Early Burlesque Theatres in Omaha, NE

The Trocadero Theatre (419 S 15th St. Omaha, NE)

The Trocadero Theater opened its first season with the Miaco’s Burlesque Circuit in 1899. It was located at 419 South 15th Street in Omaha, NE. Starting off, it was a theater within the Miaco’s Burlesque Circuit, which booked shows in conjunction with the Empire Circuit. It featured a new bill every week, each company bringing its own set, lighting, and cast. The orchestra was the only permanent installment. Prices for seats ranged from 10 cents to 75 cents. Matinees were given each Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. (Omaha Hotel Reporter, August 1900)

(Omaha Morning World Herald. A Sketch of the Old Krug Theater. Feb. 27, 1927)

Here is a brief and incomplete list of shows that performed at the Trocadero:
  • Frank B. Carr’s Beauty Show (Omaha Morning World Herald, 1900)
  • Indian Maidens Burlesque Company headed by Pearl Marquem (burlesquer) (Omaha Morning World Herald, 1900)
  • Star Vaudeville Acts; Swan & Bambard, Cunningham & Smith, Bessie Phillips, Lamar Sisters, Mack & Matthews, and Belle Gordon. (Omaha Morning World Herald, 1900)
  • Miss Dollie Rathbun-Chesley - Soloist (Omaha Morning World Herald, 1900)
  • The Thoroughbred Burlesquers (Omaha Morning World Herald, 1902)
  • Rosenthal’s Amateur Night (Omaha Morning World Herald, 1902)
  • The Trocadero Opera Co. (Omaha Daily Bee, August 1899)
  • H.M.S. Pinafore (Omaha Daily Bee, 1899)
  • Cavalleria Rusticana (Omaha Daily Bee, August 1899)
  • T.W. Dinkin’s Vagabond Burlesquers (Omaha Daily Bee, November 1900)
  • A.H. Woodhul High Rollers (Omaha Hotel Reporter, August 1900)
  • Sam Scribner’s 'Gay Morning Glories' (Omaha Hotel Reporter, August 1900)
  • Ed Rushes’ Bon Ton Burlesquers (Omaha Hotel Reporter, August 1900)

The Krug Theatre - 'Home of the Folly' | 419 S 15th St. Omaha, NE

The Krug Theater was originally the Trocadero. It reopened as the Krug Theater in 1903 with a production of “Sweet Clover”, a comedic opera about the trifles of New England life. (Evening World Herald, Sept. 1903) In September of 1911 the Krug theater became ‘Home of the Folly’ operated under the Empire Circuit. Smoking was allowed on the lower floor of the theater with huge exhaust fans to combat the smoke. Two performances daily for a whole week was the new norm. “A Trip to the South Pole” by the Rector Girls Company was the first burlesque attraction to take place at the Krug Theater in January of 1911. (Omaha Daily News, January 1911)

(Omaha Morning World Herald. Krug Theatre Advertisement. Oct. 22, 1911)

1915 W.W. (Billy) Cole takes over management at the Krug again. He originally opened the Krug as the Trocadero and then opened Krug Park. (Omaha Daily Bee, November 1915) Broadway Gayety Girls opened at the Krug in March 1911. May Strehl performed a burlesque number. Carmel’s living model olio reproduced famous paintings using live models. A dozen or so were represented, like Millet’s L’Angelus and Banner’s Daphne. Georgia Campers was the headliner for the olio. (Omaha Daily News, March 1911) The Krug was added to the Empire Burlesque circuit, rounding out its 41 houses. Omaha was the farthest west of any of their theaters. In 1911 the lease had 2 and 1/2 years left. (Omaha Daily News, January 1911)

(Omaha Daily Bee, Krug Theatre Advertisement. Dec. 22, 1912)

Show Advertisements for the Krug Theatre:

