Alex Theater

3826 W. Madison Street,
Chicago, IL 60624

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Showing 51 - 69 of 69 comments

eSedonabiz
eSedonabiz on December 25, 2011 at 11:25 am

My uncle bought the Hamlin and changed it to the Alex in 1938. He was a true American success story. Finding work at a local pharmacy at 9 years old, he saved enough money to buy the theatre at 20 years old! I had the opportunity to work during the summers behind the candy counter during the mid 60s. I was “paid” with all the popcorn and candy I could eat. When it was slow, I would watch the movie that was playing. It was a great experience. Back in the day, the concession stand had a vat of pickles, hot dogs, real butter on the popcorn and old time candy bars like Chunky.

BobbyS
BobbyS on March 14, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Never saw rats at the Marbro! But had quite a few at the Alex. If the Marbro did have rats, they must have been dressed in their finery to be sure!!

Richard3150
Richard3150 on March 13, 2011 at 10:25 am

My brother and I walked or took a bus (can’t recall) to the Alex on countless Saturdays. Saw WAR OF THE WORLDS and every other late-50s sci-fi film there. The Marbro was another favorite.
Don’t remember any rats.

BobbyS
BobbyS on February 6, 2011 at 9:06 pm

The only reason the governor turned down the grant, I believe, is the state would have to match it and of course operate the system when it got started. And we all know about low ridership etc. I think Mayor Daley floated the idea a few years ago and was voted down. They went for express buses instead (cheaper and less invasive). Nothing like tracks I say! Where you ever in the Ventian Theater in Racine? I have seen parts of it in Fred’s basement Bijou.
I loved taking the North Shore Line to Milwaukee and visiting all the movie palaces there and restaurants.

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on February 6, 2011 at 8:00 pm

At least Chicago might have a chance with light rail. Here in Wisconsin, our new governor turned down federal money for high-speed rail and he is also an opponent of light rail as well.

Not sure how he feels about movie theaters, tho.

BobbyS
BobbyS on February 6, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Nice to hear from you Trolleyguy. I read somewhere where Rahm Emanuel has a soft spot for light rail. If he becomes mayor, I think West Madison St. doesn’t have a chance, but maybe, just maybe, there would be hope to restore the trolley on State St. going down to Soldier Field and Navy Pier and then west to the train stations in the west loop. Wouldn’t that make a great loop? I think the ridership would be there during the day and even at night when the theaters let out. They could travel down Randolph to the train stations and then back on Washington to State St. Funding might be a problem however..

amoswald
amoswald on February 6, 2011 at 7:35 am

Really weird, Bobby. Maybe it was cheap to operate. I don’t remember any ushers. I am working on a short story that features the kid mayhem at the Alex and when it is finished I will be happy to share with you.

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on February 6, 2011 at 7:28 am

Reinstate notification status.

BobbyS
BobbyS on February 5, 2011 at 11:48 pm

The Alex was wild and as far as rats, I think some of them paid admission and sat in the seats! Didn’t go there too often. I liked the Crawford around the corner and of course the Marbro & Paradise. Isn’t it strange, the Alex was the last movie theater to survive in an area that had so many.

amoswald
amoswald on February 5, 2011 at 11:06 am

A crazy place when I was a kid. My Mom would not let us go there. She said they let the kids run wild and the place had rats. She relented when they had the Mummy appear in person. It was mayhem and the kids tried to tear the bandages off the poor guy who was dressed up as a Mummy. They always had the best horror movies. But I saw Rodan and the Vincent Price movies at the Marbro.

KenC
KenC on December 17, 2008 at 4:24 pm

From the late 50s through the 1960s, I’ve seen a few wild and unusual triple features listed in the Chicago newspapers. But this has to take the cake: From the Chicago Sun Times movie directory,Friday, February 9, 1968: ALEX -DOORS OPEN DAILY AT 10:30 A.M. “REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE” “JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN’S DAUGHTER” “BILLY the KID vs. DRACULA”. Has there ever been a more bizarre triple feature?

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 30, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Listed at 3826 W. Madison in the 1953 yellow pages. Phone number was NEvada 8-6000.

GFeret
GFeret on February 27, 2007 at 7:31 am

This bargain venue was a favorite of mine, as apparently it also was for so many others, to the mid-‘60s. (I don’t think it made it to the '80s). Saw there HOUSE OF WAX (what a scare Vincent Price gave this little boy with that icy line “You shouldn’t have done that, my dear”), HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (with Peter Cushing, who I regarded at the time as the British Vincent Price), RODAN, and so many more. I remember the ALEX had some parking lot validation arrangement with the (formerly) nearby Goldblatts store on Madison Ave.

greginbur
greginbur on September 4, 2006 at 6:10 am

As the Hamlin, it had a Kimball organ. Originally a 6 rank organ in 1914 and enlarged to 14 ranks in 1924. In 1940 the organ was installed in St. Wenceslaus on Chicago’s north side. The original console was replaced by early barton console with a straight stop rail and several ranks were changed out. I purchased the remains of the organ from the church in 1978.

Broan
Broan on June 17, 2006 at 2:51 pm

Here is a profile from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s HAARGIS system. It includes a small picture.

Broan
Broan on December 6, 2005 at 5:41 pm

Architects were Postie & Mahler. See rendering in Chicago Tribune, August 7, 1910 p20

PhilH
PhilH on June 12, 2004 at 8:09 pm

I remember seeing a Kung-Fu triple feature at the Alex and a huge rat ran across my feet! It was more entertaining than the films that day and it still makes me smile.

exxslave
exxslave on January 31, 2004 at 8:50 pm

Wow. What a trip down memory lane I’m having now. Even though I’m on 37 years old, I strongly remember the Alex Theater. I think it closed in the late 70’s. Anyway, we used to go to this theater and see 3 movies for a dollar!!! If you were over 11 years old, the price was $1.75. Most of the classic Black exploitation movies of the 70’s were often playing at the Alex. I used to see some great Kung-Fu and a occasional horror flick at this theater. Sad to say, the neighborhood in which this theater was in started to decline in the 70’s, and the place either closed or was burned down, I can’t remember for sure.

My goodness! What good memories!

-Jay

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on December 31, 2003 at 8:37 am

A fun place. We used to go there to see horror films, which were its specialty in the 50’s. It also was one of the only theaters where you could buy hot dogs in the lobby. What a smell would greet you when you came in the doors!