Can you remember when Sinatra, Laurel & Hardy and Cliff Richard lit up the Glasgow Empire?

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IT might have been 50 years since the final curtain came down on a legendary theatre – graced in its heyday by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Laurel & Hardy and Judy Garland – but a local enthusiast is determined that it is never forgotten . . . and he is asking Herald readers for their stories.

Glasgow Empire Theatre closed five decades ago, but memories and folktales surrounding the famous institution continue to echo down the years.

Bob Bain, from Auchinloch, is working on a project which aims to rekindle recollections of the theatre and its poignant end.

Bob – secretary of the Scottish Music Hall and Variety Theatre Society – said: “This theatre played host to nearly all the big American stars, British stars and others over the years.”

Vesta Tilley was the star of the first show in 1897, and the Empire played host to some very big names in the early years – including Cab Calloway, Henry Hall, Sophie Tucker and Jimmy Durante.

In the 50s, the Empire – which was in Sauchiehall Street – welcomed Frank Sinatra, Frankie Laine, Connie Francis, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Johnny Ray, Guy Mitchell, Rosemary Clooney, Shirley Bassey, Morecambe & Wise and more.

In the 60s, in the years before it closed in 1963, the Empire had Cliff Richard, Marty Wild, Bobby Darrin, Adam Faith, Emile Ford, Billy Fury and Alma Cogan as some of its top stars.

Bob said: “The list of stars – both American and British and, of course, Scottish – who trod the boards of this great theatre goes on and on – Andy Stewart, Laurel & Hardy, Roy Rogers & Trigger, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Chic Murray, Johnny Beattie, Robert Wilson and more.

“Over the years I have built up a collection of Scottish Variety Theatre memorabilia – including posters, photographs, programmes, etc.

“Does any reader have any stories or memories from the Glasgow Empire Theatre?

“If so, I would be delighted to hear them.”

The Red Army singers, musicians and dancers appeared for the final week, beginning March 25, 1963.

The very last show was a charity show on Sunday, March 31, when the cream of Scotland’s top artistes appeared on stage – including Robert Wilson, Rikki Fulton, Jack Milroy, Calum Kennedy, Johnny Beattie, Andy Stewart, Jack Radcliffe and Duncan Macrae.

The finale of the show had Albert Finney and Duncan Macrae coming onstage with pick axes to strike the first blow of the demolition.

Anyone with information is asked to write to Bob Bain, 69 Langmuirhead Road, Auchinloch, G66 5DJ, or visit http://www.freewebs.com/glasgow-empire/

* Have you got a story, picture or comment? E-mail kirkyherald@jnscotland.co.uk

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