Over the last months, we lost two people who, in their own way, played a part in the history of the Orpheum Theatre.
Pete was a long-time member of the local chapter of the American Theater Organ Society (ATOS). His interest in organs was sparked by his business of restoring and repairing player pianos. Ultimately, he even purchased an Aeolian organ for his home.
Pete played a major role in the repair and maintenance of the Orpheum's fabulous Wurlitzer organ. Originally made for a Fox Theater in Middletown, N.Y., the organ console was located in California, purchased by the Phoenix Chapter of ATOS (for around $250,000), and installed in the basement of the Orpheum as part of the restoration. He had a special fondness for the organ.
Over the past few years I often encountered Pete in the Theatre, during public tours or at the Organ Society's semi-annual "Silent Sunday" presentations. Always smiling, and with an ever-positive attitude, his interest in, and concern for, the Orpheum's organ was obvious.
Pete Knobloch passed away in February 2019 at age 67.
Photo from Valley of the Sun Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (vots-atos.org).
Video from Friends of the Orpheum Theatre (fototphx.org).
As a young girl, Margo Woode danced on the stage of the Orpheum Theatre. She was a "student" of her uncle, Gene Bumph, who had founded a dance academy in 1928 and presented a series of dance recitals at the Orpheum throughout the 30's, the late 40's, and early 50's.
In the 40's, Ms Woode realized the dream of many a girl by going to Hollywood. Initially, she worked as a dancer in musicals like "Springtime in the Rockies" (1942) with Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda. Later she starred in movies like "Somewhere in the Night" (1946) with John Hodiak and "Moss Rose" (1947) with Victor Mature.
When we interviewed her last May, Ms Woode spoke of her enjoyment in working with Harry Morgan (later best known as Col. Potter in "Mash") in "It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog" (1946). She also said she especially enjoyed working with Laurel & Hardy in "The Bullfighters" (1945).
Margo Woode passed away last fall at age 90.
Photo from imdb.com.
The Friends of the Orpheum Theatre will be installing bricks in the "Avenue of Stars" honoring both Pete Knobloch and Margo Woode.
And That's Not All, Folks!
The Orpheum continues to gather "rave reviews" from the media. Best Things Arizona ranks the Orpheum as "The Best Historic Theater in Arizona" and Architectural Digest, one of the country's best known design magazines, selected the Orpheum as the "Most Beautifully Designed Theater" in Arizona.
Go to the Press page on our website, fototphx.org, for the full story. Also be certain to watch the interview with David Cruse, Venue Manager for the Orpheum Theatre.