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The "IT" Girl Returns to the Orpheum

On Valentine’s Day, the local chapter of the American Theater Organ Society will present a showing of “Mantrap” as part of its Silent Sundays program. The film, released in 1926, stars one of the biggest names of the Silent Era, Clara Bow. Known as the “It” girl, Bow often portrayed the “naughty” flapper, a vivacious girl, who may not have been promiscuous but who certainly enjoyed a good time.

Clara Bow was born in 1905 in Brooklyn, NY. Her childhood could best be described as something out of Charles Dickens. Raised in poverty, with a mother burdened by numerous psychological problems, and a father who often disappeared for days at a time, Clara coped as best she could; she looked forward to going to the movies, and became a voracious reader of movie magazines.

Almost on a whim, she entered a beauty contest whose first prize was a part in a motion picture. Much to her surprise, she won the contest; at the age of 16 she appeared in her first film, “Down to the Sea in Ships.” Although her part was small, she did receive positive notices. So she began the slow climb to stardom. More pictures, some good, some not, generally generated good notices for Clara Bow. Finally, she signed a contract with Paramount Pictures, securing a level of economic security she had never known.

In the early 1920s, Elinor Glyn, an English author of a certain age, came to the United States. She ended up in Hollywood and, with nothing more than a ton of self-confidence and a British accent, she soon became the final arbiter on matters of taste and refinement. (That accent certainly helped.) Paramount paid her $50,000 for the rights to her book, “IT”; she also said that Clara Bow had “IT” (a euphemism for sex appeal).

With films like “Mantrap”, “IT”, “Rough House Rosie” and “Wings”, Bow had become enormously popular; it is said that she received 45,000 fan letters per month. Paramount kept her working; her salary was shamefully low considering the money her films brought in. Her off-screen activities were another matter. Wild parties, law suits, and love affairs with co-workers all caused publicity that damaged her reputation. And then came talking pictures.

Clara had a pronounced New York accent, which the studio felt would be a liability. They worked, with some success, on solving that problem. But there were others that were harder to solve. Clara had difficulty learning dialog, and she was pathologically afraid of the microphone. Somehow, she managed to get through the 11 talkies she made from 1930-32. But when her last film, ”Hoopla”, failed to make money, she’d had enough. At the age of 28, and after 57 films, she retired. Clara Box died in obscurity in 1965, at age 60.

From 1929-1931, the Orpheum featured 9 of her films from “3 Weekends” (a silent film, now lost) to “No Limit” (1931). Some of the others included “The Wild Party” (her first talkie), “Dangerous Curves”, and “Her Wedding Night”. And now she returns to the Orpheum in “Mantrap”, one of her biggest hits.

The Friends of the Orpheum Theatre has created a special Romance Package for Valentine’s Day. It consists of two tickets for “Mantrap”, four drink vouchers, and a selection of delicious pastries. The cost is $65 per couple. You can visit to order your package.



Back by Popular Demand – On March 11 the Friends will once again be having Ghost Tours in the Theatre. There are three tours, at 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00. The cost


What's Coming Up at the Orpheum - Now & Then


February 3 - David Feherty “Off the Tour” 7:30

February 6 - Phoenix Symphony “Broadway Legacy” 7:30

February 9 - Free Public Tours Noon and 1:00pm

February 9 - Jazz @ the Orpheum 4:30-8:00

Judy Roberts Trio w/Renee Patrick

February 14 - Silent Sundays Clara Bow in “Mantrap” 2:30

February 19 - Theatre League Presents “The Producers” 8:00

February 20 - “The Producers” 2:00 & 8:00

February 21 - “The Producers” 2:00 & 7:00

March 1 - Free Public Tours Noon and 1:00pm

March 5 - The Chris Mitchell Experience 8:00

March 6 - Phoenix Opera – SW Vocal Competition Finals 2:00

March 8 - Jazz @ the Orpheum 4:30-8:00

Judy Roberts Trio w/Renee Patrick

March 10 - Peter Frampton Raw – An Acoustic Tour 7:30

March 11 - Ghost Tours 7:00 8:00 9:00

March 15 - Free Public Tours Noon and 1:00pm

March 18 - Theatre League Presents “Ragtime” 8:00

March 19 - Theatre League Presents “Ragtime” 2:00 & 8:00

March 20 - Theatre League Presents “Ragtime” 2:00 & 7:00

March 29 - Free Public Tours Noon and 1:00pm

March 31 - Shen Yun 7:30


March 1, 1950

Before he became known as the Merchant of Menace, Vincent Price appeared in a wide variety of films. On this date he appeared on the stage of the Orpheum for the world premiere of “The Baron of Arizona”. The film is based on the true story of a man who skillfully (although ultimately unsuccessfully) forges documents that would give him possession of the entire Arizona Territory. Appearing on stage with him were his co-star, Ellen Drew, as well as Donald O’Connor, Jackie Coogan, and Arizona’s Rodeo Queen.


Support the Friends

Attention Fry’s Shoppers – Donate to the Friends every time you shop at Fry’s, and it’s free. Fry’s is donating $2 million a year ($500,000/quarter) to Arizona non-profits. To participate, go to and register your Fry’s VIP card, and select Friends of the Orpheum Theatre as your non-profit of choice. Remember: your donation is free, and this program is separate from the gas program. Last year, the Friends received nearly $700 from Fry’s. Also: if you are already a member of the Program you have to re-register in August. Just go to the e-mail location shown above and follow the directions to re-enroll.

Give Kids a Boost – It’s often difficult for young children to see what’s happening on stage because they are “vertically challenged.” Now you can help the Friends solve this problem by purchasing a booster seat. The purchase price is $25, and each seat purchased will be labelled with the name of the purchaser. Visit our website, for more information.

Become a Member of the Friends – Join us as we preserve and illuminate the heritage of the glorious Orpheum Theatre. Visit our website to learn more.


Friends of the Orpheum Theatre

A 501c3 nonprofit whose Mission is:

To support the art, culture, and history of the Orpheum Theatre through outreach, education, and volunteerism.

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