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The Bird Cage Theater as it appears today.

The Bird Cage Theatre originally opened as The Elite Theatre on December 25, 1881, during the height of the silver boom in Tombstone, Arizona. Consisting of the theater, a saloon, a gambling parlour, and a brothel, it operated continuously – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – for the next 8 years. It gained a reputation as one of the wildest places in Tombstone, prompting The New York Times to report in 1882 that "the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast". The numerous bullet holes in the building lend credence to this claim.

Many famous entertainers of the day performed here over the years, including Eddie Foy, Sr., Lotta Crabtree, Lillie Langtry, and Lola Montez. It is reported that the popular song, "She's Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage" was written after a conversation occurred between Eddie Foy and songwriter Arthur Lamb concerning the ladies at the Elite who performed in 14 cages suspended from the ceiling in the main hall. Shortly thereafter, the owner changed the name to The Bird Cage.

The basement poker room is said to be the site of the longest-running poker game in history. Played continuously 24 hours a day for eight years, five months, and three days, legend has it that as much as 10 million dollars changed hands during the marathon game, with the house retaining 10 percent. Some of the participants were Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, and George Hearst. When ground water began seeping into the mines in the late 1880s the town went bust, the Bird Cage Theatre along with it. The poker game ended and the building was sealed up in 1889.

The building was not opened again until it was purchased in 1934, and the new owners were delighted to find that almost nothing had been disturbed in all those years. It has been a tourist attraction ever since, and is open to the general public year-round, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily.

The theater is said to be haunted [1][2] and has been featured in the paranormal investigation shows Ghost Hunters in 2006, and Ghost Adventures and Ghost Lab in 2009.

Image gallery

References

  1. ^ Bird Cage Theater In Haunted Tombstone, Arizona
  2. ^ Ghost Hunters, Season 3, Episode 1, "Tombstone"

External links

Coordinates: 31°42′43″N 110°3′55″W / 31.71194°N 110.06528°W / 31.71194; -110.06528

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