At first, the movies were “silent,” and area musicians were hired to play the piano to provide background music.
One of the movies playing at the Broadway Theatre in the mid 1940’s was Hollywood’s tribute to early 20th century Broadway stars, Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth: Shine On Harvest Moon. Over the years, the bright, autumn moon has inspired many romantic songs and stories, but the song Shine On Harvest Moon composed by Bayes and Norworth, is probably the most popular. The story of their life together is as romantic as the song they co-wrote. It is reported that when the pair performed on stage at any theatre, the lights out front proclaimed this message: “Nora Bayes, assisted and admired by Jack Norworth.” Nora and Jack recorded their song for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York in 1910, but due to technical problems, the record was never released. For unknown reasons, they did not re-record the song.
Jack Norworth wrote another popular song. In fact, it is second only to the National Anthem in fame: Take Me Out To The Ballgame.
Shine On Harvest Moon stars Ann Sheridan, Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson.
Another movie especially enjoyed by younger children was Francis The Talking Mule. Even before Mr. Ed was holding conversations with Wilbur, Francis was enjoying races, talking his way behind enemy lines, and even stopping saboteurs at a nuclear plant. Francis also helped solve murders, caught forgers, and took to the high seas with the United States Navy.
The films were based on a popular book about a military man who meets a mule who can talk. Arthur Lubin, the producer, of the movies later went on to create the Mister Ed TV series. In 1950, Francis was the very first recipient of the American Humane Association Annual Patsy Award. He won first place. The award was given to the animals shown in motion pictures for an outstanding performance
Francis did 7 movies from 1949 to 1956. Donald O’Connor starred as main character Peter Sterling. Actor Chill Wills was the voice of Francis.
Information from the book “Regards to Broadway: The Story of an American Town (Cullers and Lilliendahl)