Gayety Theatre

9205 S. Commercial Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60617

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The Gayety opened in 1908 as a vaudeville and motion picture theater, later changing over to movies only.

The Gayety was located on Commerical Avenue, the South Chicago neighborhood’s main retail district. Next door to the theater was the equally-popular Gayety Soda Shop.

In 1957, the Gayety switched from first-run features to Spanish-language films, reflecting the change in the populace of the neighborhood from heavily Eastern European to mainly Latino. It was from then on called the Teatro Gayety.

A fire gutted the Gayety in May of 1982, and the theater was demolished not long after, replaced by a fast food restaurant.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on April 26, 2006 at 1:46 pm

The style of streetlights would place the photo in the late 1970s or early 1980s. The ice cream shop remained open for a brief time after the theatre closed. I remember going there circa 1980.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 27, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Here is an undated photo when the Gayety was showing Spanish films:
http://tinyurl.com/2stbtg

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 25, 2008 at 6:52 pm

1960 yellow pages listing:

Gayety Theatre
9205 S. Commercial

Spanish Pictures Only
Peliculas En Espanol Solamente
SO 8-0327

marc045
marc045 on February 24, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Was there another Gayety Theater at 82nd & Exchange? I remember walking there with my sisters when we were very young in the mid/late 1960’s. We would go to the Sunday matinee and then stop at the Pepe’s taco stand on the way home. It changed to an all Spanish format in the 70’s. I could swear it was named Gayety’s but I could be wrong.

mikeroman
mikeroman on January 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I remember watching several movies in Spanish with my friends and girlfriends at the Gayety Theater on Commercial Avenue. Mr. Henry Mendoza, whose mother worked there as a cashier, was the manager of my band, The Tellstars, and he got us a gig performing at the theater.

I was sad to see that an arson fire gutted the theater in May 1982, and it was demolished soon thereafter to make way for McDonald’s Theater. The only remaining area theater at that time was the Chelten Theater on South Exchange Avenue, which eventually suffered the same fate.(The Commercial Theater, located one block north of the Gayety Theater, had already been torn down to make way for a mini-mall in 1969.)

For additional comments/stories regarding these theaters, please visit [url=http://www.tellstars.com.
(Click players.)

Mike Roman, Esq.
Chicago, Illinois

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Another one burnt up or down I should say.

DonLewis
DonLewis on October 19, 2010 at 4:55 pm

From the 1950s a postcard view of the Gayety Theatre in Chicago.

paulnelson
paulnelson on April 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm

What a great candy colored postcard pic. Sign and cartoons are classic.

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