The motion picture industry first discovered Arkansas in 1926 with Universal’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. According to old press clippings, the film was the studio’s “most costly production to date…having reported to have spent in the neighborhood of $1.5 million.” The majority of the motion picture was made in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Arkansas’s role was the filming of the Kate Adams sternwheeler docking at the Port of Helena. A still photo from the movie shows the Kate Adams as she was used in the film. While in Helena, the production company picked up some “extras” to appear in the movie.
The historic riverport town of Helena is located on the Mississippi River 120 miles east of Little Rock.
According to Universal Pictures press clippings, the showing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Fort Smith did “phenomenal business in the Palace Theatre… The first day's box was equivalent to an entire average week's receipts, according to a message from W. E. Sipe, Universal manager in Memphis. The unusual success of the big feature in this situation is hailed with great satisfaction by Universal officials and executives. Fort Smith is another Southern city which has added proof to the growing conviction that war prejudice has died down generally throughout the South and that this picture merits because of its great story and entertainment value.”