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Glasgow Boards/Forums _ Entertainment _ Glasgow Empire Theatre

Posted by: Purplefan 3rd Jan 2014, 05:24am

Did anyone see the excellent BBC2 show on Glasgow Theaters and the famous acts that played there? I had no idea Glasgow has such a rich verity of Theaters.
Of course i knew about the Metropole and the pavilion and the citizens theater
But i had no idea where the empire was and the acts that used to play there.

I loved the story about escape artist Harry Houdini who got stuck in the toilet. biggrin.gif
It could be true. And also Roy Rodgers and trigger.
I would love to hear of your experience of going to see shows in the Empire and other places.

Posted by: gardenqueen 3rd Jan 2014, 08:45am

I have no experience of going there but I enjoyed the programme, not least because it made me think of Iain MacKintosh when I heard the song "I wish I was in Glasgow" so I looked him up on Spotify and downloaded a couple of his albums. Been listening on the Sonos all day yesterday. Sometimes it just takes a song to rekindle memories.

Posted by: Melody 3rd Jan 2014, 09:28am

Do you know when you're not sure whether a memory from childhood is a memory or a dream? Well, I seem to have always remembered being taken to The Empire by Gran and Grandad, I must been have been very young about three or four and seeing many famous acts there. It was a great show on TV and confirmed that I must have been there right enough. My, but ah'm getting auld. laugh.gif

Posted by: Betsy2009 3rd Jan 2014, 09:37am

I remember getting Sean Connery's autograph in the Pavilion. He'd been in to watch the show.
Chester Harriot (father of Ainsley the 'chef') was a great pianist and was on the bill along with Frankie and Josie (Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy). Not exactly 'big names' outside Scotland but fun.
The Pavilion was pure variety and panto.
I think I saw something at the Kings but don't remember going to the Empire or being aware of the big name that appeared there.

Posted by: bilbo.s 3rd Jan 2014, 09:56am

I used to walk past the Empire twice daily on my way to school in the 50s and I well remember all the great American singing stars who appeared there, although , for some reason I never went to see any. There were some great value shows, such as Bobby Darin, Duane Eddy & Clyde McPhatter all on the same bill. How I now regret not seeing them. Frankie Laine, Guy Mitchell etc etc-

I only went once to the Empire- to the panto- but it was a pretty shoddy affair compared to the Alhambra.

Posted by: ashfield 3rd Jan 2014, 10:13am

QUOTE (Purplefan @ 3rd Jan 2014, 05:41am) *
Did anyone see the excellent BBC2 show on Glasgow Theaters

But i had no idea where the empire was and the acts that used to play there.


Purplefan, it was in Sauchiehall St. The entrance was around where Dino's pizza place is now, between Renfield St and West Nile St. I went there to see Andy Stewart (see Bill, your lot has some skeletons in the closet tongue.gif ) about 50 years ago. My excuse is that my eldest brother, who was in the army, sent his girlfriend up from Leicester to stay with us. She wanted to go and see the show and I was the mug person volunteered to accompany her. Althpough I was still at school and she was a working adult, she still allowed me to pay for the tickets rolleyes.gif

The show was ok, my brother married somebody else and we never saw the wummin again laugh.gif

Posted by: Purplefan 3rd Jan 2014, 10:54am

I know where dinos is. The building that replaced the old theater is a monstrosity, There was some great acts.
Danny kay I can just picture 2,000 glaswegians outside the central hotel doing that dance biggrin.gif
I never knew you can get the telly and internet in brigadoon?
That 200 year old Bill when you guys wake up must be a killer? smile.gif

Posted by: Purplefan 3rd Jan 2014, 10:55am

QUOTE (bilbo.s @ 3rd Jan 2014, 10:13am) *
I used to walk past the Empire twice daily on my way to school in the 50s and I well remember all the great American singing stars who appeared there, although , for some reason I never went to see any. There were some great value shows, such as Bobby Darin, Duane Eddy & Clyde McPhatter all on the same bill. How I now regret not seeing them. Frankie Laine, Guy Mitchell etc etc-

I only went once to the Empire- to the panto- but it was a pretty shoddy affair compared to the Alhambra.


The alhambra got a mention what was that like?

Posted by: Purplefan 3rd Jan 2014, 10:57am

QUOTE (gardenqueen @ 3rd Jan 2014, 09:02am) *
I have no experience of going there but I enjoyed the programme, not least because it made me think of Iain MacKintosh when I heard the song "I wish I was in Glasgow" so I looked him up on Spotify and downloaded a couple of his albums. Been listening on the Sonos all day yesterday. Sometimes it just takes a song to rekindle memories.


