Burlesque at the Town Theatre | Omaha, NE

The Town's

Early Beginnings - The Moon Theatre

(The Moon Theatre, 1920. Omaha, NE)


The World Realty Company opened the Moon Theatre in September of 1919. It resided on Douglas Street between 14th and 15th Streets. The Sun Theatre was owned by the same firm and considered the Moon's 'sister theatre.' (Morning World Herald, August 1919) A new burlesk policy was enacted at the Moon Theatre in the Winter of 1929, under the operation of Clamage and Rothstein Stock Company. (Omaha World Herald, November 1929)

(Moon Theatre Advertisement. September 1, 1929)
(Advertisement for the Moon, the Sun, and the Muse Theatres. 1919)

The Town Theatre | 1410 Douglas St, Omaha, NE

From left to right: The Clover Leaf Club. Burlington Trailways Bus Station. The Town Theatre. (1937. Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Archives.)

The Goldberg Corporation took over the Moon and renamed it the Town Theatre in 1932. It reopened on April 16, 1933 as the Town. $25,000 was spent on the new neon sign display in the front of the theater. It opened at 1410 Douglas Street. It wasn't until the 1940s that burlesque shows became a regular feature at the Town, with their popularity peaking during the 1950s.

(Omaha Morning World Herald. Advertisement for Town Theater. Oct. 28, 1945)
This ad in the newspaper announced the Town's decision to bring back road show stage plays to Omaha. These shows were to be at the theater for one week or longer. At the time, they spent $87,000 to refurbish and redecorate the theater. The new policy began on November 3, 1945 with the production “Maid in the Ozarks.” (Omaha Morning World Herald, October 28, 1945)

Throughout the 40s and 50s, the Town saw many burlesque stars grace it's stage--either in person or on screen. Lili St. Cyr has a movie called “Love Moods” where her striptease act was shown at the Town theater, excluding some features. Another burlesque striptease movie that was featured was Tempest Storm in “Burlesque Tid Bits”. Lastly, “Figleaf for Eve” starring Jan Wiley, was the third movie shown. (Omaha Morning World Herald, April 14, 1952)
(Evening World Herald. Town Theatre Advertisement. December 19, 1957)

1930s Show Advertisements:

 (Omaha World Herald. Advertisement for Town Theater. September 22, 1933)

  • “Gold Diggers of 1933” The Super show of the century! Still playing to packed houses! Don’t take a chance by waiting! 13 great stars! 300 beautiful girls! 5 song hits! Positively not: This picture will not be shown anywhere in Omaha with coupons. (Omaha World Herald, September 22, 1933)
  • "Back to Nature" The Story of this Nude World. Something Nude Under the Sun. First Time on the Screen. Plus first Run Feature--Arlene Judge and Preston Foster in "Sensation Hunters." 25c Any Seat. 25c Any Time. 1410 Douglas St. (Omaha Morning Bee News. January 8, 1934)


    (Omaha Morning World Herald. November 10, 1944)
    • “The Starlight Follies” Gorgeous Girls, swing music, star acts; Cast of 25 on stage at 8:30 and 11:30. See stage show and 4 featured films. (Evening World Herald. June 6, 1942)
    • On Stage at 8:30 and 11:30—6 Acts in person—William Morgan, Jean Drew, Tom Griffith, 4 Tons, Victory Girls. On Screen—“Isle of Missing Men,” “Gentleman from Dixie,” Corpse Vanishes” and “Land of the Open Range.” (Evening World Herald. December 12, 1942)
    • “Barn Dance Frolic” on Stage. ON Screen after 8:30 stage show- “Murder in the Big House” and “Steel Against the Sky.” After 11:30 stage show is “Bombay Clipper.” New Show Every Week. Extra! In Person! Larry Luke Stage and Night Club Star. (Evening World Herald. April 17, 1943)
    • “Strip Tease Girls - Lure of the Islands” New Year’s Eve midnight Show! (Evening World Herald. December 29, 1943)
    • Bill Boyd in the “Colt Comrades” and “Sarong Girl” with Ann Corio (Morning World Herald. January 2, 1944)
    • Ann Corio in “Call of the Jungle” plus 2 additional features (Morning World Herald, November 10, 1944.)
    • Richard Dix in “Tombstone”; Richard Arlen & Jean Parker in “Torpedo Boat” plus “The Devil with Hitler.” Midnight show tonight - come as late as 8:45pm and see 4 complete shows. See a stage show New Years Eve! On Stage “Spices of 1945” - cast of 40, mostly girls, Seats now on sale. On Sunday - on stage in person “Heads Up, America”; original roadshow (Morning World Herald, December 23, 1944)

    Josephine Baker at the Town Theatre

    In February 1952, the infamous burlesque dancer, Josephine Baker, graced the Town Theatre's stage. She performed in her show called, "The Flame of Paris." On the screen was Bela Lugosi in "Voodoo Man." This was her first time performing in Omaha.

