Chicago Theatre

175 N. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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RickB
RickB on November 10, 2017 at 2:25 pm

Last day of operation as a cinema was September 19, 1985 with “American Ninja” and “Teen Wolf,” both of which were also playing at suburban theaters. Plitt’s advertising for the Chicago at the end seems to have become sporadic at best—on the Saturday before the closing, their display ad notes an all-night Bruce Lee marathon at the Chicago but does not mention what might have been playing at other times. A Tribune story on the day after the finale alludes to $2.50 tickets and lots of martial arts films, so it’s likely that the theater was no longer a true first-run house.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on November 10, 2017 at 1:35 pm

The only thing I remember is it’s last movie operator was Plitt Theaters

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on November 10, 2017 at 10:44 am

When did the Chicago Theatre’s cinematic history end? And in its final years with movies, did it retain its exclusive first-run status for the city, or did it wind-up playing day-and-date with theatres in the neighborhoods and suburbs?

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 4, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Flickr link with a 1964 postcard (April `63 image).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hollywoodplace/20354207116/in/dateposted-public/

Scott
Scott on September 22, 2017 at 11:03 am

Howard, you got me. Wrong composer. I meant the Chopin Theatre. The memory isn’t what it used to be.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on September 21, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Hello-

I thank Scott for his reply. in terms of the grand ornate movie theaters build between 1914-1941 the only one which opened from the get go as a 1st run venue and has continued to operate as such is the Chinese in Hollywood. out of all 50 states that’s kind of sad.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on September 21, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Scott, what do you mean by the “Mozart”? I can’t find that as a historic theater, by googling. Please provide a link or better, a link to this website’s page.

Scott
Scott on September 21, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Chicago has a few grand old theatres still showing movies but none, to my knowledge, that have done so continuously since opening. Some that are showing movies are the Logan, Patio, Portage, Music Box, and Davis. The Biograph also presents film occasionally, though that is no longer its principle function. Plus, its interior has been gutted so it doesn’t really meet your criteria. And all these theatres have been closed for various periods over the last 20-30 years or so. There are others that have the capability to show movies but seldom do so, such as the Copernicus Center (Gateway) and the Chicago Theatre. There are a couple others that are showing movies now but did not do so for many years, either because they were closed or were being used for other purposes, such as the Mozart and the Mercury.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on September 21, 2017 at 11:49 am

Hello From NYC-

the era of building grand ornate movie theaters was approx. 1914-1941. now many still exist in prime condition. for instance the Castro in San Francisco has been in continual operation since it opened Sept. of 1922 but its was built from the get go as a 2nd/3rd run neighborhood which is where my question comes in. I am looking for grand ornate movie theaters built from the get go as 1st run venues and have continued to operate as such since the day they opened. NYC nor San Francisco have any left. does Chicago?

Jim Huffman
Jim Huffman on September 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Sorry that this was printed as one ran-together piece, had it all separated paragraphs. I will send a decent list to anyone who wants one via email.

