Baby Doe
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Edward G. Robinson
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First National Pictures, Inc.

Silver Dollar was given its world premiere in the Denver Theater on Glenarm Street, on December 1, 1932. Though the names were changed, the story is clearly that of Horace, Augusta and Baby Doe Tabor. Indeed, the producers approached the real Baby Doe, living in Leadville at the time, about attending the premiere. She did not. Friends advised her, instead, to sue those responsible for the movie. Though she apparently never saw Silver Dollar, it is reported that she sent some Matchless Mine ore to Denver to be displayed at the premiere.

In this clip from near the movie's conclusion, an impoverished Yates Martin (Horace), played by Edward G. Robinson, wanders into the Martin Grand Opera House in Denver and hallucinates about its gala opening night. He sees spectral patrons cheering him from their main-floor seats. He sees an image of his beloved Lily (Baby Doe), played by Bebe Daniels, in one of the boxes. A ghostly President Grant sits near him in his own box. Yates' portrait appears briefly above the proscenium arch. And then he winds up on the stage, attracted there by his own ghost. To the dramatic strains of the overture to Wagner's Tannhäuser, Yates collapses; his life near its end.

Author David Karsner shared the writers' credit for Silver Dollar. Karnser's 1932 book of the same name (which, unlike the movie, used the actual names of the principals) was a popular biographical take on the Tabors, and incredibly is still available (in 2004) via routine internet book searches. There is every likelihood that The Ballad of Baby Doe librettist John Latouche was familiar with both the book and the movie, especially the scene shown here. The climactic moment in Latouche and Moore's opera takes place on the deserted stage of the Tabor Grand Opera House in Denver, where Tabor confronts spectres from his past and then collapses in despair.

Interestingly, the movie's representation of the Tabor (aka Martin) Grand Opera House is surprisingly true to the actual appearance of the great auditorium. The film's set designers would have had easy access to the actual Opera House, which existed on Denver's 16th Street until the early 1960s, when it was torn down to make way for the Federal Reserve Bank.

Internet Movie Database Entry

Text of the New York Times Review - December 23, 1932

Lux Radio Theater radio broadcast - April 3, 1939

Click the test pattern to view a clip (requires Windows Media Player)