Bird Cage Theatre
Tombstone, Arizona was a rich and riotous mining camp in December, 1881 when former opera house manager Billy Hutchinson opened the doors of the Bird Cage Theatre.
From the onset it was patronized twenty-four hours a day by the town's miners, cowboys, and drifters who drank and caroused with the theatre's chorus girl barmaids.
The Bird Cage enjoyed the reputation of being the southwest's most famous vaudeville playhouse.
It featured the most popular acts of the day - Eddie Foy, Lotta Crabtree, and Lola Montez to name a few.
However it was also a rough, rowdy bar, dance hall, and gambling house. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Diamond Jim Brady were some of its more a legendary clientele.
The Bird Cage was in business, off and on, for eleven years yet its heyday was the first two years when the area's mines were extremely prosperous and tombstone had a population of about 7,000.
A decline in silver production began an economic downturn that led to continual changes in ownership, entertainment, and name.
The Bird Cage closed in 1892 and remained closed for more than thirty years before reopening as a movie house, then a coffee shop, and later a souvenir stand.
As one of the few original buildings still standing from Tombstone's glory days, the Bird Cage remains one of the west's most famous landmarks.
Knott's Berry Farm's Bird Cage Theatre is a replica of this Arizona original and had been on the drawing board for nearly a decade before Walter Knott had this facade constructed of adobe bricks in 1954.
From its inception, Knott utilized the Ghost Town venue to showcase melodramas.
These presentations ran more than forty years and made the Bird Cage Theatre the oldest, continuously operating melodrama theatre in the United States.
It also became a training ground for many young, talented performers who trod its boards and learned the craft of entertainment