Jim Huffman
Jim Huffman on September 20, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Chicago Theater Movie & Stage Schedules For 1955, Compiled By Jim Huffman, Former (Part-Time) Usher 1955-56, 05/27/55 = Date I was hired. . Starting Date Movie Title Times Stage Performers Times . (S) Singer; © Comedian; (Ms) Musician; (D) Dancer; (E) Entertainer); (Mg) Magician; (I) Impersonator; (A) Acrobat; (J) Juggler; (B) Band; (sp) Spelling?; (?) Unknown. Opinions, Answers & Corrections are Welcomed. . Staff at beginning of year 1955. Aprox 50-ushers min: Chief of Service, several Captains, many Lieutenants 30-or so grunts, all part-timers High school & College students. 3-full-timers (none were officers). 4-Managers, cashiers, several elderly ticket takers, aprox 12-part time candy girls, others. Note: Full time ushers were primarily high school drop-outs that never stayed too long. Always scheduled early to supplement the part-timers.
. Fri 12/31/54 (1st & 2nd Weeks) Veracruz 9:15, 12:17, 3:19, 6:21, 8:57, 11:25 Julius LaRosa (S); Kitty Kallen (S); Phil Lawrence & Mitzi (?); Gary Morton ©; Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:26, 2:28, 5:30, 8:06, 10:35 . Fri 01/14/10 (3rd Week) Veracruz 9:15, 12:17, 3:19, 6:21, 8:57, 11:25 Julius LaRosa (S); Lola Dee (S); Phil Lawrence & Mitzi (?); Gary Morton ©; Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:26, 2:28, 5:30, 8:06, 10:35 . Fri 01/21/55 The Bridges of Toko-Ri 9:15, 11:54, 2:33, 5:12, 7:51, 10:29 Sarah Vaughan (S); Larry Storch ©; Don, Dick & Jimmy (S); Lewis & Van (?); Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:03, 1:42, 4:21, 7, 9:39 . Fri 02/11/55 3 Ring Circus 9:20, 12:07, 2:54, 5:41, 8:28, 11:14 The Gaylords (S); Roy Hamilton (S); Jack Carter ©; Bud & Cece Robinson (?); Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:16, 2:03, 4:50, 7:37, 10:24 . Fri 02/25/55 Many Rivers to Cross 9:30, 12:06, 2:42, 5:18, 7:54, 10:29 Joyce Bryant (S), Illinois Jacquet (Ms), The Roulettes (S), Al Bernie ©, Marty Gold & Orchestra. 11:16, 1:51, 4:27, 7:09, 9:39 . Fri 03/11/55 New York Confidential 10:00, 12:30, 3:00, 5:30, 8:00, 10:29 Vic Damone (S), Joan Weber (S), Don Tannen ©, Berk & Hallow (D), Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:39, 2:09, 4:39, 7:09, 9:39 . Fri 03/25/55 The Purple Plain 9:20, 11:55, 2:30, 5:08, 7:44, 10:19 Georgia Gibbs (S), Bill Hayes (S), Johnny Maddox (Ms), Piero Bros & The Albins (?), Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:05, 1:40, 4:15, 6:53, 9:30 . Fri 04/08/55 Untamed 9:45, 12:55, 4:07, 7:18, 10:20 Crewcuts (S), Will Jordan (I), Bobby Brandt ©, De John Sisters (S), Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:55, 3:06, 6:17, 9:25 . Fri 04/29/55 Kiss Me Deadly 9:00, 11:40, 2:20, 5:00, 7:44, 10:24 Ella Fitzsgerald (S), Eddie Fontaine (S), The Chuckles (?), Los Gatos (?), Larry Best (E), Louis Basil & Orchestra. 10:45, 1:25, 4:05, 6:45, 9:25 . Fri 05/13/55 Marty 10:00, 12:30, 3:00, 5:30, 8:00, 10:30 The Mariners (S), Harvey Stone ©, Pat Boone (S), Hoctor & Byrd (D), Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:39, 2:09, 4:39, 7:09, 9:39 . Fri 05/27/55
