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Harry E. Huffman Papers

Identifier: M154


Harry E. Huffman (1883-1969) was an early theater pioneer in Denver, Colorado. He owned the Bluebird Theater, the Aladdin and the Tabor during his career. The collection at the University of Denver includes material from his theater and production interests as well as items associated with his other civic accomplishments.


  • 1920-1969


Biographical / Historical

Harry E. Huffman was born July 13, 1883 in Raton, New Mexico. The family moved to Denver, Colorado in 1892. His father was a physician and wanted Harry to follow that path, so Harry became a licensed pharmacist in 1906. That same year he married Christine Keehn. He opened a drug store on Colfax Avenue. In 1912 during a visit to a local theater he noticed that when people left the theater they went to the corner drug store for a soda. He opened his first theater next to his drug store in 1912, the Bide-A-Wee theater to provide a ready market for the drug store sodas. In 1922, he purchased the Thompson, which is now the Bluebird Theater. In 1926, he built the Aladdin Theater. Huffman ran the theaters until 1937 when he contracted them to Fox-Intermountain Theaters.

In 1949 Huffman formed Aladdin Radio and Television, Inc.. He then bought KLZ radio and obtained a license to provide television. KLZ-TV went on the air in 1953.

Huffman was a director of American National Bank and a founder of the Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau. He was the Bureau's president for 13 years. He was also a member of Rotary International, Denver Country Club and the Mile High Club.

Huffman also build the 13-room mansion at 13 Leetsdale Drive known as Shangri-La, which was built as a duplicate of the monastery in the movie ''Lost Horizons.''

In his later years, he developed glaucoma and was virtually blind. He died July 8, 1969.


3.5 Linear Feet (3 containers)

Scope and Contents

The Harry E. Huffman Papers document his life as a movie theater owner and promoter in Denver. An oversized scrapbook is filled with newspaper clippings documenting his career and showing highlights of his important theaters, including the Bluebird, the Tabor, and the Aladdin. Another scrapbook documents the opening of Stapleton Airport. Correspondence and photos are complemented by the transcripts of oral interviews with Huffman that covered seven cassette tapes. Informational writings in the collection give a glimpse into the production and presentation of movies in the early days of Denver theater.


This collection is unarranged.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Helen Black, August 18, 1977, August 24, 1977.


No further accruals are expected.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428