TED GAMBLE: THEATER MAGNATE & KOIN RADIO-TV PRESIDENT

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    Craig_Adams
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    Today February 8, 1906 Theodore Roosevelt “Ted” Gamble was born in Nevada, Missouri to Samantha Adeline “Mannie” (Sadler) & Luther William Gamble. Ted had two older brothers: Leslie (1895) & Charles (1899) and five younger brothers: Ronald “Ron” (1908), Leroy A. “Roy” (1912), Willard E. (1914), Joseph E. “Joe” (1918) & Luther “Lew” (1920). Ted also had five older sisters: Eslie (1894), Jessie (1897), Lenna (1901), Nona aka Oma (1903) & Bonnie (1904), in addition to two younger sisters: Lenora (1910) & Leota (1916). Ted’s father Luther was an artist and inventor.

    In 1918 Ted began selling magazines to help out his school funds. In 1919 he began working nights as an usher at the “Little Star Theater” cleaning seats and other chores. A few months later he was made doorman. On July 3, 1920 Ted’s father Luther William Gamble died at age 58 in Nevada, Missouri.

    By 1923 the Gamble family had moved to Seattle. Ted began working for the Pantages Theater “as information man”, moving to the Ridgemont Theater as Assistant Manager, then supervised construction of the Arabian Theater and became its Manager. Owner, Hugh W. Bruen, built a total of five theaters, making Ted Gamble, General Manager of the chain. Northwest Theater Enterprises (a Universal holding company) purchased the Bruen’s theaters and Ted Gamble continued as its G.M., operating 17 theaters in Oregon & Washington. When Universal sold Northwest Theater Enterprises, they entrusted Gamble with handling the transaction.

    By 1928 Theodore R. Gamble was attending University of Washington. On May 23, 1929 Theodore Roosevelt Gamble, 23, married 24 year old Myrtle M. Wilson. They had met while attending University of Washington.

    On February 24, 1930 the Gamble’s moved to Portland so Ted could manage the RKO Orpheum Theater at: 743 S.W. Broadway. In January 1932 Ted & Myrtle welcomed their first daughter Joan Marie Gamble. On March 26, 1932 Gamble left the Orpheum Theater and began leasing the Railto Theater at: 833 S.W. Broadway, becoming its manager.

    On May 31, 1932 Ted Gamble was named Manager of the Fox-Parker Theaters, which included operation of the Fox Paramount, Fox Broadway, United Artists, Rialto, Fox Hollywood & the Liberty in Astoria. Gamble continued to lease the Rialto. By this time Ted’s brother, Ron Gamble was manager of the Castle Theater in Vancouver, not owned by Ted. By July 1932 The Gamble family was living at 426 N.E. 13th St. By February 1933 Ted was a member of the Portland Rotary Club.

    On November 22, 1933 it was mentioned the “Fairy Tale Parade” (Dec 1st) General Chairman was Ted Gamble. On February 5, 1935 Ted & Myrtle welcomed son Theodore Roosevelt Gamble, Junior. On July 30, 1937 Ted Gamble was elected Chairman of the program committee of the Portland Rose Festival Association. On June 29, 1938 Ted & Myrtle welcomed their second daughter Susan Gale Gamble was born. She would later work in Promotions at KOIN-TV & KRON (TV) San Francisco.

    On September 7, 1939 Ted Gamble was elected President of the Portland Rose Festival Association. By 1940 the Gamble family was living at: 2727 S.W. Upper Drive. By February 1940 Ted Gamble was Executive Vice-President of J.J. Parker Theaters.

    Later in 1940 Gamble left Parker Theaters when he purchased Portland’s Capitol Theater at 626 S.W. 4th Ave. and the Cascadian & Rialto theaters in Hood River. Ted then formed Gamble Enterprises and brother Joseph E. “Joe” Gamble as its General Manager. On December 8, 1940 Ted’s brother Leslie Gamble died at age 45. On May 31, 1941 it was announced Ted R. Gamble had purchased the Bagdad Theater at 3702 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. and named his brother Willard E. Gamble as manager. On July 3, 1941 Ted Gamble became Oregon Defense Savings Administrator, for U.S. Savings Bond drives.

