September 19, 2007

Uptown Theatre in "Chicago Movie Palaces of Balaban and Katz"

Our very own Uptown Theatre is featured on the cover of The Chicago Movie Palaces of Balaban and Katz, written by David Balaban with a foreword by theatre historian Joseph DuciBella, who passed away earlier this summer.

From the cover:
"The Balaban and Katz Theater Corporation perfected the movie palace concept in Chicago, creating an extremely popular pastime that contributed greatly to Chicago’s cultural identity. The Balabans started in the movie theater business in 1908 by leasing the 100-seat Kedzie Nickelodeon on Kedzie Avenue. Balaban brothers Barney and A. J. dreamed of operating 5,000-seat movie palaces, so, in 1916, they joined family friends Sam and Morris Katz to form the Balaban and Katz Theater Corporation. Their mission was to offer an unrivaled theater-going experience with the finest live performances and service. They built ornate theaters, such as the Chicago, the Uptown, and the Congress Theaters, filling them with fine furnishings, antiques, and artwork. Balaban and Katz produced live stage shows between the movies with the likes of Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong, and Benny Goodman. Sadly, only a few of these gorgeous theaters still stand today.
"Author David Balaban was born in Brooklyn, New York. He was named after his grandfather, one of the five Balaban brothers who ran Balaban and Katz Theatres in Chicago. He grew up on stories of these grand movie palaces. David’s grandfather managed the Uptown, Riviera, and Norshore Theaters in the 1920’s and was Director of Theater Operations for Balaban and Katz when he died suddenly in 1949.
"A 1978 graduate of State University of New York at Buffalo, Balaban is currently employed as a teacher of television production and film at Gordon Parks Academy in East Orange, New Jersey, where he first got the idea of compiling and editing this photographic history of Balaban and Katz. While doing research for the book, he formed the Balaban and Katz Historical Foundation in order to house the vast collection of historical artifacts he has acquired."
The book has photos of the Uptown from its heyday as well as other north side theatres, including the Granada and the Riviera.

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