Marbro Theatre

4110 W. Madison Street,
Chicago, IL 60624

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Showing 151 - 175 of 271 comments

Scrabble on August 31, 2010 at 11:20 am

I think the only restaurant I remember at Madison and Pulaski was ‘Good Food’ and those are memories which I would like to forget as a terrible fight broke out there after my Mom took my two sisters and I there for a bite to eat after we left the Marlboro Theatre (where we saw the Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason movie about pool). We were actually trembling and shaking as we ran for our lives out of the restaurant and fortunately for us my Mom was able to hail a taxi cab and we made it safely back home. We later learned that one of the workers in the restaurant had his ear cut off.

BobbyS on August 30, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Does anyone remember the Peter Pan restaurant near the Marbro.
They had one of the best hamburgers I ever had. I believe it was a local chain. I know they had one near Harlem and North Ave. Of course I found myself at the Mercury theatre nearby. I spend half my childhood years in one movie theatre or another

BobbyS on August 28, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Scott, the building is owned by Bank of America and I don’t know who is putting on the films. It was Chuck Shaden some 30 years ago. Lasalle bank(former ownwers) continued the policy for good advertising. It is the oldest continuing classic film presentation
in Chicago area. They have a great loyal crowd who seems to know everythere there. But these are tough times here and cost-cutting is the name of the game. We shall see. The films are usually first-class prints and tbey have a great projection. I’ll keep you informed. If you want to help, please call Bank of America at
773 777-7200 or 773 777 7700 and tell them they should keep this valuable series. That goes for anyone out there too who are interested in clasic films and the theaters that presented them.

BobbyS on August 24, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Scott, It really isn’t a theater theater. More like an auditorium.
But it does have drapes a large screen, great sound, and a wonderful
billing. Usually a cartoon, short and then the feature. The man who does the programming also does facets theater on the north side.
The area has too amny branches since BOA bought alot of them and there is no need for all the counters for tellers. Maybe the Patio might take up the slack if the cinema closes. The only reason the building is open is for the cinema on Sat nights. They have a contract thru Dec 2010. But I think they would like to close it immediately; electricity, insurance etc. A very large parking lot sits behind the building. Only trouble is real estate has taken a dive here in Chicago and is real grim to say the least!

BobbyS on August 23, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I am trying to learn how to copy a picture of the Tiffin for Scott and Scrabbie and put it here. Glad to see you are back Scott. I thought maybe you were ill. I like our “chats”. Never been to the Plaza and never heard of it. I’ll ask my good friend who knows every
theater in Chicago a then some and has scores and scores of picture
books and details. I just heard that Bank of America wants to “pull
the plug” of their classic cinema series on Sat nights. It is on Irving Pk. near Cicero. Ever been there? Nice 500 seat theater built on the second floor. Building and parking lot for sale. Opened over 30 years ago as Northwest Federal Savings with Chuck Shaden.

Scrabble on August 22, 2010 at 5:56 am

Interesting comments about a cell phone being a small device. I just purchased a new Tracfone and yesterday I received a family photo from Florida and the people are so tiny that I can barely make them out. Commenting on theatres, I loved the buttered popcorn and this was a highlight for me. Does anyone remember the Plaza Theatre near North and Sedgwick Street — this is where my Mom took me when I was a child and then later on we moved to North and Pulaski in Chicago and we saw many movies at the Tiffin Theatre. Lots of fond memories for sure. This is a wonderful site and I hope everyone has a great day!

BobbyS on August 16, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Scott, I thought the same thing too. Lots of cops walking the beat in the 20’s. Maybe no one looked up. He said lots of kids did it in all the buildings going on then. He said the dome changed colors when the Marbro opened. Anyone remember the Will Rodgers Theatre?
Belmont and Central. We had relatives there also and you guessed it,
they put us all in the show on a sat or sun to watch a movie or two and drown ourselves in popcorn and candy. I remember riding home with a tummy ache in the car. I am glad there wasn’t anything like cell phones or watching a dvd on a gadget in the back of the auto.
I wouldn’t have missed seeing all those movie palaces for anything!!!!

BobbyS on August 10, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Scott, my dad and uncle were daring guys. I don’t know if the parents ever knew about that at the time, but I did remember them speaking about it years later. I asked how did you get up there? They said the scaffold and ladders were all in place when the workers went home for the night. All they did was climb them. Not only were they in the dome, but in the oval cut-outs just at the top of the facade. They would play “cops & robbers”. I said weren’t you afraid coming down especially if the sun was setting. They said it never bothered them. Good training for the army years later I bet.
Can you image on a resume: Climbing the Marbro Theater in Chicago!

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…