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John McKee, Gameroom And Theater Pioneer From Ore., Dies At 70

Posted On: 4/27/2010

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John McKee, Wunderland, Ross Theater, Avalon Theatre, arcade games, arcades, coin-op games, amusement games, movie theater, cinema, gameroom, arcade game rooms jukebox, pinball, videogame, coin-operated, vending machine business

John McKee, Wunderland

LAS VEGAS -- John McKee, who created the very popular Wunderland gamerooms in Oregon as an adjunct to his movie theater business, died here on April 4. He was 70.

McKee, a cinema enthusiast, began operating the Ross Theater in Toledo, OR, in 1962. Throughout his career, he owned and operated eight cinemas around the state. His Avalon Theatre in Portland was the first cinema in that city to adopt a multiple-screen format. Encouraged by his uncle, Marshall McKee of McKee Distributing Co. (Portland), he placed a few coin-op games in his theater lobbies.

Observing the success of this initiative, he developed the Wunderland nickel gameroom program and opened its first location in Portland in 1982. There presently are five Wunderland locations in Portland, Salem, Milwaukie and Beaverton, with a sixth in the planning stage. The chain has been an incubator of industry talent in the Pacific Northwest.

McKee is survived by his wife Carmelita, the current owner of Wunderland.