Marbro Theatre

4110 W. Madison Street,
Chicago, IL 60624

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Showing 151 - 175 of 265 comments

BobbyS on August 9, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Scott, my grandmother was sort of a prude you might say, She probably
knew of Sophie from the newspapers and of course no tv. I have no idea if she ever heard a record or two. Maybe they went there for the film and the stage show happened to have her on bill. I remembered the story. Also living two blocks from the Marbro, my dad told me he and his older brother watched it being built in the 20’s and even climbed up the building when the workers left and played in the dome on top of the facade. One can only imagine the joy to the neighborhood when all this excitement and fun came to Madison St.

BobbyS on August 6, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Probably the most sad of all, our beautiful Paradise didn’t even last 30 years. I remembered when I told you my dad and his brothers went opening week, his mother and her daughters went to the Marbro to see Sophie Tucker. My Grandmother hated it. They had to sit high up in the balcony because the place was packed. She came out in a red dress with red feathers and started to “revolve” her hips and sing suggestive songs according to Granny. She was appalled. Imagine back in ‘28 & 29" both of these two palaces were packed up to the top!

BobbyS on August 3, 2010 at 4:48 pm

The Patio had issues with the City Of Chicago about amusement tax I believe. The city is spending alot of money on street lamps and sidewalks along Irving Park Rd. Now that the City is in millions of dollars in the red, they are re-thinking their strict rules. We will
see. Patio is a nice house. Stadium seating in an earlier time. I think it also has a “sky” and “stars”. But I might be confusing with another. It has been a long time since I was in there. Yes Scott, I wish we were talking about the Marbro too- reopening. I would surely
attend, even if I had to hire a bodyguard. What about you???????

BobbyS on August 2, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Interesting data about the Uptown. I didn’t know about the larger
lobby going to Lawrence Ave. It did make sense in 1925 to think about the vertical cost and all the machinery to run, however why wasn't
the cost taken in to effect when they spent all that $$$ for the Paradise. Can you just imagine all the steel needed to support that thing!! Plus all that wiring for the sockets and the bulbs not to
mention the control board in the basement. Then you have the same
story for that fabulous marquee, miles and miles of wireing for the
sockets and the flashers. I heard the city went to the ownwers of the Patio. They want to get action back on Irving Rd.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 31, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I know they were thinking about money, Scott. I’ve heard that the original concept called for a second grand lobby going out to Lawrence. This idea was eventually scaled down to what you see today. I can also say for certain that what they put in was much cheaper than the vertical of the Paradise for instance. Think about the fact that an electrican would have had to crawl around inside the thing and wire up every socket (many labor hours). Then the miles of wire needed for that, and a light bulb for every socket, and all the chaser moters. More steel in the sign. More steel probably to hold up the sign. More steel probably needed in that part of the building to hold the bigger supports for the vertical. Also possibly more insurance or permit cost involved in a bigger sign. Then there’s the elecrtical control board in the basement needed to run the thing, which would have had to have been more substantial. I’m also pretty sure that it would have been cheper to run on an annual basis, which I would think is why the signs of other movie palaces later got replaced with versions that looked more like that of the Uptown.

I think this was the biggest theatre they ever built in the city. So I am quite sure that compromises were made in the planning process, even though the results were extraordinary. This is almost always the way it goes in business unless the people running the show are just spending money like water. The B&K people weren’t stupid. So I doubt this was the case.

All that being said, I am not sure it was cost. But I think it remains a likely suspect.

BobbyS on July 31, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I forgot about the roof sign. Didn’t the Southtown also have one?
So maybe what Life’s too short stated sounds correct. Anyway I hope they re-open it soon. FLASH FLASH FLASH !!!!! HOT OFF THE PRESS…..
Heard this morning, Sat at 9am on WGN radio, The Patio theater will re-open this year. The owner and his son will combine and settled
their dispute with the City of Chicago and all systems are a Go. They plan to refurbish and didn’t say what the menu will be. Of course they never mentioned the same old problem: PARKING PARKING PARKING!!!!!!!

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 31, 2010 at 9:02 am

It could have been a budget thing. They originally had a big sign on the roof of the grand lobby, facing south. Maybe they didn’t have enough money to build the roof sign and a more elaborate vertical sign. B&K had a lot of money, but I’m sure even their resources had a limit.

From a design standpoint they also might have thought that a more elaborate vertical sign would have been too much when combined with the roof sign. I can personally see how this might have been the case.

If either of these is a correct assessment it was worth any trade-off. The roof sign was visible over the El and quite a distance south on Broadway, even past Montrose. The vertical sign was visible quite a distance to the north on Broadway. I should think that the two worked well as a team. In the 20’s this kind of advertising was key, as they didn’t have the multi-media options available to us today.

In the end it was a nice, well-balanced presentation. Even after the roof sign was removed and the marquee changed, the facade (seven stories high, or something like that) made it a great building.

