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It made me proud to read this article knowing that my father, Joseph Tolmaire was (probaly) the first black manager of this historic theater in the late 20’s. My mother first saw my father dressed in a black tux on the job. She was visiting Chicago on vacation from New Orleans, and said that my father was so handsome that she made plans to return to Chicago and marry him. They were introduced to one another by my father’s cousin. My mother succeeded, and they were married in 1937. She passed in 1987 and he passed in 1996.
Another interesting part of this story is that my father hired K. Bluitt (forgive my spelling of his name) as an usher at the theater. Mr. Bluitt was the legendary manager of the Regal for years to come, and he always let Joe Tolmaire’s daughters into the
theater free. All we had to do was ask to speak to him.
My father only worked as the manager for about two years. He left the job to work in my grandfather’s roofing and sheet metal company at 3671 S. State Street. Charles Tolmaire & Sons was open from 1917 to 1999 and was most likely one of the oldest blace businesses in Chicago.
I loved listening to stories of how elaborate the theater was. It had a machine that actually produced an imitation snowfall. My father also met many famous entertainers and had loads of autographed photos that have somehow been misplaced. Thanks for noting that the Regal was staffed by blacks from the beginning of its history.
Louise E. Catron