    (Evening World Herald. Advertisement for Town Theatre. Feb. 15, 1952)
    (Morning World Herald. Feb. 17, 1952)
    (Morning World Herald. Feb. 17, 1952)

    1950s Show Advertisements:

    (Omaha World Herald. Town Theater Advertisement. November 30, 1956)

    • Zorita, ‘The Body Beautiful,’ “I Married a Savage.” The Strange thrill story of a savage love… 2nd big attraction: South of Death Valley plus “Let Down Your Aerial”(Evening World Herald, March 29, 1950)
    • “Striptease Murder Case” Town theater adults only - Giant Midnight Show Saturday Night - 1st time in Omaha; burlesque’s biggest beauties in a new and daring battle of striptease! 2nd feature: A City without a Soul! “Sintown” with Constance Bennet and Andy Devine. (Omaha Evening World Herald. July 25, 1950)
    • “Zorine” in person on stage and “Ingagi”—Hollywood’s Famous Gorilla. On the screen: 3 big features now at the Town Theatre! See the Most sensational act in show business! “The Savage Girl of the Forest—Zorine.” (Morning World Herald. October 27, 1951)
    • 3 Uncut girlie shows: Lili St. Cyr in “Love Moods”, featuring her celebrated Bubble Bath”; A Riot of Mirth and Melody! “Burlesque Tid-Bits” and “Fig Leaf for Eve” (Evening World Herald, April 24, 1952)
    • “Hurly Burly” at the Town - Burlesque As You Like It - Georgia Sothern and Joey Faye, Chrystal Ames, Benny Moore, Mandy Kate, Joya Sherrill. On the screen “Why Husbands Leave Home” and “Girl Grief.” (Evening World Herald, Oct. 24, 1952)
    • Jungela, the exotic dancer, performs with Ingagi on the Town stage. (Photograph. Morning World Herald. October 28, 1952)
    • Town theater - Burlesque as you like it- “Hurly Burly”; Clowning, dancing, teasing… (Evening World Herald, October 28, 1952)
    • "Striporama" with Lili St. Cyr, Georgia Sothern, Rosita Royce. See the world's greatest burlesque show! (Evening World Herald, April 9, 1954)
    • Lili St. Cyr in “Love Moods”; Tempest Storm in “Burlesque Tid-Bits”, and “Fig Leaf for Eve.” (Evening World Herald, April 16, 1952)
    (Evening World Herald. Town Theater Advertisement. April 16, 1952)
    • “Side Streets of Hollywood”, “Sinful Souls”, ”Burlesque! Parisian Nights”, and “Old Overland Trail.” 4 first run units! Adults Only! Look- 3D chorus girl postcards available in lobby for 15c. Startling Scenes of gorgeous gals, exotic dancers in 3rd Dimension. “Side Streets of Hollywood”- Scenes in Third Dimension—Gorgeous girls reach right off the screen to you! It’s sensational and daring! The Amazing Adventures of a beautiful blond who “Went Wild Out West.” “Sinful Souls”—Thrill seeking daughters leading a life of sin! Swing-mad youth traveling the road to destruction! “Burlesque! Parisian Nights”—Teasin’…Tantalizin’…Terrific..Burlesque! Famous burlesque queens. 4th Unit—Rex Allen in “Old Overland Trail.” Extra! Color Cartoon. (Evening World Herald. May 29, 1953)
    (Omaha World Herald. Advertisement for Town Theatre. May 3, 1956)
    • “Marihuana” Late Owl Show Saturday at 11:30PM—Free! To every patron attending our owl show, a Marilyn Monroe calendar. Daring drug expose—A Puff of Smoke Changed Their Lives! “Marihuana” Weird Orgies! Wild Parties! Hate! Crime! Despair! “Battle of the Burlesque Queens” A Laff-fest of Girly Gayety… Their’s Bounce in Every Ounce! You’ll blush..but you’ll love it! “Forbidden Desires”—A Lesson in Morals! The picture that reveals America’s most vital problems. A Daring Adult ONLY Program. Extra! Color Cartoon. (Morning World Herald. June 5, 1953)
    • "Merry Maids of the Gayway"— Billy Reed and dozens of delicious dancing dolls! (1954)