I think that Iain's version is better than Billy Connolly's.

Posted by: gardenqueen 3rd Jan 2014, 11:13am

Me too, Purplefan. I do like Billy Connolly's version though. Didn't he write it?

Posted by: ashfield 3rd Jan 2014, 11:15am

QUOTE (Purplefan @ 3rd Jan 2014, 11:11am) *
I never knew you can get the telly and internet in brigadoon?
That 200 year old Bill when you guys wake up must be a killer? smile.gif


Naw, naw, we only pay for 1 day every hundred years laugh.gif

Posted by: bilbo.s 3rd Jan 2014, 01:15pm

QUOTE (ashfield @ 3rd Jan 2014, 11:30am) *
The show was ok, my brother married somebody else and we never saw the wummin again laugh.gif



Aye, Ash. My distant relation could scare the bejaysus oot a person o´ fine sensibilities and musical taste !

Posted by: Betsy2009 3rd Jan 2014, 01:29pm

Perhaps the Empire was too expensive?

Posted by: Dylan 3rd Jan 2014, 01:44pm

Seen Lonnie Donegan there.

Posted by: bilbo.s 3rd Jan 2014, 01:45pm

QUOTE (Betsy2009 @ 3rd Jan 2014, 02:46pm) *
Perhaps the Empire was too expensive?



I don't think so, especially not in the "gods".

Posted by: Betsy2009 3rd Jan 2014, 02:26pm

Oh heavens - that reminds me of the gods in the Pavilion. It was really scarey getting up there. Very few people moved, even during the interval.

Posted by: bilbo.s 3rd Jan 2014, 02:43pm

QUOTE (Betsy2009 @ 3rd Jan 2014, 03:43pm) *
Oh heavens - that reminds me of the gods in the Pavilion. It was really scarey getting up there. Very few people moved, even during the interval.



I once went to the "gods" in Green's Playhouse to see a movie. I felt I should have been issued with ropes and crampons to reach my seat. On leaving, I scaled the heights from the front row and then descended endless flights of stairs until I reached a "push bar to open" door, which unfortunately was locked fast. It was so frustrating to see and hear the traffic on Renfield Street through the narrow space. Of course I had to climb all those flights up to the balcony foyer and the descend the correct stairs to make good my escape. I never crossed the threshold again.

Posted by: gardenqueen 3rd Jan 2014, 03:13pm

It was a long time ago and I can't remember what or where but when I was doing my Higher English in 1968, I remember getting taken to see a Shakespeare play and we were sitting in the Gods. I was so petrified I couldn't enjoy the play. Maybe it was The Citizens Theatre.

Posted by: Dimairt 3rd Jan 2014, 06:03pm

Bob Bain's excellent website on the Empire seems to have disappeared. Lots of good stuff, photos, programmes and comments from audience members - hope it comes back.
Photo below of the Empire in Sauchiehall St. in 1962 just before it closed is from the Virtual Mitchell.


Durachdan,

Eddy




 

Posted by: Heather 3rd Jan 2014, 07:16pm

I remember my older sister and brothers going to the Empire to see all the well known stars play there.
I was there a few times and remember going to see Dickie Valentine with one of my friend's, and my brother and his friend. The two boys were cringing and sliding down in their seats when Dickie Valentine came on and all the girls were screaming their heads off. The boys were pretending they were not with us.
When he sang 'The finger of Suspicion Points at You', the girls were all screaming, ' me, me'. laugh.gif

It was our turn to cringe when the dancing girls came on, the boys were all whistling at the dancers.

We waited at the stage door and got Dickie to sign our Autograph Book.

Posted by: bilbo.s 3rd Jan 2014, 07:24pm

Och, Heather ! You should have taken me, as I was a Dickie Valentine fan - couldnae staun Frankie Vaughan, but ! I remember that song well and the fact he married a Glesca lassie. Died too young.

Posted by: Rab 3rd Jan 2014, 07:52pm

QUOTE (Purplefan @ 3rd Jan 2014, 05:41am) *
Did anyone see the excellent BBC2 show on Glasgow Theaters and the famous acts that played there? I had no idea Glasgow has such a rich verity of Theaters.
Of course i knew about the Metropole and the pavilion and the citizens theater
But i had no idea where the empire was and the acts that used to play there.

