Nora Bayes: Paying Tribute to a Legendary Performer

Nora Bayes, 1912A few dozen pop culture aficionados gathered in the Bronx on Saturday, April 21, 2018, to pay tribute to entertainer Nora Bayes, who was once one of the biggest stars in America.

If you’re thinking you’re not familiar with Bayes, think again. You could almost certainly hum a few bars of at least a couple of her biggest hits: Shine On, Harvest Moon, which she cowrote and had a big hit with in 1908, and George M. Cohan‘s Over There, which she popularized in 1917 during the buildup to the USA’s entry into World War I.

Bayes, a popular vaudevillian and Broadway star, was a larger-than-life figure, a diva ahead of her time. One of the highest-paid women in the world at the peak of her career, Bayes, a featured performer in the Ziegfeld Follies, was a rival to Sophie Tucker, a fellow Follies performer who is arguably better remembered today.

While she was still living, Nora Bayes had a West 44th Street Broadway theatre named after her, and her life story was told in a posthumous biopic, Shine on, Harvest Moon (1944), in which she was portrayed by Ann Sheridan (Frances Langford played Bayes in the 1942 Cohan biopic, Yankee Doodle Dandy).

Sheet music for 'Over There' with Nora Bayes picturedBayes’ personal life was also memorable: She married a succession of five men in an era when divorce was still scandalous (and not easily achieved).

When Bayes died of cancer in 1928 at age 48, fans thronged the sidewalks outside her Manhattan townhouse to watch as she was carried away in a silver casket. She was taken to Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, but wasn’t buried right away; instead her remains were stored in a receiving tomb, a temporary resting place typically used only for a short period of time while burial arrangements are being made.

But arrangements for Bayes’ internment weren’t immediately forthcoming; in fact, she remained in that receiving tomb for 18 years, until 1948.

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Meet Us at the Campus Theatre!

We’ve long had a great affinity for old movie theatres—we can think of no public spaces of which we’re more fond—and though we don’t think we’ve ever acknowledged it in this space, we get a great kick, too, out of venerable business establishments with “Campus” in their names. So when someone near and dear to us sent us this photograph of the Campus Theatre in Denton, Texas, our old heart went pit-a-pat.

The Campus, situated in downtown Denton, opened for business in 1949, intended to serve the students, employees and faculty members of a pair of nearby colleges: The University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University. The first picture to screen at the Campus? I Was a Male War Bride, starring Denton native Ann Sheridan and Cary Grant.

It continued to be a going concern until 1985, when it was shuttered. A few years later, the theatre was purchased by the Greater Denton Arts Council, which operates it as a community performing arts center. We checked the calendar on their website and see no signs of motion pictures being exhibited there, which is disappointing, but perhaps we just didn’t dig deeply enough.

It’s a pet peeve of ours when classic theatres are preserved and restored, but their original reason for existing is ignored. By all means, play host to concerts, plays and high school talent shows, if you must, but if you’re not showing a movie (preferably a classic film from the Golden Age of Hollywood) at least once a month, you’re not doing right by that old bijou, we say.

Campus Theatre, Denton, Texas

Hollywood Quotes from Our Favorite Glamour Girls

Big news! We’re holding a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive this one-of-a-kind hardbound book that collects the wit and wisdom of 20 actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and it’s available only through Cladrite Radio! If you’ve enjoyed the Hollywood quotes we’ve shared with you in the past, you’ll want to own this volume! Ann Sheridan, Fay Wray, Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck—they’re all here, and many more of your favorite actresses are represented, too!

To enter for your chance to win, just follow us on Twitter and retweet one of the giveaway announcements we’ll be posting through April 11. That’s all there is to it! But hurry—you only have until 6pm ET on Monday, April 11, to follow us and retweet one of our announcements!

Hollywood Quotes by Actresses of the Cladrite Era