Calo Theatre

5404 N. Clark Street,
Chicago, IL 60640

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Showing 26 - 50 of 53 comments

SPearce on April 13, 2008 at 11:45 am

BWChicago – Thank you. I appreciate your information. It is a tricky street to recall as I mainly traveled it on bus and can only recall Clark and Foster, which I think of as Swedentown.

Broan on February 1, 2008 at 5:40 pm

It is unlikely that it ever hosted vaudeville, as the Calo has no evidence of a stage or curtain. Ascher Bros. theaters were frequently film-only. It should have been a bowling alley in the era you recall.

SPearce on February 1, 2008 at 5:06 pm

I would have had to pass this building twice a day, Mon-Fri, from Sept. 1959 to June 1963, riding up/down Clark St. to attend Senn H.S. at 5900 Glenwood. I stepped off the Clark St. bus and picked it up again to head south at about 5900 or 6000 Clark St. and I do not recall this theater building as such, but I must have seen it daily. I can’t say I remember the name now either, which evidently means “Spanish Gypsy.” However, the tale of another gangster being shot a la Dillinger at a theater in that neighborhood does rings a bell; another bus rider may have mentioned that. The white terra cotta facade, and the musician or cherub figure above the doorway with musical instruments, does seem faintly familiar. I would think that there was no functioning Calo theater there during this time period though. I don’t recall the bowling alley either. I believe Andersonville was referenced also as the “Little Sweden” neighborhood. And it really was.

This theater has a lovely open Beaux Arts facade. My understanding is that Chicago strongly contributed to the development of Beaux Arts. Is there any record of whether this theater was utilized for vaudeville to any extent in its first 15 years or so (as was the Century further south at Diversey)?

supercharger96 on October 20, 2007 at 12:02 pm

Pictures of the exterior and interior of the Calo Theater from 10/13/07.
Click here for the set:

Broan on October 20, 2007 at 1:46 am

Chicago Filmmakers' building was itself a former theater. /theaters/3284/

Pestromy on October 19, 2007 at 4:14 pm

Maybe someday Chicago Filmmaker’s or some other group could redo and use the Calo as a independent theater. Andersonville would be a great place for another Music Box-like theater.

Not that I don’t like the Brown Elephant. It’s just that I can’t stand to see such an interesting theater sit unrenovated (like the Uptown- sigh…).

GrandMogul on March 29, 2007 at 1:16 pm

Chicago Daily News, Thursday, October 7, 1954, p. 53, c. 1:
by Sam Lesner
Four of Chicago’s closed movie houses are reopening!
The Essex theater, Sheridan rd. near Lake Shore dr., closed for two years, reopens Friday with the widely acclaimed French-Italian omnibus film, “The Seven Deadly Sins.”

The Calo Theater, 5406 N. Clark, another victim of the theater-devouring TV giant, will be reopened Oct. 22, with Jack Webb’s “Dragnet,” the first feature length film version of Webb’s TV program which was No. 1 in the Hooper ratings for September. (Isn’t that poetic justice, or something?)

The 400 theater, another North Side film house that has been dark for some time, is being remodeled for a new lease on its former movie life.

The Armitage, 3545-51, also an early TV victim, is being remodeled for an early reopening—-as a film house, of course.

Broan on March 13, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Here are photos of this theatre.

GrandMogul on February 1, 2007 at 10:10 am

Note: please see under the Biltmore theatre (also in Chicago) for another police shoot-out that happened in August, 1955 (less than a year after the Amedeo gunplay), and made headlines in all the newspapers!

GrandMogul on January 30, 2007 at 9:41 am

The Calo never got the fame the Biograph Theatre did, but it got close:

News Item:

Chicago American, Saturday, October 30, 1954, p. 3, c. 5:


When police guns last night blasted the life out of cop-killer Agostino (Gus) Amedeo it seemed as if the clock had been turned back 20 years. On July 22, 1934 FBI agents and police killed the notorious outlaw, John Dillinger, as he left the Biograph Theater, 2433 Lincoln av. Amedeo was cut down at Berwyn av. and Clark st. as he walked from the Calo Theater, 5404 N. Clark st.

In each case, the murder of a policeman and a trap with a woman as bait resulted in the death of a killer. Chicago police had sworn to “get” Amedeo since Oct. 21 when he shot and killed Policeman Charles Annerino. The trap was sprung by Mrs. Dorothy Del Genio, the sister-in-law of Medeo’s sweetheart. Amedeo had asked her to leave a car for him at Berwyn and Clark. She told police, and 58 men led by Lt. Frank Pape were waiting.

GrandMogul on January 30, 2007 at 9:32 am

It’s hard to believe, but the obscurity that the Calo languished in for decades was loudly interrupted back in 1954, when one of the most spectacular police shoot-outs occured yards away. Soon the entire city knew where the Calo was. The folloiwng news items will help to understand what happened.

News Item:

Chicago Daily News, Saturday, October 30, 1954, p. 1, cs. 7-8:




Detectives disclosed Saturday how they trapped and killed Agostino “Gus” Amedeo, slayer of a detective and jail-breaker.

Amedeo fell Friday night in a storm of bullets at Berwyn and Clark during a duel with policemen, some disguised as hunters. He was hit 13 times The death was termed “justifiable homicide” by the coroner’s jury.

Amedeo died in much the same fashion as a more celebrated criminal—John Dillinger. Like Dillinger, he saw a movie in his last hours.