Run For Cover 9:15, 12:00, 2:45, 5:30, 8:15, 10:55 Gary Crosby (S), Louis Armstrong (E), Delores Hawkins (S), Excess Baggage (?), Honey Girls (?), Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:00, 1:44, 4:29, 7:14, 9:55 . Fri 06/10/55 Sea Chase 9:15, 12:00, 2:50, 5:40, 8:30, 11:20 McGuire Sisters (S), Mickey Sharp (?), The Langs (?), Frankie Lester (S), Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:10, 2:00, 4:50, 7:40, 10:25 . Fri 06/24/55 The Seven Little Foys 9:15, 12:00, 2:35, 5:10, 7:55, 10:40 Dorothy Collins (S), Four Lads (S), Georgie Kaye ©, The Shyrettos (A), Carl Sands & Orchestra. 11:00, 1:45, 4:20, 6:55, 9:40 Bob Hope in person on the 24th at the 11:00, 6:55, 9:40 Shows . Fri 07/08/55 We’re No Angels 9:15, 11:55, 2:35, 5:15, 7:55, 10:35 Bill Haley & Comets (S), Peggy King (S), Bobby Sargent (?), Rudy Cardenas (J), Carl Sands & Orchestra. 11:05, 1:45, 4:25, 7:05, 9:45 . Fri 07/22/55 The Kentuckian 9:15, 11:50, 2:30, 5:10, 7:50, 10:25 Four Aces (S), Stan Fisher (?), Bob McFadden (E), Ernie Richman & The Mannequins (?), Carl Sands & Orchestra. 11:00, 1:40, 4:20, 7:00, 9:35 . Fri 08/05/55 Pete Kelly’s Blues 8:30, 11:00, 1:30, 4:00, 6:30, 9:05, 11:35 Eydie Gorme (S), Somethin Smith & The Redheads (S), Elsa & Waldo ©, Art Mooney & Orchestra. 10:00, 12:40, 3:10, 5:40, 8:15, 10:45 . Fri 08/19/55 You’re Never Too Young 9:15, 12:00, 2:45, 5:30, 8:15, 10:55 Howard Miller (E), Pat Boone (S), Felicia Sanders (S), Lenny Dee (Mu), Yonely (E), Hi-Lo’s (S), Della Reese (S), Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:05, 1:50, 4:35, 7:20, 10:05 (The entertainers for this date will be rechecked for accuracy, seems to be too many) . Fri 09/02/55 Female On The Beach 9:30, 12:10, 2:50, 5:30, 8:10, 10:45 Patti Page (S), Jay Lawrence (E), Boyd Bennett & His Rockets (B), Nicki & Noel (D), Louis Basil & Orchestra. 11:15, 1:55, 4:35, 7:15, 10:00 Rudy Noel Clavijo . Fri 09/16/55 McConnell Story 9:15, 12:05, 2:55, 5:50, 8:40, 11:30 Nat King Cole (S), Lillian Briggs (S), Gary Morton ©, Clark Bros (?), Carl Sands & Orchestra. 11:10, 2:05, 4:55, 7:50, 10:40 . Fri 09/30/55 Blood Alley 9:30, 12:40, 3:55, 7:05, 10:20 Julius LaRosa (S), Connee Boswell’s Paulette Sisters (S), Artie Dann ©, Phil Lawrence & Mitzi (?), Carl Sands & Orchestra. 11:50, 3:05, 6:15, 9:30 . Fri 10/14/55 My Sister Elleen 9:00, 11:45, 2:35, 5:20, 8:10, 11:00 Joni James (S), Florian Zabach (Ms), Sonny Till & His Orioles (S), Guy Marks ©, Rich Gibson (Mu), Louis Basil & Orchestra. 10:45, 1:35, 4:20, 7:10, 10:00 . Fri 10/28/55 Sincerely Yours (Liberace, big movie crowd on opening day) 7:45, 10:26, 1:07, 3:48, 6:29, 9:10, 11:50 The Hilltoppers & Jimmy Sacca (?), Nick Noble (?), The Lassies (?), Lenny Culyer ©, Art Van Damme Quintet (S), Louis Basil & Orchestra. 9:35, 12:16, 2:57, 5:38, 8:19, 11:00 Last Stage Show . Fri 11/11/55 Guys & Dolls Gala Premiere @ 8 PM, Marlon Brando & Gene Simmons Attended, Huge Crowd Outside For Marlon. Opening Day: 10:00, 12:43, 3:26, 6:09, 9:02, 11:45 Other Days: 9:00, 11:42, 2:24, 5:06: 7:48, 10:30 No Stage Show. Movie Played Until January 1956. Usher Staff & Patronage greatly reduced thereafter. . Next Movie: The Benny Goodman Story My last movie as an Usher in Jan 56. . End of 1955 year: Usher staff reduced to aprox 6-per shift, 2-shifts per day. Full-timers day time, part-timers evenings & weekends, Total about 20-ushers. Aprox 6-officers (Chief, Captains & Lieutenants, all part-timers). Less of other staff. . Compiled from the Chicago Public Library microfilm newspaper (Sun-Times) archives by JPH. I am working on earlier dates.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on July 19, 2016 at 6:29 pm

