Carnegie Theatre

1026 N. Rush Street,
Chicago, IL 60611

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Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on February 9, 2015 at 12:02 pm

‘…also the Carnegie Theatre had exclusive Chicago premiere runs of “Young Frankenstein” and “Silent Movie”.’

And as I vaguely recall, “Monty Pyhton & The Holy Grail” made its Chicago debut here.

DavidZornig on October 11, 2014 at 4:30 am

Article and photo source for 1965 marquee pic.

mo4040 on July 16, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Saw ‘Purple Rain’ at the Carnegie when it came out in 1984. Good Times!

Broan on July 12, 2013 at 11:19 am A photo of the original Canegie post-fire

DavidZornig on July 26, 2011 at 12:37 pm

We likely crossed paths radbid. I was 11, and went to every one of those Chaplin movies. If you’d like, I can send you a jpeg of my original picture of the Carnegie marquee with the Chaplin festival posted above in the Photo section. It’d make a nice anniversary card for your wife. Drop me an e-mail, and I’ll forward you the pic.

radbid on July 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Forty years ago in 1971, my wife and I were dating. We would go to the Carnegie and see newly re-released Charlie Chaplin movies that hadn’t been seen in years. After the movie, we crossed the street for beers and Italian beef sandwiches at Jay’s bar. It’s sad they both are gone, but we still have those great memories.

DavidZornig on December 16, 2010 at 11:51 am

Sorry captain54, didn’t see your question until today. I’ll have to ask around about Isbells. It appears from ken mc’s 04/18/09 photo to be in the building that housed The Athenian Room in the late 60's, and later Faces in the70’s. It’s now the “new” Barney’s of New York who vacated the old Oak Tree spot across the street.

To ken mc, the Singapore Room was indeed a restaurant. I posted previously about the colorful, animated neon monkeys that adorned that very marquee. A sign that was also seen in the opening montage of WGN’s old Night Beat news program with Jack Taylor, and later Marty McNeely. Good old Carl Greyson hosted a few times as well.

captain54 on April 21, 2010 at 10:34 am

thanks David….very interesting….

do you have any info on “Isbell’s” .. closing? opening? I know the owner/founder was instrumental in the Ramada Inn chain… I see that marquee in many vintage pix of Rush St.

DavidZornig on April 1, 2010 at 5:50 am

B&G was a 24 hour diner type restaurant. It had multiple booths that looked out of windows facing the Oak Street Side, and one that faced the Rush Street side. It later became The Oak Tree restaurant. Both served the Rush St. night life crowd on a continual basis.
There was one regular, rather surly waitress that worked at B&G. Notorious for just throwing your plates on the table.

captain54 on March 31, 2010 at 8:55 pm

In the picture posted by Ken Mc, does anyone know what the establishment with the B/G sign at the SE corner of Rush and Oak was?

DavidZornig on February 2, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Just another reminder to CT Admins, the year of the fire in the opening bio of the Carnegie needs to be changed from 1996 to 1966.

Also when it finally closed as a theater in 1986, it became Hamburger Hamlet first. It then opened as Hugo’s Frog Bar in 1996.
The former Mister Kelly’s site next door was Sweetwater up until 1989, when it reopened as Gibson’s.

Down the street, the 2 story former Norge Village Laundromat(60's-70’s), later Rubus Jungle (Ice Cream & Miniature Golf- late`70’s), then Guaduala-Harrys, thenu El Torito became Carmines in 1995.

OeOeO on April 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Does anyone know if the Tati movie,Playtime, was shown at the Carnegie?

OeOeO on April 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Does anyone know if the Tati movie,Playtime, was shown at the Carnegie?

DavidZornig on April 18, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Note to CT administrators: The opening theatre description by Bryan Krefft needs to have the year of the fire changed from 1996 to 1966.

Great picture Ken Mc. What was the source for it?

The picture is pre-1966, as that is the Carnegie that burned down.
We lived in the building just East,(to the left), of the corner building with the turret style wrapaound bay windows, in the lower left hand corner.
That building housed Gus' & the first incarnation of Jay Emerick’s many taverns.
Jay still has a place called Jay’s Amore in the West Loop. He also was involved in Face’s in the `70’s.

The Singapore Room was indeed a restaurant. That giant marquee had neon monkeys on timers that ran up the sides.

kencmcintyre on April 18, 2009 at 10:36 am

This photo shows Rush Street in the fifties or sixties. There’s no Singapore theater in Chicago, although there does appear to be a marquee in the photo, on the left. Perhaps it was a restaurant.

The Carnegie is across the street.

DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 11:50 am

P.S. To the left of the jeweler is a gangway that still goes straight through under the building to State St. & the parking entrance for 2 E. Oak.
There is also a side glass lobby door (locked) to Oak Bank just inside the gangway.
Oak Bank is the first floor tenant of the high rise condos, formerly rentals. I passed out flyers when Oak Bank opened in 1970.

DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 11:44 am

Wow, thanks Life! That is the best picture I’ve ever seen to date too.

The small storefront to the left of the poster box & entrance, was a place called Garrett Jewelers. He later moved to State St. just North of Elm St. (In a classic older rental building recently cleared out for proposed demolition itself).

Sweetwater night club whose sign can be seen at the corner, followed Mister Kelly’s exodus & preceded Gibson’s Steak House which is there now.
That round window is where Mister Kelly’s would post 8x10’s of their upcoming acts. Morey Amsterdam, Tim & Tom (Reid & Dreesen), Mort Sahl, Prof. Irwin Corey & countless other musical acts. Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich etc.

