Holiday Theater historical program, Sunday 9/26

posted by Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on September 22, 2010 at 4:45 am

PARK FOREST, IL — The history of the Holiday Theater will be the program at the Park Forest Historical Society annual meeting on Sunday September 26, 2010 at 2:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in Park Forest Village Hall Board Meeting Board Meeting Room, 350 Victory Drive.

Jack and Becky Mallers Black will lead a panel discussion on the history of the Holiday Theater, Mrs. Black’s father, Bill Mallers, owned the theater from 1953 to 1978-9. Mr. ard Mrs. Black also worked at the theater. Also participating in the program will be Ann, Phillip and Chuck Mallers, Jim Kaufman—a former projectionist, and Jeff Lindstrom, who was an usher. Other former employees of any period of the theater are encouraged to attend.

The Holiday Theater opened in the Park Forest Shopping Center on October 28, 1950. It was one of the first movie theaters in the country to be in a shopping center. It was possibly the largest theater built in the Chicago metro area since the Depression, having over 1,000 seats and a soundproof “cry room” for parent with children.

Memories of the theater, which was a social hub in the early days of the village, are vivid for the early residents. The auditorium was used by several churches for Sunday services, while churches waited to build sanctuaries. The Holiday also had a conversation room where artists displayed and where refreshments were served.

The Holiday was originally operated by the Harry and Elmer Balaban Corporation which owned the Surf and Esquire Theaters in Chicago. In eary 1952, the building, by architects, Lobel, Schlossman and Bennett, won the “Oscar” of theater Design, awarded by Exhibitor and Theater Catalog Magazines. A bronze plaque cited the Holiday for “international recogitional as one of the most modern and well appointed of all current theaters.” The merit award was considered the highest honor offered for theater design by the motion picture industry.

The Facebook group, “Grew up in Park Forest,” has a discussion topic, “Holiday Theater—Did you work there? The theater is featured in Cinema Treasures’s own Ross Melnick’s companion book CINEMA TREASURES. A model of the Holiday Theater is on display at the Theater Historical Society of America in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Information is with Jerry Shnay at 708.747.3571 or .

Thanks to Jane Nicoll for the info.

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