ALBERT Finney, who died last week at the age of 82, had made his breakthrough as a film actor by 1963 when, in March that year, he joined a large cast on stage on the last night of the Glasgow Empire Theatre.

The final show at the venerable theatre, on Sunday, March 31, was a ‘Show of Shows’ put on by the Federation of Theatre Unions. The show, wrote our theatre critic Christopher Small, “produced an extraordinary and lavish variety of talent; the house was packed from floor to roof; after the decline [of the Empire], the fall at least was a brilliant, at times almost a joyful occasion.”

The introductory scene featured the exposed “sombre shadows” of the backstage, and a demolition gang of Duncan Macrae, John Mulvaney “and the muscular young Albert Finney” came on, Small observed, like the gravediggers in Hamlet.

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Other stars taking part included Andy Stewart, Johnny Beattie, Eric Marsh, Rikki Fulton, Jack Milroy, Fay Lenore, Charlie Cairoli, Iain Cuthbertson, the Alexander Brothers and the May Moxon Young Ladies.

The climax saw the assembled cast (above), accompanied by the pipes and drums of the City of Glasgow and Ayrshire regiment, linking arms to sing Auld Lang Syne and God Save the Queen, to cheers and tears in the audience.

Finney himself guest-starred at a charity show at the city’s Alhambra Theatre later that week.