The Circle Theater
In the days before malls, home air conditioning. and TV, the best way to spend an
afternoon was at the movies. For 15 cents you could watch Bat Man, Gene Autry, or
Flash Gordon in cool comfort at the Circle Theater on 33rd street. Long lines of
youngsters formed on Saturday and Sunday afternoons when the doors opened for the
matinees. Lines of adults formed in the evenings to get good seats for the show plus the
weekly “Bank Night” and the china give-away.
The Circle Theater
just prior to razing
Sam and Louis Epstein, who formed the Nebraska Theater Corp, operated the Circle
Theater from 1927 to 1953. It was located in the middle of the block at 524 North 33rd.
There was a marquee over the entrance to shelter theatergoers and announce the
current shows. Popcorn was available for a nickel and was sold at intermission while film
reels were being changed. Boys and girls could spend a couple of hours watching the
Best of John Wayne or the Jungles of Johnny Weissmuller while their parents enjoyed a
respite of quiet at home. Two features were usually offered plus a newsreel and previews
of coming attractions.

Many of the “flicks,” so called because in early days of the movies the projection was
jumpy or fuzzy, were B-westerns, but such goodies as Freddie Bartholomew in “Little
Lord Fountleroy,” Claudette Cobert in “Manslaughter,” Gary Cooper in “The Virginian” or
the Four Marx Brothers in “Animal Crackers,” were also shown. If you were lucky you
might catch Clara Bow, William Powell, Lillian Gish, Monty Astor, Myrna Loy, Zazu Pitts, or
Mary Pickford.

This was the heyday of the neighborhood movie house. Other theaters were close by
such as The Hamilton, The Dundee, The Military, and later, The Admiral. Nearly all are
gone now, except for the Dundee which still draws patrons. The old Circle building with its
memories of adventure, intrigue and glamour was finally razed in October 1997 after
many requests by the GPNA.


Schwartz, Donald Ray, The Neighborhood Movies, Omaha Magazine, July 1982
Gifford Park Neighborhood Association
P.O. Box 31462, Omaha, NE 68131-0462
Gifford Park
History Book