“One of the first motion picture palaces”
As one of the first motion picture palaces whose décor was inspired by the Far East, Chicago's Oriental Theatre opened to much fanfare on May 8, 1926. Also, designed by George L. and Cornelius W. Rapp for theater managers Balaban and Katz, the theatre, a virtual museum of Asian art, presented popular first-run motion pictures, complemented by lavish stage shows. Turbaned ushers led patrons from the lobby, with polychrome figures and large mosaics of an Indian prince and princess, through an inner foyer with elephant-throne chairs and multicolored glazed Buddhas, to the auditorium's "hasheesh-dream décor." Among the many stars that played the theatre are Paul Ash (billed as "the Rajah of Jazz"), The Three Stooges, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Stepin Fetchit, Sophie Tucker, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Fanny Brice, Danny Kaye and Alice Faye. During a record-breaking week in 1930, as many as 124,985 patrons visited the Oriental to see the hit film "Flight." Although management changed hands several times in the subsequent decades, the theatre continued to feature films until the early 1970s, at which time the M&R Amusement Company briefly presented live performances by such artists as Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Little Richard.
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Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre
- Thu - Sat: 10:00 am - 1:00 am
- Wed: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
- Sun - Tue: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
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