AMC Ford City 14

7601 S. Cicero Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60652

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LouRugani on July 8, 2018 at 5:04 am

On September 9, 1975, a few months after “Jaws” arrived in theatres, 45-year old Elmer C. Sommerfield attended a screening at Ford City Cinema with his wife Marilyn. Forty-five minutes into the film, Sommerfield collapsed of a heart attack. Sommerfield’s wife alerted the theater manager, Vince Tripodi, of the situation and he called for an ambulance. In the meantime, two doctors in the audience administered CPR for ten minutes until paramedics could arrive. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough—Sommerfield died on the way to the hospital, and Tripodi told The Chicago Tribune that he had never experienced such an incident in his 27 years working in theatres.

Mister_Comics on October 12, 2017 at 1:35 am

On May 27, 1966 Ford City Cinema I & II opened at 7601 S. Cicero Ave. Boasting Chicago’s first TWIN theatre. The movies shown that day were “A Thousand Clowns” and “The Great Race”. Ford City East Cinema opened in 1981 and was located at 76th & Pulaski. This theater had three screens. The first movies shown there were “On The Right Track” starring Gary Coleman, Blake Edwards “S.O.B.”, and “Arthur” starring Dudley Moore. Ford City East Cinema was actually a separate theater not connected with the Ford City Cinema I & II that was connected to the main mall at the time. In 1990 Ford City Cinema I & II was moved to the south side of the mall in a new building (not attached to the main mall, kept the original address) and became Ford City 14. A short time after Ford City East closed. AMC Ford City 14 still in business today. (2017)

rivest266 on November 7, 2016 at 11:23 pm

August 10th, 1990 Grand opening ad for the Ford City 14 in the photo section.

Mister_Comics on January 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Here is the link to the current Ford City Mall directory map.
The original theater was located across from Carson’s on 76th St. The theater was moved to were a car dealer was once located on 77th St. in a new building. More like the theaters today. They still use their old address for some strange reason. Maybe cause its still in the mall area? I live near there in Burbank so I know the area pretty well and still go to this mall a lot. I remember the old theater quite well. Nice theater as I remember. I’m not a fan of the newer one though.

Cyberyan on September 23, 2012 at 1:05 am

Hey CinemarkFan, bit late reading your post but I was in Old Ford City 3 after I lucked out with Harlem Corners and River Oaks 7-8. The main area of the space is still looking good no one has been inside since 91-93 for lease. The concession area is still up, the second floor projector rooms looked alright. The problem is the bathrooms were completely gutted and not repaired, all 3 screens are torn to shreds, and alot of seats were broken or totally removed.

rivest266 on June 25, 2012 at 10:21 pm

May 27th, 1966 grand opening ad has been posted here.

robertrdhansen on January 28, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Sorry I took so long to respond! The Ford City East shopping center (still called that, I think), which included the theaters, now has a Gertie’s Ice Cream/Lindy’s Chili restaurant and some other small businesses. It’s partially empty and looks kind of desolate (except for Gertie’s). It’s not in a very good location for businesses.

Here’s a realtor’s link with info on the property:
View link

CinemarkFan on June 6, 2008 at 5:49 am

Thanks for the info Bob. And say, what sits on the site of Ford City East?

robertrdhansen on June 6, 2008 at 3:12 am

Yes, as of last summer, the space once occupied by the old theaters contained some stores which are part of the Ford City Mall: Marshall’s, Famous Footwear and Old Navy. This is at approximately 74th St., just east of Cicero Ave.

CinemarkFan on June 5, 2008 at 6:42 am

Does anyone know what sits on the site of the old Ford City Cinemas?

jpolous on June 5, 2008 at 5:37 am

Gccguy – No.. It was not my mom.

GCCguy on June 5, 2008 at 1:14 am

I stumbled onto an interesting web site:

When it first loads, it even plays the old GCC music that started every feature presentation. The links on the left still work. Under Corporate Info there are a lot of pictures, including Dick Smith, President, and Howard Spiess who spent a lot of time at Ford City Cinema.

The locations link has locations as they existed in 1999 and in 1983 complete with addreses. Be sure to click the Shoppers World link to see the story and links to lots of pictures of the original GCC in Framingham Mass.

GCCguy on June 4, 2008 at 11:28 pm

There was only one woman who went into labor during the showing of Earthquake at Ford City Cinema while I was there. I hope it was not your mom!

jpolous on June 4, 2008 at 11:11 pm

I grew up on the south side and took the #79 bus to Ford City Theatre. I have many fond memories of the original theater. ANd I do remember the tornado incident as well as a smoke bomb incident in the theater. When my mom was pregnant with my brother in 1974, I remember the movie Earthquake! was shown in theater #3 with the new “Sensurround” surround sound. I heard that the fire marshal ordered the sound turned down because of the vibration causing structural damage.

