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War Veteran, Outdoor Cinema Pioneer
por Caleb Mitchell
Jim Maloy of Oak Hill, Texas, has been enamored with the world of outdoor cinema since he was a child. From a part-time job at a drive-in, to military service in WWII, to his career back in the US, outdoor movies have always played an important role in his life. His service to his country and community through the use of outdoor cinema led to the feature article in the Oak Hill Gazette, featured below. He was a pioneer for outdoor movies in the military, and now military bases around the world entertain and inspire troops and their families with movies under the stars.
Jim Maloy was born in 1922 and grew up in Austin. From early adolescence he nurtured a burning interest in cinema and theater projection. He was the kid in middle school whom the teacher asked to run the science-film projector. When the school purchased a fancy new projector system, he was the kid who stayed after school to help the salesman install it (and to pepper the salesman with eager questions). Maloy's interest convinced the salesman to make him a part-time assistant; they traveled a five-day circuit showing outdoor films in small towns that lacked a theater. Maloy was 14 years old.
In high school he worked at the local drive-in movie theater. He hung around the projection booth as much as possible in order to learn the technicalities of the outdoor movie business, but was happy just to be able to watch movies under the stars night after night.
Maloy's progression through the local cinematic ranks was delayed by the outbreak of World War II. Like many men during this time, Maloy volunteered for military service, and in 1942 he was transferred to Fort Warren, Wyoming. When his audio-visual skills were discovered, he was assigned to a regimental theater on base, where he showed training and entertainment films from 7 A.M. until after 8 P.M. After nearly a year, Maloy was promoted to corporal and moved to a more prominent base theater, and soon his duties included working live shows. There, Maloy met Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Ginger Rogers, Phil Silvers, and comedian Edgar Kennedy (one of the original Keystone Cops).
In 1943, Maloy's unit boarded an Atlantic convoy that docked in Casablanca after a nine-day journey. Eventually arriving in Bizerte, Tunisia, without a duty assignment, Maloy sat around for two or three days, but this did not suit his temperament. Across the parade grounds from his barracks he saw a sign that read, "Special Services Section."
Maloy entered this building, introduced himself to the dumbfounded major on duty, and modestly suggested that his skills might be of some use to this unit. The major readily agreed. Maloy got his transfer orders the next day, and soon he was driving a jeep loaded with projectors, a folding screen, a generator, and electrical cable. With this equipment Maloy ran outdoor cinema shows for the troops seven nights a week. His traveling outdoor movies were an important boost of morale for the troops, and it was Maloy's dream assignment.
As the Allied troops marched up Italy's boot in support of the Normandy invasion, Maloy's unit followed close behind. Near the close of the war, he returned to Austin and married (and is still married to) an attractive redhead named Edna. Soon after the war ended, he quickly established himself in projection rooms around town.
The love for cinema that has defined large portions of Maloy's life is obvious. Two major threads run through Maloy's narrative: his service to his country and his love of cinema.
Source: "Film professional recounts six decades behind the projector" by David Bradford -Oak Hill Gazette. Read full article at: http://oakhillgazette.com/default.asp?sourceid=&smenu=87&twindow=Default&mad=No&sdetail=2066&wpage=&skeyword=&sidate=&ccat=&ccatm=&restate=&restatus=&reoption=&retype=&repmin=&repmax=&rebed=&rebath=&subname=&pform=&sc=1846&hn=oakhillgazette&he=.net.