Cadillac Palace Theatre

151 West Randolph Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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Cadillac Palace Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in October of 1926, as the New Palace Theatre (there was already a Palace Music Hall located at Clark Street and Randolph Street which was later renamed the Erlanger Theatre), and was designed by Rapp & Rapp. Its interior design is similar in vein to the Los Angeles Theater – a French Renaissance style beauty inspired by Versailles. The New Palace Theatre was originally opened as the flagship of the Orpheum vaudeville circuit (the State Lake Theatre, also in the Loop, was another one of the Orpheum circuit’s vaudeville palaces in Chicago). After showcasing dozens of big-name stars during the late-1920’s, the theatre was converted into a movie palace in 1931 as the RKO Palace Theatre.

In the 1950’s, attendance began to wane, at what was by then called Eitel’s Palace Theatre and live shows were re-introduced to the repertoire. During the late-1950’s, the Palace was altered to show Cinerama films. On November 12, 1965 it was renamed Bismark Palace. The neighboring Bismarck Hotel purchased the theater in the 1970’s and it screened its last movie “Nicholas and Alexandra” in 1972. The auditorium was converted into a banquet hall by removing the seats on the orchestra level. In 1984, the theatre, now renamed the Bismarck Theatre, was converted into a concert venue.

Barely used during the 1990’s, the former New Palace Theatre was finally restored and renovated during 1999, and renamed the Cadillac Palace Theatre thanks to a large donation by the company towards the theater’s spectacular restoration. The renovated theatre was reopened during the fall of 1999, with the premier of Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida”. The renovation has made true the name of the ‘Palace’.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 92 comments)

LouisRugani on October 10, 2010 at 9:59 am

Boy Kisses Girl, Then Kills Her

‘Sealed Lips’ on Screen As Youth Chooses Theater for Shooting

CHICAGO. Feb 25, 1942 â€"APâ€" A 17- year-old former high school student was seized in surburban Berwyn today and confessed, Coroner A. L. Brodie announced, that he kissed pretty Dorothy Broz, his 16-year-old companion, and then shot her to death while they sat in the downtown Palace Theater.
The youth, Clarence McDonald, a railroad employee, was seized on information supplied by the victim’s friend, Miss Elaine Mastney, 17, a senior in the Morton High School.
She told authorities that Dorothy said Clarence was inordinately
jealous, and had said: “If I can’t have you, nobody else will.”


Some 12 hours after the shooting late yesterday in the theater balcony where “Hellzapoppin” and “Sealed Lips” were being shown,
the youth made a statement to the attorney Leslie Curtis. “I don’t know — it just happened,“ he was quoted as saying. "Was there any conversation before you shot her?” the boy was asked. “No,” he replied, “I was kissing her.”


Young McDonald said he had been going with Dorothy for about two years, that they had talked of marriage, but later decided “to wait four years “until she was a little older.“ He admitted the officials said, that on a former occasion he had drawn a pistol on the girl while they were in an ice cream parlor, but that he was just "fooling."
Prior to making the statement, the youth told the coroner that he and his victim had quarreled about trivial things — baseball, football and school affairs.
The clue was obtained shortly after the identification of Dorothy's
body in the morgue where it had lain among the unknown dead for almost 11 hours after the shooting.
Identification was made by an uncle who said Dorothy, also of Berwyn,
was the daughter of a real estate man and that she had finished high school this month.
Police had obtained only a vague description of the youth who stepped across Dorothy’s bleeding body, sprinted up an aisle and escaped in the dark and confusion of the theater.
Noisy with pistol shots and girlish screams, “Hellzapoppin' had finished and a companion picture, "Sealed Lips.” had started building its mystery plot.
In the nearly empty balcony, Dorothy was sitting with a young man. Suddenly she cried “Help, oh help me! He’s got a gun!” Those nearby heard her but associated her cry with the antics in the picture just ended. A scene in the crime feature, a fight in a prison mess hall, had the sound of amplified roaring as a perfect cover for the shot that followed by a few seconds. “Oh, get that man! I’m shot, I’m shot!” Dorothy screamed, then collapsed in an aisle, a bullet beneath her heart.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on February 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

Here’s a photograph of the Palace Theatre taken in 1936 and another photograph taken in 1937 by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto and Mann.

JudithK on February 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Never visited the Palace Theatre until it reopened as the Cadillac Palace Theatre for the show “The Producers”. Wonderful place!

JRS40 on November 17, 2014 at 10:33 am

The last movie shown here was in 1972, the reserved seat presentation of “Nicholas and Alexandra.”