I loved the story about escape artist Harry Houdini who got stuck in the toilet. biggrin.gif
It could be true. And also Roy Rodgers and trigger.
I would love to hear of your experience of going to see shows in the Empire and other places.


Way back on these boards there was a long thread with lots of memories of the Empire (including mine). I tried to find it but the search method on here is incomprehensible - unless someone knows different!
In the mid to late 50s, I went to the Empire most Saturday nights with my pal and we paid 2/6 for a seat in the 'gods' and I still remember the great shows we saw for this pittance - Frankie Vaughan, Frankie Laine, David Whitfield, Marino Marini, Norman Wisdom, Alma Cogan, David Nixon, Josef Locke - the list is endless. I was there when Des O'Connor made his famous 'fainting' act after he got the Glasgow 'Bird' and could not continue due to hilarious heckling! Anyone who went to the Empire must remember it fondly. yes.gif

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r00JJU4xDm0

Posted by: Heather 3rd Jan 2014, 08:11pm

Ooh Bill, I did not know you were a Dickie Valentine fan or I would have invited you to come with us. laugh.gif
He was a handsome guy and was killed in a car crash when he was in his early 40s.

The Finger of Suspicion.

http://youtu.be/dnUAfiEAP5A

A Blossom Fell.

http://youtu.be/_8oOloi1VU8

My dad used to cringe when Frankie Vaughan came on the TV, he did not like him either.

Posted by: Elma 3rd Jan 2014, 08:59pm

I went to the Empire quite a few times but the only act I remember is Frankie Vaughan smile.gif We always enjoyed the 'Half-past Eight shows and the pantomimes at the Alhambra and the Theatre Royal usually had good shows, but our favourite was the Kings where they used to have plays on, a different one every week. We would go on Monday nights when you could get in 'two for one.' thumbup.gif

Posted by: Heather 3rd Jan 2014, 09:09pm

When we lived in the Town, we used to go to the Empress every week.

I think it was a Monday night that children got in half price and there was always a big queue and we all got a seat up in the Gods.

Posted by: DannyH 4th Jan 2014, 12:44am

Hello All

In the late 1940's I went to the Glasgow Empire by myself, for the first time, on a Friday night. I enjoyed the show so much, I went nearly every week until I had to go on National Service in 1952. There were billboards all over the city, giving details of the variety show every week.

The attraction for me were the Big Bands. Geraldo, Billy Cotton, Joe Loss etc, etc. They played in Greens Playhouse for one week for the dancers, then came to the Empire for the following week. Betty Driver of Coronation Street fame was a glamourous singer at that time. I am sure she was with Billy Cotton. Most of the bands had a glamorous female singer.

It was also famous for being the graveyard of English comedians. There were two perfomances every night from Monday to Saturday. The English comedians hated the first show on a Monday night. They new that if they flopped during that first perfomance, they might as well go home. Eric and Ernie failed the test big time!

Frank Sinatra performed there. In spite of being a faithful patron of the Empire, I couldn't get a ticket. The streets around the theatre were mobbed that night.

I will also never forget my 21st birthday at the Empire. At that time you had to be 21 to buy alchohol. My parents got tickets for the football team I played for, and gave me money to buy them all a drink at the interval. Alcoholic ones for the 21's and soft drinks for the teenagers. When I asked the barmaid for alcoholic drinks she refused to serve me. She said I was under 21. How embarrasing that was! She said she would serve the drinks to one of my team mates, (the 6 feet tall goalkeeper). He was only 18! Jimmy Watson who went on to play for Clyde.

As part of my engagement celebrations, again my parents supplied the tickets and the drinks money. Sophie Tucker was top of the bill. She called out my name and my fiancee's name and announced our engagement. We were asked to stand up to let the audience see us. Our moment of fame!

One other hall that was a favourite with youngsters ( schoolchildren that is) was the Empress. We used to queue up to get up to the Gods to see the variety show, on a Friday night. Wooden seats, but we loved it. There was a scramble to get up the stairs first to get the front seats. It was every man (well boy or girl) for themselves. We didn't take prisoners!

Speaking of the Empire being the graveyard of English comedians, I was at the Pavilion when Billy Connolley flopped. He had written a play. I think it was called, 'Me and Ma Bad Back Tae'. I think it was in the 1970's. He played a leading role in the play.

