Many a McPherson youth in the 1950s would spend Saturdays at the Mac Theater matinees. The cost was as little as a quarter.
One recurrent memory among these now senior adults is a large poster of a cowboy and his horse tacked above the ticket booth that was prominently displayed as one exited the theater. A hunt has been on to retrieve that poster.
Somehow Larry Buryanek, who was one of the Mac Theater projectionists, took the poster. Larry died in the 2017 and the poster was later found hidden in his basement. Previous attempts had been made to purchase the poster, but Buryanek wouldn’t sell it.
During Buryanek’s estate sale, the poster was found and McPherson Opera House docents Richard and Janet Monson received the poster from a relative. The Monsons had heard the stories about the poster and Janet had even asked Buryanek if she could buy it as well. Larry had always said he would get it to the Opera House later — later has now arrived.
Looking at the poster, it was difficult to determine who the cowboy was.
Dean Elliott came to the rescue as he knew it was Eddie Dean. Of course, having the name ‘Dean’ had a certain attraction for a young boy. Dean Elliot even has a napkin signed by the star.
“I knew Eddie Dean’s sister, Georgia, my whole life. She and her husband lived in Texas and were lifelong friends of my dad and his parents,” says Dean Elliott. “On a trip visiting her brother in Hollywood, Georgia told Eddie that she knew a loyal fan of his and that I was about to have a birthday. They were out dining, so he wrote me a birthday note on a napkin. I think I was 5-years-old at the time.”
Eddie Dean (July 9, 1907 – March 4, 1999) was an American western singer and actor whom Roy Rogers and Gene Autry termed the best cowboy singer of all time. Dean was best known for “I Dreamed of a Hill-Billy Heaven” which became an even greater hit for Tex Ritter in 1961.
He was born Edgar Dean Glosup in the rural community of Posey in Hopkins County, Texas. His father encouraged Dean to launch a professional singing career. He moved to Chicago and performed on WLS Radio’s National Barn Dance.
He appeared in his first film in 1934 and numerous roles followed.
To this day, Eddie Dean’s movies are occasionally aired on the Western Channel.
“If I notice an Eddie Dean movie is being shown, I always watch. It brings back great memories of my granddad taking me to the Mac Theatre on Friday evenings, and of Georgia, her husband, and my grandparents in Texas," Dean Elliot said.
The name of the horse pictured on the poster is unknown as Eddie Dean had four horses—War Paint, Flash, White Cloud, and Copper. Dean would later comment in an interview that he kept changing so he would never be upstaged by his horse.
The poster and a plaque that tells this story hang in the McPherson Opera House lobby on the brick wall across from the main office. The McPherson Opera House lobby is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., for anyone who would like to stop in to see this piece of Mac Theatre history.