Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Duluth Guards Against Indecency on the Stage

While doing research for a story about historic Duluth theaters I came across these clippings which I thought you might enjoy. Here's the first:

Here's a little more of the text from this story:


Rather to guard against a situation that may arise as the city grows in population than to meet any actual viciousness in the character of its theaters today, the City of Duluth has passed an ordinance designed to prevent the production of indecent theatrical performances. This legislation is due to the efforts of the Women's council representing all the women's clubs. It is framed after a careful study of the ordinances of fifty-three cities, and aims to retain only those features of each which have been found to be of practical use fulness.

The framers feel that their ordinance is the high-water mark in just and effective control of theaters and public entertainments. It affords the public 'moral protection and at the same time safeguards the theatrical interests. In fact, it is felt by some that its ultimate effect will be materially to increase the revenues of the playhouses and motion-picture theaters, as the local theater manager or owner need no longer be subject to the orders of the promoter, a thousand miles away, but can promptly fall back upon the ordinance, and demand, on the unequivocal ground of self-protection, that objectionable features be cut out.

It requires that no "show, exhibition, circus, moving-picture show, public entertainment, public play, amusement, game, or concert, or any theatrical play or performance" whatever shall be presented except under license. It also provides for license fees except for performances for religious or charitable purposes.

* * * 

The second "story" that caught my eye was a 1925 letter to The Herald pleading for a theater in the Lakeside area.

Interesting. That was a year before the first talkies. There was no radio, no television, no cable, no smart phones, no streaming media. How did they manage to survive?

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