at a very easy grade and will make the balcony very attractive and comfortable.
    Where the office is now located will be placed a ladies' rest room, and the office will be transferred to the operating room and the entrance changed to the balcony and the operating room will be in the extreme front of the building over the entrance.
Medford Sun, January 3, 1915, page 3

    Al Sather, representing the People's Amusement Company of Portland, took charge of the Star Theatre as manager Friday.
    Mr. Sather is a thorough moving picture man, opened the Star, was manager for the first two years and was very popular with the people. He has a splendid voice, and his solos were a big feature of the theatre. He will be heard again tonight and every night hereafter.
    K. L. Bernard, who has been manager of the theatre for about six months, has raised the standard of their pictures very materially, and being pleasing and accommodating to everyone has made the Star a very popular playhouse. He has two positions offered him in California and will probably leave Medford next week.
    Mr. Sather says the Star will continue to give the people the best pictures to be had.
Medford Sun, June 12, 1915, page 4

    Owing to the change of management of the Star Theater, the children's Saturday matinees endorsed by the women's clubs and Parent-Teachers Association will be discontinued for the present, until arrangements can be made with the new management..
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, June 19, 1915, page 2

    A. C. Burgess has sold his lease of the Star Theatre to D. L. Sharits, who takes charge today. The new manager has been connected with the moving picture business for several years, part of that time as an official photographer for the Nestor film company. He has been manager and owner of seven different theatres, principally in the South, and came here from Birmingham, Alabama.
    Mr. Sharits, wife and daughter are here, and they have leased and occupy a home on Oakdale. Mrs. Sharits' parents will come later to reside here.
    Mr. Burgess, who has spent a lifetime in the theatrical business and whose ability in that line is too well known to need comment, has given the public first-class pictures and has greatly built up the reputation of the Star. Mr. Sharits will not only maintain that reputation but strive to increase it.
    Mr. Burgess closed his management with the popular film "Hypocrites."
Medford Sun, September 2, 1915, page 3

    The Star Theatre, under the new management of G. L. Sharata, is becoming more popular than ever and has first-class film service, including the famous Paramount pictures. They also give moving pictures of local events and scenes occasionally.
    The theatre has recently undergone considerable repairs in which the ventilating has been greatly improved, and the interior and exterior given a "new dress," the latter having all the fancy frills of up-to-date theatre fashions. A new modern picture screen and machine has also been ordered.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 4, 1915, page 3

Star 1915-9-5Sun
Star 1915-9-5Sun
Medford Sun, September 5, 1915

    Bob Forrest, formerly with the Star Theater, this city, passed through Medford this morning, en route south, and asked to be remembered to his many friends in this city. Robert is now connected with one of the big movie companies at Los Angeles.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, November 5, 1915, page 2

    In the February 26 issue of the paper published by the Big Four moving picture corporation under the head of "Live Publicity on the Battle Cry of Peace," a whole page is devoted to the splendid way in which the Star Theatre of this city advertised that film when it was showed here the first time.
    The half page ad the same as it appeared in this paper is reproduced, and pictures of the theatre and a Medford street car with the banner for the "Battle Cry of Peace" thereon appear in the write-up. Manager "Pal" Sharits is complimented for his artistic ideas in advertising and for being a live-wire motion picture man.

Medford Sun, March 18, 1916, page 6  The magazine was called V-L-S-E Pals. Big Four was a short-lived merger of
Vitagraph, Lubin, Selig and Essanay studios.