BobbyS on July 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Scott, Good for you attending the Belmont. I was in there while still a bowling alley and was able to sneak into parts of the theater. I am pretty good at that. I cannot believe what a bland vertical given to the Uptown in 1925, while so much was spent decorating the inside! I thibk they realized it because the Tivoli
was quite different and then of course they went ‘over the top’ three years later when they put up that one on the Paradise. Still,I wonder what they were thinking when deciding on the Uptown. This was their showcase for the North Side and look what the Marks Bros. did a year later to the Granada.

BobbyS on July 28, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I don’t know what happened to above,but what I mean is after the Marbro was modernized in such a wonderful way, I suppose the expense had something to do with the decision to ‘scale-down’ future
projects in Chicago. The Uptown was a very successful house in the 1940’s with lines forming all around the block and her marquee was nothing to write home about. I am sure you will agree Scott? Most if not all of their houses looked the same. The Senate, State, Belmont, Century etc. etc. etc.

BobbyS on July 27, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Scott, I don’t think the first marquee was as bright as the second.
I am sure the Genesee Theater marquee was made by the same sign company. It is quite nice with the cascading colors on both the front and sides. It is much smaller that the Marbro’s or Granada’s because the building is not as wide. But the second marquee was quite a change of pace. They went all out. When I asked Joe why the Marbro got the star treatment and not our Paradise, he said they wanted to showcase this theater with a similar flashy style as the Chicago because it was making lots of money and it was their perferred theater to market. So the Paradise was already taking a back seat. And this is 1941. So that is why the paradise got the
underwhelmed marquee—and the writing was on the wall……

BobbyS on July 26, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Scott, I have that picture. It is black and white. What I want is a color photo of the last marquee after 1941. I have a still B&W day time shot with Buy War Bonds on the attraction board. But I remember turning around as we walked out across the street and want to capture
that feeling again. The marquee was twice the size of the Chicago.
It covered the entire lobby and it had to be the largest in the Chicago area, and certainly the most ornate! With my fascination
in showbusiness and electric lights, no wonder I made my way to Las Vegas for five years. You really needed “sun glasses” for all that beautiful glare of neon!!

BobbyS on July 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Scott, Driving past the Chicago Theater at night last week, I happened to be under the marquee. I looked up and thought how the Marbro must have looked with all the colored bulbs in rotation and the flashing. I can only remember when they changed them to all white.
That is how I “see” the Marbro. Massive pink neon and massive amounts of white bulbs. Still hoping for a night shot of the marquee.

BobbyS on July 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

The Man who took out the Marks Bros.“coat of arms"from the Granada
also told me it was terra-cotta. He also was the one who removed
other pieces of artwork that were bought by the man in Barrington.
I think the shine you mentioned was a coating that was applied sometimes. But as you said, those two theaters did not have a shine
to them. I wonder where thay kept the molds to use again one year later in the Marbro?. Must have been quite a warehouse don’t you think?
You do know that the theater owners M&R are Marks and Rosenfeld,
don’t you? I would assume it is THAT Marks.

BobbyS on July 13, 2010 at 12:59 pm

I watched the company clean the facade of the Granada and I thought
they were “sand blasting” it. The men told me “No” because that would leave holes in the terra cotta, so they “steam cleaned” So there you have it from the horses mouth. Not that I am a horse!
This was done in the 70’s under Plitt. They also cleaned the Uptown
at the same time I believe. I might be wrong about that. but I seem
to remember that. It wasn’t soon after that the Plitt chain closed them both. Maybe they cleaned them to sell them. The Granada as well as the Marbro had a little yellow cast to the facade. Before the cleaning, it was quite darker, like the Marbro which was never cleaned and had some of that coal dust floating around in the air.
So much fun sharing stories with you Scott…..

BobbyS on July 12, 2010 at 1:55 pm

When you saw the Granada Scott, it was on its last legs. The hole in the window was the “coat of arms” and went to the heirs of the Marks
Bros. They were already planning the wrecking. It was a shame. Why couldn’t Loyola keep the entire building and build on top to make that bland tower. Perfect for the school and a real treasure. It was so like the Marbro wasn’t it? One of the most beautiful theaters in Chicago. Did you notice the man renting the theater had the facade
steamed cleaned and the terra-cotta looked like new. He was also in the process of putting in flood-lights on top of the marquee to light up the facade. He had grand plans. But lack of parking(same old story) and fighting a university proved hopeless…..

BobbyS on July 7, 2010 at 4:22 pm

The Granada Theater, the twin to the Marbro, was to have been re-born in the late 70’s and 80’s. It was leased to a man who had great
expectations but not much cash I’m afraid. He put a building in behind the lobby going out to the ‘L’ and was to put in a huge kitchen for the restaurant on the upper lobby. He re-draped the stage with a bright red curtain, put in new carpet and repainted the marquee red and white. He also re-lamped the entire inside coves. He
bought a rather large bar with cut glass inserts from a lounge in Wisconsin. It fit beautifully between the marble columns in the lobby. Unfortunatly, when he applied for a liquor license, it was blocked by Loyola University, who of course owned the land. He booked a few shows of local talent and 2nd-run films for $1.50. I talked to him when I went to see a James Bond film and he told me “I never expected the heat bill to be so high and had to be turned on hours beforehand just to get the theater comfortable” He didn't
make it. Of course he also had grand plans to build a garage too.
That never hapened either. I told him he should talk to Loyola and
have a deal to use their parking on show night behind the theater. But I think Loyola wanted the building down. So the Granada was in pretty good shape awaiting the wrecking ball!!