    On December 29, 1941 Theodore Roosevelt Gamble was appointed Special Consultant to the Secretary of The United States Treasury, effective January 1, 1942. Gamble’s pay was two cents a week. Ted left Portland to live in Washington, D.C., supervising the War Bond Field organization in all states. Brothers: Roy, Willard & Ron Gamble managed Ted’s theater business while in D.C. Ron managed The Bagdad. Leroy A. “Roy Gamble was wounded in action in Germany in January 1945. Ronald also left for WWII. Other brothers serving during the war were Luther “Lew” & Joseph E. Gamble. On February 6, 1943 Ted’s sister Jessie Gamble died at age 45.

    On July 2, 1943 Theodore Roosevelt Gamble was appointed National Director of The United States Treasury, War Finance Division. On July 15, 1943 the grand opening of the new 750 seat “Vanport Theater” on North Cottonwood St. in Vanport City was operated by Ted Gamble interests. Willard E. Gamble, his brother, managed the theater with the two Hood River venues. By January 1945 Willard was managing the Capitol Theater. On September 2, 1945 the Empire of Japan surrendered, ending WWII. Ted did a spectacular achievement for his Country, the biggest financing job ever undertaken, raising over $186 Billion dollars.

    By October 1945 Ted’s brother Willard E. Gamble, manager of the Vanport Theater had left, replaced by another brother Charles Gamble who also managed the Rialto Theater in Hood River. On December 4, 1945 it was reported Ted R. Gamble was under consideration for Undersecretary of The U.S. Treasury. Officials doubted he would accept the post. Friends said he might prefer returning to his motion picture business in Portland. On December 15, 1945 Ted was designated as “Portland’s First Citizen” by the Portland Realty board.

    On January 7, 1946 the motion picture industry in New York honored Ted Gamble with a banquet. He was retiring his position and returning to Portland. On January 15, 1946 Ted was elected Portland Chairman of the Municipal Board of Review, Motion Picture Censoring body.

    On January 17, 1946 Ted Gamble in Philadelphia was awarded the Poor Richard club’s 1945 Gold Medal of Achievement for “ably and successfully directing the largest public financing operations in the history of the world.” On May 5, 1946 Gamble was elected Oregon Chairman of the American Cancer Society.

    On September 19, 1946 Theodore Roosevelt Gamble was decorated with the “Medal of Merit” highest civilian award, in recognition of the record Ted achieved directing War Bond Sales. Secretary of the U.S. Treasury John W. Snyder made the presentation in Washington, D.C., representing President Truman.

    On February 1, 1947 building plans were announced for 4 new drive-in theaters. Three in Portland and one in Eugene by Oregon Corporation, a new firm formed by Ted R. Gamble with brother Willard E. Gamble and Albert & William Forman. Plans were for the 82nd Drive-In, Barbur Drive-In, Canyon Drive-In & Eugene Drive-In. Total cost was estimated at $500,000.

    On March 8, 1947 it was announced Mr. & Mrs. Ted R. Gamble had acquired six Monarch Theaters for $1.3 Million. Three in Indianapolis, Ind. including the Lyric & Indiana theaters. Two in Ohio, the Keith-Albee Palace in Akron and the Paramount in Steubenville, plus one in Pennsylvania. The theaters became part of Gamble Enterprises, Inc. which moved its headquarters to New York. Mr. & Mrs. Gamble would continue to live in Portland.

    On May 31, 1947 Ted Gamble who had recently purchased the old Downtown Theater, opened after refurbishing as the Century Theater at 414 S.W. 6th Ave. By June 1947 Ted’s brother Willard E. Gamble was General Manager of Gamble Enterprises. On August 9, 1947 Ted’s brother Charles Gamble died at age 49 of a chronic heart ailment in Seattle. He was manager of the Vanport Theater and previously manager of the Rialto Theater in Hood River for two years.

