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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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LITTLE BIJOU THEATER. The Little Bijou, formerly known as the AMUSE THEATRE and then the NAPANESE THEATER, was located on Main Street between Fifth and Sixth STREETS. The theater was the creation in 1910 of Jacob Rosenthal after the fiery destruction of the BIJOU THEATER the same year.

Rosenthal found that the stage was large enough to accommodate vaudeville acts. Announcements were made that three performances would be given daily-one in the afternoon and two in the evening. A ten-cent admission was charged for each act.

One of the acts resulted in Rosenthal running for his life. A vaudeville act scheduled for UNION PARK included "Big Jim," a bear that danced, performed on roller skates, and wrestled. The bear was being moved from the park to the theater when it became apparent that the animal was suffering from a tooth ache. A dentist was hired, but when the steel forceps were placed in the bear's mouth, the animal went into a panic. It broke loose from its handler and chased Rosenthal up a ladder before being controlled. (1)



1. Hogstrom, Erik, "1918: Theater Manager Able to Bear-ly Escape," Telegraph Herald, June 21, 2018, p. 5A