In 1960, an ad in Box Office Magazine led Wade to the Bedner Film Exchange outside of Chicago, where he acquired 16mm television movies, like IN OLD CHICAGO. He bought a DeVry 16mm sound projector and could screen 16mm films which were not available on 35mm.
That year, Wade's parents bought a house in the suburbs and Wade built a projection booth in the basement. He got ahold of two Simplex 35mm carbon arc projectors with Super Panatar Cinemascope lenses from a closed-down theater and installed them in the basement along with a 14' Cinemascope movie screen.
For the next four years, Wade entertained family, friends and neighbors with his screenings. Home theatres were exceptionally rare outside of the homes of celebrities in Hollywood and Wade took pride in the little theatre he had built. It also served as the storage "archive" for his burgeoning collection. By now, Wade had amassed over three hundred feature films, a closet full of movie posters and boxes full of movie trailers and cartoons.
During this time, Wade attended Junior College, worked installing car doors on Chevrolets at the General Motors plant and attended the summer term at the famed Pasadena Playhouse in Burbank, California. He also worked for a time at Calvin Studios in Kansas City, the studio Robert Altman made industrial films for prior to becoming a prominent Hollywood director.
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It was the dawn of the Atomic Age. Russia had the bomb and we were building backyard bomb shelters. Mysterious objects called "flying saucers" were buzzing our skies and a strange, new one-eyed monster called television invaded our living rooms.
Amidst this chaos, in the fall of 1951, nine year-old Wade WIlliams saw a new movie that would change the course of his life forever. The film was called FLIGHT TO MARS and it opened up his mind to new ideas, new frontiers and the promise of a new and exciting future. Young Wade promptly traded-in his Hoppy outfit, Roy Rogers six-shooters and Gene Autry comics for space helmets, rocketships and ray guns.
That year, movies like ROCKETSHIP X-M, DESTINATION MOON, THE THING, THE MAN FROM PLANET X, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE and THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL were big box office hits. Television launched SPACE PATROL and TOM CORBETT-SPACE CADET.
Wade was enthralled with these new adventures and visions of the future.
With the advent of home video still years away, his strong interest in science fiction films required he get a projector and find prints of the movies he loved.
It was during this time away from home that Wade decided what he wanted to do with his life. With his love of movies, he knew he wanted to be in the film business in some way.
After finishing his stint in the military, Wade got to know other film collectors in Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Hollywood. These collectors traded and sold movies among themselves. Wade made many important industry connections both in New York and Hollywood. He was offered many motion pictures both science fiction and other genres.
The following year, Wade co-wrote, produced and directed a 35mm color sci fi feature film entitled, TERROR FROM THE STARS. He organized a group of fledging filmmakers, including Jerry Panza, up-and-coming actors, including Rick Henry and businessmen, including James Dalton, to form his small production company. They raised $25,000 and the movie was shot and completed. Despite their high hopes, the low-budget film failed to find a distributor and still sets in a film vault . This would be Wade's first experience in making movies, but it certainly wouldn't be his last. He had been bitten by the film bug. He'd be back for more.
Wade with his 35mm Holmes Projector
Kansas City's Film Row
Wade with Martin Scorsese at the Ft Lauderdale Film Festival
The Dream Theatre
By the 70s, color had taken over television and film buyers for TV wanted color films, so most of Wade's favorite black and white films disappeared from broadcast stations. Wade decided to locate the owners of many of these films and buy the rights, hoping the new venue of "Cable TV" might need movies to show. He was right. His first cable license was with the USA Network. It was the beginning of THE WADE WILLIAMS COLLECTION.
Many owners of these older black and white "B" movies were anxious to sell them to Wade. Adrian Weiss sold him ROCKETSHIP X-M. Richard Rosenfeld sold him INVADERS FROM MARS. Others, like George Pal, NTA and the estates of Jack Broder and Harry M. Popkin sold their films and libraries to Wade.
