It was 1928, 65 years ago this year that the first "talkie movie picture" was introduced to the citizens of Lindsay and surrounding district at the Academy Theater.
Hi Meehan, who was in partnership with Bill Roenigk, decided it was time to up-date the Academy to keep up with the times in the movie industry. He approached my father, Art Hooper, who was his projectionist, and asked him to accompany him to various places that had installed sound equipment for the purpose of choosing "the best" for the Academy Theater.
The two of them took off for such places as Belleville, Peterborough, Toronto and elsewhere listening to sound and evaluating up-to-date projection equipment. Finally a decision was reached and the Academy Theater was to be fitted with Strong Low Intensity Arc Lamps, Simplex Film Magazines, and Western (yes Western) Electric Sound Heads, amplifier and back-stage horns, or "speakers" as we call them in this day and age.
General Theater Supply of Toronto was engaged to help in installing the equipment and a gentleman by the name of Jack Sharp was the technician responsible for setting up the equipment and teaching Art Hooper the ins and outs of this newest modern miracle "sound". Sharp was later to become the chief sound engineer at CFRB in Toronto.
Test runs were made and many hours of trial and error passed until finally the big day arrived and the Academy would open with its first sound moving picture - the first one ever produced by Hollywood titled "The Jazz Singer" and starred that lovable Al Jolson. Jolson was well known as a "black face" artist. Well, it was a big night and people came away shaking their heads but feeling that while it was terrific, sound movies would not last.
Some years later the Academy went from the low intensity arc lamp to high intensity when Meehan purchased Peerless Magnarc lamps and the old black carbons were replaced with copper-coated ones. What a difference in the brilliancy on the screen. As the years rolled on Art Hooper had the thrill of running the first Cinemascope picture at the Academy. We wonder how he would feel if he could see the modern equipment of to-day where one projectionist is operating several Cinemas simultaneously.
Eventually the Academy was taken over by the 20th Century Theater chain who had bought out the Kent Theater, and after building the Century on Kent Street, closed the Kent and eventually the Academy theaters. Television had come to the fore and theaters everywhere were forced to close their doors. The Academy's last full-time projectionist was the late Frank O'Leary, a native Lindsay boy.
Yep, that was 65 years ago and the "talkies" that wouldn't last are bigger and greater than ever.