Morris Meyerfeld

Morris Meyerfeld (born Moses this day in 1855) was sort of the Keith to Martin Beck’s Albee in the real creation and expansion of the Orpheum Circuit, which ruled the Big Time west of Chicago. The chain had its origins in San Francisco, where the German-born Meyerfeld initially trafficked in dry goods, then cigars and booze. It was the latter enterprise that led to his takeover in 1898 of the 3500 seat Orpheum Theatre, at that time considered the most opulent in the West, as well as the nascent chain it belonged to.  The Orpheum (both the theatre and fledgling circuit) were the creation of Gustave Walter, who expanded too rapidly and couldn’t pay his liquor bills. Meyerfeld took over. Under Beck’s supervision, the Orpheum circuit, headquartered in Chicago, would take over the entire West, eventually merging with Keith-Albee in 1928. This firm in turn became R.K.O. and movies replaced vaudeville. Meyerfeld passed away in 1935.

To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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