BobbyS on June 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Hi Scrabbie! I think that was the name. Thanks. I would have remembered Woolworths or Kresges for sure. I have a photo memory which sure helped me in school with high marks. I may not have known
what I was answering, but I saw it somewhere. It was so much fun to empty the capsules of the red rinse and dip our hair in the solution. I am glad to hear you remembered Noreen rinses. Nobody
else I know today can remember the name. Maybe their memory is going fast like Scott’s! Sorry Scott, I’m only kidding…

Scrabble on June 29, 2010 at 5:51 am

Was it “Neisner’s”??

I must admit I found it at the following site:

View link

BobbyS on June 28, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Scott. Sorry to hear your memory is going fast! The dimestore was
either Kresges or maybe began with a N. It was very large and I think
it is still there. The building that is. A fun place for a child. I
think the name Marbro was on the bottom of the dish set. She collected them all and alot were broken. She only had a few left. I think she had a “crush” on one of the ushers. She never said, but that was my view. She went to the theater alot sometimes to see the movie twice. I don’t think it was for the dishes either.

Scrabble on June 27, 2010 at 4:46 am

Sorry BobbyS…I cannot recall a dimestore. But I do recall the hair rinse coming in the form of capsules. Also, I remember when I was about 12 or 13 years old, my sister and my cousin and I would put our babooskas on our chins, and put lipstick on, before we would go to see a movie, and then before we would return home, we would remove the lipstick and take the scarves off of our chins, so we would not be taken to task by our Moms. Have a great day!

BobbyS on June 26, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Does anybody remember the name of that very lage dime store that was near the Marbro? How about you Scabbie? It was not Woolworths. It was on a corner and had the entrance on a triangle. I was watching
a film with two girlfriends, we were all about 14, and the star,forgot her name, had such a sun red hair that photographed so
beautiful in that 1950’s technicolor that we decidied to become redheads as we were leaving the theater. We found our way into this 5 & 10 and went to the hair aisle and bought noreen rinses. They came in a capsule. You would fill the sink up with warm water, open the capsule and dip your hair into it. It was fun. I went to a birthday party a few days later and my mother was there and she said “How nice your hair is coming in red” I said “Really!"
Oh those naive 1950"s!!!!

BobbyS on June 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm

“The Bridge on the River Kwai” was beautiful on the Marbro screen. We alsways went as s family to thr Marbro at night. Sometimes my brothers and father would win to see a war film, but I didn’t mind
because they would also go and see a musical or love story for mother and me. Anyway, I always had the candy counter! I just loved
going there no matter what was one the screen. Just being in that place and going in past that marquee was enough for me. We never went during the week. School you know and “I Love Lucy” etc. I wonder
how they did box office wise. TV must have taken a big toll on them don’t you think? I had a aunt who died a few years ago and she was still using the dishes from the Marbro which she got on “dish night"
during the depression. When I asked for them, her family said they threw those things out. Just imagine, I could have sold them on E-Bay. Not on your life!!!!!!!

TLSLOEWS on June 24, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Man this was a big theatre!!!Nice stories from old employees and customers.

BobbyS on June 24, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Scott, I got the e-mail from the former usher that I met in Skokie and he gave me the same information as you did, but he called it
the Rodgers Park Art Center. Maybe he wasn’t there for a while and
they changed hands, or in this case bodies! I still intend to go and will give you a full report. What ever happened to thr Marbro seats?
Were they installed in other operating theaters? I went to the final
showing in the Granada theater and the seats in the balcony were in pretty bad shape. Main floor were re-done. The film was “Bow-Won-Ton-
the dog that saved hollywood”. There were 50 people in the theater
on the final thursday night. Mr. Whitiker was the mananger for Plitt
Theaters. Did you ever see “The Bridge on the River Kwai” at the

BobbyS on June 23, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Scott, I think you are right. The man said Greenview Ave. I’ll
have to pay them a visit. Also I think I will pay a visit to Cinema
Treasures/ Paradise. Maybe I’ll find you there. Every show I attended
myself in the 50’s also had few people. When you think of it it
was amazing it was still opened 7 days a week after the advent of
TV and staggered to 1956. I can’t remember one famous movie I ever
saw there. I went to alot of westerns with my brothers. I remember
going to the Marbro to see John Wayne in a 3D western. We all got
the glasses in the lobby and we sat in the huge balcony and had
“Swords” and “Bows & Arrows” thrown at us. Those matinees were
very well attended and we had to hunt for seats.l