Illustrated Songs

As was the case with all other movie theaters operating in Wilmington at the time, movies made up only half of the program at the Joyland Theater. Between film presentations, a singer would perform a popular song (usually accompanied by a pianist) while 12-18 lantern slides were projected on the screen illustrating the lyrics. The final slide frequently contained the words to the song's chorus, and the audience was invited to join in. These performances were known as illustrated songs, an entertainment that was common in vaudeville theaters for a decade prior to its adoption as a regular program feature in storefront movie theaters.

Illustrated songs served several functions at the Joyland. With only one projector, each film had to be re-wound between screenings. Illustrated songs filled this gap in the film portion of the program. But illustrated songs were not just program fillers, they were also popular attractions in many early movie theaters. Before radio, popular music circulated principally through live performance, and music publishers made their money through the sale of sheet music. Illustrated songs performed in thousands of movie theaters represented an important way of advertising new songs, and some music publishers paid singers to perform their latest songs in big-city movie theaters and provided slides at little or no cost to exhibitors.
(Altman 2001) (Bowser 1990, p.15) (Crafton 1999) (Mooney 2006)

The Joyland rented its illustrated song slides. Ledger entries "Hitchcock for song slides" and "express from B" suggest that one source of song slides shown at the Joyland was a company operated by Walter Hitchcock in Baltimore. An early Baltimore exhibitor and illustrated song singer, Hitchcock became, as Robert Headley puts it, "well known" in Baltimore as a producer and exhibitor of illustrated song slides. Headley's history of film exhibition in Baltimore notes that Hitchcock rented a set of 16-18 slides for 25 cents per night. Additional slides might have been sourced locally. The other name mentioned in conjunction with the song slide entries in the ledger is Satchwell. J.M. Satchwell was manager of the Southern Sign Shop at 13 N. 3rd Street. The four entries for slides between October 8 and December 28 ranged from $1 to $5 (not including express charges). (Robert K. Headley, Motion Picture Exhibition in Baltimore: An Illustrated History and Directory of Theaters, 1895-2004 [Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co., 2006], p. 20).