No name has been associated more with the history of the Orpheum than Gene Bumph. Born in Colorado, Bumph
came to Phoenix as a young boy. He showed an interest in music from an early age. A few years after graduation from
Phoenix Union High School he formed a dance band that performed on the West Coast. In 1928 he opened a dance school and studio in Phoenix.
Working out of his studio, located in the basement of his home at 1302 W. Willetta St., Bumph trained his students, ranging in age from about 6 to 18, in various dance styles, from tap to
adagio, from flamenco to ballroom. According to Margo Woode (his neice), Bumph could be, and often was, very hard on his students. Another of his students, Leslie Taylor, said that Bumph described himself as a "military top sergeant wielding a switch". Apparently the discipline paid off. Beginning on May 21-23, 1930, he brought is dance studio to the Orpheum.
For about an hour, his colorfully costumed performers filled the stage, performing before packed houses. Although Bumph paid the Theatre for the show time, he was rewarded by a Theatre filled with parents, other relatives, neighbors, as well as members of the public who were interested in what Bumph had to offer.
From 1932-1942, Bumph's dancers performed in the Orpheum for at least three consecutive nights per year. Some of the shows had names, such as "Oriental Fantasy", "The Show of Shows", and "Rhythm in Revue". The shows were eagerly anticipated by the students, and were invariably well received; critics writing in the Phoenix Gazette used words such as "captivating", "colorful", "snappy", "glamourous", and "rivals professional shows". Then in 1949 to 1953 he began a new series of programs, called "Cavalcade of Rhythm", some of which appeared on KPHO-TV.
Gene Bumph passed away in May 1966.
Photo of Gene Bump courtesy of Linda U.
Margo Woode Remembers - On May 31, 2018, Laura Stenzel and I spent a delightful 90 minutes talking with Phoenix native Margo Woode and her husband Ron Beckett. Ms. Woode is the niece of Gene Bumph and shared stories of her famous relative along with memories of performing as part of his dance troupe at the Orpheum. Ms. Woode also spoke of her career in films (working with Laurel & Hardy, John Hodiak, Harry Morgan) and TV (Dragnet, Racket Squad).
Welcome Back Luis Ruiz - FOTOT is pleased to welcome Luis Ruiz to our Board. His history with us goes back over 10 years, when he was the Venue Manager for the Orpheum. His love of, and history with, the Theatre make him a valuable addition. He also assumes the Vice-President position, replacing Richard Sourbrine, who resigned effective with the end of our fiscal year in May.
You can "Cowboy Up" at the Museum of the West in Scottsdale - Open since 2015, the Museum contains an extensive collection Western memorabilia, including Native American crafts, firearms, and paintings by cowboy artists. Of particular interest to film buffs is the Strickland Collection of Western Film History. It consists of a vast collection of film posters, covering from the silent era to the 80's. They range in size from lobby cards (11"x14") to wall-size (8' x 10'). The poster show runs through September 16. The Museum is at 3830 N. Marshall Way in Scottsdale.
What’s Coming Up at the Orpheum
Jul 10 Free Public Tours 12:00p, 1:00p
Jul 14 Back to the Future with Christopher Lloyd LIVE 7:00p
Aug 16 David Cross: Oh Come On 8:00p
Aug 18 Pimpinela 8:00p
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 www.FrysCommunityRewards.com 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 Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers. Click smile.amazon.com , 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 fototphx.org 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.