American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2010 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 39

Alexander Pantages

1871 (?) – 1936


The names of most of the men who ruled vaudeville are forgotten: Poli, Proctor, Considine, Williams, Beck—even Keith and Albee, but Pantages lives on as the name on dozens of theatres still standing from the West Coast halfway across America. What’s in a name? A lot, thought Pantages, who changed his given name from Pericles (the philosopher king) to Alexander (the conquering emperor).

An young émigré from Greece via Egypt and Panama, Pantages was still little more than a boy when he joined the Yukon Gold Rush.  Starting out as a guide and bartender, he learned how to book shows and made show business his primary career. He settled in Seattle and proceeded to challenge the dominant show biz entrepreneur, John W. Considine. At first Pantages was little more than noisome nuisance but in time he became a powerful competitor.