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They Performed Here! - Part 2

As mentioned in the last Newsletter, the Orpheum would occasionally present “home-grown” talent. And no name was more significant in the early history of the Theatre than Gene Bumph. Born in Colorado, Bumph came to Phoenix as a young boy, and later graduated from Central High School. Interested in music from an early age, he helped form a dance band in 1928, the same year that he opened his dance school and studio.

Bumph would pay the Theatre for the opportunity to showcase the talents of his young students, most of whom were between the ages of 6 and18. His recitals, featuring both soloists and ensembles, occurred 13 times (usually for two consecutive evenings) between 1930 and 1942. Using such titles as “Glittering Revue”, “Oriental Fantasy”, and “Follies Bergere”, his shows could feature as many as 200 performers. Eagerly anticipated by both students and the audience, the shows were invariably well received; critics from the Phoenix Gazette described the shows as “captivating”, “glamorous”, “rivals professional shows”.

From 1949-53, Bumph presented his “Cavalcade in Rhythm” shows at the Orpheum, some of which were seen on KPHO-TV.

She Came, They Saw, She Conquered – In the depths of the Depression, many Americans were searching for something, or someone, to bring joy, or humor, into their lives. The movies were often seen as a means of escape, if even for a few hours, from reality. Two of the stars who provided that escape were Shirley Temple and Mae West. And they couldn’t have been more different. Temple was a cute little moppet, always smiling, always dancing, always looking at the bright side of life. On the other hand, Mae West always seemed to be smirking. Temple was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood for each of the last six years of the 1930s. Mae West was almost 40 when she came to Hollywood. The success of her first two starring vehicles, “I’m No Angel” and “She Done Him Wrong” (both released in 1933) reputedly helped Paramount avoid bankruptcy. However, the enforcement of the Production Code in 1934 eliminated almost all of her risqué one-liners (e.g. “Goodness had nothing to do with it”; “I used to be Snow White, but then I drifted”; and “It’s not the men in my life, it’s the life in my men”), and the result was that her subsequent films, while still profitable, were not as memorable.

After her film career stalled, Mae West would occasionally take to the stage and revive one of her old plays. As such, she appeared at the Paramount (as the Orpheum was then called) on March 3, 1951 in “Diamond Lil”. Propelled perhaps by a combination of curiosity and nostalgia, the Theatre was filled to capacity, and the Phoenix Gazette proclaimed “Mae Sparkles at Paramount in Comedy”.


Did You Know

According to a news item in the Arizona Republican on October 27, 1927, the Theatre was originally to be named the Granada, presumably because of its Spanish-themed exterior and “historic” lobby. However, at some time during its construction, Rickards & Nace joined the Orpheum Circuit, and the name of the Theatre was changed.


It's Time for a Little Romance

Just in time for Valentine's Day, on February 11 the Organ Society will present a showing of “Seven Chances” starring Buster Keaton. Prior to the showing of the movie FOTOT will be having a “Silent Sunday Mixer”. Attendees will receive ticket(s) to the movie, drink tickets, and a selection of delicious pastries with coffee. The movie will be accompanied by the Orpheum’s fabulous Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. To order your tickets, please visit our website,


What’s Coming Up at the Orpheum

January 12 - Ballet Arizona: MOMIX's Opus Cactus 7:30p

January 13 - Ballet Arizona: MOMIX's Opus Cactus 7:30p

January 20 - An Evening with Ira Glass 8:00p

January 23 - Theatre League Presents: Jersey Boys 7:30p

January 24 - Theatre League Presents: Jersey Boys 7:30p

January 25 - Theatre League Presents: Jersey Boys 7:30p

January 26 - Theatre League Presents: Jersey Boys 7:30p

January 27 - Theatre League Presents: Jersey Boys 2:00p, 8:00p

January 28 - Theatre League Presents: Jersey Boys 1:00p, 6:30p


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.

Attention Amazon Shoppers - Now you can donate to the Friends when you order from Amazon! AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile (, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers. Click , sign in, and shop! It’s that easy!

Support the Friends, Become a “Star” – A unique way to support FOTOT. For $100 you can purchase a brick which will be placed in the “Avenue of Stars” located just east of the Theatre in the City Hall Plaza. You can purchase a brick to honor your family, a friend, someone you admire, or to celebrate an event (graduation, birthday, etc.). For more information, visit our website.

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


Visit the Theatre

Did You Know – The light rail has two stops that are less than a 10 minute walk from the Orpheum. Whether you’re coming from the East Valley or from Northwest Phoenix, taking the train allows you to avoid traffic as well as the cost of parking your car.


Friends of the Orpheum Theatre

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose Mission is:

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

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