Vaudeville and the movies entertained.
Theaters have been a very important part of the entertainment picture in the city over the years, providing live entertainment when it was in vogue; later presenting the silent movies and, finally, the "talkies."
Many Springfieldians have fond memories of such places as the Aladdin, the Baldwin, the Jefferson, the Gem, the Electric, the Mozark, the Jewell, and Diemer and Princess on Commercial Street. Only three of the old-timers remain today, the Fox, Gillioz and Landers.
A number of famous performers of the legitimate theaters or in vaudeville such as Fanny Brice, Lillian Russell, George M. Cohan and Will Rogers performed in some of these or the Perkins or Mansfield Opera Houses.
Some famous performers got their start here including movie heroine Pearl White who was once a ticket seller at the Diemer Theater. The Weaver Brothers vaudeville troupe was internationally famous. Actress Joan Crawford appeared one summer here in a stock company at the Jefferson Theater.
The oldest of the remaining theaters, the Landers, stands today as a remainder of that period and is one of the city's historic sites. The theater, which showed the first sound motion picture here in 1920, is now the home of the Springfield Little Theater.
Movies had a new burst of popularity in the 1960's with Springfield now served by six movie theaters and four drivein theaters, several with more than one screen.
|The Baldwin Theater on St. Louis Street, built in 1891, was destroyed by fire in 1909.|
|Many early theaters had their own orchestras; this one played at the Gem Theater.|
|The Landers Theater, built in 1909, remains today as a symbol of an era and serves as the home for Springfield Little Theater.|
Pearl White went from a ticket seller at the Diemer Theater on Commercial Street to the heroine of "The Perils of Pauline."
|The Weaver Brothers vaudeville team, headed by Frank (standing), Leon and Elvira, were internationally known and headed a troupe of over 100 performers at one time.|
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