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Was this theater (probably in its earliest days) ever known as the Chicago United Theater?
While the address is correct, placing the Boulevard Theater in the Garfield Park neighborhood is incorrect. It is on Garfield Boulevard but the neighborhood is more likely Gage Park.
According to the Chicago Park District, Garfield Park is located at:
Garfield Park, 100 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago 60624.
Thanks for answering. I remember the China Clipper. (We could never afford to go in it.) I also remember that Clipper airplane painted on the side of the building. It was one of many of the really nice restaurants in Englewood. There was another at the NE corner of 63rd & Normal Blvd.; can’t remember the name but very plush. Down the street from China Clipper was a White Castle and next to it was a Wimpy’s Hamburgers. As for Chinese food, we used to go to Ying Lee’s (strictly take-out) at 79th & Morgan.
I actually remember the night of the fire you mention. It was the Fish Furniture Store (they had a neon sign of a big fish in front that went from the top of the ground floor to the fourth floor). We also went to see it. At that time, we lived at 60th & Union. I can still see it in my mind. Big news around the neighborhood for a long while.
As for the Southtown Theater, I wrote that blurb about the Murder Castle. I’ve even heard rumors that there’s a movie in the works about it. I drove by that post office last year while visiting Chicago. I almost didn’t recognize it because there were so many trees in front of it.
In 1954, we moved to 64th & Green St., fairly close to you. We used to swim at Ogden Park pool; boys' days: Mon., Weds., and Fri. Only lived there a year before moving to 65th & Stewart Ave.
Back in the fall of 1979 or ‘80, I went back to Chicago for a visit (I’ve lived in So. Calif. since 1969) and again, visited Englewood. I parked my rented car and walked up Englewood Ave. towards Halsted St. What do I see before my eyes but a wrecking ball tearing up the Empress Theater. I watched for a few minutes and left. Thomas Wolfe was right, you can’t go home. All those theaters are gone.
Tell me more about your Englewood experiences.
Nat King Cole, at age 10, won first prize in one the amateur nights, at the Regal Theater in 1929. He won a turkey.
I also grew up in Englewood in the 1950s. The Kim did have that ‘down at the heels’ look. In today’s parlance, that condition would be known as ‘deferred maintenance.’ The REAL dump was the Linden Theater, across from the Englewood.
As for the Stratford Theater, it was there in the 50s. It was a beautiful theater. Trouble was it would open for a few months and close for a couple of years. It didn’t help that the films it showed weren’t first-run—or even second run, for that matter. That, and it was kind of away from the main shopping district just a bit. It was on the south side of 63rd St., about four doors west of Union Avenue.
At the point of repeating my earlier post about this theater: Bob Hope. During the 1920s, when he was nobody, he had just come from a booking agent’s office in the Loop, looking for work. He found none. He later stated that at that moment, he decided to give up and go back to Cleveland and go into some other line of work. As luck would have it, he ran into a fellow performer on the street who recommended that he try the West Englewood Theater at 63rd and Ashland Ave., (later to become the Ogden Theater). There, he caught a couple of weeks' work. The theater said they could really use him at their other vaudeville theater, the Stratford. He remained at the Stratford Theater for about a year as the emcee and honed his act. The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve heard him state that where he really got his start was at the Stratford Theater in Chicago.
There is a website that has two photos of the Iris.
I went by there yesterday. It’s all sealed up. Apparently, it remains a recording studio. The neighborhood is exceptionally nice. The patrons just stopped going to movies. I remember they used it for scenes in the John Belushi 1979 film “1941.”
In the 1994 film “Ed Wood,” there is a scene of Ed Wood and his cast from ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ leaving the Pantages Theater after viewing same. Ironic. “Plan 9 From Outer Space” at the Pantages?
While in Chicago last summer, I looked for the old Loop Theater site and found a State of Illinois Off-Track Betting facility, not a retail shop in its place. Correct me if I’m wrong. (I even went in and put down a few bets—and lost.)
Several years ago, the Los Angeles Times did a feature on this theater. I remember the article (just can’t remember when it was). I made it point to catch a glimpse of it anytime I was in the area. It is a beautiful building. It sits at kind of an angle.
I noticed that no one answered the Feb. 12, 2004 question of Meredith Rhule, Whatever happened to Larry Lujack?
Answer: You can hear him Mon-Fri, 5 a.m. to 10 a.m (Chicago time) on WRLL, 1690-AM.
In the 1950s, the State Lake was THE theater for first-run films in Chicago. As good as the other theaters were in the Loop, it always seemed they got second pickings on first-run films.
In June 1958, after graduating from 8th grade the night before, I treated myself by going to the State Lake to see “The Vikings,” which starred Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, and Ernest Borgnine. A bonus was that Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh appeared in person that day for a publicity tour of the film. They had a temporary platform set up at the curb outside the State Lake with Irv Kupcinet acting as emcee, asking the usual innane questions, e.g., ‘Did you enjoy doing the picture?’ It was the first time I’d ever seen a movie star live. I wormed my way to the front. While Kupcinet was interviewing Curtis, I got Janet Leigh’s attention. I had to ask her something, so I asked: “What happened to your hair?” (It was much shorter than in the movie.) She responded, in a very friendly way, “Oh, I cut it.” I was thrilled. From then on, she was always my favorite actress.
After that, I was only in the State Lake once, in November 1968. It showed a reprise of “West Side Story.” It was starting to go downhill even then.
I always felt that when a public venue is being either financed or deed over by a government agency to a private corporation, be it a stadium, theater or whatever, the new name should read: TAXPAYER’S PARK or TAXPAYER’S THEATER. Why not? Taxpayers are putting up most of the money.
