Will Rogers Theater

5641 W. Belmont Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60634

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Will Rogers Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Will Rogers Theater, opened in 1936, was named in tribute to Will Rogers, who had died in a plane crash the year before. The Rapp & Rapp designed movie house was located on Belmont Avenue at Parkside Avenue in the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood of Chicago.

The theater’s Art Deco style design was influenced by ideas featured in the architecture of Chicago’s Century of Progress World’s Fair of 1933.

Operating into the mid-1980’s, the Will Rogers Theater was demolished in 1987 to make way for the strip mall which sits on the site today.

Contributed by Ray Martinez, Chris Siuty

Recent comments (view all 72 comments)

TLSLOEWS on October 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Nice Marquee on this one.

Roustabout on November 9, 2010 at 5:15 pm

The Sound of Music played exclusively at the Michael Todd from 1965 to 66.
It was released to the neighborhood theaters in early 67.
The movie had a two month run at the W.R. from Friday July 28 to Thursday September 28.
Best Wishes.

marysal on November 17, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Thanks for the response, Riverview!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 8, 2012 at 4:33 am

The October 17, 1936, issue of Boxoffice featured a brief article about the Will Rogers Theatre, with a single photo of its Streamline Modern auditorium. The exterior had some Art Deco flourishes, but the auditorium was almost austere, nearly the sole exception being the florid upholstery on the seats. The scan of the photo is a bit blurry, but it serves to show the overall sleekness of the design.

rivest266 on June 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm

September 5th, 1936 ad uploaded here in the photo section.

BobbyS on July 19, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Great photo btkrefft….I went there many saturdays in the 50’s as we were “dropped off” as parents visited relatives who lived 2 blocks away. It is sad how so many great neighborhoods have changed for the worse in Chicago.

Broan on October 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm


Kent on August 10, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Oddly enough my grandmother took me to see Funny Girl for my first movie there, in 1968 (I was 7). And the last time I went to this theater, ahortly after she passed away in 1979, and I saw the Muppet Movie. Yes, me at 18 sitting in the middle of the Will Rogers Theater, by myself, simultaneously smiling and crying, surrounded by children, as Kermit sang “The Rainbow Connextion”.

Broan on January 17, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Here is a photo of the Will Rogers auditorium from THSA. Several others can be found through search.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 18, 2016 at 12:24 am

Linkrot repair: The brief article about the Will Rogers Theatre in the October 17, 1936, issue of Boxoffice can now be found here.

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