Dwight "Red' Harkins left his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1931, and set out for Hollywood on a Harley Davidson.
He was determined to seek his fortune in Hollywood by landing a role in the exciting world of talking pictures.
After a brief stop in Flagstaff, he arrived in Tempe, broke but full of dreams. He decided he wanted to open his own "movie house" . It was 1933, the height of the Depression, when Red opened the first Harkins Theatre, The State Theatre in Tempe. He was just 18 years old.
In 1940, at age 25, Red built his dream movie house, the College Theatre, known today as the Valley Art Theater in Tempe. The College Theater was full of fantastic new innovations like glow-in-the-dark carpeting, headphones for the hearing impaired and electronically controlled drinking fountains. It set a new standard for theatres and established a Harkins' tradition of employing the latest technology to constantly improve the movie-going experience.
In the 1950's, he helped revolutionize the broadcast industry by inventing FM multiplex radio and launching the first radio station to transmit mutitrack sound. Later, he pioneered the Valley's second television station, Channel 12.
When he passed away in 1974, the family theatre business was left in the hands of his eldest son Dan.
Under Dan's management, the Harkins Theaters have grown from Red's little State Street theater to over 23 theaters with over 250 screens today. The largest privately owned Theater chain in the country. "Red" would be pleased...