  • “Follies of the Day” - “The Garden of Girls” and Al Kaufman, the San Francisco heavy-weight and challenger of Jack Johnson will give sparring exhibitions. (Omaha Daily News, April 1911)
  • The Jolly Girls burlesque troupe (Omaha Daily News, January 1911)
  • “A Trip to the South Pole” by the Rector Girls Company (Omaha Daily News, January 1911)
  • That Whirly Girlie Show “Follies of the Day” (Evening World Herald, April 1911)
  • Cherry Blossoms Burlesque Co. (Evening World Herald, December 1911)
  • Female wresting match between Ollie Martin and Estelle Sedal (heavyweight champions) (Evening World Herald, December 1911)
  • William’s Ideal Burlesquers; A Whirly Girlie Show (Evening World Herald, Feb. 1907)
  • Billy Watson and his Beef Trust Chorus in “Krousemyer’s Alley”. 30 girls with shapely shapes “Krug: Home of Family Burlesque - Catering to Polite Audiences” (Morning World Herald, Oct. 1911)
  • Al Kaufman in Exhibitions at Every Performance (Omaha Daily Bee, April 1911)
  • Gertrude Hays and the Dancing Bricktops and Louie Lacre “L’Obresponsible” (Omaha Daily Bee, April 1911)
  • The Pacemakers; 4 Dancing Harmonists (Omaha Daily Bee, Jan. 1913)
  • High Life in Burlesque with Pat White and Mlle. Marcia? 24 Girls; Country Store Friday Night (Omaha Daily Bee, Jan. 1913)
  • The Rose Buds with Joe Adams, Helen Van Buren and a Garden of Girls in “A Circus Day” (Omaha Daily Bee, Nov. 1912)
  • The Moulin Rouge Company in “The Toast of Paris”. Country Store Friday night, Ladies Daily Dime Matinee, Dainty Marie and the Yankee Doodle Girls. (Omaha Daily Bee, Dec. 1912)
  • The Gay Girls of Gotham; with Sullivan and Abrahms, the Girl in Pink with her Dancing Musical Dolls and a Broadway Beauty Chorus (Omaha Daily News, April 1913)
  • The Ducklings; all Broilers. 25 Dainty Dimple Darlings; “Oh You Lemon” performance and “Temptation” pantomime (Omaha Daily News, April 1911)
  • Girls from Joyland: a Sirening Chorus of 55 Smile Coaxers, Special feature Blanche?
  • The Merry Maidens; Harry Fields and Lilla Brennan (Omaha Daily News, January 1913)
  • Zallah’s Own Company headed by Zallah; A Cabaret Rehearsal and the Unkissed Oriental (Omaha Daily News, March 1913)
  • Gay Widows Company; The 5 alarcons and John Harat
  • Miner’s Americans; the Big American Beauty Show with musical burlesque “A Yankee Doodle Girl”, 30 American beauties, See the Tango Dancers, 3 acts - longest in the circuit!
  • Darlings of Paris (Omaha Daily News, February 1913)
  • Lady Buccanaeers (Omaha Daily News, February 1913)
  • The Rollickers (Omaha Daily Bee, July 1913)
  • Whirl of Mirth company presents “In Cartoon Land” (Omaha Daily News, December 1912)
  • Lew Hilton and Bert Lewis in “Pacemakers” (Omaha Daily News, January 1913)
  • The Star Show Girls; “Florence Birthday Party” and “Helen’s Fate”. Carmelo’s Life Poses from Paris- Famous pictures from Louvre shown by Mons. Carmelo in living models. (Omaha Daily News, November 1911)

(Omaha Evening World Herald. Krug Theatre Advertisement. April 1911)

