David Bowie & The Denver Tour That Launched His Acting Career

Originally penned by Senior Arts Journalist, John Moore, of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts at
David Bowie’s death has the world mourning the loss of one of rock’s most chameleonic performers. But he was also a versatile stage and screen actor whose theatre career began in Denver starring as the ultimate “Broken Man,” John Merrick, in a 1980 touring production of The Elephant Man back in 1980. The Auditorium Theatre witnessed Bowie’s first attempt at acting on stage in a conventional role.


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Drawing on his training as a mime artist, Bowie’s hugely innovative interpretation of the role used no make-up or prosthetics. Instead, he contorted his body into unlikely shapes to give the effect of profound disability. The play was a sellout before it even opened. It grossed $186,466 for the week, making it the biggest box-office attraction for a single week in DCPA history to that point. Bowie’s opening night in Denver was praised by local and national critics. “Judging from his sensitive projection of this part, Bowie has the chance to achieve legit stardom.” The performance led to three successful months on Broadway.

Read more about Bowie and his stint in The Elephant Man from John Moore here  or at