Spokane and the Nation: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919

Headline: “‘Pan’ Closes Five Weeks”

Source: Spokesman Review, October 28, 1918, page 6

Subject: theater company affected by the influenza epidemic

Synopsis: A group of traveling vaudeville performers have recently been stranded in Spokane because of the closing of various theatres by health officials.  This story indicates one of the many ways that businesses suffered because of the influenza outbreak.

Notable Quotation: “Whether a health office closing order on the grounds of public safety can construed as a ‘calamity’ is something the courts may yet have to decide in the case of the theatrical people.”

“‘Pan’ Closes Five Weeks”

Theater Head Prepares for “Flu” Siege.

Player Folk Stranded Here Object to Being Ordered to Portland.

            Pantages vaudeville performers, several companies of whom have been stranded in Spokane because of the closing of the theaters by the health authorities, have received instructions by wire from Alexander Pantages, head of the circuit, to report at Portland to hold themselves in readiness for the resumption of business when the ban is lifted.

            The notification is taken as an indication that Mr. Pantages expects his houses to be closed for five weeks in the northwest. The Spokane house has been closed nearly three weeks. A Pantages bill that jumps from Spokane to Portland misses five weeks’ business, a week each in Spokane, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria.

            The players are endeavoring to have the order rescinded as it has the effect of cutting off five weeks from their Pantages contract time. They are anxious to be permitted to remain where they are and begin their work here when the ban lifts and then continue around the circuit as originally planned, only as many weeks late as the ban is in force.

            Pantages players have a “calamity” clause in their contracts which protects them from loss of salary because of a calamity. Whether a health office closing order on the grounds of public safety can be construed as a “calamity” is something the courts may yet have to decide in the case of the theatrical people.