On Christmas Day 1938, the new Varsity Theatre opened for business. (Another theatre had been operating around the corner on the University side) . . .
We've found an item from the trade magazine BOXOFFICE (Oct. 29, 1938) and an early advertisement from late 1938 or early 1939 and we present them below. We will continue to add more memories to this page.
Early 1980's article "Varsity Theatre: Breaking Away from the Silver Screen Mainstream"
2004 article "Varsity Theatre celebrates 65+ years" (1.6 MB) Download PDF
2010 article "The Little Guy" features the Varsity Theatre and other DM small businesses (CityView) Link
"MR. VARSITY", Bev Mahon passed away March 27, 2009. The Varsity Theatre will never be the same without him. Bev's roots in the movie business went back to Hollywood's Golden Age — the 1930's and very few exhibitors today can make that claim.
In those early days he worked for a time in the offices of Paramount, but eventually came to own theatres in smaller Iowa towns and that's what he settled on doing — he loved the theatre business.
Like any other business, there were problems but also joys as well. Bev cared about his customers and always wanted to put on the best show possible. He was a perfectionist and had a personality that no one will be able to match. He believed in customer service and the personal touch. He kept his concession prices about 20 years behind the times because he felt the concession stand was a convenience for the customer and it wasn't meant to be a profit center.
Whenever he was a customer at someone else's business, and the service was up to his standards, he would fire off one of his classic, all-caps handwritten notes (made with a black Sharpie pen) and complement the management. If he had a complaint about your service, you can bet you would get a black Sharpie note as well.
The Varsity now moves into a new phase, a new chapter in its history. Bev Mahon's quirky humor, put-ons and puns were unique to him. They will be missed, but the show must go on.
He would agree, emphatically.
Varsity Theatre, 1207 25th St., Des Moines IA 50311-3005
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