Vancouver Feature: Little Tramp Graces the Orpheum Stage

When a troupe of English Music Hall entertainers swept through Vancouver in 1911, the star was an acrobatic little comedian who would soon become one of the most famous people in the world: Charlie Chaplin. Another player would carve his own niche in entertainment history, too. Arthur Stanley Jefferson became a beloved star after he changed his name to Stan Laurel and teamed up on film with Oliver Hardy.

The theatre at the corner of Pender and Howe would have several names over the years. It was the Alhambra at one time, and the (first) Orpheum. The Fred Karno troupe from England was one of innumerable acts that trod its boards.

Another notable on the Alhambra/Orpheum stage was Fred Astaire, famous with his dance partner/sister Adelle, for dancing on table tops and up stairways. The Marx Brothers stormed the stage in 1918. There were four of them then, with Zeppo in anarchic cahoots with Groucho, Chico and Harpo. And that same year Sarah Bernhardt made her third and final appearance in Vancouver. She had lost a leg by then, and had to be carried on and off stage by stagehand Buck Taylor.

The old Orpheum Theatre was torn down to be replaced by the original Vancouver Stock Exchange. The present Orpheum on Granville St. opened in 1927.