Gayoso Theatre

1205 Walnut Street,
Kansas City, MO 64106

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Crystal Theatre, Pearl Theatre, Rialto Theatre, New Rialto Theatre

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The venue at 1205 Grand Avenue was home several silent-era movie theatre names. The first was the Crystal Theatre. It was created by A.M. Robertson in an existing 19th Century retail/wholesale building that had most recently housed a grocery store. Opening in 1907, the Crystal Theatre mixed movies and live stage shows. It was among the first places to see World Series baseball highlights of 1911. The fiercely independent operation of the Crystal Theatre resulted in some flouting of the law. One such example was the restoring of scenes from “The Shadow of Sin” - frames of film that were banned by the Censor of the Board of Public Welfare. The film was confiscated but the court later dismissed the charge.

As the Pearl Theatre under the watchful eye of owner Mrs. M.E. Moore, a member of the union musicians picketed in front of the theatre. This was not too surprising since the high profile Jenkins Music Company was a near neighbor likely drawing interest and ire from the music industry. Moore explained to the picketer that she had an automated player piano and needed no musicians. He would not leave and she attacked the protestor with her hatpin. Taken to court, she managed to escape the long arm of the law with the judge giving her a warning that in the future that Mrs. Moore “can’t use hatpins on pickets".

On July 19, 1916, new operator Mr. C.O. Moore renamed the theatre as the Rialto Theatre with the Robert Warwick film, “Human Driftwood". After improvements under new operators, the theatre was named the New Rialto Theatre on October 28, 1916. The Rialto Theatre exited on December 13, 1917 with Agnes Vernon in “Fear Not”.

The final name of the theatre was the Gayoso Theatre. It began business with D.W. Griffith’s “Her Condoned Sin” on December 16, 1917. The theatre had its longest run - just over 11 years - as the Gayoso Theatre. It was in the hands of the World in Motion Theater operation for a period of its existence. To compete with the larger circuits who had superior and larger theatres, the 500-seat Gayoso Theatre had absurdly long hours opening each day at 10am and ending continuous shows until 5am.

To get around union projectionist rules and lower costs, non-union projectionists were used. In 1928, a union activist gunned down a non-union Gayoso Thetare projectionist on the street near the theatre. The theatre closed in 1929 without converting to sound with the building repurposed for other activities.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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