We had bought tickets for the circle, but when we arrived, we were ushered into the stalls. The attendance was so poor that the ushers put some people in the first few rows, then left a few rows empty, before seating some people in the middle rows. Then there was another gap between the rows and we were ushered in with other people to the last couple of rows. And this was a Saturday night!

The play wasn't that bad either. It had its funny moments. At the end of the show, Billy let it be known that he was not at all pleased with the turnout. Two policemen wandered in, and Bill started making fun of them. He was treading on thin ice!

He said he would never come back to Glagow again, claiming that he was not appreciated in his home town. He came back didn't he, to receive the freedom of the City. Funny old world.

Regards to All

Danny Harris

Posted by: Purplefan 4th Jan 2014, 07:20am

QUOTE (Rab @ 3rd Jan 2014, 08:09pm) *
Way back on these boards there was a long thread with lots of memories of the Empire (including mine). I tried to find it but the search method on here is incomprehensible - unless someone knows different!
In the mid to late 50s, I went to the Empire most Saturday nights with my pal and we paid 2/6 for a seat in the 'gods' and I still remember the great shows we saw for this pittance - Frankie Vaughan, Frankie Laine, David Whitfield, Marino Marini, Norman Wisdom, Alma Cogan, David Nixon, Josef Locke - the list is endless. I was there when Des O'Connor made his famous 'fainting' act after he got the Glasgow 'Bird' and could not continue due to hilarious heckling! Anyone who went to the Empire must remember it fondly. yes.gif

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r00JJU4xDm0


I will try and have a look rab. I love all these stories and how much Glasgow loved it's theatres and cinemas.
I am too young and missed it all. I would love to have experience the empire. Reading through the posts it seems to have a place in the hearts of the people and that is what it is about.
would loved to have seen francie and josie and Laurel and Hardy.

Posted by: Scots Kiwi Lass 4th Jan 2014, 11:40am

Wonderful memories of the Empire shows in the 50s and 60s. Bobby Darin was a big favourite of mine and I saw the show Bilbo mentioned, which also included Clyde McPhater.

Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard & the Shadows were two more memorable shows. I recall also seeing Andy Stewart there in his heyday.

Can anyone remember a singer called Joan Regan? I was a member of her fan club and collected her records at the young age of 12 (early fifties). Joan was appearing in the Empire and my Dad took me to the show. We waited at the stage door afterwards and I was so exited to meet her and accept a signed photo. She was so glamorous and I loved her voice.

Posted by: bilbo.s 4th Jan 2014, 11:53am

QUOTE (Scots Kiwi Lass @ 4th Jan 2014, 12:57pm) *
Wonderful memories of the Empire shows in the 50s and 60s. Bobby Darin was a big favourite of mine and I saw the show Bilbo mentioned, which also included Clyde McPhater.

Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard & the Shadows were two more memorable shows. I recall also seeing Andy Stewart there in his heyday.

Can anyone remember a singer called Joan Regan? I was a member of her fan club and collected her records at the young age of 12 (early fifties). Joan was appearing in the Empire and my Dad took me to the show. We waited at the stage door afterwards and I was so exited to meet her and accept a signed photo. She was so glamorous and I loved her voice.



Hi Lass. Did you know that Joan Regan died last September 13, aged 85 ? I can't say I was a big fan, as in those days British singers mostly covered hits by American stars, and I always preferred the originals.

Sadly I did not see the Bobby Darin etc show, but a friend and I met Bobby at Sandyhill Golf Club, where he bought us a lager and lime. We were so in awe that we didn't think to ask for his autograph ! Another one of the greats to die too soon.

Posted by: Scots Kiwi Lass 6th Jan 2014, 02:40am

QUOTE (bilbo.s @ 4th Jan 2014, 12:10pm) *
Hi Lass. Did you know that Joan Regan died last September 13, aged 85 ? I can't say I was a big fan, as in those days British singers mostly covered hits by American stars, and I always preferred the originals.

Sadly I did not see the Bobby Darin etc show, but a friend and I met Bobby at Sandyhill Golf Club, where he bought us a lager and lime. We were so in awe that we didn't think to ask for his autograph ! Another one of the greats to die too soon.


No, bilbo.s, I didn't know Joan had died - we don't get a lot of information about such things in New Zealand. She was actually only 14 years older than me and when I met her at the Empire she took a real interest in me (my mother had recently died when I was 11). I never forgot her kindness. I think my Dad was just as much impressed as I was!

