Holiday Star Theater

340 Main Street,
Park Forest, IL 60466

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thelyricmovienight81
thelyricmovienight81 on September 19, 2014 at 8:55 am

There are ways to use this theater as a movie house without having to immediately upgrade to the standard digital equipment. It’s too bad no one is willing to take the risk. I’ve looked in to the property and the rent would be very expensive.

Amosduncan
Amosduncan on August 31, 2014 at 5:47 pm

In was a real great movie house to introduce me to going to the movies circa 65-66. All Disney or family films, I believe, was the policy. A beautiful and special place. You don’t know what you had until it is gone.

storefrontcinema
storefrontcinema on January 10, 2014 at 4:15 am

The theater was once again closed due to a “worker strike” in September of 2013. Causing the theater to be closed and only used for a weekly church service. The theater requires digital conversion to even be able to show second run films in the future. The theater that is remembered in other posts is gone. The bricks may stand – but the spirit has been all but wiped away.

meezer3
meezer3 on September 3, 2013 at 6:56 am

Spent 50 years of my life living in Park Forest, from 1952-2002. This theatre is connected with many, many things in my life. It was the place to go on the weekends, when for 75 cents I could go and watch what are now classic movies. In my youth, in the 1950’s, I spent many a Saturday afternoon watching two hours of cartoons for 25 cents, non-stop, with a whole theatre of other noisy kids. At Intermission the Yo-Yo man would come on the stage and perform great tricks. Of course after the show I would absolutely have to have a Duncan Imperial Yo-Yo. Saw Goldfinger at this show too. Had to stand in line in order to get a ticket to get in. The show was filled, and the ushers would come with their flashlights and look for vacant seats for the late comers. The Balcony was perfect if you smoked, but you had to be over 18 to sit there or be with your parents. And the cry room was a perfect place for parents if they couldn’t get a baby sitter. Yes, life was good in “Camelot” in the 50’s-60’s. I was one of the lucky ones to have lived there from the beginning…

Fuzar
Fuzar on December 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I enjoyed many of the treasures of my youth in this theater back in the 1980’s.

pfarchivist
pfarchivist on May 16, 2012 at 9:12 am

The Holiday Star is now owned and operated by Matanky Realty Group. The Matanky’s are now booking one art or foreign film, when they can. They have done innovative programming, including having a display and appearances by Tuskegee Airman during showings of “Red Tails”. When you come to the theater, be sure to pass by the windows on the shopping center side to see the murals from “Let’s Go Out to the Lobby.” They are showing current releases, often within a week or so of general release. If you live close enough, definitely come out and support this theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 15, 2012 at 7:06 pm

The web site of the Holiday Star Theater has been moved to this URL.

pfarchivist
pfarchivist on June 18, 2011 at 6:53 am

History of the Holiday Theater, Part Two, June 26, 2011
Park Forest Historical Society Program

On June 26, 2011 at 2:30 p.m. in the Holiday Theater, 340 Main Street, Park Forest, the Park Forest Historical Society will present The History of the Holiday Theater Part Two. Willis and Shirley Johnson operated the theater from 1981-1986, and 1990 into 2002 with a name change to Classic Cinema’s Park Forest Theatre. Under their ownership, many improvements were made to the infrastructure, the marquee was added on the parking lot side, division of the main theater into three took place, and the fifth screen was built and transformed into an “art house” theater. Willis Johnson will be telling us about his ownership and developments under his management. Someone from the current management and Robert Matanky, one of the current owners, will speak on the progress they are making in reviving and updating the theater.

The Holiday Theater opened in the Park Forest Shopping Center on October 28, 1950. It was one of the first movie theaters in the country to be in a shopping center. It was possibly the largest theater built in the Chicago metro area since the Depression, having over 1,000 seats and a soundproof “cry room” for parents with children.

Memories of the theater, which was a social hub in the early days of the village, are vivid for the early residents. The auditorium was used by several churches for Sunday morning services, while churches waited to build sanctuaries. The Holiday also had a conversation room where artists displayed and where refreshments were served.

The Holiday was originally operated by the Harry and Elmer Balaban corporation which also owned the Surf and Esquire theaters in Chicago. In early 1952, the building, by architects, Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett, won the “Oscar” of theater design, awarded by Exhibitor and Theatre Catalog Magazines. A bronze plaque cited the Holiday for “international recognition as one of the most modern and well appointed of all current theaters.” The merit award was considered the highest honor offered for theater design by the motion picture industry.

The theater is documented on the website, Cinema Treasures, at http://cinematreasures.org. One of the creators of the site, Ross Melnick, says it is featured in the companion book, Cinema Treasures. A model of the Holiday Theater is on display at the Theater Historical Society of America in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Part One of the History of the Holiday Theater was held September 26, 2010, with a presentation by Jack and Becky Mallers Black, members of the Mallers family, projectionists and ushers who had worked at the theater over the years.

A display on the history of the theater will be in the lobby. The public is welcome to attend this free program.

See the society website at www.parkforesthistory.org.

