Movie highlighted festive first day for Fox

The Fox Theatre’s projection booth in 1929 (credit: Edgar Orr/Fox archives)

The Fox Theatre’s projection booth in 1929 (credit: Edgar Orr/Fox archives)

Q: What was the first movie to play at the Fox Theatre when it opened in 1929?

—Frank Burnette, Decatur

A: There were dancers and comedians, an orchestra and acrobats.

The Mighty Mo was played and “Steamboat Willie” was shown.

Going to the movies took on a whole new meaning for the crowds that packed the Fox Theatre for its grand opening on Dec. 25, 1929.

Yes, Christmas Day.

And John Wayne showed up, although in a small part in a movie called “Salute,” which was shown that day.

Wayne was in a flick about brothers — one at West Point and one at the Naval Academy — that starred George O’Brien and Helen Chandler.

Wayne, who played Midshipman Bill, according to, was in his early 20s when “Salute” was made.

The movie was just a part of an entire day of festivities that included the Fox Grand Orchestra, Japanese acrobats, dance numbers and several other live acts, including Jean & Jeanette, AKA “The Singing Sisters.”

Hal Doby has an extensive history of the Fox on his website (, which includes photos of several ads promoting the historic theater’s grand opening.

Q: Some cities and states have military ships named after them. Have there ever been any ships named for Atlanta or Georgia?

A: There have been several ships named in honor of both Georgia and Atlanta.

Perhaps the most famous was a light cruiser named the USS Atlanta that took part in the Battle of Midway and then in battles off Guadalcanal.

The USS Atlanta was sponsored by Margaret Mitchell and launched on Dec. 24, 1941.

Even though the Atlanta was at Midway, the ship didn’t play much of a role in the battle in June 1942.

That changed a couple of months later.

The Atlanta was assigned to help American forces take Guadalcanal, a Japanese-held island, and on Aug. 24, protected the USS Enterprise — an aircraft carrier — from a force of enemy bombers, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command website (

“… This was the first opportunity the crew has had to actively join the enemy in battle. All hands welcomed the occasion with enthusiasm … ” an officer wrote, according to the website.

On Nov. 12, the Atlanta was part of a group of American ships assigned to stop Japanese ships headed toward the area.

The Atlanta was hit numerous times in the battle and was so badly shot up, it had to be towed.

The damage was too severe. The Atlanta was sunk on Nov. 13.

The ship received a Presidential Unit Citation and five battle stars.