Lost Butte, Montana, a book by Richard I. Gibson, is in stores and museum gift shops around Butte. Or order from the publisher. It's also in E-book formats at all the usual places. And read an interview with Gibson, here, and on KXLF here. The Facebook page has many historic photos of Butte, and the Butte-Anaconda NHLD project showcases many historic buildings. Location-oriented posts can be found on HistoryPin. On Mondays beginning in January 2016, look for Gibson's "Mining City History" column in the Montana Standard.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Julian Eltinge returns to Butte

Photo from Anaconda Standard, Dec. 14, 1913. Click to enlarge.
By Richard I. Gibson

Most of my readers will be familiar with the story of  Julian Eltinge (1881-1941), perhaps the greatest female impersonator of the 20th Century. Born William Julian Dalton, he arrived in Butte as a child with his father, a mining engineer, and ultimately took the name of his Butte friend, the son of W.A. Clark clerk Charles Eltinge, who was the first owner of the house at 211 West Quartz.

The impetus for this post is my encounter with a photo of Eltinge on his visit to Butte in 1913 when he was at the peak of his fame, seven years after his command performance for King Edward VII in London. He was in Butte touring with his own production, The Fascinating Widow. The one-night performance, December 15, 1913, was at the Broadway Theater (later the Montana Theater, at Broadway and Montana Streets, today replaced by the telephone company building). Seats ran 50¢ to $2.00—rather a pretty penny even for a live show in those days, when short films cost from 10¢ to 35¢ for admission. 

Films competing in Butte with Eltinge’s production that December included The Wreck and The Thrifty Janitor at the Ansonia, and The Cavemen’s War: A love tale of the prehistoric days when might was right, at the Orpheum. Live Vaudeville at the Empress included Big Jim the Dancing Bear, Burke & Harrison’s comedy act, virtuoso Luigi Dell’Oro, and more—all for a ticket costing less than 35¢.

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