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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Historic Preservation & Archaeology > Learn About Topics > Historic Theaters > The Gene Gladson Historic Theater Photo Collection > Gene Gladson - Biography Gene Gladson - Biography

Gene Gladson
Gene Gladson

by Gene's nephew, Bob Gladson.

Gene’s love for entertainment started early on in his life.

While in his early 20’s Gene started probably what was one of the countries first 45rpm subscription services called “Kountry Korner” his record cost an amazing 5 cents.

Gene’s love of country music lead him to create his own record label which was called ACTS “American Country Talent Service” one of his songs and artists did make it to the charts and is still played, its called “Spinner Hubcaps” and was performed by Pat Davis.

I don’t believe there was one moment of Gene’s life that was wasted, his love of photography led him to begin taking pictures of theatres in Indianapolis, then on to each and every county in Indiana which had a theatre, his appetite for the theatre grew into preserving the history which was contained with-in the walls of each of theses theatres he had visited.

Gene’s crusade to save theatres throughout Indiana is more than likely the reasons, there are some left today.

Gene did research on each and every theatre that ever stood in Indiana.

He was a regular on local radio station WIBC, which stated in a newspaper article that whenever Gene was on it was the highest rated time slot for that period.

Callers would call into the station and ask Gene historical facts about the Lyric theatre and of course he either could answer off of the top of his head, or as back up he had cross-referenced books and could tell you what picture was playing on the screen or who was performing on the stage on any date from 1912 till its demise in 1970.

Gene Gladson sharing his book with Indianapolis Mayor, William Hudnut (1976)
Gene Gladson sharing his book with
Indianapolis Mayor, William Hudnut
1976

Gene of course was in the forefront in attempting to keep the city from tearing the theatre and all of its rich history and glamour down.

Gene was a regular in the Indianapolis newspapers during this period doing everything possible to save the Lyric, to the point at times it was comical but serious in nature; something Gene did have was a sense of humor.

Gene’s love for the Lyric, and his efforts were rewarded by the owners of the building, which allowed Gene to have contracts from such performers as Olsen & Johnson, Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Ozzie Nelson, Movie boards and lobby cards from movies, which had played at the theatre, also building permits, labor union contracts and vast amounts of Indianapolis entertainment history was given to Gene for his efforts, up until recently we had in our possession a piece of the interior imported marble wall which adorned the Lyric Theatre.

In 1976 Gene published his first book totally on his own from research to printing of the book he did it all, it was titled Indianapolis Theatres A – Z.

He also had completed what was to be his second book which was titled “Film, Footlights, & Finale, it is the complete history of the Lyric Theatre from its very first days in 1908 till demolition in 1970.

This book has yet to be published but is now in the works, look for it soon.

Gene was a member of the Indiana Historical Society & The Theatre Historical Society of America and attended yearly tours throughout the country visiting theatres in other states.