Newberry Theatre

856 N. Clark Street,
Chicago, IL 60610

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HughJazz on March 25, 2017 at 7:44 am

There was always an off-duty Chicago Policeman in uniform or plain clothes for security at the Newberry when I worked there in 1971-1972. I never saw any trouble there, but if any of the employees needed to use the bathroom, they were told to use the WOMENS bathroom. I met Joel and Edward Ross many times at the Oak Theatre when I worked there. Joel drove a green Cadillac convertible and would often take the dancers out for lunch in it. Joel always treated the Andy Frain Ushers well. He kept a German Shepherd dog named Major at the Oak. I used to take Major for walks around the neighborhood. There was always a .38 calibre pistol in the box office drawer, and many of the Policemen from the Shakespeare Avenue Police Station would sit in the balcony and watch the 16mm porno “Loops” and the 3 live dancers on stage. Local ordinances required dancers to wear “Pasties and a G-String” on stage, no total nudity in 1972.

X123 on March 24, 2017 at 10:39 pm

The Newberry, Oak, and Le image theatres were owned by Burt Ross his brother Joel Ross and their father Edward Ross

Firstime on September 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm

The Newberry Theater was my first time going to an adult xxx rated movie theater. I don’t remember if the movie was displayed on the outside as a gay movie. But once I was inside, wow, there was no question about what was being shown. I took a seat toward the back of the theater. I was followed by a stranger who sat next to me. The guy wasted no time grabbing my knee. I jumped up and moved, but was followed by another guy who sat in front of me. And then an arm reached over the seat and tried to make contact. I moved again and was not sure if what to make of what i was experiencing. I finally must have made my intentions clear, I came for the movie, period! And what a movie it was playing, called “Yellow Zonkers.” It’s actors consisted of a very slender young male and six older guys who took turns, ( three at a time ) having sex with the young guy. I was a little in shock and then another guy approached me. Was I in a theater, or a sex club? But I don’t remember seeing any sex action in the theater. I felt like a hot piece of meat. I again brushed off the advances and got real uncomfortable to see a Chicago Police officer standing in the theaters door, was he watching for action or the movie? I then left the Newberry feeling very guilty. Does anyone know if those xxx movies are available to purchase from that period. The movie Yellow Zonkers movie is the one movie that played a special part in my life, wink, wink.

HughJazz on April 23, 2011 at 1:13 am

In 1971-72 I worked for Andy Frain as a cashier at the Newberry and three other porn movie houses. The Newberry was showing gay porn, and was managed by Edward S., who knew my parents at the Music Box years before. Ed HATED gay men, and took every opportunity to verbally assault them. An off-duty Chicago Policeman in plain clothes was always present for security, but I never saw any trouble. The Frain Ushers worked a six-hour shift in the box office, collecting $3.00 per customer. Several of us were regularly assigned to the four theaters, easier work than standing outside while working at Soldier Field in January, and getting ten cents more per hour pay for handling cash.

teddy666 on March 29, 2011 at 8:18 am

Here’s an ad for THe Newberry during the gay porn days:
View link

KenC on December 28, 2010 at 9:02 am

At the THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY in Elmhurst, IL, you can see a flyer from January 1969. At this time, the Newberry was changing its program on an almost daily basis. Among the many films showing that week: “HOMBRE”, “MADIGAN”, “MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH” and Elke Sommer and Bob Crane in “THE WICKED DREAMS OF PAULA SCHULTZ”. There is a nice exterior shot- circa 1942. On the marquee: 10c TO 6:30 AFTER 15 “INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS” also “MEET BOSTON BLACKIE”. Under the marquee is the rather small box office, facing southeast. Just to the right is a small poster case displaying 4 lobby cards. Across from the box office- facing north- 2 more poster cases. Above the entrance doors is a 3 line mini marquee. There is also a pic of the lobby-looking west. On the left wall are 6 poster cases; straight ahead is one of the auditorium doors, and what looks like the very small candy counter.

DavidZornig on August 24, 2009 at 5:52 am

In 1970 we lived at 863 N. Dearborn. Which is directly across Bughouse Square (Washinton Park), from where the Newberry Theatre stood. You could see the theatre from our front door, but it was non descript and dwarfed by the Jocke Buick lot & signage next door to it.

The park itself is historic as many soapbox debates took place there in the 1920’s. The late Chicago author Studs Terkel would often go to the annual reenactments they still have there.
By 1970 the park was overun with winos & degenerates. There was a structure in the center where a fountain is now, that many would drink & sleep in around the clock. The Salvation Army headquarters was across from the park on Delaware, which is now condos.