    On September 30, 1947 it was announced Ted R. Gamble was first President of the newly formed Theater Owners of America, after the merger of the American Theaters Association and the Motion Picture Theater Owners of America. By February 1948 Oregon Corp., had changed its name to Outdoor Theaters, Inc.

    On March 9, 1948 Outdoor Theaters opened the 82nd Street Drive-In Theater at 9600 S.E. 82nd Ave. On June 29, 1948 Outdoor Theaters opened the Salem Drive-In Theater. On May 30, 1948 the Vanport Theater was dramatically destroyed with Vanport City when a section of the dike holding back the Columbia River collapsed. On September 25, 1948 Ted R. Gamble became Chairman of the Theater Owners of America.

    On October 30, 1948 Aladdin Radio & Television Inc. purchased 74% of KLZ AM/FM Denver & KVOR Colorado Springs. Ted Gamble owned 25% of the company. This was the beginning of Ted’s move into broadcasting. Total purchase was $1 Million.

    On January 3, 1949 it was announced Ted Gamble had sold his chain of 11 Oregon theaters for an estimated $1 Million to Mr. & Mrs. Ted Jones of Los Angeles (Western Amusement Co, Inc. & Jones Enterprises). Sold were The Bagdad, Century, Capitol & Circle theaters in Portland; The Baker Theater in Baker; The Rialto & Cascadian theaters in Hood River; The Park Theater in Lebanon; The Egyptian & Noble theaters in Coos Bay & The Liberty Theater in North Bend.

    Also announced on January 3rd Mr. & Mrs. Ted R. Gamble had purchased 29 theaters in Wisconsin from Standard Theater Circuit for an estimated $2 Million. Purchased were the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee; The Bay & Strand theaters in Green Bay; The Raulf Theater in Oshkosh; The Kenosha & Gateway theaters in Kenosha; The Par & Pix theaters in Waukesha; The Geneva Theater in Geneva; The Delavan Theater in Delavan; The Majestic & State theaters in Beloit.

    Ted’s brothers Willard, Ron & Roy would stay in Oregon operating the 82nd St. Drive-In and outdoor theaters in Salem & Eugene. On January 5, 1949 the editorial page of The Oregonian made it clear, they were very happy the Gamble’s would continue living in Portland. “The Gambles have been among the favorite citizens of the community, through remarkable contributions to the local and later the national service.” “Quite a number of persons succeed, but Mr. Gamble has always found time to do as much for his community, his state and his nation as for himself.”

    On April 3, 1951 Ted R. Gamble and brother Joseph E. Gamble purchased 49% of Palm Springs Broadcasting Co., operators of KCMJ Palm Springs, Calif. for $61,500. Joe became President & General Manager.

    On June 14, 1950 Outdoor Theaters opened the Sandy Blvd. Drive-In Theater at 9345 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Billed as the Northwest largest Drive-In, built on a 12 acre tract. By September 1951 Ted Gamble became a partner in Northwest Television & Broadcasting Corp. The group would later seek a construction permit to build on channel 12.

    On April 13, 1952 it was announced Ted R. Gamble & Charles P. Skouras had purchased the Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. plant at 831 N.E. 27th Ave. for $300,000. Ted became President of the Oregon Pepsi Cola Co. On May 4, 1952 it was announced Ted R. Gamble was President of Northwest Television & Broadcasting Corp.

    On July 5, 1952 Ted left Northwest Television & Broadcasting Corp., entering into negotiations to purchase stock in Mt. Hood Radio & Television Broadcasting Corp. operators of KOIN AM/FM who also were seeking a construction permit to build on channel 6. On August 13, 1952, Marshall Field Enterprises sold KJR Seattle to Ted Gamble, Chairman of Mt. Rainier Radio & Television Broadcasting Corp. 87% ownership, for $800,000. By November 1952 Ted R. Gamble was Chairman of Mt. Hood Radio & Television Broadcasting Corp. owners of KOIN AM/FM.

