January 1, 1908


Came Here a Penniless Song and
Dance Man With Eddie Foy,
and Made Half a Mil-
lion Dollars.

Henry D. Clark, famous as the creator of the old Coliseum which he conducted throughout Kansas City's frontier days, died last night at his residence, 3300 Broadway. He had been ill for three weeks and succumbed to acute gastritis and bronchial pneumonia following grip. The phenomenal will power of the man enabled him to rise from his bed against the advice of his physician and family as late as Sunday, when he shaved himself and went about as he wished.

Mr. Clark was one of the youngest soldiers in the civil war. He enlisted in the New York heavy artillery when only 13 years 6 months old, and served throughout the war. New York was his birthplace, but he went in childhood to Wisconsin. Starting in a theatrical career in Chicago after the war, he came to Kansas City to locate in 1877.

He was the most picturesque and amazingly progressive theater manager Kansas City ever had. He came here moneyless, "opened" in a cellar and amassed over a half million dollars. Then he retired. That was ten years ago, after he had discovered that the things he knew about running a frontier place of amusement did not suit the public when taken out of the original setting and sold to them at uptown prices in a regular theater.

But the most Kansas City ever knew of Clark was far back of his retirement. It was thirty years ago when he first appeared here. He was a young man then and had been doing a song and dance with Eddie Foy. His working partner called herself Zoe Clark. She was the more thrifty of the two and decided that Kansas City would be a good place to open a theater. Clark's father lived here then and drove a one-horse job wagon. The elder Clark was not up on theatricals, but he was willing to help his son get into business.

So the old gentleman rented a cellar in Fourth street for Henry and Zoe and bought them a keg of beer. Business was good in the cellar, and Clark built the Coliseum at the corner of Third and Walnut streets with the receipts. The only "legitimate" shows "making" Kansas City in those days played in a hall over the present site of Arnold's drug store at Fifth and Walnut streets.

The Coliseum was a money-making venture too, and Clark soon quit "doing a turn" himself. Zoe started a boarding house to take care of the actors and actresses who played the Coliseum. And then came to Kansas City the embryo of advanced vaudeville. The Coliseum attracted the best variety performers in the West and Eddie Foy. McIntyre and Heath, Murray and Mack and scores of others played long engagements there.

And the best of all these performers were then destined to be plunged into the legitimate sooner or later. Clark realized this and built the old Ninth street theater. It burned and he rebuilt it, but he could never make it a financial success and he leased the property and during the last ten years he called at the theater at 10 o'clock on the morning of the second day of each month, rain or shine, to get the rent. It was the only time he was ever seen about the place.

Surviving Mr. Clark are the widow and five children. They are: H. D. Clark, Jr., and Palmer Clark, druggist and dry goods merchant respectively at Genessee and Thirty-Ninth streets; Miss Hazel Clark, Willie Clark and Mrs. J. B. Shinn of Seattle, Wash.