863 N. Dearborn is now home to Hazelden Rehab.

KenC on August 23, 2009 at 7:57 pm

From the Chicago Tribune movie listings on Friday, December 26,1958: NEWBERRY “Prisoners of Casbah” “Battle at Rogue River” Open 1 Elvis Presley “JAILHOUSE ROCK”. Joe- I first discovered the Newberry around 1959-60. Went there off and on throughout the 1960s. Because there was a lack of poster cases outside the theatre, I remember a wooden stand-near the curb,directly across from the front doors. On both sides of this stand three movies could be advertised. On top, 2 “lobby cards”, those 14 by 11 cards; underneath a one sheet. Same set up on the other side. If memory serves, this stand was a deep red.It lasted til around 1965. Another memory: when the theatre switched to X rated fare, a turnstile was installed just inside the front door by the box office. It was about waist high; similar to an old fashioned CTA subway turnstile. This, of course, eliminated the need for a ticket taker.

jgriggs2 on August 14, 2009 at 11:39 am

The Newberry was my home-away-from-home on weekends from 1956(when I was 6 years old)until 1960(when we moved). The theater was a leisurely 10 to 12 minute eastward walk from our apartment on the corner of Chestnut and Franklin. It was at the Newberry that I first saw Elvis. Salvaging ‘pop’ bottles allowed me to see every Elvis movie the Newberry featured during that period. The Newberry, alas, gone but not forgotten!

teddy666 on June 26, 2009 at 1:44 am

All of you probably know this already, but The Image Theater was definitely not The Newberry Theater. The building which housed The Image Theater (or L'Image when it played art films and tried to shed it’s gay porn image), is still on the corner of Clark and Chicago as a Liquor Store.

DavidZornig on April 14, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Reactivate Notification Status.

KenC on January 26, 2009 at 3:43 pm

From the Chicago Sun Times movie directory on Wednesday, April 22, 1970 :NEWBERRY CINEMA Open 1:30 854 No. CLARK DE7-8200 X Adults 18 And Over “GIRLS FOR MEN ONLY” Plus “OVER 18 and Ready”. In the ad, to the right of the titles, is- I swear- Raquel Welch hugging Dudley Moore. Ripped off from the bedroom scene in “BEDAZZLED” when Lust serves Stanley Moon breakfast and tries to confuse and seduce him. AMAZING.

DavidZornig on December 18, 2008 at 7:36 pm

I beleive that there is a residential building at this location now. Chestnut Station Theatre is listed on CT as being at 830 N. Clark, which was located on the S/W corner of Chestnut & Clark. The Newberry Theatre’s address would put it further North of Chestnut. Aproximately where the 100 W. Chestnut building is.(N/W corner)

In the time frame listed for the Newberry, there was a small manufacturing building just North of that, then Jocke Buick which had a rather large car lot with a rotating neon spired star. Just North of that on Clark at the S/W corner of Oak & Clark, was the massive Henrotin Hospital. Torn down in the late 80’s or early `90’s to make way for a townhome community that reaches all the way around & down Oak to LaSalle Street.

It’s possible the parking lot mentioned in the Newberry’s description is that belonging to 100 West Chestnut building.
I drive by it once a week, and will confirm in a subsequent post.

DavidZornig on November 5, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Thanks KenC. I stand corrected.

KenC on November 5, 2008 at 7:34 pm

David- check out the Standard Theatre (aka Image). The Newberry was a different theatre, although both showed gay porn in the mid 70s.

DavidZornig on November 5, 2008 at 7:15 pm

As I posted on the Chestnut Station Theatre’s page, I beleive the Newberry to also have been he Image. And South of Chicago Ave., not North. I cannot find a listing for the Image Theatre on CT. But a guy we knew leased it. And I was in it during it failed build out as a nightclub in 1979.

Broan on March 29, 2006 at 6:28 pm

It was remodeled by Roy B. Blass in 1942

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 15, 2005 at 6:36 am

I have a 1977 gay guide book which lists the Newberry Theatre operating as a gay porno cinema. It must have closed around that year.

KenC on October 6, 2004 at 7:35 pm

The Newberry was, at various times, a second,third, fourth run house showing regular Hollywood fare with lots of B movies. Generally triple features on weekends, and a double feature midweek. There was a 3 or 4 change a week policy. A rather bland, no frills theatre with a very small concession stand; above it a sign in black letters:NEWBERRY SWEETS. The theatre was unusual in that NO posters were in the lobby- just bare walls.There were a few posters outside,under glass, near and across from the box office, which was connected to the front doors. There was no balcony. The plain auditorium reminded me of the Bryn Mawr theatre.However, the marquee,though small, was pretty cool. My two favorite memories of the Newberry: about 1962, my first visit, saw “LIANE, JUNGLE GODDESS” as part of a triple feature on a Saturday. I’ve long forgotten the other two films, but LIANE was wild for a kid: a topless female Tarzan running and swinging through the jungle. How the management got away with this I don’t know; there were mostly kids and teens in the audience. Other theatres that played LIANE, like the Deluxe on Wilson ave. showed it ADULTS ONLY. Pretty wild and crazy- for the time. My second memory is one of horror…about 1970, I first saw George Romero’s “NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD”, again as part of a triple feature. Another kind of wild and crazy- seeing this on the big screen was very powerful and shocking. The audience, which could get noisy, was quite subdued. Some left for the lobby. Starting about 1971, the Newberry went to X-rated fare.(straight).That didnt last long; switched to gay porno for a number of years. When the theatre closed (1976- 77?) it remained standing for about a year, with this notice on the marquee: WATCH FOR THE GRAND REOPENING". It never happened.