As I began to research the history of the Pantages Theatre in Spokane, little did I know of the soap opera behind it all. Alex Pantages, a Greek immigrant who rose to be the best-known theater and vaudeville impresario in the early 20th century, had a love affair in Canada with "Klondike Kate, Belle of the Yukon." Kathleen Rockwell, a Spokane girl, would dance flirtatiously and the miners, called "sourdoughs", would toss gold nuggets at her feet. Alex and Kate pooled their money and Pantages opened his first theater in Seattle in 1902. Many others soon followed. But Kate was still working the stage when her paramour married another woman, of higher station, in Seattle. The spurned dancer sued Pantages and the story is legend in entertainment history. Pantages, the ambitious, ruthless even, producer died in disgrace and without the fortune he worked so hard for in 1936. Read about it Monday in The Spokesman-Review's Then and Now feature.
Read more about "Klondike Kate" here.
See "Klondike Kate" on "You Bet Your Life" with Groucho Marx. Kate shows up at about the 16:00 minute mark.