Sandburg Theatre

1204 N. Dearborn Street,
Chicago, IL 60610

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Showing 1 - 25 of 41 comments

DavidZornig on May 7, 2022 at 7:05 am

Re-opened as the Surf Theatre 80 years ago today. May 7, 1942. Thank you Tim O'Neill for the reminder.

tommyhenry on May 3, 2020 at 11:19 am

Since there aren’t enough podcasts in the world, I started one called “Chicago History Podcast” which you can find on Apple, Google, Spotify, and more. In episode one I cover this very theater. I’ll be posting some of the materials I found over the next few days. Have a listen!

DavidZornig on March 12, 2020 at 4:37 pm

March 1978 Vintage Tribune Instagram link with a photo as the Sandburg Theatre. Couldn’t get a screenshot to add it to the gallery. Maybe someone else will have better luck.

DavidZornig on May 9, 2018 at 8:10 am

The 1,000th Walgreen’s store, located at the intersection of Dearborn & Division in Chicago, opened at 9:00 a.m. on September 6, 1984. The ribbon cutting ceremony was presided over by Illinois Governor James R. Thompson and the movie superstar Cary Grant. Via the below link.

DavidZornig on February 22, 2017 at 5:36 pm

October 10, 1976 article by Gene Siskel about the change from the Playboy to the Chelex.
Via Tim O'Neill.

rivest266 on November 13, 2016 at 10:04 am

May 7, 1942 as Surf, September 29, 1964 as Playboy, October 8th, 1976 as Chelex and June 3rd, 1977 as Sandburg grand opening ads in the photo section.

DavidZornig on August 11, 2016 at 4:40 pm

9/29/64 photo added via Tim O'Neill.

JRS40 on October 2, 2015 at 10:46 am

GTL – Yes my list is only for the main attractions and not the all night weekend shows.

GTL on September 6, 2015 at 10:44 am

The films posted by JRS40 seem to be feature films only. All Night Shows are not part of the list. If you can’t figure out the film you are looking for, Grace, a plot description may help.

DavidZornig on September 5, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Grace, click on “(view all 30 comments)” at the top next to “Recent comments”. Then scroll back to the one posted by JRS40 on September 5, 2008 at 11:18 pm. It is a list of all the films from 1964-1977 that played at the Surf and Playboy.

gracevirgilio on September 5, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Back in the 70’s I would go to the Playboy movie theatre, to see some off beat movies. There’s one in particular, that I cannot recall. Is there a listing you can post?


samariano on April 5, 2015 at 8:39 pm

to: efes on April 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm I was friends with Bob & Marty also. Maybe we know each other???

Bruce Calvert
Bruce Calvert on March 14, 2015 at 3:05 pm

A couple of theater programs from the Dearborn Theatre:
February 11, 1918
February 25, 1918

imquirky on November 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm

The Playboy Theater originally had Playboy Bunnies in full costume working the box office and the popcorn counter. I used to go there as a teen in the 60’s; I lived about 2 blocks away. I marveled at how those girls were wedged into those bunny suits! The Playboy mansion was right around the corner (on State St.)

I saw these films there—-I was a rabid Anglophile into the Brits (read: Beatles):

06/17/66 – MORGAN
11/16/66 – GEORGY GIRL

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 16, 2012 at 6:15 am

The principals of Pereira & Pereira, the firm that designed the 1934 and 1942 remodeling jobs for this theater, were William Pereira and Hal Pereira. Percival Pereira was an older architect who was never a member of this firm.

Dan Matson
Dan Matson on January 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Here is the new link to the June 20th 1942 article in BOXOFFICE:

Drawboy on September 29, 2011 at 11:11 am

I lived down the street from the Sandburg Theatre from 1980-81, and spent many evenings there. Just at the dawn of this new invention called the VCR, and the end of the repertory theater era. It was wonderful filling the gaps in my movie going experience and seeing great films on the big screen. One highlight was Night of the Hunter, which remains a personal favorite.

GTL on August 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I remember Bob well.

efes on April 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I use to go to the Playboy Theater often around 1970 when Bob Lyman was the manager. Remember seeing Start the Revolution Without Me (Gene Wilder and Donald Sutherland) several times. Stayed friends with Bob and his wife (at that time) Martha, until I lost touch with both of them in the late 70’s. Played darts on a team for Oliver’s Pub. Remember Lane Drugs and lots of other great places in the neighborhood.

DavidZornig on May 9, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Greetings gtl. You surely remember Oliver’s Pub then too. It was just to the North of Lane Drugs on Dearborn, directly across from the Playboy Theater. My grade school Ogden actually had our graduation luncheon there. Only on the Near North side in the `70’s, would a school take a bunch of kids to a bar.

If you are ever down there, there is still an Oliver’s Pub advertisement painted on the brick wall, across the alley from Five Faces. It is up on the East elevation above Shennanigan’s, and is partially covered by exterior duct work from when Shennanigan’s had a grill inside.

I’m sure you also remember the China Doll on the S/E corner too. With their fleet of bashed up, red AMC Gremlin delivery vehicles. Driven by drivers who literally parked by ear.

GTL on May 9, 2010 at 8:56 am

Sorry to hear about Jerry. I had only heard of him, never met him. I asked my husband about the chimp, again. He was very busy inside the theater but said it was possible that the chimp was part of whatever was going on outside. He personally, never saw one. So, you may both be correct. Glad you enjoyed the All Night Shows. We had a laugh at the mention of Lane Drugs.

DavidZornig on May 8, 2010 at 10:08 am

Thank you for the corrections. I remember the neanderthal in the museum case. But the chimp in the tux was why I was taken there by my parents. Is it possible there was more than one night to the premiere? We’d known Jerry Dukor for many years. He may have gone back and just met us there. He later worked at a CD store on North Ave. And at a florist called The Bronx Zoo at 12 E. Division. Jerry died around 2000.
We were regulars at the All Night Shows. Your husband did a fantastic job booking the films. We’d grab a bite beforehand at Lane Drugs, then again afterwards. Same waitress sometimes.

GTL on May 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm

A few corrections. First, Playboy never used the spelling “theatre” but theater. Jerry Dukor had left the theater many years before the Naked Ape, my now husband was the manager at the time. There was not a chimp, but a life-size Neanderthal in a museum case in the lobby for the premiere. The weekend midnight shows were called The All Night Show and was booked by my husband, who in addition to managing the theater was a grad student, finishing his degree in film at the time. I am, myself, a former Playboy employee who was there at the time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 15, 2009 at 1:18 am

The remodeling of the Dearborn in the 1930s was the first such job undertaken for Balaban & Katz by the Pereira brothers, according to the final paragraph of this article in Boxoffice, June 20, 1942. The Pereiras returned in that year to again remodel the house, which was then renamed the Surf Theatre. The article includes two photos of the marquee, but unfortunately none of the interior.