The Sand Pebbles in Buffalo

Boxoffice Magazine, North Central Edition, March 27, 1967:

Guessing Contest, Heart Fund Stunt Balloyhoo The Sand Pebbles in Buffalo

A guessing contest arranged with station WEBR and the Maloney & O’Connor Travel Bureau accentuated promotion for the Buffalo engagement of The Sand Pebbles at the Colvin Theatre.

A replica of a Chinese junk was set up in the travel bureau in the Boulevard Mall, and contestants were asked the number of pebbles the junk contained.

Mr. and Mrs. Harold Klein had the most correct guess, and won a weekend for two at Prudhomme’s, the renowned Canadian resort on Queen Elizabeth Way near St. Catharine’s, Ont., plus $50 in cash. The resort donated the weekend prize in return for the publicity. Nearly 1,000 entries were received. The contest ran two weeks in advance of play date.

The promotional campaign was mapped out by Emily Noah, managing director of the Colvin, with the help of Frank B. Quinlivan, Buffalo district manager for the Dispon circuit, and Gerald M. Westergrem, Dipson’s district advertising and public relations director.

One of their sure-fire arrangements was a tie-in with the Heart fund employees and Miss Queen of Hearts, Kathy Schoenle, carried the campaign throughout the downtown area, accompanied by a rickshaw on the of which was this poster: “Give to the Heart Fund”! For every donation you give, The Sand Pebbles coolie will give a donation. The Sand Pebbles starts Wednesday at the Colvin.” One of the Colvin employees doubled as the coolie in costume and role in the rickshaw. The device collected $700 for the fund and attracted additional patrons to the theatre. Station WYSL helped the rickshaw gimmick along by announcing where it would be located at a particular time.

An ad placed in the Buffalo Evening News also drew attention. It asked, “Anyone who was in China during the era of the “The Sand Pebbles” please contact the Colvin Theater” A number of replies were received. On the day of the picture’s premier in Buffalo, a man who had been in China at the time related his exciting experiences in a two column News interview. Another who answered was interviewed by station WEBR in the lobby of the theatre opening night.

Representatives of the press, radio and television were invited to a Hollywood style first night, red carpet, searchlights and all the window dressing. An honor guard lined up on each side of the carpet and saluted the local personalities on arrival.

A doorman in coolie drew opened the theatre door for all the guests. The Canisius College drill team performed trick maneuvers in front of the Colvin, and St. Joseph’s Collegiate band played in the lobby. Hostesses in Chinese fashions presented patrons with programs and Oriental souvenirs. During intermission fortune cookies were distributed by girls at the refreshment stands. Also on hand to greet theatregoers was a “Miss Sand Pebbles” chosen from a bevy of hometown beauties.

The roto section of the Sunday Courier-Express carried a pictorial review of The Sand Pebbles a week in advance of the opening and a front page in color. On the inside of the magazine was a production story. Buffalo campus and community papers gave the engagement additional publicity. There also was a busy TV and radio campaign, and large newspaper ads.