Rialto Theatre

336 S. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60604

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Showing 1 - 25 of 27 comments

rivest266 on November 12, 2016 at 9:51 am

This reopened as Downtown on September 1st, 1944. Its grand opening ad can be found in the photo section. Reverted to the Rialto by the end of 1945.

Broan on January 17, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Here and Here are THSA photos.

DavidZornig on December 12, 2014 at 11:53 pm

Added a 1924 photo courtesy of Darla Zailskas.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm

@ Broan:

I’m not sure how Yale is/was financed. But they might have simply been investing their endowment in things that seemed sensible at the time.

DavidZornig on March 27, 2014 at 10:11 am

Just added a circa 1953 Chuckman photo and a 1945 print ad.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Several of the comments on this theater’s page actually pertain to the later Rialto Theatre at 546 S. State Street, which took the name sometime after this house closed.

mikebaggi on March 26, 2009 at 5:21 pm

As a teenager in the 1950s I discovered the Rialto Theater when it started showing older movies that I had not seen. Since I lived just outside the Loop I spent many a summer day wandering around the Loop movie theaters and shops. I saw a number of older Abbott & Costello movies there along with most of the Universal Studios horror movies. I especially remember the Invisible Man movies. The always had double features.

I recall once sitting in one of the rear seats and noticing a plastic box affixed to the rear of the seat in front of me. It had a slot for the insertion of a quarter to unlock the box. I was curious, but not twenty-five cents curious. The lock opened to my penknife blade and resting inside were a pair of small binoculars with a plastic cord attached to both the glasses and the box. I laughed like hell!

Now if you wanted spicer entertainment it could be found a block or so South on State Street in the form of The Follies Theater and Burlesque house.

I was only 14 years old but they sold me a ticket anyway. It was a classic burlesque house that even included the between-the-acts salesman. I can still remember his spiel: “Now I am going to pass among you with these boxes of candy which sell for two dollars a box. A lot to pay for candy, you say! Well with each box I will give away absolutely free this special picture booklet which can only be sold to doctors. Now I can’t tell if you’re a doctor or not …..”

In those days the Loop was an exciting place to be. And it was safe too. I miss it.


Broan on March 9, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Yale? Go figure…

kencmcintyre on March 9, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Here is part of a Chicago Tribune article dated 11/24/53:

A half million dollar building program covering 220 feet of frontage from 326 to 356 S. State St. at the northwest corner of State and Van Buren Sts. was announced yesterday. The project includes demolition of the Rialto Theater, now operated as Minsky’s burlesque house, which will ring down its curtains for the last time on Dec. 9.

Joseph Rosenberg, owner of the property, said it will be replaced by a one story building of shops, all air conditioned. The new structure will front 100 feet on State St. with a depth of 100 feet. Edward Steinborn, Inc. is architect. Completion is set for May 1.

The Rialto Theater was built in 1916 by Jones, Linick and Schaefer and operated as a movie house. It has 1,500 seats. Marshall & Fox was architect. After various changes in management and policies it was leased several years ago for occupancy by Minsky’s burlesque. Rosenberg bought it from Yale University and others in 1949 for $500,000 through Louis Manierre of Dibblee and Manierre.

PancreaticDefect on February 7, 2009 at 7:28 pm

I found this in an abandoned house outside of Kalamazoo, MI. Both films menioned were released in 1927 so I can only assume that was when this was printed, the week of March 12th 1927.

View link

View link

bryanLloyd on May 29, 2008 at 8:44 am

I recall the 2nd Rialto myself as a boy. I also recall The Follies.
There was a three piece orchestra to the right of the stage, dirty
comedians, and the girls with “ paisties ”, as well as the Great Lakes Sailors. I’m talking 1963-7 period. The johns were full of
“ pervs ” who used sign language. Infact all the Loop Theaters
-esp the Balconies-were infested. I worked at Wards the ex- “ FAIR "
just North of this Infamous State St Vice District which included 25
cent flops, hock shops, arcades with 1-cent and nickel arcade machines from c.1900, and Tatts Thomas Tatoo Emporium. All this was
just North of the Pacific Garden Mission-or the Old Whisky Row-
Chicago’s First Levee. In 67 I left Chi for the Navy. Todays it all Gone.