Television shows were not left out. Stanley Wolf, of Rockhill Radio sold Wade the rights to TOM CORBETT - SPACE CADET. George Foley sold him the rights to TALES OF TOMORROW and the estate of Mike Moser sold him SPACE PATROL.
Technological advances of the 1970s made the concept of watching movies at home a reality. "Home video" was born. By the 80s, almost every household had a VCR and consumers were buying and renting VHS tapes of their favorite movies in record numbers.
That year, the remake of DETOUR was filmed and completed, with Wade serving as producer and director on the production. The film starred Tom Neal, Jr., playing the same role his father played in the 1945 original. It also brought Susanna Foster, star of the 1943 PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, out of retirement to guest star. The film played the festival circuit and was acclaimed by critics, winning The Golden Palm Award for Outstanding Cinematic Achievement at the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival. Wade was presented the award by his friend and collegue, director Martin Scorsese.
Before DETOUR was released, Wade was approached by a Hollywood production company that wanted to produce their own remake of the film with a major star and director attached. They offered Wade a lucrative deal if he would shelve his version of the film for a period of time. After some consideration, Wade agreed to the deal.
Wade's Mansion on Ward Parkway
Wade made friends with local movie theatre owners and people who worked at the film exchanges on Film Row (a 4 block business district in downtown Kansas City where the theatre owners would pick up the films and posters to screen).
National Screen Service was one of those businesses. They distributed movie posters and 35mm preview trailers for the studios. When the posters and trailers came back from the local theatres, manager Hazel Buell would let Wade buy posters and rummage through the barrels of trailers that were discarded weekly. The studios, likewise, would junk used film prints in a landfill or the river instead of paying the shipping to send them back to Hollywood.
Wade had his pick of these movies. The first feature film he acquired was Edgar G. Ulmer's THE MAN FROM PLANET X, and the first poster was FLIGHT TO MARS.
In 1966, Wade bought a 50-room mansion on prestigious Ward Parkway in Kansas City and converted the grand ballroom into a private 100 seat movie theatre. On Sunday nights, Wade would screen movies for his friends and neighbors, as well as visiting celebrities, such as Martin Scorcese, Frank Capra, Alice Faye, Ann Robinson and many others. He was able to screen many new films before they even played local theatres.
In 1970, Wade got back into the film production business with filmmaker Frank Howard and produced the daring docu-drama, THE HELTER SKELTER MURDERS (aka THE OTHER SIDE OF MADNESS). The film was based on the Charles Manson murder trial. Wade sat in on the trial in Los Angeles and got to interview Manson in jail. He bought the rights to two of Manson's songs and subsequently used in the motion picture. That summer, the film played the Drive-In movie circuits and garnered an excellent write-up on the front page of VARIETY.
Simplex Carbon Arc Projector
In the summer of 1964, with the Vietnam War looming on the horizon, Wade joined the Air Force Reserve and left for basic training in Texas to become a Loadmaster on a C-124 Transport Plane. It was a grueling yet rewarding experience for him.
Wade in the Air Force Reserve
Wade's friend and collegue, Kerry O. Quinn, Editor of the famed sci-fi magazine, STARLOG, was the first to license Wade's science fiction films for the new entertainment medium. Other licenses would follow, including the Englewood Entertainment Collector's Edition videos, making many of Wade's films available to the public for the first time in over three decades.
In 1977, two motion pictures -- STAR WARS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND would not only revitalize the movie industry, but re-start the science fiction craze all over again. Wade had just aquired the rights to ROCKETSHIP X-M and INVADERS FROM MARS and was searching for more intellectual properties to acquire.
In 1980, Harry and Michael Medved's book, THE GOLDEN TURKEY AWARDS comes out and introduces the world to the forgotten films of Ed Wood, and especially PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, which they bequeath the Golden Turkey Award for "The Worst Movie of All-Time." (Wood got the Golden Turkey Award for "The Worst DIrector of All-Time").