DellCousins
DellCousins on March 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm

(Continued) Here’s an in-depth Cincinnati Enquirer article on Arron’s lengthy history of high-stakes scams. The article is from 2004! View link

One victim is quoted as follows: “If he used half his energy doing something legal, he could be on top of the world.”

Though Arron would seem to be a textbook case of “flight risk,” he was released on a $20,000 bail after his Holiday Star-related arrest.

DellCousins
DellCousins on March 26, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Just visited Holiday Star for the first time today, though I’ve lived in the region for 50 years. (I recently found out some interesing things about Park Forest history, and wanted to see a piece of it up close, for myself.) Pretty nice theater, really nice people.

Sorry to learn when I got home and went online that a con artist, one Kenneth Arron, recently put his fingers on the place. Happily, the law caught up with him within a year. Sounds like he was so reckless that it was always just a matter of time before his house of cards fell.

I wonder who, exactly, is in charge of Holiday Star now that Arron is behind bars?

“Theater Operator Facing Multiple Charges Following Arrest"
(September 16, 2010) View link

“Suburb stunned that theater’s rescuer was a career criminal: Man who helped breathe life into Park Forest relic is revealed to have long record of convictions"
(September 19, 2010) View link

(Note that Arron was arrested the day after the post before mine appeared. Also see CWalczak’s links, above, for further irony.)

pfarchivist
pfarchivist on September 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Note, the program for the grand opening of this theater says it opened on October 28, 1950, not in November.

pfarchivist
pfarchivist on September 15, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Park Forest Historical Society Program on History of the Holiday Theater

The History of the Holiday Theater will be the program at the Park Forest Historical Society annual meeting on Sunday September 26, 2010 at 2:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in Park Forest Village Hall Board Meeting Room, 350 Victory Drive.

Jack and Becky Mallers Black will lead a panel discussion on the history of the Holiday Theater. Mrs. Black’s father, Bill Mallers, owned the theater from 1953 to 1978-9. Mr. and Mrs. Black also worked at the theater. Also participating in the program will be Ann, Phillip and Chuck Mallers, Jim Kaufman—a former projectionist, and Jeff Lindstrom, who was an usher. Other former employees of any period of the theater are encouraged to attend.

The Holiday Theater opened in the Park Forest Shopping Center on October 28, 1950. It was one of the first movie theaters in the country to be in a shopping center. It was possibly the largest theater built in the Chicago metro area since the Depression, having over 1,000 seats and a soundproof “cry room” for parents with children.

Memories of the theater, which was a social hub in the early days of the village, are vivid for the early residents. The auditorium was used by several churches for Sunday morning services, while churches waited to build sanctuaries. The Holiday also had a conversation room where artists displayed and where refreshments were served.

The Holiday was originally operated by the Harry and Elmer Balaban corporation which also owned the Surf and Esquire theaters in Chicago. In early 1952, the building, by architects, Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett, won the “Oscar” of theater design, awarded by Exhibitor and Theatre Catalog Magazines. A bronze plaque cited the Holiday for “international recognition as one of the most modern and well appointed of all current theaters.” The merit award was considered the highest honor offered for theater design by the motion picture industry.

The Facebook group, “Grew up in Park Forest,” has a discussion topic, “Holiday Theater—Did you work there?”
-more-
The theater is documented on the website, Cinema Treasures, at http://cinematreasures.org One of the creators of the site, Ross Melnick, says it is featured in the companion book, Cinema Treasures. A model of the Holiday Theater is on display at the Theater Historical Society of America in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Information is with Jerry Shnay at 708-747-3571, or with Jane Nicoll at parkforesthistory1 @ yahoo.com.

Beadee
Beadee on July 8, 2010 at 11:22 am

Sorry about all those typos. The 2 main auditoriums are still nice and big & I think one may still have a “cry room” which is sooo nice for parents w/ babies who want to see films without interupting the other viewers. Upstairs are two very nice screens that feel cozy-not cramped or poorly constructed. The 5th screen is perfect for special events and art films.

The tall grass film series used to show here and I hope that continues.

Beadee
Beadee on July 8, 2010 at 11:17 am

This theater was really great as a 1 screen. I remmebr the ushers lined up allong the back where they could see everything going on. I believe the last movie I saw on the single was The Great Outdoors.

After high school I worked there from 1992-1996 maybe. I need to find some photos. I think I was hired by Nan? and Scott. the mall was on the decline but what a crazy great place to work. The lobby had those giant 4'x4' portraits of cinema legends.

Classic Cinemas really really tried with this location. I think for them ge it was hard to mannage because we were so far southeast of most of their other locations.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on March 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm

This theater should now be listed as the Holiday Star Theater; here’s an article about the new owner’s plans for the theater: View link

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on March 5, 2010 at 11:08 am

According to this article, this theater is under new management and will now be known as the Holiday Star Theater:
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 15, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Hanns R. Teichert, whose firm decorated the Holiday Theatre, penned an article about the house for the April 7, 1951, issue of Boxoffice. Among the features of the Holiday were a fireplace in the lobby, a spacious lounge and coffee room available for private parties and club meetings during non-show hours, and a ground-floor cry room.