6/27/75-10/16/75 photo link, “Cooley High” at the Chicago Theatre. Underside of the marquee from a distance, but still worth a share.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ceebop/27809926071/in/dateposted-public/

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on February 14, 2016 at 7:35 pm

A link my brother found. 1950 theatre map color coded for ownership.

http://movie-theatre.org/usa/il/chicago/maps/1950map.html

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 13, 2015 at 6:54 pm

I’ve added a few more photos to the Photos Section.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on July 20, 2015 at 8:37 am

Here in Boston we still have several OLD theatres that werebuilt many years ago and have been completely refurbished. They are no longer considered movie houses but performing arts palaces. The Citiwang center(Metropolitan), The Opera House(RKO Keiths Memorial) and the Loews Orpheum( Orpheum-Aquarius- Orpheum). I don’t know if they meet BigJoe’s quals but all 3 are still standing, Rebuilt and prosperous. We have others thathave been gutted and remodeled to new specifications. They are the Modern and the Paramount. Both are not at all like the original except for the outside marquees and stone work.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on July 20, 2015 at 8:37 am

Here in Boston we still have several OLD theatres that werebuilt many years ago and have been completely refurbished. They are no longer considered movie houses but performing arts palaces. The Citiwang center(Metropolitan), The Opera House(RKO Keiths Memorial) and the Loews Orpheum( Orpheum-Aquarius- Orpheum). I don’t know if they meet BigJoe’s quals but all 3 are still standing, Rebuilt and prosperous. We have others thathave been gutted and remodeled to new specifications. They are the Modern and the Paramount. Both are not at all like the original except for the outside marquees and stone work.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on March 23, 2015 at 7:39 am

This link has photos of a dual premiere at both the Chicago and State-Lake Theatres in 1940. Copy & paste to view.

http://www.vintag.es/2015/01/old-photos-of-chicagos-first-hollywood.html

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on March 19, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Hello-

thanks for your reply. the Castro is indeed alive and well but doesn’t qualify since like many grand old movie theaters built 1914-1941 was built from the get go as a 2nd/3rd run neighborhood theater. I am specifically looking for theaters built 1914- 1941 that were built from the get go as 1st run venues and have continued to operate as such since the day they opened. the only one I have come across is Grauman’s Chinese in Hollywood.

also while I’ve been to San Francisco I’ve never
been in the Castro Theater. what’s inadequate about
the restrooms?

Redwards1
Redwards1 on March 18, 2014 at 4:31 pm

San Francisco does have one remaining movie palace, or close to it: the Castro, which is not downtown but, like Chicago’s Patio, a neighborhood theatre. The Castro shows continual movie repertory & is home to the San Francisco International Silent Film Festival, which features newly restored prints & live music. The only thing missing is an adequate lobby & restrooms. The auditorium is large rather than huge & in good condition, with restoration of much original décor.

robboehm
robboehm on February 11, 2014 at 10:09 am

Shirley Temple made her Mark(er) in June 1934. See photo section.

LouRugani
LouRugani on February 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm

(Chicago Tribune, September 27, 1996)

Sign Of The Times

State Street Is Losing Its Brightest Light, But Only For A Short While.

Chicago Theatre Getting A Brand-new Old Look

By Sabrina L. Miller, Tribune Staff Writer.

Aging stars don’t burn out—they get replaced. After 75 illuminating years, the towering Chicago Theatre sign, State Street’s brightest star and one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, is coming down this week. The 76-foot-high steel sign, with 2,534 lights screaming “Chicago” for all to see, is corroded beyond repair and must be removed, said Chicago Theatre Executive Director Wendy Heimann-Nunes.

“We are ensuring that the sign will look as it did when it was first put up,” he said.

Theater officials discovered the sign’s deterioration during a routine inspection last March, after the Civic Preservation Foundation assumed management of the theater. The sign appeared fine on the outside, but 75 years of Chicago’s harsh weather had taken its toll on the inside.

“It had to be close to falling, the steel was so rusted,” said Steve Kieffer, owner of Kieffer & Co., the Sheboygan, Wis., firm that is manufacturing the replica for $500,000.

“If it was at all possible to keep the original, we would have done it,” said Heimann-Nunes. “But it would have cost us two to three times as much to repair than to replace.”

So, how does one go about replicating a national landmark? Painstakingly, said Kieffer. Everything must be identical, from the seams between the metal pieces and obsolete maintenance ladders inside the top of the sign to intricate scrollwork.

The entire project will take about 860 hours of work, he said. The sign will be made in Sheboygan, then shipped to the Kieffer firm’s Buffalo Grove office, where an installation team will take it to Chicago.

The replica will be constructed from aluminum, which weighs about one-third less than the current steel sign and will ease stress on the building, Kieffer said. There will be a modern wiring system and “chaser” lights around the perimeter will be reconnected.

“We’ve gone to the nth degree to replicate it,” Heimann-Nunes said. “I don’t think anybody will know the difference.”

KenC
KenC on January 18, 2013 at 11:49 am

In the 1957 movie “BEGINNING OF THE END”, you can see the Chicago and Loop theatres at exactly 1 hour and 23 seconds into the film. On the Chicago marquee “MOBY DICK” ; the Loop is showing “MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS”. Can be seen- for free- at YouTube.

Broan
Broan on November 4, 2012 at 7:44 am

Here is a great picture showing the wonderful detail of the second marquee.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on October 29, 2012 at 11:29 am

This photo was not taken across the street on the State-Lake marquee. The State-Lake was directly across the street from the Chicago. This photo may have been taken from the L station platform.

Scott
Scott on October 29, 2012 at 11:24 am

Interesting photo. Obviously taken from the marquee of the State-Lake Theatre across the street.