DavidZornig on January 12, 2015 at 8:19 am

1968 photo as the Bismarck added courtesy of John P. Keating Jr.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 29, 2015 at 1:08 am

This house was mentioned in Roger Ebert’s review of Finian’s Rainbow:

“Finian’s Rainbow” is a marvelous evening right up to its last shot of Astaire walking away down a country road. Unfortunately, the management of the Bismarck turned on the house lights before Astaire was finished walking; for that, I would gladly turn them into little green toads.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 29, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Your wish is my command: Link

★★★★ | Roger Ebert

October 14, 1968 | ☄ 0

“Finian’s Rainbow” is the best of the recent roadshow musicals, perhaps because it’s the first to cope successfully with the longer roadshow form. The best musicals of the past (Astaire and Rogers in the 1930s, Gene Kelly’s and Stanley Donen’s productions in the 1950s) were rather modest in length and cost. They depended on charm and the great talents of their performers.

Since “The Sound of Music,” unhappily, musicals have been locked into the reserved-seat format. That, in turn, apparently means they have to be long, expensive, weighed down with unnecessary production values and filled with pretension. It was a gloomy sight to see the great songs and performances of “Camelot” trying to get out from beneath the dead weight of its expensive, unnecessary, distracting sets and costumes. [Note: Camelot played at this theater too…!]

Movies are a faster medium than the stage. They don’t have entrances, exits, curtains, scene changes. Yet recent film “versions” actually tend to be longer than Broadway productions, and the second half is often an ordeal. Movie musicals shouldn’t be much more than two hours long, I think.

“Finian’s Rainbow” is an exception. It gives you that same wonderful sense you got from “Swing Time” or “Singin' in the Rain” or any of the great musicals: that it knows exactly where it’s going, and is getting there as quickly and with as much fun as possible. Remarkably, because it is only Francis Ford Coppola’s second film, it is the best-directed musical since “West Side Story.” It is also enchanting, and that’s a word I don’t get to use much.

A lot of the fine things in the film come from Fred Astaire, who possibly danced better 30 years ago but has never achieved a better characterization. In most of the Astaire musicals we remember, he was really playing himself, and the plot didn’t make much of an effort to conceal that. This time he plays arthritic, wizened, wise Finian McLonergan (with some songs and dances the original stage Finian didn’t have). And it is a remarkable performance.

It is so good, I suspect, because Astaire was willing to play it as the screenplay demands. He could have rested on his laurels and his millions easily enough, turning out a TV special now and then, but instead he created this warm old man, Finian, and played him wrinkles and all. Astaire is pushing 70, after all, and no effort was made to make him look younger with common tricks of lighting, makeup and photography. That would have been unnecessary: He has a natural youthfulness. I particularly want to make this point because of the cruel remarks on Astaire’s appearance in the New York Times review by Renata Adler. She is mistaken.

All the same, this isn’t Astaire’s movie. One of its strengths is that a lot of characters are involved, and their roles are well balanced. The story is familiar: Finian and his daughter (Petula Clark) journey to America with a pot of gold stolen from a leprechaun (Tommy Steele). They pitch up in Rainbow Valley, a rural co-operative near Fort Knox. It is inhabited by black and white farmers who raise tobacco, by a redneck sheriff and by a Southern senator (Keenan Wynn) who is even more stereotyped than Strom Thurmond. There is an intrigue involving the back taxes on the co-op, a couple of romances, race relations, and the pot of gold.

Petula Clark is a surprise. I knew she could sing, but I didn’t expect much more. She is a fresh addition to the movies: a handsome profile, a bright personality, and a singing voice as unique in its own way as Streisand’s. Tommy Steele, as always, is a shade overdone, but perhaps a leprechaun should be a shade overdone.

Al Freeman Jr., who plays an earnest young Negro botanist, has a hilarious moment as he brings the senator a bromo with the official darky shuffle. Barbara Hancock, an accomplished dancer, is fetching as Susan the Silent. Don Francks, as Petula’s boyfriend, is clean-cut and pleasant, alas. And after the racist senator (Wynn) is magically turned black, there’s a bravura scene. He joins up with one of the most improbable gospel quartets ever assembled.

The movie’s message is a sort of subliminal plea for racial understanding but not much is made of it. Perhaps that’s just as well. “Camelot” got mired in its involved philosophy, and “My Fair Lady” succeeded because it dumped most of Shaw’s preaching.

For the rest, “Finian’s Rainbow” is a marvelous evening right up to its last shot of Astaire walking away down a country road. Unfortunately, the management of the Bismarck turned on the house lights before Astaire was finished walking; for that, I would gladly turn them into little green toads.

DavidZornig on September 3, 2016 at 9:08 pm

1958 photo added courtesy of the AmeriCar The Beautiful Facebook page.

rivest266 on November 13, 2016 at 3:39 am

November 12th, 1965 reopening ad as Bismarck Palace in the photo section.

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