Gunman Amedeo, 26, took in a film called “Duel in the Jungle” in the Calo theater, 5401 N. Clark, a few minutes before he lost his last gun duel. Charles Scherr, 31, the theater’s assistant manager, saw him there. “He stood for a few minutes at the candy counter, then lit a cigaret and left,” Scherr said. “I said good night to him and he nodded.” Then the hunted killer walked out of the lobby and headed for the fatal intersection.

GrandMogul on January 30, 2007 at 9:17 am

News Item:

Chicago Daily News, Friday, October 22, 1954, p. 32, c. 3:

The Calo theater, 5404 N. Clark, was reopened Friday, following a two-year absence from the ranks of neighborhood theaters.

The Calo, popular for 40 years, served as a foreign film house for a short period following its closing.

“Dragnet,” starring Jack Webb, and “Gypsy Colt” have been co-featured for the opening bill. The theater is planning to install a Cinema-Scope screen shortly.

Broan on September 8, 2006 at 12:26 pm

Here are a couple recent shots of the theater.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 29, 2006 at 11:15 am

I have passed this place probably fifty times over the years. I couldn’t resist stopping to take a look today on my way down Clark St. Most everything is still there. If someone had good reason, this could certainly become a great theatrical space again.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 29, 2006 at 3:02 pm

I sometimes drive through there. Is it open normal business hours Brian?

Broan on February 23, 2006 at 1:48 pm

I checked out the Resale Store today, it seems to have just opened. It looks like any renovations that had made it a smaller theater, or bowling lanes, or any of that have been removed and the auditorium is fully open. It’s very interesting. Much of the plaster and tropical murals are badly damaged, but it’s pretty neat and something you don’t see often. I definitely reccomend checking this out for any Chicago theater fans.

Broan on February 21, 2006 at 7:59 pm

Oddly it’s now open as the Brown Elephant Resale Store. I guess the theater thing fell through? When I made my post last month, a tile entry had been laid that read “Brown Elephant”. I was wondering what that was.

Broan on January 21, 2006 at 5:51 pm

It looks like the project is coming along very nicely and tastefully. Can’t wait to see inside.

voley on December 17, 2005 at 7:53 am

To: Ralph Machonga,
Would you know if Robbie Robinson was still alive or where I might contact him? My father, Ed Vollenweider, bowled with and was good friends with Robbie in the 50’s and 60’s. I can remember visiting Robbie and his wife, Jane, at their home in Chicago and also bowling at their bowling alley (the Calo) in the 60’s. We moved to Michigan in 1965 and we lost contact with Robbie and Jane. My father’s 85th birthday is in January and I thought it might be nice to get a note from Robbie. Bill Vollenweider

Broan on December 14, 2005 at 5:32 pm

The Chicago Historic Resources survey lists George H. Borst as the architect. Anyone hear anything more on the renovation project?

Floodstrand on August 22, 2005 at 5:27 pm

My wife and I and our 2 dogs, and 1 snake lived in the Calo Theatre from 1991-02. We had the other side of the theatre, the side where the screen used to be. The main room had a 50 ft cieling. There were beautiful sconces about half way up the room at about25 ft. The sconces were of neo-grecian style women in robes. I loved it there. Also behind some of the wall were hand painted scenes of tropical locations with palm trees and such. We used to have great after hours parties there. I ran a mobile night club around Chicago in the 80’s and 90’s called The Phantom Club. The Calo Theatre was one of the last locations. It was a great location because you had to go to the alley behind the Griffin to get in. What a wonderful building.

rmachon on April 20, 2005 at 2:22 pm

I have bowled there from 1967 to 1972. If I remember right, it was a ten lane house. Robby Robinson was the owner. His wife’s name was Jane. Robbie was also a pro bowler from the 50’s. As a mather of fact he taught me how to bowl. It was a great time back then. If you have any other questions feel free to contact me.

Ralph Machonga

KenC on January 12, 2005 at 11:34 pm

To Mary Anne: I’m guessing that bowling started about 1960, because in the mid to late ‘50s, the Calo was showing movies.I grew up in the Edgewater area- just east of you. My first visit to the Calo-about 1956-was the first time I saw “THE WIZARD OF OZ”. Not long after, a bunch of us kids went to the Calo for= I think- 12 Saturdays in a row. Why? We were hooked…A Superman serial (with Kirk Alyn?)about 15 minutes long each week, with a cliffhanger ending to keep us coming back. This, along with cartoons and a single feature, kept us entertained. But, I suspect the adults much preferred the theatres east of Clark st.-the Uptown, Riviera, Devon, and Granada. These theatres were bigger,more attractive and inviting than the Calo, which was rather ordinary,as I recall.So, I think the Calo closed for movies 1959-1960, coverted to a bowling alley early '60s through mid to late '70s. You’re right, Mary Anne, so much has changed. But one business is still there- Augie’s Restaurant on Clark near Balmoral- since 1954, according to Augie. To Bryan: Thanks for the photo of the Calo. Please keep them coming; they are much appreciated!

Maryanne on January 12, 2005 at 8:33 pm

Not sure…I remember bowling there in the mid to late 60’s when I was a teenager. I don’t recall the bowling being new, so it must have been there around 10 years before I starting bowling with my friends. There was a cigar store on the corner and Sip & Straw Ice Cream across the street. I remember it well!!