Encyclopedia ofChicago
Entries : Regal Theater
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Regal Theater

 

 

 

Regal Theater

Regal Theater and Savoy Ballroom, 1941
The Regal Theater was a central mainstay of South Side public life from the late 1920s to the early 1970s. Built in 1928 and located in the heart of “Bronzeville” at 47th and Grand Boulevard (renamed South Parkway that year), the Regal catered specifically to the entertainment tastes of African Americans. Part of the Balaban and Katz chain, the lavish Byzantine edifice with its tall columns, plush carpeting, and velvet drapes hosted some of the most celebrated black entertainers in America. Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Dinah Washington, and Duke Ellington performed frequently at the Regal, and a few native Chicagoans like Nat “King” Cole got their professional start there. The Regal also featured motion pictures and live stage shows like the all-black cast Carmen Jones, which played in the mid-1950s.

Considered the apex of the entertainment world in Chicago, the Regal rendered a tremendous boost to the city's black culture and black economy. So important was the Regal Theater to the Grand Boulevard community that when the Chicago Land Clearance Commission razed the theater in 1973, many businesses in the surrounding area went into decline.

Bibliography
“Once Majestic Regal Awaits Wrecker.” Chicago Tribune, September 6, 1973.
Ottley, Roy. “Regal Theater, Frayed but Imposing, Tailored for the Community.” Chicago Tribune, February 27, 1955.