Vogue Theatre

151 Maple Street,
Friend, NE 68359

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Functions: Retail

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Vogue Theatre

The Vogue Theatre was a venue that had a 20-year run as Friend, Nebraska’s final movie theatre. It ran from 1940 to 1960 but business was hurt by the advent of television ending its run. The Vogue Theatre’s only operator was C. William “Wally” Johnson.

Johnson had taken on the 1920-opened Family Theatre in December of 1932 in the Gilmore Building. That theatre relaunched on January 3, 1937 as the Plaza Theatre. But on May 2, 1940, the Plaza Theatre was destroyed by fire just hours after the conclusion of it final screening of John Garfield in “Castle on the Hudson".

Johnson would create a new theatre in the same spot with a naming contest. The name selected was the Vogue Theatre which launched on a 20-year lease on November 14, 1940 with Pat O'Brien and Ronald Regan in “Knute Rockne: All American”. O'Brien wrote to Johnson, “Congratulations. Hope ‘Knute Rockne: All American” will help make the opening of the Vogue Theatre a tremendous success.“ It was with the theatre selling out. Mayor Calkins cut a ribbon and Barney Oldfield made the official opening remarks.

The advent of television in the 1950’s was challenging to theatres everywhere and small town theatres, in particular. Because Friend’s population was consistent at just over 1,000 residents, business was light. Johnson closed the Vogue Theatre on January 11, 1956 stating, “With the coming of TV and the lack of patronage, I no longer feel I can continue operation of the Vogue Theatre.

The Chamber of Commerce stepped in and ran a cooperative agreement with Johnson which, together, reopened the Vogue Theatre in October of 1957 on a twice-a-week policy. The theatre limped to the end of its 20-year lease closing for movies in 1960. Johnson also closed the Snooker Inn, the local pool hall he operated. A double whammy! Johnson would turn his attention to his major collection of antique cars which he showed in multiple states.

The last event at the Vogue Theatre was a John Deere trade show screening in 1962. The space was stripped with the floor leveled and given a new front in 1964. The building was then retrofitted for other retail purposes and was home to a pharmacy in the 2020’s.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

robboehm on January 25, 2021 at 2:54 pm

Uploaded a current image as a pharmacy.

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