United Artists Theatre

45 W. Randolph Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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Showing 51 - 75 of 130 comments

DavidZornig on April 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm

In KenMc’s 04/11/09 post of the 1972 picture, “Diamonds Are Forever” is playing at the Woods down the street.

Me and a buddy saw that there multiple times. Jill St. John, Lana Wood, & a lengthy car chase through “old” Vegas with a Mustang ending up escaping on two wheels. A young man’s dreams fulfilled on a daily basis.

JRS40 on April 24, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Ken, the photo you have linked is from 1972 as the picture playing is CABARET. If you look at my list of bookings above you will see it opened in Feb that year and played until May. Great photo and thanks for sharing.

DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Nice! With even the old Bismarck sign way down the street. And the rear of a mid `60’s Rambler tooling along. Thanks for posting.

Oh, and “Reactivate Notification Status”.

kencmcintyre on April 11, 2009 at 3:11 pm

This photo circa late sixties or early seventies is for sale on eBay:

DavidZornig on February 22, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Great pic. It shows the giant ABC logo that replaced the Balaban & Katz neon in the photo at the top of this page.

Nice Toronado in the traffic too. A year or two later they had an optional funky, wrap-around rear window. Which today would cost more than the car to replace.

DavidZornig on December 19, 2008 at 10:55 am

Greetings. I had thought the same thing too. But a friend of mine reminded me of how massive the entrance to the United Artists Theatre was.
It’s multiple glass doors spanned a good distance East, even though it was located on the West corner of that block. It’s possible there was one or two storefronts between it and Flo’s, but not much more than that.

I remember the swing girl had her own set of spotlights isolated on her alcove. Wireless technology was pretty scarce back then, if available at all. So any corded mic would seem cumbersome for someone swinging out over the sidewalk. Presumably needing both hands. Otherwise she’d start going sideways.
As with the old Vaudeville folks, she probably just projected her voice really well. The movement is all that was necessary to capture attention.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on December 19, 2008 at 9:05 am

Seems to me Flo’s was a little closer to State Street and not right next to the United Artists? I think the women on the swing had a microphone and would talk to the folks down on Randolph Street. Seems like I recall her saying something like “Come to Flo’s, Fabulous Flo’s”, as she swung on the swing, anyone remember that? Years later it seemed like a bookstore and Burger King got located in those buildings before everyting got torn down, including the United Artists.

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on December 19, 2008 at 5:33 am

Unbelieveable. Gee, what is next? Oh, time to set the Chicago theater on fire? Maybe use it as target practice for some new bombs from outer-space? How could they mess with UA?

DavidZornig on December 6, 2008 at 2:22 pm

You are a God BWChicago. Flo’s it is, or was. Thanks! My barber concurs. Thanks for the tiemline.
Flo the owner was apparently a heavy set gal who dated the dance instructer named Tony Paris. Only in Chicago would we now learn this, eh?
My barbers club was called Club Malibu located at 3309 N. Clark. Not downtown as I had thought.

Broan on December 6, 2008 at 2:18 pm

It was also Mambo City from 1954-1956. Quite a checkered history.

Broan on December 6, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Flo’s was the Preview Lounge from 1947-1960. That space was called variously the Upstairs Room, Encore Room (a couple weeks 1953-1954), the Modern Jazz Room (1956), the Upper Limbo (half a week in 1957), the Modern Jazz Room (1957), Mambo City (1958-1960), Curtain Call Theater(1960-61), the Kit Kat Club (1961-62, had waitresses costumed as kittens)…

So you see why they might go as flashy as a swinging girl to get some attention, with a record like that.

Broan on December 6, 2008 at 1:38 pm

It was Flo’s restaurant, a Gay ‘90s saloon themed restaurant with a cabaret style dance and performance space upstairs.

DavidZornig on December 6, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Well, at first my barber thought the club was called the Preview. But he thought that was on another block.
He than came up with the Velvet Swing, which would make sense, but he wasn’t sure. He said I was going too far back. I’ll see him in a few weeks and re-quiz him. At least we’ll learn the name of his own club.

Rolando on December 3, 2008 at 6:20 pm

My sanity is saved! Thanks David for your post. Looking forward to what your barber can recall. Haven’t been home to Chicago since 1979; I believe it’s time for a visit.

DavidZornig on December 3, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Greetingsw Rolando. You were not dreaming that. I clearly remember the restaurant with the girl on the swing too. I posted about it ont the Oriental page I think. I mistakenly thought it was on that side of Randolph. But now as you say it, I’m pretty sure it was next to the United Artists.

I thought it was either a German or New Oleans themed place. She definately wore either Laderhosen or a short skirt/bloomers.
The facade of the restaurant building had a tall cut-away on the left side above the entrance. The swing was actually suspended inside of that. But when she swang out on it, she was over the sidewalk. The cut-away was deep enough to not have her hit the back when she swung back in.

I put a call into my barber who owned a nightclub downtown in the `60’s. I’ll post back with an answer when I get one.

Rolando on December 3, 2008 at 4:41 pm

I remember going to the United Artist to see “Cabaret” when it first came out. Not many people in the theater but my brother, sister and I had a great time. I seem to recall there was a restaurant next door to the U/A and there would be a girl on a swing over the door. Was I dreaming this?


DavidZornig on November 7, 2008 at 4:50 pm

I just noticed that the original marquee in the 1958 photo at this link’s top, had Balaban & Katz in the center. So ABC actually rebuilt the front of the marquee to add their logo.

DavidZornig on October 31, 2008 at 11:31 pm

The coolest thing about the United Artist’s signage was the timed illumination of the ABC portion.
It lit up sequentially just like the ABC & 7 on TV back in the day.
Like timed, scriptive writing in lights. The whole sign was stunning, but that part sticks out in my mind’s eye.

hanksykes on October 22, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Owner of the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati,Ohio is from the same family which has published nationally, since before 1900, the sign industry bible entitled ,“Signs Of The Times”.A large marquee would pose a real space eater in an interior museum, of course it might find use as an exterior weather sheild. Maybe White Way knows where the marquee went.

Chicago229 on October 22, 2008 at 12:40 pm

I just read an article from Chicago Magazine about White Way Sign Company. It said that while some of the Chicago marquees were lost, some made their way to a museum in Cincinatti called the American Sign Museum; the article did not say which ones are there. I went to the museum’s website and did not find any information on theatre marquees.

I did learn some interesting things about White Way Sign Company from the article, though. Did you know that at 9p.m. every Thursday, about 20 White Way trucks came to the Loop and changed the signboards, going on until as late at 2 and 3a.m.? I always just assumed that the staff of the individual theatres would change the signs, but I guess it does make sense, since it would probably need expert attention. White Way also provided maintenance to the signs, and in fact still overs this service.

Anyway, does anyone know about the American Sign Museum, and which signs it holds?

William on October 16, 2008 at 5:17 pm

You would as have to have a Very large basement too for that one.