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In 1957, while attending (or rather not attending) high school, I used to cut school and sometimes go to the National Theater. Being on South State Street, I could see three classic movies for 35 cents. It was off the beaten path, and truant officers would not go there. I remember seeing CRIME SCHOOL with Humphrey Bogart and the Dead End Kids, and EACH DAWN I DIE with James Cagney and George Raft there. This was just after Warner Bros. sold their pre-1949 movies to television. When somebody flushed the toilet, you could hear it in the auditorium. Also, a woman would go through the theatre shouting “peanuts, pop corn, candy.” Mostly the audience was composed of derelicts, alcoholics, etc. The theatre probably closed shortly afterwards.
According to a list I have of Chicago movie theatres, there was a Halsted Street Theatre at 6202 S. Halsted. This information comes from newsarticles. It did not include any years though.
I went to the Tivoli Theatre a total of three times. All in 1962 to
see their live stage shows. I remember in March of 1962 I saw the fantastic Jackie Wilson (still my all-time favorite performer.) He was even better then he was on Dick Clark or Ed Sullivan shows. The next time I went was in May to see Clyde McPhatter and Laven Baker. Also on the bill was Pigmeat Markham. The third and last time was to see Della Reese, Adam Wade and Billy Stewart. They had a poster in the lobby that Dinah Washington and Dick Gregory were to appear at the next live show, but this never happened. I believe by the end of 1962, they were closed. It was still a beautiful theatre,
but they never had the talent roster that the Regal Theatre on South Parkway had. I believe that the Tivoli was more adult oriented, and the Regal was more for younger people.
The Bell Theatre closed in June of 1953. I lived in the neighborhood and actually was there on its' last operating day. When I passed by it the next day, it had on its' marquee “closed for remodeling”. They never did reopen. I believe the movies playing that Sunday afternoon fifty-five years ago was I LOVE MELVIN with Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds plus TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY with John Wayne and Donna Reed. I went to St. Sylvester’s Grammer School at that time, and would go by it often.
My father owned a print shop at 2628 N. Milwaukee from 1947-1954. I was an unruly child, so my parents couldn’t get a babysitter. Since my mother helped at my dad’s shop on Monday and Thursday evenings, and all day on Saturday, they took my brother and I to work with them. My brother and I would often go to the Harding Theatre at 2724 N. Milwaukee. Also, very often to the Logan Theatre (still operating), on the same block as his shop. One of the biggest thrills I had going to the Harding, was to see HOUSE OF WAX in 3D. When Roy Roberts threw a chair at the beginning during the fire scene, I remember turning around. It sounded like it crashed in back of the auditorium. HOUSE OF WAX was also in stereo sound. These were really great times. I lived in the Humboldt Park area, and quite often would go to the Crystal and Queen Theatres on North Avenue. The Crystal closed in 1965, and the Queen closed in 1952.