The Burford Theatre has been the host of several major picture movie premieres in the past. The following story is from Foss Farrar’s paper, The Theatres of Arkansas City.
Actress Janis Carter, who starred in the movie “Santa Fe,” visited Arkansas City on April 27, 1951, for the movie’s Ark City premiere at the Burford. Her appearance coincided with the grand opening of the newly built Santa Fe train depot just east of D Street between Fifth and Central Avenues. The visit was covered by Boxoffice Magazine as well as by the Traveler, which ran a front-page photo and story on the event.
“‘Santa Fe,’” a Columbia production, was given its premiere in Arkansas City, a town of 14,000 population, and was tied into the grand opening of the new Santa Fe station in that community,” Boxoffice reported. “It was a big day in the history of the town — a new station to dedicate and its first motion picture premiere. The event had been widely publicized on the front page of the local newspaper for some weeks, and two Associated Press stories went out to papers in the Kansas territory.”
The Traveler reported that Miss Carter was a guest of the Arkansas City Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon. Afterwards, she was introduced from the Burford stage by Bill Welton, manager. Then she talked for a short time about the filming of “Santa Fe.” She said it took place at Prescott, Arizona. “And that perspiration you see on my forehead in the picture is not make-up,” she was quoted as saying. “It was 113 degrees out there when we made this picture last July.”
The audience at Miss Carter’s appearance was dominated by teenagers, many of whom brought cameras or autograph books, the Traveler reported. “Members of Miss Carter’s party were besieged by fans asking them to ‘please have Miss Carter sign this.’ The books and scraps of paper were taken backstage where the actress provided the autographs.”
Santa Fe will be shown on the big screen at the Burford soon. We are just waiting on direction on when we can open. The plot of the move is as follows — “In the years following the Civil War, Britt Canfield, one of four ex-Confederate brothers, heads west for a new life. Britt accepts a job with the Santa Fe Railroad, whilst his three brothers find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Britt is eventually obliged to bring his brothers to justice, but the real man behind their criminal activities is gambling boss Cole Sanders.” Be watching for the showing of Santa Fe on our website and facebook and come experience what audiences felt at the premiere in 1951.