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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Spokane: The courtroom spectacle between the warring Pantages entertainers devolved even further when the verdict came in

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

The most talked-about drama in Spokane – the fist-swinging conflict between two Pantages Theater entertainers – moved to a new stage: Justice Stocker’s courtroom.

This show did not disappoint. The opposing attorneys shouted insults at each other. One spectator had to be removed from the courtroom “in a hysterical condition.” And at the end, when the guilty verdict was handed down, the gallery erupted in anger.

Most of the spectators were there in support of Georgia Hall, an actress who was charged with third-degree assault for slapping (or punching, accounts differed) a young singer named Nancy Fair.

At the end of the trial, the crowd was angry that Justice Stocker found Hall guilty. But that was not the only reason they were angry. They were incensed that the prosecutor referred to Hall’s supporters and fellow performers as “the scum of the earth.”

When the prosecutor launched that insult, people in the crowd demanded a slander suit.

Testimony showed that Hall was spanking her 3-year-old child in the Pantages dressing room when Fair banged open her door and shouted, “If you don’t quit, I’ll report you to the society for cruelty to children. … You’re not fit to be a mother.”

Hall was angered at this interference and followed Fair back to her dressing room. She then whacked Fair across the face several times.

The manager of the Pantages bill testified that Fair had been “snobbish to the other members of the bill” and had caused trouble before.

Justice Stocker ruled that Hall was provoked, but also that she trespassed when she barged into Fair’s private room. He found Hall guilty, but fined her only $5 plus court costs.