“Life’s like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.” – Jim Hanson
The Rex Theatre is known as a Cinema Treasure, but the true treasure is the community that continues to come view the big screen, and more importantly; the man behind the curtain making it all happen.
Stan Stuffing, the man behind the curtain is planning to retire from the Rex Theatre. For more than 30 years Stan has managed the Theatre, keeping the historical landmark open and available to the Community.
Chris Waggoner, third generation owner of the Rex Theatre remembers getting the phone call from his father when Stan was hired. “I was living in Alaska at the time, but my dad was so excited about the new manager he had hired. My father thought the world of Stan. The whole Waggner family appreciates his many years of service. Stan became the backbone of the theatre, working with my father until his passing in 2007. We’ve been really fortunate to have him.”
It was 1986, when Stan started managing the Rex, a job in addition to his time working for his dad at “Jeans Bakery”, and the Orofino Correctional Institute. “I can remember the excitement my sister and I had when we found out that Dad was going to be working at the theater,” recalls Myklynn, Stan’s youngest daughter. “We had such a love for film. We were raised to appreciate music, books, and of course movies. It was a natural transition for my dad to make and for us to support.”
Stan dedicated every weekend to the theater with the help of another long-time employee, Ryan Smathers, who shortly became like family to the Stuffings.
Ryan was in eighth grade, just catching a show the night Stan Stuffing began managing the Rex.
Before the movie began, Stuffing walked down the aisle and asked Ryan if he wanted a job. Ryan began that evening and would be there almost every weekend for the next 19 years.
Stan’s daughters, Danielle and Myklynn later joined him at the Rex working behind the concession stand and cleaning up after shows, but before the girls were old enough to work they would often join their father when he had to be at the Theater to clean or break down film.
“My sister and I would spend hours on the stage in front of the movie screen.Dad would put on our favorite music and my sister and I would dance. We would also bring our Red Flyer wagon sometimes when we knew Dad was going to be a while and push each other up and down the aisles. It was an amazing place to be. That was the beauty of having your dad manage a theater! We have so many memories there that we would not trade for anything.”
Danielle recalls one of her favorite memories. ”There was one night when not a single person showed up for the movie that both Dad and I really wanted to see. We were both working that night anxiously awaiting the minimum six people for the movie to show. Not a single person showed up that night. Dad locked the doors, and started the film. We sat in the center of the theater and watched the movie together, just him and I.
“To my dad and to us the Rex really became about family.” It wasn’t just a place to watch movies. It was a place for Stan to teach his daughters the value of work and responsibility, an opportunity to offer a safe space for kids and families, and a chance for him to interact with the community.
Stan’s love for theater reached far beyond showing up to take tickets and starting the projectors. He looked forward to seeing people at the movies; to joke with them and to get their opinion on the movie. He was always so excited when someone really wanted to delve into the conversation of a film. It was his love and he was happy to share it with others.
The days of standing in the projection room watching the film rewind and looking over at all the masking tape on the walls with old movie titles has long past. But the times will never be forgotten. Stan’s legacy will always be a part of the Rex Theatre history. So next time you see him walking down the street stop and say ‘hi’ and maybe ask him if he’s seen any good movies lately.