Was this ever known as the Halsted Theater? A burlesque house?
Our eighth-grade class, St. Bernard’s School at 66th St. & Stewart Ave., took our class trip to the McVickers to see “The Ten Commandments” in 1958. Walked to the L station at 63rd & Harvard, rode it downtown, got off at Randolph St. and walked to the McVickers.
Anybody have the date as to when the Linden opened? And when it ceased being a theater? Or it’s demolishment?
I think I remember this theater. Though I lived nearly all my childhood on the South Side, we did live on Argyle St. for the summer of 1949 at 1121 W. Argyle St. That summer the city was tearing up the street, about two feet below street level. Regarding the Argmore Theatre, I remember going there once; I saw “Samson and Delilah,” starring Victor Mature. Never forgot it.
Ironically, in the description of the demise of of the Argmore above, it cites the “dawn(ing) of the television era” as a cause. At the building where we lived was the first time I ever saw television.
I hope somebody posts a photograph of the Argmore Theatre.
It might be noted that, the day before El Portal’s grand re-opening, after months (years?) of delayed renovation, the Northridge earthquake hit. It was almost like going back to square one.
In an earlier posting here, Oct. 19, 2003, there is mention of another El Capitan theater. It was also used as a television studio. Where was it? In one of those El Capitans, Richard Nixon delivered his famous “Checkers Speech.” Which one, and where?
During my time playing in the Marine Band at Twentynine Palms (CA), we played a swearing-in enlistment ceremony at the Cinerama Dome in 1965 or ‘66. We played for the swearing in of the “Bob Hope Platoon.” Hope couldn’t make it so one of his daughters, Nora, if I remember, stood in for him. First there were some speeches followed by an public relations film about the Marine Corps, showing scenes from Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. (There was a revolution occuring at the time and the Marine Corps went sent in to keep order.) Then came the swearing in of the Bob Hope Platoon, about 30 guys. Immediately after, they had roll call. Two guys were missing. After being sworn in, the platoon would head to Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego.
That was the only time I was ever in the Cinerama Dome. Anytime I drive by it, I think of that day.
I noticed that the Southtown had “unknown” in the above notation for “Chain:”. I remember that (in the 50s) all persons working at the Southtown had “Balaban & Katz” embroidered someplace on their uniforms.
We kids (early 1950s) always went to the Southtown on Sunday; seemed like everybody in the neighborhood was there. It was beautiful. I remember the duck pond, the plush carpeting with lounging sofas, the little playroom, and the dioramas of Chicago history in the balcony foyer. That of the Chicago Fire was always the favorite diorama. Strangely, I saw the kids' playroom only opened once during that time. Maybe they only opened it during evening performances. The Southtown had a parking lot on both sides of the theater. Rarely did they have cars in it as the theater was within walking distance for most everybody.
One Sunday in 1952, I saw a kid run across the stage during a movie. About half the audience laughed and applauded him. It turned out to be my 10-year-old brother. Somebody dared him to do it for 25 cents and he was, of course, up for it.
A few little-known items about the Southtown: At the top of the exterior tower was a mooring set-up for dirigibles if the airship’s crew wanted to stop and see a movie.
However, directly across from the Southtown, a most notorious building once occupied the SE corner (where the post office now stands). In that building housed the infamous “Dr. Holmes' Murder Castle.” He had a hotel constructed there in 1893 for out-of-town tourists attending the Chicago World’s Fair of that year. It came with secret panels, hidden rooms, and trap doors that eventually led to the basement acid vats. Guests checked in but never checked out. By the time the Chicago Police Dept. uncovered his gruesome deeds, more than 100 persons had been killed. While on trial in Philadelphia (for murders he committed there), the hotel mysteriously burned down. He went to the gallows in 1896 at a Philadelphia prison. Dr. Holmes (real name: Herman Mudgett) is considered America’s first mass murderer. For more details, consult “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson. This book was on the national best-seller list while in hard cover and remains in 3rd place on both L.A. Times and N.Y. Times current paperback best-sellers (46 consecutive weeks).
I was only in the Southtown once (in 1962) after it became Carr’s department store. Most everything was still there except the seats in the auditorium. In their place stood card tables with piles of clothes just tossed on them, not sorted or laid out. I drove by the site of the old Southtown when I visited Chicago last year. Now even the building’s gone, replaced by some sort of hardware store. What a beautiful theater that was.
They may have called the Kimbark the Kim colloqually (sp?) but they were definitely two different theaters. The theater at Halsted St. between 62nd St. and Englewood Ave. was definitely marqueed as the Kim. One theory: the marquee for the Kim held just three letters, like the Ace.
Incidentally, a possible reason it was named the Ace might be that down the street, on the (NW)corner of 63rd & Halsted, stood the Ace Department Store. (Not exactly an upscale department store.) They might’ve owned it.
I remember it having the largest and steepest balcony I’d ever seen, must’ve went up three or four stories. None of the other theaters in the area had anything comparable to it. If the Kim had seating for 1100 patrons, 1000 would have easily fit in their balcony.
Thanks for the response. We must discuss the Englewood-area in detail some time.
During the 1950s, the Ace became the Kim Theater. It was the type of movie theater that salesmen went to sleep in during the afternoons. Cheap, air-conditioned, and always showed three features.
Of all the theaters in the Englewood shopping district in the 50s, it was the only one our mother forbade us to go in: 1) It had a reputation for being incredibly dirty, and 2) They showed dirty movies. I did go in once, to see a Superman movie, and found #1 to be quite true. As for #2, I never heard of any of the movies they advertised on their posters but those posters did, indeed, tend to be racy (for the 1950s). They usually had triple features and admission was cheaper than the other nearby theaters.