Posted by: jeep 6th Jan 2014, 08:51am

I remember seeing Laurel and Hardy at the Empire.
Also Clark and Murray, a husband and wife singing due.
does anybody remember them?
Jeep

Posted by: bilbo.s 6th Jan 2014, 09:29am

Jeep, I well remember the names from the billboards, but I never saw their act. Were their first names Grace & Colin?

Posted by: taurus 6th Jan 2014, 08:38pm

Chic Murray,I think Maisie was his wife,very funny comedians,and never needed to stoop to bad language or obscene material,but had us in stitches just the same.

Posted by: taurus 6th Jan 2014, 08:41pm

No Ithink his wife was Maidie not Maisie. (I can`t get "edit" to work.

Posted by: DannyH 6th Jan 2014, 09:51pm

Hello All

I think that Chic Murray and his wife Maidie performed at the Pavilion. He would stand behind her and make faces all through their perfomances. He was very droll and very funny.

Regards

Danny Harris

Posted by: bilbo.s 6th Jan 2014, 10:35pm

Note to all : Chic Murray and Maidie were nothing to do with Clark & Murray.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2507&dat=19821231&id=FcNAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AKYMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3905,5012056

Posted by: Rab 6th Jan 2014, 10:56pm

I was thinking about the Emoire shows I saw from the gods and one that came to mind was a Cowboy Act called Harry Lester and his Hayseeds - funny how I remember the name, but it was the funniest show we ever saw and was a BIG HIT with the audience. The culmination of the show was all these musical cowboys blazing away with their six-guns into the ceiling of the Empire - you could hardly see the stage for the smoke, when suddenly a great big cow like a giant cuddly toy fell from the ceiling into the stalls where it was thrown around from row to row with Weegies laughing like mad ! It was absolute pandemonium but was hilarious and everyone was crying with laughter - and me and my pal were helpless! And this only the main act - not bad for half a crown!

Posted by: taurus 7th Jan 2014, 02:38am

QUOTE (bilbo.s @ 7th Jan 2014, 09:52am) *
Note to all : Chic Murray and Maidie were nothing to do with Clark & Murray.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2507&dat=19821231&id=FcNAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AKYMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3905,5012056

Thanks for the correction,I jumped the gun on that one,sorry.

Posted by: bilbo.s 7th Jan 2014, 09:01am

That's OK, Taurus- I am always willing to correct people ! biggrin.gif By the same token, I am open to correction by others, if I make a mistake. rolleyes.gif

Posted by: irrie 7th Jan 2014, 10:20am

Remember my parents were quite regular theater goers in the 40s/50s mostly the Empress i think.Something in the back of my mind about a comedian they saw whose catch phrase was something like see see me. Ring any bells or am i imagining things.

Posted by: jeep 7th Jan 2014, 01:18pm

Bilbo s, not sure about the first names but Grace and Colin ring a bell


Jeep

Posted by: bilbo.s 7th Jan 2014, 01:41pm

QUOTE (jeep @ 7th Jan 2014, 02:35pm) *
Bilbo s, not sure about the first names but Grace and Colin ring a bell


Jeep



Jeep, See the link on my Post #36.

Posted by: TeeHeeHee 7th Jan 2014, 03:03pm

QUOTE (bilbo.s @ 6th Jan 2014, 11:52pm) *
Note to all : Chic Murray and Maidie were nothing to do with Clark & Murray.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2507&dat=19821231&id=FcNAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AKYMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3905,5012056

Brilliant link Billbo. I'll spend hours reading through many of the items reported back then (having just read the one on the ANC bombing) wink.gif

Posted by: jeep 7th Jan 2014, 08:31pm

Great wee post [36] Bilbo.

Brought back memories of all the old theater stars thumbup.gif

Spent ages reading it.

Jeep

Posted by: taurus 8th Jan 2014, 08:31pm

QUOTE (irrie @ 7th Jan 2014, 09:37pm) *
Remember my parents were quite regular theater goers in the 40s/50s mostly the Empress i think.Something in the back of my mind about a comedian they saw whose catch phrase was something like see see me. Ring any bells or am i imagining things.

Rings a bell for me.A man I
worked beside in the early fifties said it all the time. See me?see wee Sadie? wee Sadie`s got the boak.I have a feeling it was Francie and Josie who said that.My boss was a tyrant,and I was always in tears,and he said that to cheer me up.never failed.

Posted by: Rab 9th Jan 2014, 11:25am

Read this and laugh.gif

http://shinkicker.hubpages.com/hub/The-Glasgow-Empire-Stories-from-the-House-of-Terror