James M. Nederlander Theatre

24 W. Randolph Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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DavidZornig on June 21, 2019 at 8:11 am

Another 9/30/77-10/06/77 Saul Smaizys photo.


DavidZornig on June 21, 2019 at 8:08 am

9/30/77-10/06/77 Saul Smaizys photo.


DavidZornig on June 21, 2019 at 8:05 am

3/28/75-4/10/75 Saul Smaizys photo. Will enlarge.


DavidZornig on June 21, 2019 at 7:44 am

02/06/76-02/19/76 Saul Smaizys photo in Flickr link below. Image will enlarge.


DavidZornig on June 21, 2019 at 6:29 am

Saul Smaizys 01/23/76-02/05/76 photo via Flickr. Image will enlarge in link.


DavidZornig on February 11, 2019 at 7:17 am

The change is complete. Sun-Times link with photos of officially lit.


DavidZornig on January 24, 2019 at 9:00 pm

3 photos added of the name being changed.

DavidZornig on January 19, 2019 at 9:02 am

Former Masonic meeting hall on the 14th floor being converted into Teatro ZinZanni circus and dinner cabaret.


Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 11, 2019 at 8:49 pm

I am a direct relative of the Rapps. They had no intention of being racist when naming the theater. They named it Oriental because of the decor. They respected very much the sources in the east they tapped to make the design a success. People in the United States at that time had not seen anything like that, and it was exciting for them. Getting people excited to go to the show was the whole point at that time.

I know plenty of Asian people in Chicago and nobody has ever expressed offense over the name of the Oriental. The Nederlanders simply want to put their name on the theater, and it is pathetic. When an organization wants to get rid of something or someone it is the strategy du jour to cry racism.

Traditions in New York City, like the Empire State and the Chrysler Buiding have been respected. But traditions in Chicago are not. Willis Tower is a big example.

Macy’s also came in her some years ago and erased the legacy of Marshall Fields, and in the end it has not served their purposes terribly well. The whole idea was to save money on marketing various brands. But now the Internet is challenging them, and if they had several generations of old brand loyalty for Fields it might be serving them a lot better than what they are looking at right now.

I can understand the Nederlandars' desire for self-promotion. But I’m not sure their efforts are going to land them any better than Macy’s has.

Eric Mason Ellis

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 8, 2019 at 2:34 am

Nederlander has every right to name the theatre after himself, but I don’t see what was inherently wrong with Oriental. There are well-known Chinese and Egyptian theatres in Hollywood.

DavidZornig on December 5, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Link to Norman Rockwell’s 1945 painting “The Clock Mender” at the Chicago History Museum. Has a glimpse of the Oriental blade sign on the right.


Mister_Comics on November 14, 2018 at 5:38 pm

Now if Cracker Barrel would just change their name.

Scott on November 14, 2018 at 10:33 am

Thank goodness the “patronizing, objectifying and offensive” name of “Oriental” is being replaced. That has bothered me for decades. I recall that in the early years B&K called it the Oriental because they claimed that going to the theater was like taking a trip to the Orient. How insensitive they were. Really, I don’t care what they call it. I’m just glad it still exists.

DavidZornig on November 13, 2018 at 9:22 am

Name change coming….


DavidZornig on September 20, 2017 at 4:49 pm

02/06/76-02/19/76 photo in Flickr link below.


DavidZornig on June 7, 2017 at 5:38 pm

5/15/64 -6/04/64 photo added credit Saul Smaizys.

sam siklas
sam siklas on March 8, 2017 at 7:54 pm

There are elements in this theater’s auditorium design which are suggestive of the sadly demolished Ambassador Theater in St. Louis. One key difference between the two was the Ambassador’s unique use of silver leaf instead of gold. There are good photos here in Cinema Treasures' page on the Ambassador for comparison.

DavidZornig on November 12, 2016 at 5:39 pm

1955 photo added courtesy of Jim Jasiota‎. Giant Marilyn Monroe image on the marquee, for “The Seven Year Itch”.

RickB on August 9, 2016 at 3:01 pm

This 1980 story says that Kohlberg was the operator that was evicted to effect the 1981 closing. The owners of the building had plans to convert the two lower floors to retail and build a 1600-seat theater above them; obviously that never happened.

From my memory M&R was running the Oriental when I got to Chicago in 1976.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on August 9, 2016 at 11:24 am

I think the last chain to run the Oriental was M&R, rather than Kohlberg. But I wouldn’t swear to it.

RickB on April 30, 2016 at 8:19 am

Upper floors of the theater building set to become a 198-room hotel, opening in September 2017. DNAInfo story here.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on January 10, 2016 at 9:52 am

I believe the actual closing date was Sunday, January 4, 1981.

DavidZornig on January 4, 2016 at 7:38 pm

To CT Admins. The closing date in the Overview should be changed to January 3, 1981 from 1980. Below is a January 2nd 1981 Tribune link, with it’s final film appearing in the ads. Information courtesy of Tim O'Neill.


DavidZornig on September 11, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Two 1950 photos added, photo source Chicago-Photographic Images of Change Collection-University of Illinois at Chicago.

DavidZornig on August 19, 2015 at 2:03 pm

11/21/69-12/04/69 photo added courtesy of Darla Zailskas. The X rated “Fanny Hill” ran until Christmas Eve `69, and had been raided at the end of November. Tribune story below. Copy and paste to view.