Gayety Theatre "Omaha's Fun Centre" | 1514 Harney St. Omaha, NE | 1908-1931

Originally called the Burwood Theatre, the Gayety quickly rose to infamy when it was renamed in 1908 and became a member of the Columbia Burlesk Circuit. The extravagance of the 'Gayety Way' was popular amongst patrons who enjoyed 'cleaner' burlesque and vaudeville acts. The Gayety wanted the shows to be seen as ‘cleaner’ and ads were placed with targeted wording, “Yes, indeed! Your wife or sister or sweetheart will be welcomed, entertained and NOT offended.” (Evening World Herald, Advertisement for Gayety Theatre. March 25, 1921)

Burwood Theatre, 1908

Burlesque at the Gayety is written about in the New York Clipper in the Fall on 1914. Harry Hastings’ Big Show was playing the week of Wednesday October 7th, where a record breaking audience attended. E.L. Johnson, the manager, is written as a man determined to have a ‘clean stage’ in Omaha. He is reported to have traveled 15,000 miles and a total of 38 trips to Kansas City to see the circuit shows before they arrived in Omaha. An Omahan chorus dancer, Beatrice Dowling, was a cast member of the Big Show. "Usherettes" showed patronos their seats. Baby carriages were stored in the lobby, and smoking was prohibited (The New York Clipper. “Burlesque in Omaha” by KC. October 24, 1914)

Gayety Theatre, 1921. Daily Drover's Journal Stockman

Note that the Krug Theatre, an Empire Burlesque Circuit theatre, was also operating at this time in Omaha. The Krug was not concerned with 'clean' productions. Omahans were able to see two new burlesque shows every week from two major burlesque wheels during the 1920s. 

(Omaha Morning World Herald. Gayety Theatre Advertisement. Nov. 23, 1924)

Show Advertisements from the Gayety Theatre:

  • “Whooping It Up” at the Gayety and “Knickerbockers” during the first week of the Ak-Sar-Ben activities. It was a funny show with bits and pretty girls—“No, no, one mustn’t forget that the big attraction at the Gayety is its girls—the stage is always filled with oodles of them.” Next week is the Carnival Parade week with Sam Howe and his “Love Makers”. Florence Bennet stars with a chorus of girls. The Article boasts that the Gayety is the most popular Theatre in Omaha. (Fillmore Weekly Chronicle, September 27, 1912)
  • Gayety Real Burlesque: “Moonlight Maids” with Billy Hagan —Ama Toebe. Meet-you-at-the-gayety get-up-a-party. (Evening World Herald. January 2, 1928)
  • The Gay Masqueraders in two act musical melange: “A Hot Old Time” "If It’s at the Gayety It’s Good.” Mlle. Ani - Society Gymnast, Flo Cushman and she can sing, 3 Melvin Bros. Marvelous Acrobats, Barney Duffy the Human Goat, Chorus girls’ contest Friday Night. (Omaha Daily Bee, December 1909)
  • Trocadero’s “Finny at the North Pole” with Frank Finney, 24 unwrapped chorus of polar queens. Musical comedy (Morning World Herald, December 1910)
  • The Big Gaiety Company. Amateur Night, cash prizes - audience to judge (Morning World Herald, April 1911)
  • Ed. Lee Wrothe, Omaha’s Own Comedian, with his assemblage of live ones “the Ginger Girls” in “Janitor Higgins”. Saturday Night only Amateur Contest. (Omaha Daily Bee, 1911)
  • The Golden Crook; introducing the Peer of Tramp Comedians— Billy Arlington— and 60 others in the clean, wholesome, Merry satire, “A Trip to the Moon.” Vaudeville by Whirls Comedy Harmonists, Arlington & Palmer, Jack Strouse, Edwin Trevor, Johnson & Buckley, Marshal & King, Harry Morton. The Spectacular Divertisement. The Ballet of the Seasons; a Veritable Fairyland Enchantment. Saturday night only: Amateur Contest, By gorgeously bedecked local gazelles. (Omaha Daily News, April 1911)
  • Trocaderos led by Frank Finney, in speed-limit comedy, “Sweeney’s Vacation” with Minnie Burke and Sweet 16 Bunnie Scotch Lassies. (Morning World Herald, October 1911)
  • “The theater that’s talked about home-coming week—Omaha’s own comic Ed Lee Wroth and his Extravaganza and vaudeville “Ginger Girls”— Snappiest of all fun shows. 2 1/2 hours of riotous mirth. Beauty Chorus. Ladies’ dime matinee every day." (Evening World Herald, April 1911)

