Rogers Cinema marks 50 years: Out of the service and back in
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield’s Adler family was a part of show business long before Hollywood became a mega center of movie production.
While fate positioned J.P. Adler to become a successful showman, it was his vision and persistence that helped him thrive. While building one of Wisconsin’s largest independent theater chains, J.P. struggled with the heavy hand of production companies, as well as multiple obstacles.
After his death, the company was taken over by J.P.’s daughters, Bette and Anne, and Bette returned home to run the Adler Theater Company.
George Edward Moyle, a manager hired by her father, J.P., assisted in the operations of the Adler properties; that is, until a young man took an important place in Bette’s business as well as her heart.
“The first time I met him, he was on his hands and knees,” said Bette in a 2015 interview
Paul Rogers at that time was the manager of a youth center that was housed in the old Adler Opera House. The pair formed a close and solid relationship that would last until Bette’s death in August of 2016.
Rogers had been employed with the theater company in his youth, before going into the service.
“I returned (to Marshfield) in December of 1969. I stopped in to see Bette. I thought, ‘oh, I will take a little time.’ I had been out of the country for over two years, when I was in the embassy in Rangoon. I stopped in, and she talked me into work four days later. I never left then. Out of the service and back into service, you could say,” Rogers recalled.
“She immediately made me assistant manager, and by March she decided I was ready to take it over. So, in March of 1970 I actually became the manager.”
But Bette’s vision for Rogers didn’t stop at management, she saw a work ethic in Rogers that might carry over into a successful transition of the theater business.
“I knew that the two sisters wanted to get rid of the theaters; they were just done, you know? They got it in 1959 when their dad died…,” Rogers recalled.
When the sisters approached Rogers about buying the business, Rogers had the full support of both his parents and the Adler family, but the financing element of the sale would come a little harder.
“It was not easy; every bank in Marshfield turned me down,” Rogers recalled.
Continued next week