Michael Todd Theatre

180-190 N. Dearborn Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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Showing 1 - 25 of 75 comments

RalphBenner on September 10, 2015 at 5:05 am

Though the McVickers ran hardticket the 70mm version of “Gone with the Wind” starting in April, 1968, it did so only after its opening run at the Cinestage. Here are the Chicago Tribune links:



Eight months following its opening at the Cinestage, the 70mm jobbie would be the premiere attraction at the UA Cinema 150 in Oak Brook.

Kudos to the Tribune for making its archives public. What trips down memory lane!

macoco on September 7, 2015 at 9:41 pm

“Ben-Hur” played 74 weeks at the Todd. Just checked Variety. It opened Christmas week 1959 (I remember that—I lived in Chicago then) and closed mid-May 1961. But that is still shorter than “The Sound of Music.”

JudithK on September 7, 2015 at 11:16 am

Yes. I have worked in Chicago for many years (1973-to date), and the Goodman complex (former Woods, Michael Todd and Cinestage Theatres) is approximately a block from my office so I have been an interested – and concerned – observer for some time, especially during the era of the question of the future of the three theaters which extended over quite a few years. The Woods was indeed demolished, and the Cinestage and Todd Theatres gutted, with facades retained which I kept track of due to the closeness of my offices to it. It was a fascinating process to watch! I would urge theatre fans to attend an event at the Goodman Theatre to observe the end result. They have a very comprehensive webpage should you wish to investigate further.

Khnemu on September 7, 2015 at 10:30 am

Judith, both the former Michael Todd and Cinestage Theaters have been demolished, as was the Woods. While nothing remains of the Woods, the facades of both the former Michael Todd and Cinestages theaters were saved. The Goodman Theater complex you were in was constructed on the site of the Woods, Cinestage and Michael Todd Theaters.

JudithK on August 10, 2015 at 4:08 am

I saw a play at the Goodman Theatre yesterday; there are two theatres in this complex, and I was in the Owen Theatre, which is in the space that was home for the Michael Todd Theatre. Massive renovations occurred as the Todd, the Cinestage and the Woods Theatre had severe condition problems for many years. This is now a theatre in the round, to use a probably antiquated term, and a very good one at that. You can (somewhat) tell that the Owen Thatre was previously a legitimate theatre set-up that was converted into contemporary use. I am guessing that the Cinestage portion is now part of the main stage, and the common areas (I am guessing the office complex and Petterino’s Restaurant) are what were part of the Woods Theatre. Quite fascinating to see this adaptation made and in active use. I think the previous creators, stars and owners of the theatre complex would approve.

Coate on March 28, 2015 at 10:55 am

JRS40… Forty weeks for “Ben-Hur”? Maybe I have a wrong opening or closing date or did the math incorrectly, but I have a much longer duration than 40 weeks for the Michael Todd roadshow run of “Ben-Hur.”

JRS40 on March 17, 2015 at 10:23 am

I have a record of all bookings of the Todd (when it became the Michael Todd)from 1958 until it’s closing in 1977. No movie came close to playing there as long as “The Sound of Music.” I would have to check my records to confirm but I am guessing “Ben-Hur” would be the next closest. It played for 40 weeks.

To answer the question posed by Bobby S above – “Around the World in 80 Days” played at the Cinestage from 4/4/57 to 12/25/58.

Coate on March 17, 2015 at 9:54 am

“The Sound of Music” premiered at the Michael Todd 50 years ago today. With a reserved-seat run of 93 weeks, do you think it is the long-run record holder for this venue?

Also, on a related note, I would like to mention my new 50th anniversary retrospective for “The Sound of Music” can be read here.

RiisPark on March 12, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Saw “Star” in 1968 and “Exodus” around 1963. Both movies were reserved seating.

JudithK on March 3, 2013 at 5:45 am

I saw “Around the World in 80 Days” at the Beverly Theatre in Peoria, IL, so I cannot answer BobbyS' question. When I saw “Star!” at the Michael Todd Theatre it was shown on a very wide, crystal-clear, flat screen. If anyone out there has seen the film I believe the beginning of the film was supposed to be a representation of a show curtain in a theatre.

