|Jesse Linde became a concert manager, booking agent and
theater owner in Phoenix when it was a small city. She brought
nationally known musicians, actors and actresses to perform from the
1930s to the 1960s, staging more than 750 performances. During the
era of segregation, Linde insisted that her audiences be integrated.
She refunded tickets to white customers who refused to sit beside
African Americans. An upper middle class Euro-American, she became an
agent for change in the segregated city of Phoenix.
Region: Phoenix and Central Arizona
Theme: Women in the Arts
|Jesse Linde visited Phoenix in the 1920s, hoping for a cure for her
arthritis. When she found improvement, her husband and family joined
her. A singer from St. Louis, Linde possessed knowledge about show
business and a great love of music. She began working with a musical
events group and then organized the Linde Box Office, presenting shows
at the Phoenix Union High School Auditorium when it was the only space
for large musical productions in town. Linde brought well-known talent
to Phoenix, including pianist Vladimir Horowitz, Marian Anderson and
Arthur Rubinstein. Anderson stayed at the Lindes' home because public
facilities were segregated.
Linde lobbied for an adequate auditorium in Phoenix and founded the
Sombrero Playhouse at Seventh Street and Camelback Road in 1949.
Nationally known actors such as Vivian Vance, Eve Arden and Milton
Berle performed there. In 1967, Marjorie Lord played in "The Girl in
the Freudian Slip" at the Sombrero.
Jesse Linde worked with others to develop the Phoenix Center for the
Performing Arts in the 1960s. This non-profit organization was formed
to create a center for theater, modern and classic music, and other
performances. The Phoenix Civic Center, completed in the 1970s, housed
space for all of these programs but, unfortunately, Jesse Linde did
not live to see it. She died at the age of 77 in 1965. However, when
the new Phoenix Civic Center was completed, a performance room was
named in her honor.
The Sombrero Playhouse is no longer standing, and the Phoenix Civic
Center has been expanded and changed. The Arizona Historical Society
Museum, 1300 N. College Ave. in Tempe, contains Linde's papers, and
the museum's Desert Cities exhibit describes her work. Visit the
Arizona Historical Society to learn more about Jesse Linde and other
women who have had an impact on Arizona's history.
Photos courtesy of Arizona Historical Society, Tempe