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News: ShoWest 2004

T.G. “Teddy” Solomon, Chairman of the Board,
Gulf States Theaters, Named "ShoWester of The Year"

Mitch Neuhauser, co-managing director of ShoWest made the announcement in Los Angeles.   “We are also thrilled to honor Teddy Solomon as the 2004 ShoWester of the Year,” Neuhauser said.  “He is one of the true greats in the industry, one who has played an instrumental role in the evolution of it over the years, and most importantly, one who is truly revered by his peers throughout the industry.”

Solomon is a native of McComb, Mississippi, and a graduate of Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge.  His love of theaters began as a child when he worked in the silent movie house built in McComb in 1927 by his father and uncle.

After three and a half years in the Army during World War II,  Solomon returned to Mississippi and went to work with his father.  In 1948 he began to build drive-in theaters and formed Gulf States Theatres.  The company built or bought about 60 drive-ins in eight states from Oklahoma to Florida.  Gulf States Theaters also built indoor theatres primarily in smaller towns.  In 1972, Fuqua Industries of Atlanta bought the Gulf States circuit and in 1975, TG and his children bought the circuit back.  

With the decline of the drive-in theater business and the rise of shopping center theatres, Gulf States phased out all drive-in theaters by 1980 and concentrated on building shopping center theaters in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.  By 1986, the circuit had 235 screens.  Solomon then sold the circuit to United Artists, which at the time was the largest theater circuit in the country.

Solomon and his sons then ventured into real estate and built shopping centers.  In 1996, with the advent of stadium megaplexes, he built the first 20-screen stadium theater in the New Orleans area.  In addition to the Palace 20 in Elmwood, a 16-screen was constructed on the West bank in New Orleans, a 12-screen in the suburb of Metairie, and 10 screens in the nearby cities of Houma and Hammond.  In March of 2003 the five stadium theaters were sold to AMC Entertainment, Inc.

Solomon is a past president of the National Association of Theater Owners, a board member of the Will Rogers Institute, Foundation of Motion Picture Pioneers and has served in various capacities on the local and international level of Variety Club International.  He has also been an active participant in local and regional theater owners associations.  He worked to establish the first Louisiana Film and Video Commission and continues to serve as Chairman of the Commission.  He was honored with induction into the entertainment Hall of Fame for the trade division of the entertainment industry at ShowEast in Orlando, Florida and the New Orleans walk of Fame at the Hilton Hotel.

Solomon has long been active in civic and social endeavors as well as a patron of the Arts.  He was named one of the Ten Outstanding Men of New Orleans in 1974 and in 1996 was named New Orleans “Man of the Year” for his efforts at raising awareness of Crohn’s Disease.

The ShoWester Award honors an individual who has throughout his or her career demonstrated a dedication to the betterment of the exhibition industry and its causes.  Past winners are: Phil Harris, Kurt Hall, Michael Campbell, Raymond and Joseph Syufy, Bruce Corwin, Jerome Forman, Bill Kartozian, George Kerasotes, Barrie Lawson Loeks, Lee Roy Mitchell, Henry Plitt, D. Barry Reardon, Sumner Redstone and Paul Roth.

For more info, visit www.showest.com

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