Eight times Hollywood glamour lit up Glasgow in the golden age of film

Katharine Hepburn in Glasgow, 1951. Pic: Newsquest
Katharine Hepburn in Glasgow, 1951. Pic: Newsquest

GLASGOW and glamour went hand in hand in the 40s, 50s and 60s when a host of Hollywood stars came to town.

Our picture archives are packed with fantastic images of silver screen idols, from Mae West, Katharine Hepburn and Judy Garland to Charlton Heston, Danny Kaye and Sophia Loren.

Katharine Hepburn won over Glasgow’s critics and audiences when she appeared at the King’s Theatre in May, 1952, playing the world’s wealthiest woman in George Bernard Shaw's The Millionairess.

Photographs of Ms Hepburn at the time show her looking effortlessly beautiful in Balmain dresses (the fashion house which designed her outfits for the show).

Judy Garland in Glasgow. Pic: Newsquest

Glasgow was captivated by Wizard of Oz star Judy Garland, when she visited the city to perform at the Empire Theatre in May 1951.

“Before she had sung a note,” said the Evening Times reviewer, “a wild reception greeted Hollywood film star Judy Garland…. Miss Garland sang a medley of old favourites with wholehearted sincerity, while more recent numbers had the real Garland stamp of vitality behind them.”

In November, 1947, Mae West was in the city to perform her self-penned play Diamond Lil at the Alhambra Theatre.

Ms West stopped the traffic when she arrived, as people mobbed the star and her companion, the former world welterweight champion boxer Kid Lewis as they stepped off the London train to head for their accommodation in the Central Hotel.

Mae West in Glasgow in the 50s. Pic: Newsquest

Glasgow theatregoers could not get enough of Ms West, who revelled in her risqué public persona and delighted audiences with her racy patter. They cheered her as she strolled to the hotel, not at all fazed by the crowds.

Hollywood legend Charlton Heston, star of Ben Hur and The 10 Commandments, visited Glasgow a handful of times, most recently in June 1990, when a huge crowd gathered outside the new Cannon cinema (later the ABC) on Sauchiehall Street to welcome him and his wife Lydia Clarke.

Charlton Heston and Lydia Clarke


Sophia Loren came to Glasgow on December 8, 1982, to promote her new fragrance, Sophia, by Coty, which was on sale in Lewis’s department store on Argyle Street.

Sophia Loren in Glasgow's Albany Hotel. Pic: Newsquest

A week earlier, the Evening Times ran a competition for readers to win the chance to have lunch with her at the Albany Hotel.

“It’s the stuff dreams are made of,” the report said. “People will call you a storyteller … because who is going to believe you had lunch with Sophia Loren?”

Screen idol Dorothy Lamour caused a stir when she arrived in Glasgow for her show at the Empire in May 1950.

Crush barriers had to be put in place at Central Station to hold back the 2000-strong crowd that had gathered to welcome her off the London train.

Dorothy Lamour. Pic: Newsquest

Charlie Chaplin was one of many silver screen legends who understood the value of promotional tours around the towns and cities of the UK.

Charlie Chaplin

He came to Glasgow in the early days to perform in the city’s pubs and music halls, and back then, he always had several dogs in tow.

And Legendary film funnyman Danny Kaye was one of the biggest names in showbusiness when he arrived in the city in 1949, straight from London’s west end, for a sell-out run at the Empire.

Danny Kaye Pic: Newsquest

He was met with a warm – and noisy – welcome at Glasgow Central Station, as the city leaders had laid on a full pipe band to greet him.