GeneBray on February 28, 2008 at 8:49 am

I graduated from Iowa State in May of 1953 and went to my first duty station, the USS Gainard DD706 in Newport RI, by train via Chicago. There I and my colleagues went to Minsky’s Burlesque at the Rialto Theater and as I recall the headliner was Gypsy Rose Lee. After the normal burlesque fare, her (or her impersonator’s) closing act was poised and left a lot to the imagination.

At that time I felt I had witnessed the end of an era and that was confirmed by the closing of that venue shortly thereafter. In past years I marveled at the last glimpse oportunity that represented. She was a class act and didn’t stoop to the tawdry, bump and grind routine. At 21 years of age, while I was somewhat disappointed, I had great respect for her artistry. Last evening in Boise I attended “Gypsy” at the Morrison Center and that brought back these almost forgotten memories.

Broan on January 21, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Here is a great postcard view.

Broan on January 22, 2007 at 2:42 pm

The later, smaller Rialto’s entry is now at /theaters/18330/

SLBLAZIER on January 22, 2007 at 2:33 pm

Pleased to find this info on the Rialto! My great-uncle, Johnny Bohn, was an emcee and frequent performer at the Rialto during its 20s-30s heyday. My father, who was born in 1920, recalled being sneaked in occasionally to see his uncle perform. He described his stand-up comedy as similar in style to Rodney Dangerfield’s. Several of Johnny’s brothers and sisters also performed at the Rialto, Orpheum, and other Chicago vaudeville theaters of the time. Great site; big thanks to those who are posting pics, too!

Broan on January 14, 2007 at 2:41 pm

The cinematreasures page for that theater is /theaters/12033/ . I have submitted further information on its history that should be added shortly; I also have added a picture.

johnsonent on January 14, 2007 at 1:54 pm

Due you happen to know what the name of the other Theater was before it became the smaller Rialto? That is the one then that I remember going to as a teenager. From the pictures that I have seen of the orignal, they due look different from the theater I remember.

Broan on January 14, 2007 at 10:10 am

A 1954 Tribune article stated that the Rialto closed December 31, 1953 and was demolished shortly thereafter to make way for a one-story “taxpayer” shops complex. This had been the big burlesque center of chicago for many years, save 1944-1950. The Rialto remembered as a XXX film house was a smaller one two blocks down; I am currently adding an entry for it. Among the ladies who appeared onstage here were Gypsy Rose Lee, Margie Hart, Tempest Storm, Ada Leonard and Ann Corio. Abbott and Costello also reportedly first met there, and Phil Silvers also performed. The final sign on the marquee? “Speedway Wrecking Company – The Greatest Stripper of Them All”!

Broan on January 13, 2007 at 9:50 pm

Now here’s a neat fact for fans of the musical and film “Chicago”. Found in a 1980 Trib article: “The only trouble with [1920 state’s attorney Robert E.] Crowe was that he kept losing cases. For some reason there was a rash of murders about that time — four or five of them — in which wives or girlfriends were indicted for killing their companions. They were all acquitted and with each acquittal the Rialto Theater, at State and Van Buren, would book as part of their show the freed and notorious woman. It was embarrassing to Crowe; his failures went up in lights. [Mayor William Hale] Thompson handled the situation. He sent a platoon of city inspectors to the Rialto; and they found, as they always can, more violations of city ordinances than were ever imagined at the Iroquois Theater. Thompson said he would have the place closed if they didn’t stop booking the women who had beaten the rap against Crowe.”

Broan on November 20, 2006 at 11:23 am

Click the ‘i’ next to the play button

kencmcintyre on November 20, 2006 at 10:44 am

It’s an interesting video, but I couldn’t enlarge it. Is there a trick to that?

Broan on November 20, 2006 at 9:49 am

A 1927 view of the Rialto can be seen by searching http://www.wttwdigitalarchives.com/searchres.php for 26001

johnsonent on November 10, 2006 at 9:01 am

I recall as a Teenager going to the Rialto one time with boyhood friends. We had fake ID’s. Went to see the dancers(Strippers). They also showed a nudist movie. I guess you could call that an Adult movie. This was back in 1966 or 67. Pretty tame stuff for todays generation.

stevelitos on April 22, 2006 at 8:03 am

Author & Radio Humorist (& creator of the film Christmas Story) once told a story when he was 16 & he hitched to Chicago from Hammond. The teens then tried to enter the Rialto Theatre when it was a burlesque house.

The broadcast can be found at the Shep Archives:


Do a search for the title – Chicago Rialto 1972