Duluth Mystery Photo #10: Paul and Virginia Gilmore – Gilmore Comedy Theatre

This postcard is for sale on eBay under the headline “MN antique real photo rppc post card Gilmore Comedy Theatre Duluth Minn.” The description reads:

This is an antique real photo postcard captioned “No. Shore Blvd., Paul and Virginia Gilmore Summer Stock, Duluth, Minn.” The sign on the building reads “The Gilmore Comedy Theatre.” Just below the caption in the lower left corner, you can see a road sign for Motorola TV Sales and Service. Printed on Kodak paper (stamp box indicates in use from 1950 and later).

So, who were Paul and Virginia Gilmore and what was the deal with their theater? Well, the internet provides some easy answers this week, so there’s not much mystery in this week’s mystery photo.

According to Wikipedia: “Paul Gilmore was a popular stage actor of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who also appeared in no fewer than 10 silent films. Additionally, he owned and managed the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City – giving work to such future stars as Robert Walker Sr., Jennifer Jones and Carl Reiner. In his declining years, he and his daughter, Virginia, operated the Gilmore Summer Stock Theatre in Duluth.”

According to the Encyclopedia Dubuque: “Regina changed her first name to Virginia and joined her father Paul Gilmore, after her graduation from Clarke College, in many stage productions including Jealousy and the Bishop Misbehaves. … Gilmore returned to Dubuque with her father and lived at 418 Raymond Place where they conducted auditions for their playhouse in Duluth, Minnesota. With the death of her father in 1962, Gilmore divided her time between Dubuque and Hollywood, Florida.”

Below is a segment from the book Tales of the Road: Highway 61 by Cathy Wurzer, host of MPR’s Morning Edition and co-host of the fabulous Twin Cities Public Television program Almanac. It pretty much removes any remaining mystery from this week’s photo. (Click on any of the three parts of the segment to see them larger.)

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