Loop Theater

165 N. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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1953 photo courtesy of Darla Zailskas.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Originally known as the Telenews Theater when it opened on December 23, 1939, this small theater was once the place where moviegoers could see a couple of cartoons, a newsreel, a comical short, and the famous “March of Time” news reports, all in a single hour.

Keeping with its newsy theme, a United Press teletype clacked away in the lobby where an usher would spike the copy on the wall behind the machine.

The Telenews Theater had seating provided in orchestra and balcony levels. It was renamed the Loop Theater April 8, 1950 and began to show first-run features. In July of 1950, the newsreel policy was restored, as was the Telenews name. In August of 1953, the theater again switched to first-run films, and the name was changed, this time for good, to the Loop Theater.

In the mid-to-late-1960’s, the theater began to show a lot of B-grade films as well as Russ Meyer-type adult films, in addition to continuing to screen first-run features. The theater thrived during this mixed-format programming. The Loop Theater closed April 2, 1978.

For years, the former Loop Theater had housed a retail store but had been vacant for some time. The building was demolished in November and December 2005 to make way for a mixed-use 31-story high rise originally called MoMo (for Modern Momentum), but now called the Joffrey Tower, for the Joffrey Ballet, which is now housed in the building. The tower also is home to the Residences at the Joffrey Tower condominiums and two floors of retail space.

Contributed by Ray Martinez, John Keating

Recent comments (view all 76 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 23, 2015 at 3:13 am

Here are a few paragraphs about the Telenews Theatre from the January 5, 1940, issue of The Film Daily:


“Chicago — Latest advances in motion picture theater equipment are incorporated in the new Telenews Theater recently opened here by its owners and operators, Midwest News Reel Theaters, of which Herbert Scheftel of New York City is president.

“House has RCA sound, Simplex projectors, and American Seating Co.’s Bodiform chairs. Approximately 400 of the latter are installed on the main floor of the auditorium, and 200 in the balcony.

“A Westinghouse air conditioning system is used, Perey turnstiles, and Stanley Bigelow carpets supplied by Marshall Field Co.

“The theater has a unique front and marquee, White Way Co. lighting, plus clear cut screen effect and excellent acoustics.

“Marshall Field supplied the furnishings for the rest rooms. Equipment contract was executed by National theater Supply.

“Shaw, Naess and Murphy were architects.”

The first Telenews Theatre opened in San Francisco on September 1, 1939, just in time to show newsreels of the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany. The timing helped make the theater a tremendous success, and the company rapidly expanded to other cities. Not surprisingly newsreel theaters flourished during the war and early post-war years, but went into decline with the arrival of television, which could bring breaking news into people’s homes. Still, a handful of newsreel houses hung on into the 1960s, usually by pairing newsreels with feature-length documentaries.

Charles F. Murphy, who had no formal training in architecture, founded the firm of Shaw, Naess & Murphy with architects Alfred P. Shaw and Sigurd Naess in 1937. Murphy had previously been personal secretary to architect Ernest Graham, of the firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, successors to D. H. Burnham & Company. Shaw and Naess had also been with the firm, Shaw having been a junior partner since 1929.

DavidZornig on March 23, 2015 at 9:47 am

Below link has photos from a 1940 dual premiere at the Chicago and State-Lake Theatres. One photo of the TeleNews, which I added to the Loop’s Photos Section. I added the link to the Chicago and State-Lake CT pages too. Copy & paste to view.


okcray on June 11, 2015 at 1:50 am

I remember they brought the “Open Letter to Jane Anders” ad campaign back when the adult CINDERELLA appeared at the Loop during the summer of 1977. If I remember correctly, one of the “letters” was from a woman who was unhappy with her banker husband because he spent too much time wrapped up in work and would not take her to the Loop Theater to see CINDERELLA. Jane Anders' response: “Tell him to leave you a loan.”

LouRugani on October 16, 2015 at 4:19 pm

It was exactly sixty years ago this afternoon that Anton Schuessler, Jr., John Schuessler and Robert Peterson saw “The African Lion” at the LOOP Theatre.

DavidZornig on January 8, 2016 at 7:40 pm

Photo added to Photos Section. Photo credit John P. Keating Jr. The final film to ever play the Loop Theater. “Straight Time” opened 03/17/78 and closed as did the theater on 04/02/78.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on January 8, 2016 at 7:47 pm

STRAIGHT TIME is on TCM tonight. 12:30 a.m. central time. 1:30 a.m. eastern time.

DavidZornig on March 3, 2016 at 7:45 pm

History of the Telenews via WTTW.


DavidZornig on April 26, 2016 at 8:46 am

May 1965 photo added.

rivest266 on November 11, 2016 at 2:10 am

December 23rd, 1939 grand opening ad as Telenews and April 8th, 1950 ad as Loop can be found in the photo section.

GintGotham on February 9, 2017 at 11:17 pm

My mother took me to the Telenews prior to the Chicago or the Oriental when I was 5 years old. (They didn’t send me to kindergarten.) That’s where I saw my first teletype machine; and my first tv set (although there was nothing on at the time). That’s where I saw the Empire State Building crash; where I learned how to stand during the National Anthem; and where I got to see FDR declaring war. When I was at Northwestern, I went there (The Loop Theatre) and saw After Mein Kampf. It was a nudie documentary. And then in 1967, I took my new wife there to see the Graduate, with Dustin Hoffman. That theatre—inside a taxpayer—was one, classy place.

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