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 71 comments)

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 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 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 on March 12, 2013 at 2:50 pm

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

Coate on March 17, 2015 at 9:54 am

“The Sound of Music” premiered at the Michael Todd 50 years ago today. With a reserved-seat run of 93 weeks, do you think it is the long-run record holder for this venue?

Also, on a related note, I would like to mention my new 50th anniversary retrospective for “The Sound of Music” can be read here.

JRS40 on March 17, 2015 at 10:23 am

I have a record of all bookings of the Todd (when it became the Michael Todd)from 1958 until it’s closing in 1977. No movie came close to playing there as long as “The Sound of Music.” I would have to check my records to confirm but I am guessing “Ben-Hur” would be the next closest. It played for 40 weeks.

To answer the question posed by Bobby S above – “Around the World in 80 Days” played at the Cinestage from 4/4/57 to 12/25/58.

Coate on March 28, 2015 at 10:55 am

JRS40… Forty weeks for “Ben-Hur”? Maybe I have a wrong opening or closing date or did the math incorrectly, but I have a much longer duration than 40 weeks for the Michael Todd roadshow run of “Ben-Hur.”

JudithK on August 10, 2015 at 4:08 am

I saw a play at the Goodman Theatre yesterday; there are two theatres in this complex, and I was in the Owen Theatre, which is in the space that was home for the Michael Todd Theatre. Massive renovations occurred as the Todd, the Cinestage and the Woods Theatre had severe condition problems for many years. This is now a theatre in the round, to use a probably antiquated term, and a very good one at that. You can (somewhat) tell that the Owen Thatre was previously a legitimate theatre set-up that was converted into contemporary use. I am guessing that the Cinestage portion is now part of the main stage, and the common areas (I am guessing the office complex and Petterino’s Restaurant) are what were part of the Woods Theatre. Quite fascinating to see this adaptation made and in active use. I think the previous creators, stars and owners of the theatre complex would approve.

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