Michael Todd Theatre

180-190 N. Dearborn Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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Michael Todd

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Located next door to the Cinestage (the former Selwyn Theatre) on Dearborn Street, the Michael Todd Theatre was the second Todd-AO 70mm roadshow theater, and was originally known as the Harris Theatre. The Harris, designed by C. Howard Crane in 1922 (along with the next-door Selwyn) as a playhouse for legitimate producers Sam H. Harris and Archie and Edgar Selwyn. The Harris was given an Italian Palladian design, while the Selwyn was done in neo-Georgian style.

Michael Todd took over in the 50s after the Harris' legitimate days were over. The Michael Todd was a bit different than the Cinestage, as it had a large flat screen instead of a curved strip screen. It also had a great waterfall curtain, whereas the Cinestage had a standard curtain that opened horizontally. There was also a huge balcomy and the Century JJ-equipped projection booth was on the main floor under the mezzanine.

Before it was razed, the Michael Todd’s entire ceiling had collapsed and was basically in ruins. Unfortunately, the roofs were always neglected in both of the theaters.

Today, the Michael Todd’s facade, along with that of the Cinestage (both saved when the theaters were torn down), now form part of the facade of the new Goodman Theatre complex, which moved from its long-time location at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000.

Contributed by Mark, Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 68 comments)

JudithK
JudithK on August 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Thanks! I’ve never seen what the theatre’s interior looked like originally. As in my earlier comment, it was impossible to determine what the interior looked like due to all of those curtains that ensured that wonderful sound quality. The acoustics must have been pretty good in the Harris era, too.

Broan
Broan on December 16, 2011 at 6:33 am

http://arcchicago.blogspot.com/2011/12/door-to-heart-bertrand-goldberg.html Here are a couple photos showing Bertrand Goldberg’s remodeling.

JudithK
JudithK on December 16, 2011 at 6:45 am

Thanks, Broan! I had not seen the article, nor do I remember the interior extrance of the Michael Todd Theatre looking like this.

dtrigubetz
dtrigubetz on January 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm

In 1967-68 I saw the re-release of “Gone With the Wind” here. I sat in the balcony and the large audience gave Clark Gable a rousing applause upon his first screen entrance. I live in L A now and would be happy to give visitors a tour of our miraculously remaining single screens:

JudithK
JudithK on February 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I saw the wide-screen re-release of “Gone With the Wind” at the McVickers on Madison Street in Chicago. The same thing happened in that theatre when Mr. Gable got his first close-up.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on February 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm

When I saw Ben-Hur in 70mm projection at the Michael Todd in 1960 the curtains opened horizontally to reveal a very wide flat screen. Meanwhile, Exodus at the Cinestage was shown on a slightly curved standard screen. The Cinerama strip screen was installed a few years later.

BobbyS
BobbyS on March 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm

So did “Around the World” play the Michael Todd theater or his Cinestage? I thought it played the Michael Todd with the waterfall curtain. Was it the same size of todays IMAX screens?

JudithK
JudithK on March 3, 2013 at 5:45 am

I saw “Around the World in 80 Days” at the Beverly Theatre in Peoria, IL, so I cannot answer BobbyS' question. When I saw “Star!” at the Michael Todd Theatre it was shown on a very wide, crystal-clear, flat screen. If anyone out there has seen the film I believe the beginning of the film was supposed to be a representation of a show curtain in a theatre.

RiisPark
RiisPark on March 12, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Saw “Star” in 1968 and “Exodus” around 1963. Both movies were reserved seating.

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