(Omaha Evening World Herald. Advertisement for Gayety Theatre. Jan. 4, 1924)

  • Gayety, "Omaha’s Fun Center" Miss Barry Melton wears her Harem Skirt at every performance of Big Gaiety Co. Extravaganza and vaudeville. Including Sidney Dean & Co., Al Hermann, Rita Gould, Five Musical Gormans, and Sam Collins. Saturday night only: Amateur contest" (Omaha Daily Bee, April 1911)
  • “Peter S. Clark’s Runaway Girls featuring John Burke Bros. In “the Maid of Montezuma.” (Morning World Herald, August 1912)
  • Farewell tour of the Chalk Face Comedians Moore & Smith as “The Tin-Man” and “the Scare-crow” in “Merry Whirl”. Assisted by a company of 50, including American Parisienne, Petite William Fitzgerald and the Silk Stocking Chorus. (Omaha Daily News, November 1912)
  • School Ma’ams Sessions in conjunction with the Broadway Girls. Geo P. Murphy “The Eminent German Dialect Comedian in a two act Musical Laugh-Fest”. Frank Wakefield and 30 beauty chorus. “Is das nicht ein Gartenhaus?” (Omaha Daily Bee, November 1913)
  • Farewell Tour of Rose Sydell with her famous London Belles in a new musical farcical Satire “A Feast of Fun.” W.S. Campbell and Johnnie Weber. Your last chance to see the acknowledged Queen of Extravaganza Rose Sydell. Chew gum if you like but no smoking. Ladies Tickets 10 cents at any week day. Baby carriage garage in the lobby. Certified milk for the asking. (Omaha Daily News, April 1913)
  • “Ak-Sar-Ben’s Undisputetd Diadem” “Luster without the Lust”. “Clean, Classy, Brilliant Musical Burlesque”, “The Gayety, ‘Omaha’s Fun Center’”, “Beauty Chorus of Bean-Eating Boston Girls” Charles H. Waldron’s Bostonians in “UP and Down Town”(Morning World Herald, September 1916)
  • Jacobs & Jermon’s Burlesque Review; Harry K. Morton, Zella Russel, Danny Murphy, Flossie Everett, Julia DeKelty, “The Apple of Paris”, Travesty on “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”, Dancing Beauty Chorus of Thirty. (Evening World Herald, March 1917)
  • Jean Bedini’s “Twinkle Toes” Musical Burlesk and Jean Bedini’s Super-Burlesk “Peek-a-Boo” with Clark & McCullough. Ladies' dime matinee week days. (Evening World Herald, March 1921)
  • Jack Singer presents Burlesk’s most popular entertainer Lew Kelly and his own pick of Merrymakers. Mr. Kelly as “Fuller Bull”. Teems with brand new “Kellyisms” (Morning World Herald, December 1921)
  • Jacobs & Jermon’s Golden Crook - A Fantastic, Bizarre Entertainment Crowded with Fun, music, Color and Spectacle. 100 Per Cent Girlie Chorus. Always a good show (Daily Drovers Journal Stock, February 1922)
