Woody Williams had a Reputation of Pulling in the Latest Movies...Often Ahead of Larger Theaters in the Region
Although there was an earlier movie theater in Eads during the 1920's called the El Cinema that played silent movies...the real history of this project began in the late 1930's when Woody Williams opened the Plains Theater in the Bentley Building... the southern-most building in the Crow-Luther Center. According to Jack Garner who is a history buff in town and who played his own role in the development of the Plains Theater, "When World War II arrived in everyone's lives, 'Theater Woody" (ever the opportunist) changed the name to the Victory Theater. With the War ending, Williams was able to complete the present theater and named it the Plains Theater."
Williams went all out in his creation of the Plains Theater. He purchased the Star Garage, built in 1916, and promptly set out making the Plains one-of-kind in the area. The first thing he did was to hire the Boller Brothers who would turn a large garage into a premier movie theater. According to Wikipedia, the "Boller Brothers, also spelled as Boller Bros., was an architectural firm based in Kansas City, Missouri which specialized in theater design in the Midwest of the United States during the first half of the 20th century. Carl Heinrich Boller (1868–1946) and Robert Otto Boller (1887–1962) can be credited with the design of almost 100 classic theaters ranging from small vaudeville houses to grand movie palaces.
The Plains Theater was opened on August 1, 1947 and played Vigilante's Return. Williams promoted the Plains in many ways by offering such gimmicks as "Bank Night" and free Christmas movies. On September 5, 1947 Williams had a stroke of genius (and of luck) when Ken Curtis, of Gunsmoke fame, made an appearance at the Plains Theater. "He was pleasing to the real cowboys and those that were "want-to-be." Festus was also a member of the Sons of Pioneer professional singing group.
Williams managed the Plains Theater until his health failed in the early 1960's and it was sold to the Crow Family, starting a new chapter in the Plains Theater saga. But during the years of the late 1940's and the 1950s Williams made sure the Plains Theater was the place to be and the thing to do every weekend....every season....throughout the year. The tradition and memories he created was the catalyst of saving Theater Woody's theater today!