By 1983, you can see that Rush St. was already changed to One Way Northbound.
Though two way traffic was quite the side show well into the `70’s.

Next to the marquee where those large vents are for the garage, is where Hugo’s Frog Bar built out their small balconies & second story dining. As I posted earlier, Hugo’s utilized the Carnegie blade support for their own signage.

Thanks for posting the image.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 14, 2009 at 9:25 am

I’ve never seen a good picture of the Carnegie before:

View link

DavidZornig on April 2, 2009 at 8:06 am

Test/Renew notification status.

DavidZornig on March 2, 2009 at 5:53 pm

FYI. If you go to click on “Live” & under 1963-Mister Kelly’s, at the bottom of the page there is a B&W photo of Barbra Streisand near the old Carnegie Theatre blade.

This photo would have been 3 years prior to the 1966 fire that consumed the entire block.
The old blade was situated towards the very front of the marquee at Rush Street.
The new blade on the reconstructed theatre was situated much tighter to the building.
And is the same structure that today supports the Hugo’s Frog Bar vertical sign.

DavidZornig on December 7, 2008 at 8:02 am

I just remembered humorist writer & sometimes actor Bruce Vilanch, mentioning the Carnegie Theatre and his other neighborhood haunts in an interview once. He was apparently a regular at Punchinello’s on Rush St. during the `60’s.

DavidZornig on November 27, 2008 at 7:53 am

In defense of the Rush Street area, not all was “seedy”. Notorious for a constant “Night Life” might be a better characterization.
Rush Street was actually an eclectic night life mix, with the seedy being an accepted part of it. As open and accepted as say in the tourist parts of New Orleans.

In the 60's &70’s a block South of the Carnegie was Punchinello’s, Figaro’s & the Athenian Room restaurant which became Faces Disco. Tavern’s and restaurant’s that were main streamish.
But right next door was the Cabaret & Bourbon Street, which featured female dancers. The seedy was like an either/or choice for night time visitors. What made the specific strip joint’s seem seedy from the outside was basically the hawkers out front.
(Inside of course was sometimes a different story, depending which one you entered.)

A block further South beyond the Maryland Hotel which was quite nice, was another cluster of actual strip joints. The Candy Store, etc. But next to that was La Margarita. An established Mexican restaurant with several locations. Art galleries, jewelers, shops and other “upscale eclectic eating establishments”, rounded out the rest of Rush Street even back then.
So really it was a neighborhood, that took on a lively, different persona after dark. The Carnegie & Esquire were both a part of it.

DavidZornig on November 27, 2008 at 7:30 am

Just caught DavidH’s December 07 post about the Sonja Heine montage of skating films being run at the Carnegie. This is entirely plausible. Another famous olympian skater also lived a block away from the Carnegie. She may have been instrumental in arranging the series. We met her more than 10 years ago with some out of town guest from her native country. In talking with her we learned she'd likely lived on the same block when we did in the60’s.
As all the previous posts indicate, the Carnegie was truly great at promotions and fanfare.

DavidZornig on October 27, 2008 at 7:30 pm

I was just thinking back on how special things were at The Carnegie in the`70’s.
The animated signage I mentioned in a previous post, were actually ornately themed pieces constructed partially over the illuminated portions of the Carnegie’s existing marquee.

For instance during the Chaplin festival’s first film, a giant Chaplin “tramp” character was constructed with electrically moving hips from side to side. Additional spot lights were added to illuminate whatever portions there were made of painted plywood, that didn’t benefit from the existing lighting.
As the film’s changed out, so did the signage designs. Small mobile spotlight trucks seemed almost the norm at times. Making every showing seem as a special event. The oldest advertising gig in the book: Motion turns heads.

The modern glass ticket booth was offset all the way to the left of the entrance, but angled to face slightly Northeast. There was a small office behind it. If I remember correctly, the concession stand was behind the interior side of the ticket booth and accessed by the same office.

Inside the lobby was modern with an orangish decor & possibly brown carpeting. Just inside towards the back of the lobby, there was a sunken lounge area beyond a railing with couches, chairs & lamps. The restrooms were on the North & South sides of that lounge.

The auditorium itself was also sunken to even lower than the lounge level, accessed by long downward ramps at both ends of the lobby as well.
This design allowed it to accomodate the height it needed for one large screen & the audience seating to run upward. Even though the parking garage was directly above, and appeared only one or two short stories up itself from street level out front. The previously mentioned organ was to the left of the screen.

Next door Mister Kelly’s shared facade had round brick windows that housed pictures of the upcoming entertainers. Morey Amsterdam, Mort Sahl, Tim & Tom (Reid & Dreesen), drummer Buddy Rich, other bands, singers etc.

Across Rush street going South from the Bellevue Corner was the original Jay’s, another small bar downstairs in the back, Henry’s florist, the Waterfront restaurant, and the Singapore Room. With a giant vertical sign adorned with climbing, flashing neon monkeys.
This sign could briefly be seen during the open of WGN’s NightBeat newscasts with Marty McNeely, then Jack Taylor.

Then a small parking lot, which seemingly handled a lot more “business” than parking cars. Then was Pat Haran’s (now Jilly’s), the Backroom club (still there), a retail store and of course Rush & Oak corner tenant Burgerville. Which other than “Banquet On A Bun” up the street, was one of the original cheap, late night grease fixes.
At a time when Division Street’s Five Faces was still just an ice cream store.

P.S. Bill Freidkin and William Peterson’s Chicago roots are well documented. So it’s great that they would come back to screen some of their Hollywood projects here first. Hopefully the fairly recent premiere of “The Break Up” here, will reignite that trend.