King Opera House

427 Main Street,
Van Buren, AR 72956

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 3, 2018 at 5:02 pm

The remodeled and renamed Bob Burns Theatre opened in 1937, as noted in this item from The Film Daily of July 3:

“Bob Burns Theater Opens In Arkansas

“Van Buren, Ark. — The new 615-seat Bob Burns Theater here opened with the current Bob Burns picture, ‘Mountain Music.’ M. A. Lightman, president; and M. S. McCord, secretary-treasurer of Malco Theaters, Inc., were present. Exterior of the building is in white with a marquee indirect lighting sign in front. The name ‘Bob Burns’ and a large ‘bazooka’ are in neon. Harry Vise is manager.”

DavidZornig on January 11, 2017 at 7:13 pm

1949 photo added courtesy of the AmeriCar The Beautiful Facebook page.

CSWalczak on October 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm

An interior view can be seen here.

fkrock on September 10, 2010 at 12:58 pm

The theater had been remodeled outside probably in the 1930’s to look like a typical small theater of the times. It had a large marquee and a large vertical neon sign. I was never inside so I don’t know what may have been done to modernize it.

It was named for Bob Burns, a Van Buren native son, who had a national reputation as a comedian. He invented the bazooka, a musical instrument that gave its name to the weapon. He used Van Buren in his comedy routines unlike many performers who used fictional town names. Today Van Buren is doing its best to forget Bob Burns.

Malco ran it as a second-run A movie theater. I seem to remember that it did show double features occasionally.

All signs of the Bob Burns theater have been removed. It has been restored to what apparently was its original configuration. It is used for occasionaly live performances.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 10, 2010 at 6:18 am

This theater was listed in the 1901 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide as the Van Buren Opera House. A web site listing supposedly haunted buildings in Arkansas gives 1901 as the year the theater was built, but it doesn’t name a source for the information.

kencmcintyre on February 26, 2008 at 9:19 pm

It was the Bob Burns Theater in 1963, when it was part of the Malco Theater chain.