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Yesterday in La Crosse

Hooray for the Hollywood! It opened 83 years ago

Brad Williams



In 1936, La Crosse’s Hollywood Theater at 5th and Jay opened its doors, charging 25 cents for matinees and 35 cents at night. The building had nearly a thousand seats, featuring air-cushioned chairs ‘with room to spare.’ The theater received congratulations from several stars including Jack Benny, Gary Cooper, and Shirley Temple. Wisconsin native Fred MacMurray posed for a publicity photo, sitting in a movie studio and reading the La Crosse Tribune.

For the Hollywood’s grand opening, Paramount sent actress Mary Carlisle to La Crosse. Carlisle was a young blonde who had appeared in the Oscar-winning ‘Grand Hotel.’ During her brief visit to town, she got a huge cardboard key to the city from the mayor, and met with kids at St. Michael’s orphanage.

At holiday time, local business owners announced that the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, who had starred in a Disney cartoon, would be featured characters in La Crosse’s downtown Christmas parade. Huffing and puffing and shopping in 1936, yesterday in La Crosse.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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