Orpheum Theatre

1900 5th Avenue,
Seattle, WA 98101

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DavidZornig on August 11, 2015 at 10:28 am

1962 poster image added courtesy of Ted Okuda.

gill on March 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm

There’s a great 1928 photo of the Seattle Orpheum on the Historic-Memphis.com website’s Theatre page. Here’s a link to the page.

RichardO on January 28, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I saw my very first concert there in the early 60’s. A “Twist Festival” with Chubby Checker and many others. Crazy twisters kept the ushers very busy

paulnelson on May 25, 2012 at 8:51 pm

A very elaborate and beautiful theatre that was a mediteranian fantasy. Large and dramatic. Should have been restored and saved.

rivest266 on January 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm

August 28th, 1967 grand opening ad has been posted here.

Gooper on May 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

Thanks for the view, neeb. I remember it well, especially the similar view from the nearby Vance Hotel. Trader Vic’s was in the Ben Franklin bldg (frontage on 5th Ave.). The hotel blended nicely with the theatre, from the monorail side.

I remember seeing the sign on the fire escape side, ‘John Hamrick’s Orpheum Theatre’ and thinking how lucky this guy was to OWN the Orpheum!

In the 1980s I knew Red Roberts, a vaudevillian hoofer, who’d played at the Orpheum with Bob Hope in the 20s. Great stories.

I also knew a woman who’d had an all-girl band in the 30s. She fell into the Orpheum’s orchestra pit and broke her leg, but she didn’t miss the performance that night, leading the band on crutches.

neeb on May 6, 2011 at 7:02 am

A photo from the Early 1960s:

View link

View link

Pretty large, but adds for some great examination of details.

Gooper on December 20, 2010 at 9:19 pm

By chance, I did a walk-through of the Orpheum just as it was being parted out before demolition. Jaw-dropping.

There were couch-like seats on the main floor. The elevator was marble-lined. The doors into the auditorium at the top balcony level were folding, like telephone kiosk doors.

I mourned the loss of the Orpheum for years.

Across the street (5th Ave), the Orpheum Garage for parking survived into the 1990s, I think. It had a brick facade that echoed the theatre’s facade.

Ron3853 on December 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Listed below are the films that played at the Orpheum Theater in Seattle from 1959 through its closing in 1967. Research is from microfilms of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Variety. The date listed is the Wedensday of the opening week.

12/16/59 The House of the Seven Hawks/Libel
12/23/59 The Miracle
12/30/59 Elephant Gun/Sea Fury
01/06/60 Terror is a Man/The Scavengers
01/13/60 Happy Anniversary
01/27/60 The Beast from the Haunted Cave/The Wasp Woman
02/10/60 A Date With Death/The Hideous Sun Demon
02/17/60 The Last Voyage
03/09/60 The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond/It Happened in Rome
03/16/60 Guns of the Timberland/The Pusher
03/23/60 Sapphire/Wild and Innocent
04/06/60 Kidnapped
04/20/60 This Rebel Breed/The Threat
04/27/60 Nature’s Paradise/Too Soon to Love
05/04/60 Please Don’t Eat the Daisies
06/08/60 Giant of Marathon/Davy
06/22/60 Head of a Tyrant/The Cossacks
06/29/60 Ice Palace
07/06/60 Dinosaurus/SOS Pacific
07/20/60 Stop! Look! and Laugh!/My Dog Buddy
07/27/60 The Time Machine/The Day They Robbed the Bank of England
08/24/60 College Confidential/Four Fast Guns
09/14/60 Expresso Bongo/Cage of Evil
09/28/60 The Angel Wore Red
10/05/60 For Members Only/The Mating Time
11/23/60 Sunrise at Campobello
11/30/60 Girl of the Night/Crooked Circle
12/28/60 The Sundowners
01/25/61 A Fever in the Blood
02/08/61 Gold of the Seven Saint/Tormented
02/22/61 Swiss Family Robinson
03/08/61 Question 7
03/22/61 The Great Imposter/Shakedown
04/12/61 Question 7
04/26/61 Gorgo/Trouble in the Sky
05/24/61 The Young Savages/A Matter of Morals
06/28/61 Morgan the Pirate/The Green Helmet
07/12/61 The Ladies Man/Love in a Goldfish Bowl
08/09/61 The Thief of Bagdad/Posse from Hell
08/16/61 Ada/The Pharoah’s Woman
08/23/61 Tammy Tell Me True/Wings of Chance
08/30/61 The World by Night/Blast of Silence