BobbyS on March 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm

So did “Around the World” play the Michael Todd theater or his Cinestage? I thought it played the Michael Todd with the waterfall curtain. Was it the same size of todays IMAX screens?

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on February 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm

When I saw Ben-Hur in 70mm projection at the Michael Todd in 1960 the curtains opened horizontally to reveal a very wide flat screen. Meanwhile, Exodus at the Cinestage was shown on a slightly curved standard screen. The Cinerama strip screen was installed a few years later.

JudithK on February 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I saw the wide-screen re-release of “Gone With the Wind” at the McVickers on Madison Street in Chicago. The same thing happened in that theatre when Mr. Gable got his first close-up.

dtrigubetz on January 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm

In 1967-68 I saw the re-release of “Gone With the Wind” here. I sat in the balcony and the large audience gave Clark Gable a rousing applause upon his first screen entrance. I live in L A now and would be happy to give visitors a tour of our miraculously remaining single screens:

JudithK on December 16, 2011 at 6:45 am

Thanks, Broan! I had not seen the article, nor do I remember the interior extrance of the Michael Todd Theatre looking like this.

Broan on December 16, 2011 at 6:33 am

http://arcchicago.blogspot.com/2011/12/door-to-heart-bertrand-goldberg.html Here are a couple photos showing Bertrand Goldberg’s remodeling.

JudithK on August 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Thanks! I’ve never seen what the theatre’s interior looked like originally. As in my earlier comment, it was impossible to determine what the interior looked like due to all of those curtains that ensured that wonderful sound quality. The acoustics must have been pretty good in the Harris era, too.

Broan on August 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Here is an interior view.

JudithK on May 15, 2010 at 5:21 pm

The one and only time that I was in the Michael Todd Theatre was seeing “Star!” with my parents and a couple of other people on Christmas Day, 1968 (I believe). (The reviews must have come in!) It was not a terribly large theatre; it was kind of like the old Civic Theatre which was connected to Lyric Opera’s building in Chicago which was converted to production space several years ago. The sound and projection were incredible (despite the many flaws of the film). It was impossible to determine what the theatre had looked like before it became a movie theatre due to the curtains which assisted all that lovely sound. And, of course, there was the usual popcorn machine in the lobby stinking up everything. I was out of the area at college from 1971-1975, and when I started working in Chicago I was amazed at the bookings as the road-show era of films had died.

JAlex on May 5, 2010 at 4:08 pm

For what it’s worth department: When the complex was first announced in 1920, the names of the theatres were to be the Selwyn and the CHICAGO. The eventual CHICAGO Theatre also went through various planning name changes…the Capitol, to the Ambassador, to, finally, the Chicago.

JRS40 on May 3, 2010 at 10:19 am

Timoneill – you are quite correct. I guess I was more referring to when there was still some hope for movie palaces in the city. By the time the Dearborn was opened all of the other palaces were gone save for the Woods and United Artists and those two plus the twin all closed within a year of each other.

William on April 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Don’t forget the projectionist union’s contract on staffing Chicago theatres. It would cost you alot more to operate those extra screens with the extra projectionists you had to hire.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on April 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Oh, contraire………… The Michael Todd WAS twinned in 1986. Here’s what happened: M&R Theatres took over the Michael Todd in 1985 after it was closed for 6 years. They also wanted to take over the next-door Cinestage Theatre, but the owners of that porno palace put up a short fight. Eventually, M&R got both theatres and changed the name to Dearborn Cinemas. The plan was to twin both theatres. M&R did manage to twin the Michael Todd; however, they never got around to the Cinestage. The Cinestage side of the Dearborn Cinemas was occasionally opened, but the Michael Todd twinned side remained open until 1988. The M&R Dearborn Cinemas was a complete failure.

telliott on April 30, 2010 at 11:10 am

Thanks JRS40, that makes sense. Always wondered why Chicago never did when so many cities even New York had divided downtown palaces in to multiples. Here in Toronto, the former Loew’s Uptown was divided in to 5, the Imperial was divided in to 6 and several others in to twins.