  • Cain and Davenport present the National Speed Show - Harry “Bananas” Steppe in “Dancing Around”. The Utmost in Musical Revue with America’s Foremost Colored Stars Buck and Bubbles (Courtesy of Nat Nazarro). Successors to Williams & Walker Highest Salaried Colored Performers in the World. Late stars on the Orpheum, Kieth and Shubert Circuits. Speed? Pep? Nothin’ but! Watch Bubbles Strut!! Hear Buck Play the Piano!! —and The Fastest Dancing Chorus in the World! Harry Steppe, who made bananas famous! (The Monitor, September 1923)
  • Police inspection of New York’s theaters - "Columbia Burlesk is everything except what those who don’t attend think it is.” This week its “Hippity Hop” with Shannon and Leeming. (Evening World Herald, December 1923)
  • Jack Reid’s “Record Breakers” with “Kewpie Doll Chorus” Midnight show with Election returns by special wire (Morning World Herald, October 1924)
  • "Columbia Burlesk: Bathing Beauties with Clyde Bates, Jack Hunt, and a Big Cast of 22 Well Filled Bathing Suits. Aaron & Kelly- America’s Greatest Colored Singers and Dancers. Harry Evanston in “Giggles” in conjunction with the 10 musical spillers with St. Clair Dotson and Millard McConn. The Razziest, Jazziest Bouquet of Colored Folks who ever rolled into town on car wheels. BIG DOUBLE SHOW - 54 people - Count 'em Yourself. Don’t Hang Fire; Be Here Saturday Mat." (Evening World Herald, January 1924)
  • Jean Bedini’s “Peek-A-Boo” with Hairy and Willie Lander. Friday is “Garter Nite” and Columbia Burlesk’s 25th Anniversary Attraction ‘Happy Moments’ (Morning World Herald, February 1925)
  • Columbia Burlesk’s 25th Anniversary Party “Happy Moments” with Lew White and Fay Herman. (Morning World Herald, February 1925)
  • Gayety Real Burlesque: “Land of Joy” A Jolly Girlie Show (Evening World Herald, February 1927)
  • A Real Peppy Fun Feast “Parisian Flappers” with Stelia Morrisey. You Simply Must See Our “Flossie?”- Flossie Devere (Morning World Herald, January 1927)
  • Gayety Real Burlesque - Rube Bernstein’s Original “Bathing Beauties with Jack Hunt. See the Big Black and White Finale! (The Monitor, January 1927)
  • Gayety Real Burlesk: Stone & Pillard, Omaha’s Most Popular Dancing Stars. Extra Added attraction: Darling Germaine the Queen of Quiver. (Omaha Evening Bee, March 1927)
  • Gayety Burlesque now playing “Kandy Kids” with Jessie McDonald & Max Coleman. The sweetest show you ever did see. Ladies’ Mat. Every Day, 25 cents. (Omaha Bee News, October 1927)
  • Gayety Real Burlesque: Now Playing “Girls from the Follies” with Fred (Falls) Binder and Gladys Clark. Ladies Matinee today. Get-Up-A-Party. (Omaha Morning Bee, February 1928)

