Star's Name in Lights Again at Tropic Cinema

Jan 14, 2010, 16:02 ET from Tropic Cinema

KEY WEST, Fla., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sixty years after her face appeared on the cover of Life magazine and a brief, busy Hollywood career, Peggy Dow's name is in lights again.  Not advertising a movie this time -- she made ten for Universal-International Studios in the fifties -- but on a movie theater named in her honor in Key West, Florida.

The Tropic Cinema, South Florida's only nonprofit, independent film multiplex is celebrating the star's bright moment in cinema this weekend with a grand opening gala of an intimate, state-of-the-art screening room called the Peggy Dow Theater.

The popular downtown cinema with the glamorous curves and neon of a thirties Deco movie palace is also a cultural and community focal point for Key West, hosting events from political debates to concerts to college classes.  Florida Monthly magazine recently named the Tropic "Florida's Best Cinema."

On Friday, Peggy Dow herself will officially launch the new auditorium with a cocktail reception benefiting the cinema, an on-stage conversation with film critic Shirrel Rhoades, and a screening of her most famous film Harvey costarring James Stewart.  As the only surviving cast member of Harvey, Dow promises to share her most candid recollections of the film.  "They're all wonderful memories," says the handsome octogenarian, "I had more fun making Harvey than any other movie."

Peggy Dow (now Helmerich) will be accompanied by her husband, Walter Helmerich of Tulsa, Oklahoma, her five sons and many of her grandchildren.  One son, Matthew, is the executive director of the Tropic.

Peggy points to her husband of 58 years as the explanation for her abbreviated career.  The two met at an opening night party for Carol Channing in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at New York's St. Regis Hotel.  Dow was filming on location in the city.  Walter called it love at first sight; but Peggy demurs.  "It took a little longer than that," she smiles.  In her honor, The Helmerich Foundation gave major funding for the new Peggy Dow Theater

"She was a wonderful actor and a real beauty – still is," said Matthew Helmerich.  "People will enjoy her movies for a long time – and now Key West gets to enjoy movies in her namesake theater for a long time, too.

Contact:  Matthew Helmerich, Executive Director; 305-923-9259,,

SOURCE Tropic Cinema