    • “Merry Maids of the Galway.” Burlesque at its best! Top burlesque short. Cocktails at Sloppy Joe’s. 2nd feature: Genghis Kahn. First run- Rex Allen in “Red River Shore." (Omaha Evening World Herald, Feb. 3, 1954)
    (Omaha World Herald. March 6, 1955)
    • Burlesk at its best! A tuneful revue featuring America’s “First Lady of Strip” in gorgeous color. The Incomparable Lili St. Cyr in “Her Wedding Night”; 1955 Anatomy Award Winner. Who’s the ringer? World’s Most baffling mystery! “The Ringer” packed with action and revenge! The blackmailer and the Unscrupulous; lawyer.. double-cross all; Packs more punch than Rocky Graziano. (Omaha World Herald, April 10, 1955)
    • “Arson Squad” All New! First Time in Omaha! Burlesque: Hollywood Peepshow; plus Teenage Vandalism! Added fun! Burlesque “Satan and the Maiden.” Plus Thrill! John Wayne in “Pals in the Saddle” Extra! Color cartoon. (Evening World Herald, Jan. 4, 1956)
    (Omaha Morning World Herald. June 5, 1953)
    • Lili St. Cyr in “Lili’s Wedding Night” - smartly sophisticated tuneful revue with the nations greatest burlesque stars. Burlesque in Gorgeous Color - America’s most glamorous burlesque star… Plus! More Burlesque! Oh, mi gosh! Plus Tropical Love in the South Sea Islands- Jane Greer, Mitzi Gaynor, and Gloria DeHaven in “Down Among the Sheltering Palms.” Plus! Hop-a-long Cassidy in “The Fighting Texan." Free! To the first 1000- Art Studies of Marilyn Monroe; thousands sold for $1 each. (Omaha World Herald, March 10, 1956)
    • First time in color; The 3 most exotic stars in one big… burlesque show; Lili St. Cyr, Georgia Sothern, and Rosita Royce in “Striporama” with Betty Page and Jack Diamond. Plus Mr. and Mrs America and the Venus Beauties. Youth on a rampage! He who dancers.. must play the piper! “The Temptress” Reckless Youth.. and the price it must pay to learn right from wrong! Extra in color! Lili St. Cyr in “Cinderella Love Lesson.” Plus.. mighty western! Thousands of Screaming Savages! “New Mexico” in gorgeous color with Lew Ayres and Marilyn Maxwell. (Omaha World Herald. May 6, 1956.)
    • Burlesque on the wide-wide-wide screen, for the first time in Omaha, old-fashioned French Burlesque in “French Casino Follies”; Big 4 Unit Show. Plus “Zorina” Queen of the Nudists. A Riot of Fun! “Farmer’s Daughter”. Rock Hudson, Donna Reed in “Gun Fury.” Extra color cartoon. (Omaha World Herald, November 30, 1956)
    • New show today! All new Shows Sun., Wed., Fri.; 90 minutes of Burlesque. Also “Gambler from Natchez." (Omaha World Herald, November 22, 1957)
    • Burlesque: All New Shows Sun., Wed., Fri.—90 Minutes of Burlesque. Also.. “Outlaw’s Daughter” Now at the Town Theatre! (Evening World Herald. December 19, 1957)

    Burlesque Cancelled at the Town

    Burlesque is eventually barred from the Town Theater when it comes under new management. The Town was acquired with 7 other theaters in Omaha and Council Bluffs by the Cooper Foundation of Lincoln. The new policy was announced in March 1958. On October 23, 1958 the Town reopens as the Cooper Theater. It shows Todd-AO Cinerama and Cinemiracle pictures. (Evening World Herald, August 6, 1958)

    (Omaha World Herald. March 22, 1958)
    This shift in policy may seem abrupt, but it denotes a wider increase in the censorship and banning of 'indecency' and 'lewd' acts or materials seen in the public sphere. Don't worry though, another theater picks up where the Town Theater left off.
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