Minneapolis mummified monkey mysteries multiply

It turns out the old Dayton’s store might not have held the only mummified monkey in Minneapolis.

Evidence of the animal in the one-time retail landmark recently turned up on Facebook, and the son of a former Dayton’s executive said the store’s staff had long ago searched earnestly for the missing animal, to no avail.

But it wasn’t the first primate to disappear into the city’s early 20th century architecture.

Twin Cities author Dave Kenney relates the tale of another intersection of monkey and business in his book, “Twin Cities Picture Show: A Century of Moviegoing.”

Kenney reported the rival theaters in Minneapolis tried any number of “stunts” to get butts in the seats, from ovenware giveaways to free entry with any four leaf clover.

The “Gone With the Wind”-era manager of the Minneapolis Orpheum offered a giveaway of a live monkey in conjunction with a Laurel and Hardy movie.

The entertainment newspaper Variety apparently had a stringer in town in 1940 and Kenney quotes from the tale in his book:

The animal was purchased and brought to the theatre, where it ran amuck. It attacked and scratched up [the manager] and escaped into the recesses of the empty space among the rafters over the theatre balcony.

After three days, the monkey is still at large somewhere in the theatre and without food or drink. The opening in the rafter space is being constantly guarded so that the animal cannot dash into the auditorium proper.

In an interview, Kenney, who’s married to an MPR News editor, says it wasn’t clear if Variety followed up on the disappearance, or if the pre-World War II primate was ever found, or even left the Orpheum alive.

The theater was, like the Dayton’s store, renovated for reuse. It reopened in 1993 on Hennepin Avenue. There’s no indication workers found that movie monkey at any point.

Could it still be there?

“I guess it’s possible,” Kenney said.

    • RBHolb

      Isn’t that how we got the Super Bowl?

  • Gary F

    I remember Dayton’s Daisy Sale. I don’t remember the Monkey Sale.

  • Jerry

    Considering how bad it must have smelled to have a dead monkey in the ductwork, I think I figured out the origin of overly aggressive perfume counter salespeople.

    • jon

      I worked in that building back when it was making the shift to be macys… replacing computers on the office floors to get everything up to the spec for the new owners…

      Up on one of the higher floors (maybe 12?) there sat a group of buyers… their job was to find products, get a sample of the product and decide if it was worth carrying in the store. (I’m sure they managed some of the contractual stuff too)…

      So on that floor, against the northernmost wall of the building was the candy buyers… we fought to be the people who brought those folks their new computer, because they had lot’s of candy just sitting around, and handed it to any one who came near them, and bringing them a new faster computer was putting you instantly in their good graces.

      About 5 cube rows away there laid the perfume group… where the years of perfume sampling had destroyed the olfactory senses of every one with in 100 ft… (candy group was just out of range).
      And they too found giving them new computers to be something worthy of a reward that would get some crap out of their cube… So Perfume and Cologne… galor… I personally fought to avoid delivering computers to that group.

      While I’ve no insider information as to where the monkey was found… I suspect that he suffocated in the duct work above the perfume buyers… no one smelled the rotting monkey carcass for the same reason the monkey died…

  • Blasko

    This has to be an all-time classic headline. Has to be.

  • kevins

    Maybe a magnificent mammal…

  • Postal Customer

    No praise for the alliteration? I am disappointed in the newscut folks.

    • It was getting hot takes on Twitter from some of the gliteratti.