211 THEATER INDICTMENTS. ~ 146 Arrests Yesterday Afternoon Did Not Discourage Managers.

December 8, 1907

146 Arrests Yesterday Afternoon
Did Not Discourage Managers.

Indictments were returned yesterday morning against 211 theatrical persons, including actors, actresses, musicians, managers, ushers, stage hands, and all employes.

The clerk of the criminal court prepared 211 warrants and delivered them to Al Heslip, county marshal, for service. The marshal then conferred with Frank M. Lowe and Senator A. L. Cooper, attorneys for the theaters. It was agreed that yesterday's afternoon matinees should not be disturbed. Judge Wallace said he was willing to accommodate them, but that he didn't wish to hold court far into the night in order to arrange the bonds.

The county marshal assigned two deputies to ever theater yesterday afternoon. The attorneys agreed to have everyone for whom there is a warrant to go the the criminal court immediately after the matinees and answer to Judge Wallace.

The theaters and theatrical companies, for whose players and employes indictments were reported, are: Auditorium, "Texas," Gilliss, "Gay New York;" National, vaudeville; Grand, "Dion O'Dare;" Century, California Girls' Burlesque company in "The Sultan's Wives;" Shubert, vaudeville; Orpheum, vaudeville; Majestic, Gay Masqueraders in "Mr. Dopey's Dippey Den."

None of the players at the Willis Wood was indicted, because Walker Whitesides Company that played there last Sunday, had only a half week's engagement and left the city Thursday.

Although there were 211 indictments, only 145 actors, actresses, managers, and other theatrical persons, including the orchestras, were arrested yesterday afternoon, but every theater in Kansas City except one, the Majestic, will be open to-day. The difference between 211 - the number indicted - and 145 - the number arrested, represents the players of several degrees who left town to avoid arrest.

The Majestic gave no matinee yesterday and no performance last night. The company playing there left the city about noon, Clinton Wilson, the manager, said, without telling him anything about it. "And this house," the manager said, "will henceforth and forever be closed on Sunday while Judge Wallace reigns. Glory be."

All other managers said their theaters would be opened every Sunday in the future, or at least until it had been decided that to have them open would be illegal.


With the first arrests disposed of, the attorneys for the theatrical interests will begin at once to try for an opinion from the supreme court as to the constitutionality of the law, creating Judge Porterfield's division of the criminal court. They hope in this way to bring few of the indicted persons to trial immediately. With a few acquittals, which the attorneys predict as the result, they believe the attempt to close theaters will cease.

Judge Wallace allowed the deputy marshals so to time their actions yesterday so that none of the performances was interrupted. In the future, he said, he will not be so considerate.

"It is not the fault of the attorneys that many of the players ran away," the judge said, "but in the future I will not accomodate the theaters. They will have to time their actions with the court. As soon as indictments are returned and the warrants prepared, the marshal will be instructed to serve them immediately and bring the offenders into court, no matter if a performance is in progress. The court will take no more chances on players running away."

Managers and actors and actresses and other theater employees began coming into the criminal court room shortly after 4:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Judge Wallace has promised to be there then to accept bonds. By 5 o'clock the courtroom held a queer looking crowd. Chair space was exhausted. Men sat in windows and others pushed a way within the railing. The aisle was crowded and the latest to arrive from the theaters got into the room with difficulty. The crowd was estimated at 300.

"I am ready to take up this bond matter now," the judge said.

There was much interest in this announcement. The actresses grasped one anothers' hands and the men leaned forward nervously expectant.


First came ten employees from the Willis Wood theater. There were no players from the theater because the company that opened an engagement last Sunday played only a half week and ran away before the grand jury returned indictments. Frank M. Lowe, Senator A. L. Cooper, attorneys for the theaters, tried to file applications for change of venue, a proceeding that would have prevented Judge Wallace from hearing the pleas or fixing the amount of bond.

"The arraignments first will be filed and the bonds fixed," the judge said. "Then you may file your applications for change of venue."

Then Mr. Lowe said to all who were indicted, "Don't any of you make a response when the prosecutor asks you if you are guilty or not. Stand mute."

The attorney, then addressing the judge, said, "We wish to withdraw the plea of 'Not Guilty' and refuse to plead. Our position is that we have filed a plea in abatement and an application for a change of venue. That is our course in every case. We think that by reason of the application for the change of venue, this judge has no right to fix the bond or take any further action in these cases."


"That might be right," the judge said, "if you were running the court. It's a poor judge who doesn't control his own court. You may think you have filed the motions, but you haven't. This court decides when motions and papers shall be filed, and they are not filed until the court instructs the clerk so to do. You may file your applications for a change of venue after the arraignments, and after the prisoners have said whether they are guilty or not guilty. That's the practice and the rule in all criminal proceedings, and that's the way it is in this court."

The actor from the Auditorium was the only person who had a speaking part in the proceeding. All the others stood mute while the attorneys did the talking.

When Dr. Frank L. Flanders appeared before the clerk, the assistant prosecutor asked him where were the members of his company.

"They skipped," he said. "There was no one to make bond for them and they left the city."


The arraignments were made in bunches. The whole company from a theater lined up in front of the clerk at one time. As the bonds were made for one crowd and they were released, one of the theater attorneys called the next theater on the list, and its players and employes came forward.

An actress from the Century entered the courtroom carrying a dog. She gave it to a friend to hold for her while she was being arraigned. The dog jumped to the floor and someone stepped on it. The dog yelped piteously and the crowd, or some of it, laughed. The judge admonished the marshal to keep order and the court bailiff beat his desk with his mallet. An intense silence prevailed for fully a minute. In such circumstances the judge usually threatens to clear the courtroom of spectators, but this was impossible yesterday because it was impracticable to weed out the spectators from the prisoners.

Walton H. Holmes qualified on 9 bonds and Bernard Corrigan on ten for persons from the Century. The other theaters had these bondsmen: Majestic, John W. Wagner; Orpheum, Andrew J. Baker and Charles Wiel; National, Dr. Frank L. Flanders; the Grand, Leo N. Leslie; Shubert, C. S. Jobes; Gilliss, Edward Costello; Willis Wood theater and Auditorium, E. F. Swinney.