SchaefMan on June 2, 2008 at 11:44 pm

I worked at Ford City for a few months in the late ‘80’s, under Tom…I forget his last name…Greenan?. Anyway, by then, the District Office was at Woodgrove Festival Cinema, in Woodridge, and was occupied by Charles Wesley.

Anyway, working at Ford City was great. It was always busy, and I enjoyed it. If I ever win the lottery, I will work at a theater somewhere, selling popcorn…what a great time.

GCCguy on November 16, 2006 at 6:03 pm

I just remembered, Vince moved the DM office out to Yorktown Cinema during his tenure.

GCCguy on November 16, 2006 at 5:56 pm

Yeah, Jack Springer! That’s the name. I remember Bernie very well. He had a deformity to one of his arms and did everything with one hand. I started under Vince Tripodi, so I never knew Mr. Craig. When Vince became the DM, my mother became his secretary until he quit. He died a few years later I heard.

You will probably recall listening to Boots Randolf’s Yakety Sax during every intermission. It is the only thing Vince ever allowed to be played during his time as manager. I think one Christmas season he did have some holiday music for a few days, but quickly changed his mind and went back to Boots.

Boyd on November 16, 2006 at 5:10 pm

GCC Guy: The Booking Manager on the second floor was my Father, Jack Springer. He was originally Division Manager, and then became “Buyer and Booker”. He was succeeded as Division Manager by Bernard Depa, who you probably knew. Vince Tripodi (who as I recall transferred to Ford City from the Studio inddor/Starlight Drive-In on 95th Street) took over as Division Manager after Bernie retired. You may have known the first Manager at Ford City, whose last name was Craig. I believe his first name was John.

GCCguy on November 16, 2006 at 2:20 pm

All of the GCC seats were red vinyl seat and red fabric backrest. They snapped in and out of a white enamel metal shell. When the seat got cut, we used to remove the seat, uncover and recover it, and snap it back in. When the back of the seat got grafitti on it, we had a fast drying, alcohol based, white paint to cover it. It was the carpet in all GCC cinemas that was a red plaid.

I worked at Ford City Cinema in 1971-1973 when it was only a twin, and before the Division Manager moved his office there. Vince Tripodi was the manager. He later became a Division Manager. I remember that the Booking Office was on the second floor. The booking manager, I forget his name, was responsible for booking all of the movies in all of the GCC theaters in the division area which included all of Chicagoland and southern Wisconsin.

There once was a time when a tornado hit the roof of the bowling alley and theater, bounced off and came down on the hotel just west of the cinema and removed the wall and roof from the top floor at the southeast corner. It also did some damage to the Red Baloon restaurant that was right in front of the hotel. It crossed Cicero avenue and damaged a Golden Bear pancake house too.

The roof of the building was described to me as a tornado resistant roof because of its corregated design. I don’t know if it was true or not, but it seemed to have worked that time. We never even stopped the movie and the people inside did not know until they came out and saw the damaged hotel.

Broan on September 6, 2006 at 10:41 am

Actually the Mt. Prospect still stands as a banquet hall.

Boyd on September 6, 2006 at 1:55 am

This Theater was General Cinema’s first 2-screen theater in the Chicago area. It was GCC’s 3rd area indoor theater, following single screen houses in Mt. Prospect (now gone)and at Randhurst (now a 14 screen AMC Theater). (GCC’s first area theater was the 66 Drive-In in LaGrange). The original theater was on the north side of parking lot on the east side of Cicero. I was at the opening in 1966, and watched many movies there from my Father’s upper floor office (he was GCC’s Division Manager) which had windows and speakers for each auditorium. There were no plaid seats in this or any other GCC theater. At the time, all of GCC’s screens were illuminated with blue lights.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on December 17, 2005 at 11:41 pm

The Ford City was always one of General Cinema’s best grossing theatres, for many years number 1. The information on dates comes from GCC records. If you find some photos, we’d love to see a link to them.

CinemarkFan on December 17, 2005 at 11:35 pm

Thanks guys. I’m going to look up those opening dates when I go back to the library.

But who else thinks the 14 plex should get a makeover?

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on December 17, 2005 at 3:25 pm

Ford City opened on May 27, 1966. It was originally a twin, then became a triple, and eventually a five-plex. Ford City East 6-8 opened 7/17/81. The 14 plex opened on 8/1/90. The blue lights described by Bob Hanson, illuminated the white shadow box, which was common of GCC theatres of the 1960’s and into the ‘70. They were eliminated when auditoriums were split.

robertrdhansen on December 17, 2005 at 2:46 pm

The old ones were on the east side of Cicero Avenue, set back maybe half a block. I’m pretty sure the Best Buy is on the west side of Cicero. Sorry, I don’t remember the seats – I guess it was too dark! I’m not sure I understand about the shadow box. I do remember that they were the first theaters I’d been to that didn’t have a curtain over the screen. Before the movie started, they just had blue lights illuminating the screens.