04/11/62 Rome Adventure/The Singer, Not the Song
04/25/62 Samar/House of Women
05/02/62 King of Kings
05/16/62 Ride the High Country/Malaga
05/23/62 Judgement at Nuremberg


11/14/62 Gay Purr-ee/The Valiant
12/19/62 In Search of the Castaways
01/23/63 If a Man Answers/Stagecoach to Dancer’s Rock
02/06/63 Term of Trial
02/13/63 The Hook/Cairo
02/20/63 The Days of Wine and Roses
04/03/63 It Happened at the World’s Fair
05/01/63 40 Pounds of Trouble/Mystery Submarine
05/08/63 Come Fly with Me/Rififi in Tokyo
05/15/63 The Ugly American
05/29/63 The List od Adrian Messenger/Showdown
06/05/63 Tammy and the Doctor/The Traitors
06/19/63 Spencer’s Mountain
06/26/63 A Gathering of Eagles
07/10/63 A Ticklish Affair/In the Cool of the Day
07/17/63 Summer Magic
07/31/63 PT 109/Black Gold
08/14/63 The Thrill of it All
10/16/63 Rampage/Wall of Noise
10/23/63 Twilight of Honor/The Young and the Brave
10/30/63 Mary, Mary
11/20/63 Palm Springs Weekend
12/11/63 Freud: The Secret Passion
12/18/63 Kiss of the Vampire/The Sword of Lancelot
12/25/63 Charade
01/29/64 Dead Ringer/With Their Eyes on the Stars
02/12/64 Man’s Favorite Sport
02/26/64 Children of the Damned/Gladiators 7
03/04/64 Sunday in New York
03/18/64 Captain Newman, M. D.
04/01/64 The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao/Cavalry Command
04/08/64 The Incredible Mr. Limpet/The Raiders
04/15/64 Kissin' Cousins/The Beauty and the Body
04/22/64 The Brass Bottle/Young and Willing
04/29/64 Advance to the Rear/Square of Violence
05/06/64 Mail Order Bride/Any Number Can Win
05/13/64 The Best Man
05/20/64 Tarzan’s 3 Challenges/Tamahine
05/27/64 A Distant Trumpet/FBI Code 98
06/03/64 The World of Henry Orient
06/10/64 Flipper’s New Adventure/Gold for the Caesars
06/17/64 Viva Las Vegas/The Great Armored Car Swindle
07/01/64 The Seventh Dawn
07/08/64 Robin and the Seven Hoods/Dr. Crippen
07/29/64 Looking for Love/Never Put it in Writing
08/05/64 Ensign Pulver
08/12/64 The Moon-Spinners
09/02/64 Honeymoon Hotel/Aliki, My Love
09/09/64 The Christine Keeler Affair/Tomorrow at Ten
09/16/64 Woman of Straw
09/23/64 MGM’s Big Parade of Comedy/The Golden Horseshoe Revue
10/07/64 Four Days in November
10/14/64 Kisses for My President
10/21/64 Of Human Bondage/The Naked Kiss
11/04/64 The Young Lovers/A Yank in Vietnam
11/11/64 Joy House/Racing Fever
11/18/64 Youngblood Hawke
12/23/64 Sex and the Single Girl
02/17/65 36 Hours/The Pink Panther
03/10/65 The Rounders/The Second Time Around
03/24/65 Ferry Cross the Mersey/A Hard Day’s Night
04/07/65 Girl Happy/The Young Racers
04/21/65 John Goldfarb, Please Come Home/The Notorious Landlady
05/12/65 The Black Torment/The Brain
05/19/65 Masquerade/A Shot in the Dark
05/26/65 Joy in the Morning/Lili
06/02/65 I’ll Take Sweden/Period of Adjustment
06/16/65 Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion/Hercules, Samson, and Ulysses
06/23/65 Seaside Swingers/The Bounty Killer
06/30/65 Operation Crossbow
07/14/65 The Monkey’s Uncle
07/28/65 Having a Wild Weekend/The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die
08/04/65 The Glory Guys/How to Murder Your Wife
08/11/65 Help!/Swingers' Paradise
09/15/65 Billie/Go Go Big Beat
09/22/65 Murieta/Cheyenne Autumn
09/29/65 She/Sandokan the Great
10/06/65 Never on Sunday/Topkapi
10/20/65 Old Yeller/Indian Paint
10/27/65 The Ipcress File/Dark Intruder
11/24/65 Harum Scarum/Your Cheatin' Heart
12/08/65 It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
12/22/65 Thunderball
03/23/66 The Slender Thread/My Six Loves
04/27/66 Harper
05/25/66 Frankie and Johnny/Bye Bye Birdie
06/08/66 Around the World Under the Sea/Zebra in the Kitchen
06/15/66 A Big Hand for the Little Lady/Spencer’s Mountain
06/22/66 Hold On!/Get Yourself a College Girl
06/29/66 The Glass-Bottom Boat/Son of a Gunfighter
07/13/66 A Fine Madness
08/03/66 Maya
08/10/66 Batman/Don’t Worry, We’ll Think of a Title
08/17/66 What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?
08/24/66 Up to His Ears
09/14/66 Ambush Bay
09/21/66 Chamber of Horrors/Hysteria
09/28/66 Goldfinger/Dr. No
10/19/66 Seconds/Waco
10/26/66 Kaleidoscope
11/02/66 Mister Buddwing/The Nanny
11/09/66 The Fighting Prince of Donegal
11/23/66 Spinout/Fireball 500
12/07/66 The Swinger/When the Boys Meet the Girls
12/21/66 Any Wednesday/Mozambique
01/18/67 Funeral in Berlin
02/08/67 A Fistful of Dollars
03/01/67 The Corrupt Ones
03/08/67 First to Fight
03/15/67 Easy Come, Easy Go
03/29/67 Hotel/The Wild Affair
04/19/67 Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding!/Panic Button
04/26/67 The 25th Hour
05/03/67 Mondo Cane/Bad Girls Do Cry/Mau Mau

