Theater attempted to adapt to changes in movie business

In its final days, Jayhawk turned to adults-only films

The Jayhawk had its beginning in 1926 with silent movies and transitioned well when talkies took over the screens in the 1930s. The theater flourished until the advent of drive-in and multiplex theaters. By the 1970s, the Jayhawk was showing R- and X-rated movies to try to keep its doors open.


Here are some of the movies that were projected on the Jayhawk’s screen.


— “Mantrap,” starring Clara Bow, first movie at the Jayhawk, August 1926

— “Flesh and Blood,” starring Lon Chaney, May 1927

— “Monte Cristo,” starring John Gilbert, August 1927

— “The Jazz Singer,” starring Al Jolson, first talkie at Jayhawk, October 1927

— “A Woman of Affairs,” with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., March 1929


— “Sooky,” starring Jackie Cooper, first Sunday matinee at the Jayhawk, January 1932

— “Dracula,” starring Bela Lugosi, May 1932

— “The Prizefighter and the Lady,” starring Myrna Loy and Max Baer, December 1933

— “Captain Blood,” starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Basil Rathbone, May 1936

— “Lloyd’s of London,” starring Tyrone Powers and Freddie Bartholomew, July 1937


— “The Navy Comes Through,” starring Pat O’Brien, George Murphy, Jane Wyatt, Jackie Cooper, Max Baer and Desi Arnaz, January 1943

— “That Uncertain Feeling,” starring Merle Oberon, Melvyn Douglas and Burgess Meredith, May 1945

— “The Great Dictator,” starring Charlie Chaplin, May 1945

— “Jesse James,” with Tyrone Powers and Henry Fonda, and “The Return of Frank James,” starring Gene Tierney and Henry Fonda, October 1946

— “Key Largo,” starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Edward G. Robinson, September 1948


— “Francis Goes to West Point,” starring Donald O’Connor and a “talking” mule, July 1952

— “Them!” starring James Whitmore and Edmund Gwenn, June 1954

— “The Far Country,” starring Jimmy Stewart, February 1955

— “Blood Alley,” starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall, October 1955

— “Rebel Without a Cause,” starring James Dean, November 1955


— “The Mask,” starring Paul Stevens and Claudette Nevins; patrons received a “Magic Mystic Mask” that let them see the movie in 3D, November 1961

— “The Taming of the Shrew,” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, December 1967

— “To Sir With Love,” starring Sidney Poitier, December 1967

— “Thunderball” and “From Russia with Love,” a James Bond double feature starring Sean Connery, November 1968

— “The Jungle Book,” animated Disney feature, November 1968


— “Adios Amigo,” starring Richard Pryor and James Brown, March 1970

— “The Exotic Adventures of Zorro,” starring Douglas Frye, October 1972

— “Around the World with Fanny Hill,” starring Shirley Corrigan, October 1974

— “Dolemite,” Rudy Ray Moore and an “all-girl army of Kung Fu killers,” August 1975

— “Rattlers,” starring Sam Chew Jr. and Elisabeth Chauvet, March 1976

Sources: Topeka Capital-Journal archives; Shawnee County Historical Society publications