MALEK Theatre

March 1940

Late one Monday night in March of 1940 the couple got a long-distance call from none other than Gilly Wells. He was wondering if they would be interested in a theatre in the town of Independence, 62 miles away, for $40,000. Bob mentioned he would certainly be interested and be over in the morning to look it over. Gilly mentioned if they wanted the theatre they must come yet tonight as the current owner was going to lose the theatre the next morning.

Bob and Dorothy quickly packed a few things, along with their little dog, Brown Boy, and headed over to Independence. When they arrived current owner, Ernie Hagemann gave them a tour of the old opera house known as The Grand Theatre. The Grand Theatre contained two balconies with box seats on each side of the stage, wooden floors, and approximately 500 seats. The $40,000 asking price also included another theatre, The Iowa, up on Main Street where westerns were shown. Without hesitation, Bob decided to make the purchase and the couple along with their dog spent the night in the Gedney Hotel.

Ernie Hagemann, the business owner, ultimately sold The Grand Theatre out from under Ed Boss, the building owner, who had promised the building to Several States Theatres out of Des Monies, IA. And just like that, Bob and Dorothy now owned and operated three movie theatres in Iowa, none of which were paid off. Could they make it work or did they make a huge mistake?