BrooklynJim on June 26, 2006 at 10:11 am

Error: the 2nd printing was out in 1995. (The book was originally published in 1988.)

BrooklynJim on June 26, 2006 at 10:09 am

On Page 85 of Warren W. Wing’s book, “To Seattle By Trolley” (2nd printing, 1985), there is a panoramic shot of 5th and Westlake that features the “new” Orpheum Theatre as a centerpiece. Outstanding photography really captures the look and feel of that part of Seattle in the late 1920s!

I lack the technical capabilities to scan and post that photo, so it is my hope that someone out there with access to Wing’s book can get it up here for all to enjoy. Good luck!

William on May 4, 2006 at 5:11 pm

During the 1940’s the theatre was operated by Evergreen State Amusement Corp., which was one of the subsidiaries of Fox Theatres.

kencmcintyre on December 29, 2005 at 8:13 pm

This site has some interesting photos of the Orpheum. Enter theaters as a search term and browse the photos:

View link

GWaterman on December 3, 2005 at 4:01 pm

John P., I am curious who were the house stagehands during your time there, as I may have known them. Orville? Floyd? Bennie?

JohnP on September 1, 2005 at 12:10 am

As the assistant manager during 1952/53, I still have many fond memories:

The searchlights and limousines on the occasion of the World Premiere of “The World in His Arms,” during which Ann Blyth, the leading lady, appeared on stage.

Opening the door for employees at 11:30 AM, opening the boxoffice at 11:45AM, the movies starting at noon, driving home to Lake City for my hour-long dinner break, changing into a tux rented from Nifty Costumes for the evening hours, closing the boxffice and concession stand at 10PM and reconciling the cash and ticket sales, and finally waking a few patrons before closing the doors at 1 AM. Six days a week!

