5 things you didn’t know celebrities did in Vancouver

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5 things you didn’t know celebrities did in Vancouver

Celebrities have long come to Vancouver for one reason or another, and here are some of those stories, from the tragic to the kind to the just plain odd.

Celebrity sightings in Vancouver are fairly common these days.

Between being a world-class tourist destination, Hollywood North, and homegrown talent, seeing someone famous on the streets of the city is a fun experience for fans, but not unheard of.

And it’s not all that new, although perhaps more common now.

Celebrities have long come to Vancouver for one reason or another, and here are some of those stories, from the tragic to the kind to the just plain odd.

1. Mark Twain lectured here to help pay off massive debts

Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) is one of (if not the most) famous American author, but even as a famed writer in his time, he got himself into financial trouble.

In 1895 he travelled North America on a lecture tour; that tour brought him through Vancouver (at the time the city had around 20,000 residents) and he spent the night at the original Hotel Vancouver. The next morning, he invited some local journalists up for an interview while he rested.

2. Harry Houdini performed an escape hanging from the Vancouver Sun building

The world’s most famous escapologist had a flair for self-promotion and the dramatic, so when Harry Houdini came to Vancouver he had a special stunt lined up.

On March 1, 1923 a beam was set up from the third story of the Vancouver Sun’s building at 137 West Pender St. and Houdini was hung by his feet from it, while in a straight jacket.

Hundreds and hundreds of people gathered to see the spectacle, and whether he’d be able to get out of the situation.

Of course, he escaped.

The stunt was a promotion for Houdini’s performances that week at the Orpheum Theatre (not the current one).

3. Katherine Hepburn brought late-night room service to the Hotel Georgia

While hotel room service is a staple at high-end hotels these days, it hasn’t always been the case; the famed Waldorf Astoria is credited with the service’s modern incarnation, starting in the 1930s.

In 1950 such a luxury hadn’t made its way to B.C. yet, until Katherine Hepburn.

A massive movie star, she was in town in 1950, according to the hotel’s own history. 

“The indomitable screen legend handed the manager, Mr. Bill Hudson, her list of requirements and, in doing so, introduced late-night room service at the Hotel Georgia,” states the hotel on its website.

4. Bing Crosby helped fundraise for the original Sunset Community Centre

In the late 1940s Bing Crosby was one of the world’s biggest celebrities. The Tacoma-born born star had had several massive songs already including ‘White Christmas’ the best-selling single of all time.

So when the Sunset community’s Stan Thomas popped down to Hollywood to locate and convince Crosby to bring his show north for a community centre fundraiser, it was a bit of a gamble.

But Crosby did it, and thousands were raised. The government put in the rest, and Crosby ended up starting the project with a bulldozer ride at the site. The centre has since been torn down and a new one built nearby.

5. Errol Flynn died in Vancouver General Hospital

Errol Flynn was the prototypical Hollywood movie star in the 1930s and 1940s. He was also accused and acquitted of the statutory rape of two 17-year-old women.

By the 1950s he was facing financial difficulty and travelled to Vancouver to discuss leasing his yacht to a businessman named George Caldough. Caldough was driving Flynn and a 17-year-old actress to the airport when Flynn started to complain of discomfort.

Caldough took them to the residence of local doctor Grant Gould. While there Flynn began to feel better; the doctor let him rest for a while, but the movie star was unresponsive when checked on again, and he was rushed to the hospital. Later that evening he was pronounced dead.

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