List of Performing Groups in the 'Far Reaching Columbia (Eastern Wheel) Circuit:

  • Winning Widow
  • Taxi Girls
  • Social Maids
  • Queens of Pair
  • Ben Welch’s Burlesquers
  • Girls of the Gay White Way
  • Harry Hastings’ Big Show
  • Girls from Happyland
  • World of Pleasure
  • American Beauties
  • Star and Garter Show
  • Robinson’s Crusoe Girls
  • Sam Howe’s Love Makers
  • Robie’s Knickerbockers
  • The Trocaderos
  • Beauty, Youth, and Folly
  • AJ. Reeves’ Beauty Show
  • Runaway Girls
  • Jolly Follies
  • Ginger Girls
  • The Dazzler
  • Mollie Williams
  • Golden Crook
  • Gaiety Girls
  • Dreamland Burlesquers
  • Cracker Jacks
  • Bon-Ton Girls
  • The Behman Show
  • Gay Masqueraders
  • Merry-Go-Rounders
  • Midnight Maidens
  • Columbia Burlesquers
  • College Girls
  • Merry Whirl
  • Rose Sydell
  • Bowery Burlesquers

 Boyd Theatre | Harney & 17th St.

(Boyd's Theatre. Photograph Postcard. Date Unknown. Photographer Unknown. Omaha, NE. History Nebraska)

In December 1890, the Boyd Theater hosted Kimball Opera-Comique and Burlesque Co. which featured a soubrette named Corrine. The company performed two productions: ‘Carmen’ and ‘Monte Cristo Jr.’--though the daily newspaper noted the scores bared no resemblance to the originals. The company was managed solely by Mrs. Jennie Kimball and was composed of 60 artists, including Bernard Dillon. Three acts composed Carmen; “Fostella’s La Surprise,’ ‘Grand March of the Picadores,’ and ‘Grand Bull Fight a la Mexicana.’ Corinne played Edmund Dantes in Monte Cristo Jr. (Omaha Daily Bee. Article and Advertisement for Boyd Theater. December 28, 1890)

Brandeis Theatre | 17th & Douglas St

(Brandeis Theatre Postcard. Date Unknown. Photographer Unknown. History Nebraska)

Although the Brandeis Theatre typically hosted plays, musicals, and vaudeville productions, it dabbled in burlesque and a noteworthy 'sex education' photoplay. In 1924, "Some Wild Oats" showed at the Brandeis. The newspaper advertisements stated, "Men and women will not be admitted together. It shows everything. Calls 'A spade a spade.' Shows the naked truth. Special reels for Women Only. Special added attraction: Dr. L.A. Edwards of Chicago will lecture on Sex at All Performances. No children admitted. Actual scenes. Special Reels for Men Only." (Omaha Evening World Herald. Advertisement for Brandeis Theater. January 4, 1924)

(Omaha Evening World Herald. Advertisement for Brandeis Theatre. Jan. 4, 1924)

The Brandeis brought the 9th Edition of Earl Carroll’s Vanities to Omaha in 1933. It had a company of 100, with 55 scenes, and 200 fan dancers! The advertisement in the Omaha World Herald stated, "9th Edition of America’s Greatest Revue- all new- Earl Carroll’s Vanities. 100 Laughs, 55 scenes. Original New York Production as seen last season on Broadway. Company of 100 with Al Trahan, Frank Mitchell, and Jack Durant. The Most Beautiful Girls in the World." (Omaha World Herald. Advertisement for Brandeis Theater. January 13, 1933)


In 1934, the Theatre hosted "Fashion Follies of 1934." The advertisement stated, "A Sensational Laugh Story Steps Out in gala Attire! The producers of '42nd St.,' 'Gold Diggers' and 'Footlight Parade' not offer their GREATEST! Fashion Follies of 1934 with this superb cast William Powell, Bette Davis, Frank McHugh, Hugh Herbert. 200 fan dancers! And on the same program: This year’s new blazing personality! See him in his first screen triumph! Francis Lederer in “Man of Two Worlds” with Elissa Land and Henry Stephenson. (Omaha World Herald. Advertisement for Brandeis Theater. February 21, 1934)

The theatre showed “Belle of the Yukon” with Gypsy Rose Lee in December 1944. (Evening World Herald. Advertisement. December 28, 1944)

Brandeis Theatre showed the films “Shockproof” and “Slightly French.” The companion feature “Slightly French” was described as a ‘gay romantic comedy with music.’ Dance routines included the French can-can and ‘carnival girlie show’ numbers. (Daily Record. “Theatre Program; Brandeis Theatre.” February 10, 1949)

In June 1952, the Brandeis showed the movie “She’s Working Her Way Through College.” (Morning World Herald. Advertisement. June 29, 1952)

Blackstone Theatre |

One production at the Blackstone Theatre is of importance to the history of burlesque in Omaha. In May 1944, the exotic dancer, Katherine Dunham, performed with her troupe in "Tropical Revue" at the Blackstone Theatre. A photograph of her likeness was included in the Omaha Guide.

(The Omaha Guide. May 20, 1944)
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