Grant Smith, 9 July 2003

Bonnie Theatre

94 South Main
Helper, Utah
(1934 - 1955)
Closed
William (John) Littlejohn ran two theaters in Price before moving to Helper to operate the Strand Theatre.  When Littlejohn lost the lease to the Strand Theatre, he built the Bonnie Theater down the street.

The Bonnie Theater was built in 19341, during the depression.  Littlejohn asked the contractor to give a job to Barney De Vietti, who had worked as a projectionist at the Strand Theatre.

De Vietti said that he got the hard jobs.  "Every stick of lumber that went on the roof of that Bonnie Theater I pulled up there.  I'd have to go out and take it off the pile and tie two or three on the rope and pull the darn thing up to the top.  And a big husky guy up on top would just take it off and sit it down.  Boy, that was hard work."2

The projection booth of the Bonnie Theater had a concrete floor, which was necessary to keep the heavy machines from vibrating.  To get the concrete up to the booth, De Vietti and the "big husky guy" pulled a wheel barrel up a board which was inclined from the sidewalk up to the booth.  De Vietti said, "It got toward the end of the day and I couldn't even lift that. I just couldn't.  I couldn't even pick up that handle for nothing."2

Of the finished theater, De Vietti said,  "The Bonnie was was a beautiful theater in its day...  It's just big and really nice, compared to the others."2

The Bonnie Theater was built for vaudeville, with a fly loft for changing scenery.    Vaudeville troops would stop at Helper and Price to earn a little extra money on their way from Salt Lake City to Grand Junction, Colorado.

Vaudeville, or "Bonneville" was De Vietti referred to it, was once a week.  "Bonneville days were really something."2

"Bonneville covered everything actually from soup to nuts, I think any kind of an act that you can think of . . . from an animal act to singing and dancing and the whole works, magicians."2

One time a magician ripped a big hole in the movie screen while doing a spook show.  The magician had some kind of aluminum object which he moved back and forth on a fishing line over the heads of the audience.  With the lights off in the theater, it created quite an eerie effect.  The magician tried to patch the screen, but it didn't work very well.2

Barney De Vietti later returned to the Strand Theatre as manager.  In 1938 he became the manager of the Price Theater.  

John Littlejohn died in a car accident on 17 June 1944 at the age of 69.3  The Bonnie Theater closed after 19554 and by 19782 it had been converted into a bowling alley.


1. Helper Journal, 12 October 1934.
2. "Interview with Barney De Vietti", 25 January 1978, Utah State Historical Society
3. http://www.lofthouse.com/USA/Utah/carbon/history14.html, quoting an obituary in a local newspaper.
4. "Rural 2", movie-theatre.org