Karl Hoblitzelle (1879-1967) was born in St. Louis, MO. After completing grammar school he was forced to quit school and start supporting the family. After several jobs he was working for the City of St. Louis and was promoted to secretary and then acting director in charge of demolition of the World's Fair in St. Louis.
Friends alerted him to opportunities in vaudeville circuit in the Southwest. He, his brother and others formed Interstate Amusement Company. He was only to be an investor, but when others showed little business skill Karl assumed control in 1906.
He set up a Vaudeville circuit in Dallas, Ft. Worth, Waco and San Antonio. Hoblitzelle was in charge of censoring vaudeville acts and he took Vaudeville from the saloon to the theatre and created a family environment. He created theatres with air conditioning, polite employees, baby rooms. He gave his employees, with one year service, a share of 10 percent of profits.
Hoblitzelle created atmospheric Movie Palaces in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
He planned to retire by 1929 and sold his interest to RKO, but when the Depression hit the motion pictures went into receivership and he was forced to take the theatres back in order to save the jobs of his former employees.
Hoblitzelle went on to control theatres in Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio and small towns all across Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. In all he had about 250 theatres, including downtown, neighborhood and drive-in theatres. Then television came along and people started to stay home and watch movies in their living rooms.
In the 1950's people started to move to the suburbs and this threatened the downtown theatres.
Karl St. John Hoblitzelle died in 1967 and with his death, his company soon followed.
Part of the material above came from an article on Karl Hoblitzelle in the Handbook of Texas. For a more extensive history please check out its link below as well others.
14 Links to Karl Hoblitzelle:
Handbook of Texas Online, Hoblitzelle, Karl St. John
Hoblitzelle, Cine El Rey
Hoblitzelle, Cinema Houston
Hoblitzelle, Cinema Treasures, Majestic Theatre
Hoblitzelle, Haunted Venues
Hoblitzelle, Io Communications
Hoblitzelle, Majestic Theatre, Dallas
Hoblitzelle, Majestic Theatre, Houston
Hoblitzelle, Majestic Theatre, San Antonio
Hoblitzelle, Paramount Theatre, Austin
Hoblitzelle, Save Our Historic Houston Landmarks
Hoblitzelle, Theatre and Performing Arts