    The moving picture made in Medford by local talent is ready for showing and promises to be a big hit. The photography, action, etc., is first class. C. E. Gates makes a dandy tramp and does some very funny stunts. He is supported by Lowell Zundel, who plays the woman, and who also does some splendid movie tricks. No doubt this picture, which is the first real movie play to be made in Medford, will prove one of the biggest drawing cards the Star has ever offered. The cast includes Miss Gladys Mumun, Browning Purdin, Gus Newbury, Catherine Swem, Charles Campbell, Miss Marie Gates, Mr. and Mrs. E. O. Nedd, J. W. McNerney of Portland, Carl Tengwald, H. C. Behling, J. A. Westerlund, Miss Laura Gates, Dr. Hart, H. A. Latta, Charles Thomas, Fred Mears, Elmer Foss, Chief Hittson, Officer Cady and hundreds of others. This picture will be shown at the Star Theater onSunday.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 17, 1916, page 5

    Hundreds of people Friday saw their friends and neighbors in action in the first moving picture comedy ever acted in Medford. C. E. Gates, Lowe Zundel and Carl Tengwald in the leading parts elicited favorable comments.
    Many clever situations were evolved. The trick camera work was used to good advantage, the scaling of fences, high barns, auto garages and the shoot the chutes were applauded. One scene in particular is worth mention, when a tramp is seen sitting upon the trolley tracks eating his pie when a car approaches and runs into him, picking him up on the fender and carrying him out of the scene.
    In the shooting scene on Main Street Chief of Police Hittson took six shots at the fleeing tramp, but the tramp was later seen running down South Oakdale street. The arrival of the tramp in a side door Pullman [i.e., a boxcar] and his subsequent chase through the railroad yards precedes the showing of a picnic scene on the library lawn. Before discovering the picnic the tramp (Pop Gates), however, makes an unsuccessful attempt to secure a handout at the homes of Mrs. J. C. Mann and Mrs. Katie Emig, the latter turning the hose upon him.
    Arriving at the library, the tramp makes off with a pie. This is what starts the trouble. After this, things move rapidly until he is placed under arrest. Twenty well-known ladies are featured in the picture, as well as hundreds of others who were in the picnic scene.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 19, 1916, page 3

Medford Sun, June 18, 1916
Medford Sun, June 18, 1916

Medford Mail Tribune, October 26, 1917

    The deal has been completed whereby Mr. and Mrs. O. T. Bergner have purchased the lease on the Page and Star theaters from Mr. and Mrs. George Hunt, and Mr. and Mrs. Bergner are now in charge. They will continue to run the Vining at Ashland. Mrs. Bergner has charge of all three houses for the present. Mr. Bergner will return from San Francisco about November 15 and take charge of the Medford theaters. The Bergners have had several years experience in theaters and moving picture shows, have had charge of the Vining Theater for over two years, and will give the public the best moving pictures to be had.
    They already have a splendid list of road shows booked for this winter.
    Mrs. Hunt has been with the Page Theater ever since it was opened, and Mr. and Mrs. Hunt have had charge of the Page about two years and the Star one year. They are both well posted in their line of business and have been giving the patrons of these two houses first-class road attractions and up-to-the-minute moving pictures. They leave the first of the week in their car for Seattle where they will locate, but before settling down they will take a several weeks' rest and visit Mr. Hunt's parents in Nebraska. They will also visit Chicago and other cities.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 3, 1917, page 6

    Manager Bergner of the Page Theater announces his policy relative to the war tax as follows:
    "It will be the policy of the management of the Page Theater to charge only the actual war tax as imposed by the government on all admissions, which is two cents on a fifteen-cent admission and one cent for children under twelve years of age. This will change the adult admission from fifteen cents to seventeen cents and children from five cents to six cents.
    "The adult admissions at the Star Theater will be reduced from fifteen cents to thirteen cents with an additional two-cent war tax and children under twelve years from five cents to four cents, with an additional one-cent tax, making the total adult admission 15 cents and children under twelve 5 cents.
    "Penny change will soon become a habit, and before long everyone will be carrying pennies with which to pay the various war taxes."
Medford Mail Tribune, November 5, 1917, page 6

    The Medford theaters are preparing big programs for the openings Nov. 24, after being closed for four weeks. There will be three picture houses now instead of two, the Liberty being the new one to be opened where the Star formerly was, under management of Henry Harcke. Watch for the announcements and get in line after a long rest.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, November 17, 1918, page 2

After closure for the Spanish flu pandemic, the Star reopened on November 30, 1918 as the Liberty Theater.

Last revised March 2, 2022