The following year, Paramount Pictures hired producer Jeff Stein (famous for The Who film, THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT) to put together a screen comedy using film clips from bad movies featured in the Medved book. The film would be called IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD and starred Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, John Candy and Cheech & Chong. Wade was hired as a consultant and sent to New York to assist in the acquisition of clip rights for the film. It was an opportunity for Wade to acquire the rights to many other films, especially science fiction.
The Film Vault
Englewood's video cover
By 1983, Wade teamed up with Ben and Brian Mossman to open The Fine Arts Theatre in Mission, Kansas. It was the first theatre in the suburbs to offer "art house" fare. The venture was a success and achieved a loyal following of filmgoers who preferred the little theatre over the multiplexes which dominated the area.
About this time, Wade acquired the rights to two popular 50s sci-fi TV series: SPACE PATROL and TOM CORBETT - SPACE CADET. With the rights secured, Wade and the Mossman's decided to produce a feature version of SPACE PATROL with Ann Robinson (WAR OF THE WORLDS) and Robert Clarke (MAN FROM PLANET X). From the beginning, the production was problematic. After being re-worked as a comedy about the alien invasion of a movie theatre (with the SPACE PATROL footage used as the movie at the besieged theatre) the film was released as MIDNIGHT MOVIE MASSACRE and screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
The original Fine Arts Theatre
In 1986, Wade and producer Edward L. Alperson, Jr., made a deal with director Tobe Hooper (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE) to remake the 1953 classic, INVADERS FROM MARS, which Wade and Eddie owned jointly. The remake, starring Karen Black and Timothy Bottoms would proved to be a box-office success. Wade and Eddie served as associate producers. While in Hollywood working on the production, Wade's friend, Tom Cooper, the operator of several revival theatres on the West Coast, suggested Wade remake the 1945 film noir classic, DETOUR. He screened the film for Wade and Wade enthusiastically agreed it had alot of potential and should be remade. Pre-production on the project commenced soon thereafter.
During this time, Wade was approached by Fox producer Kevin Burns to work on and appear in a two-hour A & E BIOGRAPHY special on science fiction films. He also appeared in the A & E BIOGRAPHY: THE MOVIE STAR NEXT DOOR, at the bequest of his friend, legendary film star Alice Faye. It was a very busy time.
Wade Williams has been buying copyrights and intellectual property rights to motion pictures and television shows for four decades. Almost twenty years ago, Wade joined forces with The David Gersh Agency in Beverly Hills, and Mike Gavey of Mass Production in Great Britian, giving his holdings worldwide representation to this day.
THE WADE WILLIAMS COLLECTION is unique and diverse. Every film genre represented, but science fiction, fantasy and horror are the main attractions. Many of the films are available world-wide in all media, theatrical and non-theatrical, as are clips, posters and other ancillary rights.
Wade lives and works "Halfway to Hollywood" in Kansas City. His office is located above his private 100 seat movie theatre, aptly named The Dream Theatre (designed after a small town picture show). Wade's association with the Mossman Brothers also established The Filmworks (a Kansas City-based film/TV sound stage), Englewood Entertainment (a video/dvd distribution company), and The Fine Arts Theatre Group (a chain of first-run "Art House" theatres, which operates three movie theatres and six screens in the greater Kansas City area). In addition, the trio produced a musical version of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE with music by David Smith.
Wade Williams lifelong passion for films is evident. "There is a lot more to do," he muses, "One lifetime is certainly not enough."
In 1992, Rudolph Grey's book, NIGHTMARE OF ECSTASY: THE STORY OF ED WOOD JR. is released to rave reviews. The film rights are secured by Disney as a vehicle for Johnny Depp. Wade was involved in the production and licensed the studio rights to re-create scenes from PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. In 1994, the film ED WOOD is released and wins two Academy Awards.
The Rio Theatre
The Englewood Theatre
The Glenwood Arts Theatre
The Englewood Auditorium