Fun Facts & History Celebrating The Nuggets 100th Birthday
Enjoy the Nugget Theaters rowdy history and previous celebrations in this web extra. Happy
100th to the Nugget!
The Rowdy Nugget
Bill Cunningham, the Nugget’s first manager and piano player, was “one of the greatest athletes in the Class of ‘19,” recalled Orton Hicks. “He played for the movies and added quite a lot to it...he knew practically every piece that ever came out and so exactly the right thing to play when the fire engines were coming down the street and all that.” He also was responsible for the peanut throwing tradition, because he had the bright idea of collecting the peanuts thrown at him in the pit and reselling them at later shows.
In 1917, the Nugget hosted a riot when the film Tiger Rose was such a hit with the matinee crowd, they were up on their seats, yelling, and wouldn’t leave the theater, wanting to see the show again. Students showing up for the next show literally broke the doors down, and the police were called out.
With advent of motion pictures with sound, the Nugget raised prices to cover the cost. The Great Depression soon started, however, and the students felt the price was too high at 35 cents. The Improvement Society’s efforts to explain the benefits of the ticket price fell on deaf ears. Editorials and letters to The Dartmouth, the student newspaper, railed against the outrageous price, boycotts were organized, and in 1935, the exterior of the building was defaced.
When the “new Nugget” opened in 1951, it was heralded with a great deal of fanfare, including telegrams from Hollywood movie stars.
The Nugget celebrated its 75th anniversary in September 1991 with a “best films of each decade” series, which included premiering Billy Bathgate, an exhibit of Nugget history, and a special edition of Nugget News Herald.
The Nugget’s 85th Anniversary in Hanover and 50th Anniversary on Main Street were celebrated on October 19, 2001, with a showing of An American in Paris, the Best Film of 1951