    By September 1953 Ted R. Gamble was President of Mt. Hood Radio & Television Broadcasting Corp. On October 15, 1953 KOIN-TV channel 6 signed on the air. On November 1, 1953 KLZ-TV channel 7 Denver signed on the air. On February 4, 1954 it was announced Ted Gamble was added as a member of the Board of Directors of Transamerica Corp. At the time Ted was also on the boards of First National Bank of Portland & the Columbia River Packers Association, Inc.

    On March 8, 1954 Ted & J. Elroy McCaw owners of Aladdin Radio & Television, Inc. sold KLZ Radio & KLZ-TV Denver for $3.5 Million. On July 2, 1954 Ted’s mother Samantha Adeline “Mannie” Gamble died at age 81 in Seattle. On January 3, 1955 Ted Gamble became Oregon Chairman of the U.S. Savings Bond committee. In January 1955 the Gamble brothers sold KCMJ Palm Springs.

    On February 1, 1955 Gamble Enterprises purchased 30% of Fisher Blend Station, Inc., operators of KOMO Radio & TV Seattle. On July 6, 1955 Ted Gamble sold his ownership in Mt. Rainier Radio & Television Broadcasting Corp., operators of KJR.

    On July 8, 1957 Ted R. Gamble was elected to the Board of Directors of Northwest Airlines, Inc. By September 1957 Ted was on the Board of Directors of “The Portland Beavers” baseball team. In October 1957 Fisher Blend Station, Inc., bought back its 30% ownership from Gamble Enterprises. By November 1957 the Gamble’s were living at: 2720 S.W. Scholls Ferry Rd.

    On April 24, 1958 Transamerica Corp. created a bank division named Firstamerica and Ted Gamble was on the new Board of Directors. On August 14, 1959 Ted Gamble & C. Howard Lane purchased controlling interest in the Astoria Broadcasting Co., operators of KAST in Astoria. Gamble & Lane were officers in Mt. Hood Radio & Television Broadcasting Corp., operators of KOIN AM/FM/TV. On January 21, 1960 Ted Gamble rejoined Transamerica Corp., elected to the Board of Directors.

    In late January 1960 Ted became one of the heads of Hollywood’s newest production units. Shergari Productions would produce CinemaScope & color motion pictures for 20th Century-Fox release. The movie “For The Love of Mike” starred Richard Basehart and was shot in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Shooting began on February 8, 1960. Ted & wife Myrtle were on location for the shooting. The movie was released on 6-22-61. It was mentioned that Gamble was at the time President of the Denver Central City Opera House Association and Director of the National Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.

    On May 18, 1960 Ted Gamble died at age 54 in San Francisco of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. The attack came without warning at 9:30am as Gamble and his party were in their rooms at the St. Francis Hotel. He was rushed to Stanford University Presbyterian Hospital where he passed away at 12:15pm. His son Ted Jr. and daughter Susan were at his bedside. On May 21, 1960 Funeral services were held at Trinity Episcopal Church, 147 N.W. 19th Ave. at 10:30am. Committal services were held at Riverview Cemetery with J.P. Finley & Son in charge.

    Ted was at the height of a distinguished career in business, finance, politics and civic affairs. As National Director of War Finance he left a deep impression of his genius upon the millions of volunteers he guided and inspired. He was one of the few in public and business life who qualified fully for that overworked adjective “dynamic.” He came up very fast in the business world but with all his complex financial interests he put the same drive into the Portland Rose Festival and alike community activities. Ted’s impressive record in business and public service was his direct and engaging personality and unfailing good humor and warmth of character. He made friends instinctively, and friends they remained. He could have gone to the top in political life, but he preferred business and civic enterprise. Oregon’s loss was great, for there was only one Ted Gamble.

    Special Thanks to Joel Miller who helped make this biography more complete.

    References: Billboard Magazine, Broadcasting Yearbook, IMDb, The Oregonian, Television Factbook, Wikipedia.

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