The spacious office suite on the second floor with picture window views up both Fifth and Westlake Avenues. And the living-room size walk-in safe, where shelves of rolled coins were kept (but rarely used) as a reserve for all Seattle Hamrick theatres during weekends and holidays when banks were closed. And the fourth floor offices of the John Hamrick theatre chain (which included the Liberty on First VAvenue, the Music Hall on Olive Way, the Music Box and Blue Mouse on Fifth Avenue, the Venetian on East Pine at 14th (?), and a theater in remote Enumclaw.

The occasions when a wayward arm on a “trackless trolley” westbound on Stewart Street would swing under the marquee and wipe out dozens of light bulbs with a machine-gun sound which always brought screams of terror!

The union contract which required the presence backstage of two stagehands during all operating hours, even though they had nothing to do for eleven hours between opening and closing the curtains once a day (and for which their pay was significantly greater than mine!).

The palatial backstage dressing rooms, particularly the two suites on the fourth floor reserved for the top stars; these were never used during my tour of duty, but were kept in perfect condition.

When our advertisement for “cashiers and usherettes” resulted in nearly a thousand applicants lined up almost ccompletely around the block.

bruceanthony on August 29, 2005 at 6:48 pm

This theatre must have been a success during the War years. How did the theare do during the 1950’s? I love the marquee on this theatre.brucec

kateymac01 on May 22, 2005 at 4:49 am

There were seats for 2,700 when this theater opened, making it the largest in Seattle (until the Seattle Theatre/Paramount was born).

kateymac01 on May 22, 2005 at 4:41 am

Excellent detail and photos about this theater here:

View link

William on April 20, 2005 at 10:22 am

The Orpheum Theatre in Seattle opened on Sunday, August 28, 1927 with the film “The Rush Hour”. The new Orpheum Theatre and office building, rasing six and one-half stories in Times Square, represents the very finist and latest in theatre and office construction, embodying every known improvement in structural engineering. At the time of it’s opening the theatre seated 2700 and was the largest in the Pacific Northwest. The fundamental and conservative Spanish Renaissance has been modified to suit practical theatre use, resulting in a building and interior of permanent appeal and beauty. Four ticket windows are to be found in the spacious entrance lobby, from whose terrazzo, mosaic and travertine floor there arise walls of bottocini, escalette and black and gold marble. The luxuriously carpeted inner foyer, graced by walls of bottocini and great columns, rises to a height of 50 feet, and in the center is suspended a main chandelier of unusual grace Two mezzanine promenades look down upon the main foyer. Steps down from the foyer lead to the retiring and smoking rooms, complete in every way. From the foyer, main stairways and an elevator of fifty-passenger capacity lead to the three balcony levels. The middle balcony foyer is graced by furniture of surpassing beauty, and through small Spanish group apertures one may look down upon the lower foyer, 25 feet below. Here to are found retiring rooms, while on the lower balcony level, or first mezzanine, in addition to retiring rooms, is a nursery. The administrating suite of five offices is located on this first mezzanine floor.
In the spacious auditorium the full beauty of the Spanish Renaissance is revealed, accentuated by luxurious draperies and the great chandeliers. The intimacy so essential to the high-class vaudeville theatre is achieved by the use of colonnades which, too, lead themselves to architectural treatment unsurpassed by other and more conventional interiors. The auditorium is lighted indirectly by concealed lights of three colors, which may be dimmed to achieve any effect desired. The original exterior sign once said ORPHEUM and vaudeville. The exterior electrical display was the most elaborate west of Chicago, and the roof sign was the largest sign on the Pacific Coast. The letter “O” of the word “Orpheum” is 16 feet high and contains 250 lamps. Nearly 4,000 lamps are used in this sign alone, and 8,000 lamps, of more than 15,000 watts, comprise the entire display.

GWaterman on March 7, 2005 at 6:03 pm

If I recall correctly, the nearby UA Cinema has old blueprints of the Orpheum displayed on the wall in the lobby. Hi Rick!

unknown on November 5, 2003 at 4:47 pm

one feature of this old theatre was a balcony that was supported only from the sides and back.

when the orpheum theatre was demolished to make way for the westin hotel, the wrecking crew worked for quite some time trying to bring the balcony down. I don’t recall exactly how long, but I believe that they finally attacked the side supports, and one day during their lunch break, the balcony fell of its own accord.