Tag Archives: Central Hotel

Roy Rogers & Trigger, Glasgow, 1954

13 Feb

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Roy Rogers & Trigger at Central Station, Glasgow, February 14, 1954 (c) Herald & Times Group

The arrival of singing cowboy Roy Rogers and his trusty “four-legged friend”, Trigger, at Central Station on a cold Sunday in 1954 is the stuff of local legend, and a whole generation of wee boys remember the excitement of seeing their heroes in the flesh.

 Children had begun assembling outside the Central Hotel from as early as 5am, and, at around 1pm, Rogers and his cowgirl wife Dale Evans pulled up in a red sports car and entered the station where thousands had been expecting them off a train. Crush barriers and police struggled to contain the excited youngsters, many of whom were kitted out in cowboy gear. Like a Pied Piper, Rogers was followed by many of them as he made his way to the Empire Theatre – where he would be performing in a week’s worth of sold-out shows – and then back to the hotel.

The greatest excitement, however, came when Trigger arrived at around 6pm. Rogers, in his white cowboy suit and silver pointed shoes, led the world’s most famous horse round the crush barriers. To thunderous cheers, Trigger bowed for the thrilled youngsters – despite being jet-lagged after his long flight from the States earlier in the day and despite having already met 3000 members of his public at Prestwick Airport.

A seasoned celebrity, Trigger performed beautifully for the assembled cameras, “signing” in at reception (he had a pen in his mouth), prancing up the hotel’s grand staircase (two steps at a time) and trotting along the second floor corridor to “his” room, number 130. After having his mane combed, the horse star showed off a few of his 100 tricks. He bowed on one knee, nodded “yes” then “no”, yawned heartily and kissed Mrs Rogers.

Tarpaulin covered the floor of room 130 – which was otherwise appropriately decked out for Hollywood royalty, with a pile of plumped-up pillows, a gold eiderdown and a bowl of roses. After his personal appearance and photo call, Trigger left the hotel to “sign in” at another establishment – the British Rail Stables on Parliamentary Road, where, his young fans were assured, he was the guest of some friendly Clydesdales.

(c) Alison Kerr, 2012

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Sammy Davis Jr, Glasgow, 1963

27 Mar
City of Stars 1 - Sammy Davis Jr

Sammy Davis Jr, Central Hotel, Glasgow, Wednesday May 15, 1963 (c) Herald & Times Group

Relaxing with a drink after two sensational shows earlier in the evening at the Odeon, a euphoric Sammy Davis Jr held court in the Central Hotel into the wee small hours of the morning. He had earned his bourbon and coke on the rocks, having missed his train from Leeds earlier in the day – which meant that he only arrived at his own gig 20 minutes after the first house had started.

The main subject of his late-night, post-show discussion was the wildly enthusiastic reaction he had just received for his Glasgow debut. “Quite frankly,” he said, “and it’s not show biz hogwash, I’ve never seen such a warm audience.”

Davis had delighted the capacity Odeon crowd with a mixture of singing, dancing, gags and impersonations (notably one, using a white handkerchief, of Louis Armstrong). Hailed as more than a mere showman in the next day’s papers, he had brought the house down with his performance of I Belong to Glasgow – complete with a tartan tammy. He told reporters he had learned the song three years earlier from the British actor Al Burnett (with whom he had appeared in the Royal Variety Show). “I sing it sometimes over in the States and they sure love it,” he said.

He also had plenty to say about the Civil Rights movement – Martin Luther King had recently been arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Alabama. “The negro is on the move. He is tired of putting up a submissive attitude. Martin Luther King is one of my dearest friends. I am not down there in Alabama being beaten or jailed but just as it is his fate, so it is my fate. It’s time for the negro to receive human dignity. And it will be won some day. We cannot exist any other way.”

(c) Alison Kerr, 2012.

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Gene Kelly, Glasgow, 1953

13 Feb
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Gene Kelly, Gordon Street, Glasgow, April 21 1953 (c) Herald & Times Group

Gene Kelly may have been at the peak of his fame and popularity in 1953, but when he stepped out of Glasgow’s Central Hotel and into the morning sunshine on Gordon Street in his tweed coat and bunnet, he went virtually unnoticed by passers-by.

The 40-year-old Singing in the Rain star had motored up overnight from London with the celebrated MGM producer Arthur Freed for a brief visit to Scotland. After a quick chat with Evening Times film critic Tom Goldie, the Americans set off for a tour of Burns country and the Trossachs to soak up the atmosphere and seek out inspiration for their next collaboration – a movie version of the Lerner and Loewe musical Brigadoon, a fantasy set in Scotland.

Following their reccie, Kelly said: “I had looked forward to making Brigadoon in Scotland. Now that I’ve seen even a little bit of your country I’m sorrier than ever that plans have had to be changed. But a picture like this has to be made in the new big-screen Cinemascope system that gives an impression of depth, and it has to be done in Hollywood.”

He did at least promise that backgrounds would be photographed in Scotland – and that they had been sussing out ideas for these during their trip which would continue with a visit to Edinburgh and a tour of the Highlands.

And for entertainment on his night on the town in Glasgow? Dance-mad Kelly went to the Theatre Royal, where he parked his bunnet in a box, to see the Celtic Ballet featuring Andrew Rolla, who danced the principal part in the touring stage production of Brigadoon. Promising to return during the summer, Kelly said: “You know, this Scotland of yours is quite the loveliest country I’ve seen. This is my first visit – but,” he added with a wink, “it won’t be my last.”

(c) Alison Kerr, 2012

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