“I’m more of an outlaw than a relative,” Tabor Opera House Tour Manager Tammy Taber said of her distant by-marriage relation to the opera house’s financier and mining tycoon Horace Tabor.
For 16 years, Tammy has brought the Tabor Opera House to life for guests through her historical stories, factoids and Victorian dresses, hats and jewelry. Tammy can be found showing guests Jack Dempsey’s boxing ropes or talking about the whiskey dinner Oscar Wilde attended in a mine shaft with Leadville’s blue-collar miners.
But Tammy’s favorite opera house story is the tale of two wealthy men, an actress in red tights and silver and gold coins.
Horace Tabor and his business partner, W.H. Bush, attended a show at the Tabor Opera House one night starring Gladys Robeson, a popular actress of the late 19th century. She performed in red tights, immediately catching the attention of the business partners.
Tabor tossed a handful of silver coins at the actress. Bush, not wanting to be outdone by Tabor, then threw two handfuls of silver coins on stage. The two went back and forth, throwing more and more money in an attempt to outdo the other.
As the battle raged on, the men had to order more money, eventually switching to gold coins.
The crowd, reportedly amazed by the spectacle, joined in until almost every coin in the opera house was on stage.
In the excitement, Robeson gathered more than $5,000 in coins and disappeared. For years after, stagehands would find coins backstage and under floorboards, coins Robeson had missed in her hurry to sneak out the back.
“I still think there are some coins around here,” Taber said.