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.

Read a rare interview
with MR. VARSITY
in this 1993 article

Added 1/15/2011:
1938 opening day photo in DM Register

Early 1980's article "Varsity Theatre: Breaking Away from the Silver Screen Mainstream"
Download PDF

2004 article "Varsity Theatre celebrates 65+ years" (1.6 MB) Download PDF

Varsity Theatre still busy after 70 years (DM Register, Jan. 2009) Download PDF

New information added to the Cinema Treasures.Org website April 9, '09:
Cinerama-70mm showings in Des Moines Link

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.

Obituary in the Des Moines Register

Mr. Varsity funeral program (PDF)

Letter to the Editor (GIF)

Varsity Theatre, 1207 25th St., Des Moines IA 50311-3005
Telephone (515) 277-0404
FAX (515) 277-0440
Theatre Office does not have E-mail
Please CALL or FAX only
A message can be left at 277-0404 after our announcement message

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