Many nationally-known acts and performers have graced the stage of the Keith-Albee over the years. The Marshall Artists Series was formed in 1936 and moved to the Keith-Albee in 1939, bringing a wide variety of entertainment to Huntington including touring Broadway shows, great American and international orchestras and operas, beloved comedians, and wonderful film festivals.
It is unusual for any theatre not located in the largest cities in America to be the site of a major motion picture’s premiere. Remarkably, Huntington’s Keith-Albee has hosted two major studio motion picture premieres and was even the site of a rare preview premiere of a blockbuster film.
The preview premiere was held for 1988’s Rain Man, a magnificent film which starred Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman portrayed an autistic savant, an interpretation greatly aided by his close association with and study of Huntington resident Joseph Sullivan. The film’s screening was the centerpiece of a benefit for the city’s renowned Autism Services Center, itself housed in the Keith-Albee building. Shortly after the preview premiere, Rain Man was officially unveiled before a second capacity audience---this time at its official premiere in New York. Dustin Hoffman, Barry Levinson, the film’s director and its producer, Mark Johnson, all attended the preview premiere. Later, Mark Johnson accepted the Academy Award for Best Picture for Rain Man while Hoffman was awarded Best Actor and Levinson Best Director in recognition respectively of their work on the film.
In 1969, the world premiere of The Bridge At Remagen, a Warner Brothers film, was held at the Keith-Albee. The film starred George Segal, Ben Gazzara and Robert Vaughn. It was based on a book by the same name which told the story of the effort by American armed forces to destroy a German bridge during World War II. It was written by a former West Virginia U.S. congressman and Secretary of State, Ken Heckler, thus the Huntington connection to the film.
In December 2006, the Keith-Albee hosted the world premiere of the Warner Brothers motion picture We Are Marshall. The well-received film starred Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Mackie and Matthew Fox. It told the story of the loss of Marshall University’s football team, most of its staff and coaches and several local supporters in a horrific 1970 plane crash. The film explored the impact of this devastating loss on the school and its city and recounted the story of the subsequent rebuilding of Marshall’s football program. Much of the film was shot in Huntington and the Keith-Albee itself is a featured backdrop.