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Bird Cage Theatre

The famous Birdcage Theatre opened its doors on December 25, 1881 and for the next eight years would never close, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Also called the Bird Cage Opera House Saloon, the establishment featured a saloon, gambling parlour, theatre, and a brothel.  In no time, the "theatre” gained a reputation as one of the wildest places in Tombstone, so bad that the few self-respecting women in town refused to even walk near the place. The New York Times reported in 1882, that "the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast" which isn’t far from the truth since 140 alleged bullet holes can still be seen in the ceiling and the walls.
As for the name behind the famous saloon, the story goes that when Broadway writer/composer Arthur J. Lamb visited, the balcony boxes reminded him of gilded cages, and the girls, who wore skimpy costumes adorned with colored feathers, of birds. Supposedly, he sat down at the theater’s grand piano and composed “She's Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage.” The song was a huge hit, and the theater's owners, Billy and Lottie Hutchinson, capitalizing on its popularity, changed The Elite’s name to The Bird Cage Theatre.  

Many famous and notorious legends frequented the Bird Cage. Performers such as Lillian Russell, Lotta Crabtree, and Eddie Foy Sr. have performed on the stage along with Fatima, the belly dancer. Others like the Clantons, Earps, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday and even Pete Spence, laid down many silver coins for a shot of whiskey. The basement was set up as a poker room and where the story is told that the longest-running poker game in history was played there. This game was played 24 hours, and apparently lasted eight years, five months, three days, with over 10 million dollars exchanging hands. Some of the participants were Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, and George Hearst, with the house getting 10 percent of the profits. The game ended when the ground water seeped into the mines, flooding many of the buildings. In 1889 the town went bust, along with the Bird Cage Theatre and the building had to be closed.

More than 50 years later, in 1934, the Bird Cage reopened as a tourist attraction with everything still in place. It is one of Tombstone's best-preserved pieces of history. Walk through the theaters’ doors and it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. The red-draped, gold-trimmed balcony boxes (called “cribs”) are still intact, as are the stage curtains, bar, paintings, piano, jukebox, and card-laden poker tables.

Today the Bird Cage stands as a tourist attraction and a visual look into its colorful past. With its violent history, there is no short supply of ghostly activity reported there. Several ghost hunting teams such as Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures and Ghost Lab have investigated the place with incredible results.

Business/Organization:  Bird Cage Theatre
Contact Phone Number:  520-457-3423
Website Address:
Facebook Address:
Business Address:  535 E. Allen Street, Tombstone  AZ 85638
Description of Business:  A noted original historic Landmark of the Authentic Old West.
Haunted Informational Links:

Hours: Daily 9 am - 6 pm.
Admission: $10

HOURS: DAILY 6:15 PM - 8 PM.
PHONE: 520-457-3421 ADMISSION: $20

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