The Holiday had 1,050 Kroehler Push-Back seats upholstered in red mohair, and the stage curtain was hand-painted in gray, white, and black to suggest a forest scene. Carpeting was a tweed in tones of blue, red, black, and yellow. Teichert referred to the overall theme of the design “resort decor” which was intended to evoke the atmosphere of a lodge.

CatherineDiMartino
CatherineDiMartino on October 21, 2008 at 7:43 pm

This theatre is no longer under Eagle Theatre’s management. Their website says so. It is now simply called The Eagle Theatre and the website is View link

Broan
Broan on March 26, 2007 at 3:01 pm

The Holiday originally opened for the H&E Balaban chain. The balcony was called the Terrace and had reserved seating for some reason.

CatherineGentz
CatherineGentz on March 6, 2007 at 8:44 pm

Finding this web site last evening truly came as a surprise when I did a google search last night in response to a question that my childhood friend, Lauri Young, posed to me regarding the Park Forest Holiday Theater. My dad, Robert ‘Bob’ Parker had co-managed the Holiday Theater for a number of years when we were children and Lauri and I have so many memories of that movie theater, where we spent so many Saturday afternoons at the matinees. Do you all remember the magicians who would perform on the stage in front of the curtain before the start of the weekend matinees, or the man who would thrill us with his outstanding performances with his Yo-Yo, doing tricks which we could never replicate?

My father at the age of 83, though his health has been failing him this past year, continues to hold dear to his heart the town where he and my mum, prior to her death in 1996, made their home for 50 years.

Catherine Gentz
Cathy Parker

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on April 15, 2006 at 8:29 am

But for how long though? Look at how many companies have tried to operate this place over the past few years.

cinema2
cinema2 on January 18, 2006 at 4:11 pm

Good news: the Park Forest Theater has now reopened for business. Hurray! It is now the “Eagle Park Forest Theater.” The web site is: http://www.eagletheater.net

cinema2
cinema2 on January 17, 2006 at 5:29 pm

What great memories I had as a kid seeing movies at the Holiday Theater. If I recall correctly, the children’s matinee price was 75 cents. (This was the late 60’s, early 70’s. My parents would drop my sister and I off and we’d usually head for the balcony and eat candy and watch a good Disney movie. I would sometimes go down and hang out in the glassed-in “Crying Room” since there was rarely anybody in there. It was like your own private screening booth.

I hadn’t been back to Park Forest since the early 80’s. Went back in Mar. 2005 and wow, lots of changes. The Plaza isn’t what it used to be, and the Holiday Theater (now Park Forest Cinema I guess) seemed closed and uncertain. I’m going to drop back by when I’m up in Chicago around Mar 2006—hope they have it back open again by then. I’d love to see the place again—although without the balcony, and having subdivided the auditorium, it might be a bit sad. Still, I hope I’ll be able to catch a movie there then.

Regardless, hope they can keep that place alive. Lots of history there, and great memories for thousands of people.

gstrom
gstrom on October 12, 2005 at 1:13 pm

I also was an usher, from 1971 – 1973(!) when it was the Holiday Theater. What a great first job, except for the pay ($1.00 an hour). The owner’s name was Mahler when I was there, I think. Ralph Wick(sp?) was the manager at the time (he still lives nearby too). Capacity was indeed 1200. I remember the lines out to the Clock Tower (gone now) for the first run shows and Saturday matinee’s (managing rowdy kids was always a challenge ‘eh?). The balcony was for “adults only”. The building was built around 1955 and was also used as a church on Sunday mornings, with an organ and everything (my brother was baptized there) until their building was done.

Gary Strom

VinceP
VinceP on September 4, 2005 at 1:01 am

I woke up this morning after having dreamt about the Holiday Theatre. I lived in Park Forest from 1954 to 1967. In 1966 and 1967 I worked as an usher at the Holiday Theatre in Park Forest. This was before the era of multiple screen theatres. I have to be honest I miss those theatres. I know they can not be profitable in today’s market, but all the same there was something majestic about those theatres, even the ones that were not opulent. We could seat somewhere are 1000 to 1200 people, I believe. And we did have sell out nights. Lots of them. Friday and Saturday nights usually were full for the first two shows. The theatre opened at 5:30 during the week and Saturday had a matinee movie for the kids then opened for the regular show again at 5:30 or 6:00. Sundays we opened around 12:30 or 1:00 PM. Big difference than today’s movie business.

When I first started the ushers, all males at that time, wore a uniform consisting of a red coat, dark blue pants with a stripe down the outside seam, white shirt and a dark blue bow tie. In 1967 we went to a green paisley jacket, black slacks, white shirt and, I believe, a paisley matching bow tie. This was the time of old style service and we seated people. We stood at the back of the auditorium at the head of the aisles to assist people. I saw Battle of the Bulge 32 times this way. I still remember many of the lines from the scenes to this day. I saw Mary Poppins 25 times.

The owner I believe was a Mr. Williams. He also owned a theatre in Fort Wayne Indiana. The Assistant Manager at the time was a Mr. Parker, who later became manager of the Lans theatre in Lansing, Illinois.