Orpheum Theatre

203 S. Main Street,
Memphis, TN 38103

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Showing 1 - 25 of 31 comments

DavidZornig on July 8, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Here is a Historic Film Row link, related to the film vault photo I just added to the gallery.


vastor on June 21, 2013 at 11:54 am

If you haven’t seen it already, the Memphis Orpheum is on both front and back covers of this quarter’s Marquee magazine from the Theatre Historical Society.

vastor on June 21, 2013 at 11:52 am

That is a very interesting photo of the Orpheum, have not seen that one before. Whatever is on the marquee has been carefully retouched out. Note Milton Slosser’s name on the reader board.

TLSLOEWS on August 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Great photo David,The Loews State can be seen in the background also.

DavidZornig on August 17, 2011 at 12:32 am

I added a pic I found on the net of the Orpheum as the Malco in the late `50’s. Elvis appears to be getting a ticket in front.

kpdennis on May 3, 2010 at 6:31 pm

The Orpheum on a muggy summer day in 1996 – they must have been showing the original 1960 version of “Psycho”, as the remake came out two years after this photo:
View link

TLSLOEWS on February 9, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Nice history I do not like the marquee with its electronic lights.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 13, 2008 at 2:06 pm

The old Grand Opera House in Memphis, on the site of which the Orpheum was built, is listed in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. It was under the management of Staub, Jefferson, Klaw and Erlanger. Admission prices ranged from 25 cents to $1. There were 747 orchestra seats, 582 balcony seats and 1000 gallery seats, total: 2,329. The proscenium opening was 38 feet wide X 42 feet high, and the stage was 65 feet deep. The theater was on the ground floor and there were 9 members of the house orchestra. There was also a New Lyceum Theatre in Memphis which had 2,010 seats. There were 4 newspapers, the Commercial, Scimitar, Times-Figaro and Herald, and 5 hotels for show folk, the Gayoso, Clarendon, Arlington, Fransioli, and Peabody. The 1897 population of Memphis is listed as 100,000.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on October 13, 2008 at 11:23 am

LM Great picture! This last one really shows off the asymetrical layout. The red brick (middle left) would never have been seen from the sidewalk across the street. Now that there’s a park there, it, unfortunatly, is visible (It’s a little pocket park with a statue of Elvis) The house left side of the upper gallery (the former segregated blacks only area) only has 4 rows and a cross aisle. The right side has 11 rows (if memory serves). The other two balconies are symetrical with the odd shaped spaces made up in stairways and restrooms. It’s an amazing plan to see on paper and then walk the halls and realize how subtly the architects (Rapp & Rapp) worked out the odd shapes they had to work around.

Patsy on October 2, 2007 at 11:50 am

The May 1 interior photo is beautiful…too bad Nashville doesn’t have a theatre like this…anymore!

Patsy on November 28, 2006 at 7:30 pm

Great photo and I so wish that Nashville could claim one of their original downtown theatres/marquees today, but they are all gone.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on November 20, 2006 at 6:11 am

Actually Gail, the old “colored” box office still exists too. It is hidden behind new solid metal doors that were installed in the 1982 renovation. Several remodelings have changed the path of the stairs that once led from the Beale Street box office up to the segregated balcony. The result is that, opening those doors reveals the old box office window and the steps rising into the darkness. A floor has been inserted over the stairs at the 2nd floor level to create a storage closet in the former stair-well.

The old Beale Street box office is now used by the concessions manager. There once was a small marquee on Beale Street too: that has been removed.

gspragin on November 20, 2006 at 1:17 am

I have a memory of the Orpheum from the early 1960s (1963 – 1965) when it was the Malco movie theatre. We had parked past the theatre on Beale. We walked along Beale on the side of the theatre toward Main. There was a ticket booth on Beale that I walked toward, but my mother told me I couldn’t go to that one. We had to walk to Main to the larger ticket booth. The Beale ticket booth was for “colored” movie patrons. Once we entered the theatre from Main, I wanted to go up the stairs to sit in the balcony. My mother told me I couldn’t because the balcony was for “colored” movie patrons. She seemed very uncomfortable trying to explain why this was set-up this way. Finally, she told me that she was from Ohio where all movie patrons used the same ticket booth and sat in the same areas together. This prompted a discussion that was difficult for a 7 year old to understand. The side entrance still exists, but tickets are not sold there.

Patsy on November 4, 2006 at 8:53 pm

Jack: Thank so much as I shall take that tour of the Orpheum that is in Memphis and NOT in Nashville. I guess the only think Nashville wants to be known for is the Grand Old Opry and Opryland. So sad to read the Nashville did not preserfe any of its historical theatres. I guess my next question is…why not? And to think that one of their theatres is “currently being gutted and will soon be part of a grocery store”? Unbelievable!

JackCoursey on November 4, 2006 at 8:48 pm

Patsy: Unfortunately Nashville did not preserve any of its historical theatres. Ironically one of the city’s icons, the Belle Meade Theatre, is currently being gutted and will soon be part of a grocery store. Allegedly the shell of the theatre will remain intact and the neon marquee will illuminate the night sky as in days of yore.
You can take a virtual tour of the Memphis Orpheum by going to the theatre’s Web site (http://www.orpheum-memphis.com/) then clicking on Virtual Tour in the menu on the left.

Patsy on November 4, 2006 at 8:26 pm

Chuck: Can’t access the Photobucket photos and would like to especially see the smaller auditorium photo.

Patsy on November 4, 2006 at 8:24 pm

“The Orpheum also owns a Mighty Wurlizter organ” And that organ would have been built in N. Tonawanda NY!

Patsy on November 4, 2006 at 8:23 pm

Will: I would love to see an interior photo(s) of this theatre in Memphis. From what I’ve read it doesn’t seem as if the City of Nashville has preserved any of their historical theatres though I may be wrong so would love to be proven wrong in this case.

LuisV on October 10, 2006 at 2:53 pm

Thanks Will and Jack! I didn’t notice the related website link. It truly is a beautiful theater!

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on October 10, 2006 at 6:20 am

LuisV, the link in the opening post under “Related Websites” has an option called “virtual tour” and it did work for me just now. You’ll find some professional photos there of the interior and another view of the predecessor building. Cheers!

JackCoursey on October 10, 2006 at 5:47 am

Just about all of the 2006 links appear to be operable as of today. Click on the words with the blue font (such as “This” and “Here”) and they should take you right to the photos. Here is a night photo of the theatre made in 2005.
Here is a rare photo of the original Orpheum Theatre (circa 18889-1925) which existed on the same site of the current Orpheum.

LuisV on October 9, 2006 at 7:47 pm

This sounds like a beautiful theater so it is very frustrating that virtually none of the links above work. There are no interior shots. Does anyone have any to share? Both historical and current?

CHICTH74 on July 12, 2006 at 9:44 am

The Orpheum was the theatre that was use to flim “the queens of comedy” tour their are some very nice shots of the theatre.
Go to special features there are some very good shots of the seating area. Thank you for your time.

JackCoursey on October 14, 2005 at 9:44 pm

Even more current night shots of this gem: flickr.com/photos/maincourse/52589047/

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on April 22, 2005 at 1:58 pm

TC nice photos! These would have been taken in the early 1990’s I think. The stagehouse has since been extended, the vertical sign rebuilt and the marquee sign boards changed to electronic displays. The old milk glass letters in these photos were purchased from the Ohio and Palace theatres in Columbus Ohio with some letters also coming from a Memphis salvage yard which had torn down Memphis’s Loew’s Palace. The milk glass letters looked great, but were terribly fragile and after too many were broken the management rebuilt the signboards with electronics.