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Sat, 02.04.1928

Chicago’s Regal Theater Opens

*On this date, in 1928, the Regal Theater opened.  This was a 20th-century nightclub and music venue popular among Blacks.  

The Regal was a major complex that featured films, dance, music, and comedy and was a prominent entertainment venue for over four decades in Chicago, Illinois. This theater was designed by Levy and Klein, influenced by the Harlem Savoy Ballroom in New York City, and owned by a Chicago white business association.

This complex could seat about 3,000 people and had several big names come through to perform. The theater was one of the first entertainment complexes available for Black audiences and employed Black staff. This theater featured silent films, musicians of all types, mainly jazz and blues, and some of the biggest names throughout music history.

With the ability to see Black performers, films, and shows, Blacks were immediately drawn to the theater. Several big names were brought in to perform the popular music of that era. Some of the performers that were brought in included: Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, The Temptations, Miles DavisNat “King” ColeDuke Ellington, Paul Robeson, the Jackson Five, and several others. Typically, the shows featured at the Regal consisted of an opening musical act followed by a silent film accompanied by music for dramatic effects. The owner strategically placed the theater in the area because the Savoy Ballroom and South Center Department store were both up the street, a nightclub and shopping center for Blacks.  Located in the Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois.   

The theater part of the Balaban and Katz chain, the lavishly decorated venue, with plush carpeting and velvet drapes, featured some of the most celebrated Black entertainers in America.  On what for a time was known as the Chitlin' Circuit, the Regal also featured motion pictures and live stage shows. Cab Calloway, Louis ArmstrongSarah VaughanLena HorneDinah WashingtonSammy Davis Jr.Lionel Hampton, and Dizzy Gillespie performed frequently at the theater through the 1920s and 1940s.  Other acts who have performed at the Regal over the years have included such icons as The Sheppards, Sam CookeJackie Wilson, The Supremes, Wayne Cochran, The Esquires, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Herbie Hancock, Della Reese, Les Paul, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Lola Falana, Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five, Solomon Burke, International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Dionne WarwickJames Brown & The Famous Flames, The Isley Brothers, John ColtraneDorothy Dandridge, Revella Hughes, Five Stairsteps, Peg Leg Bates, Dave Peyton, and Martha and the Vandellas. Closed in 1968, the theater was later demolished in 1973.  

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In a sentimental mood, I can see the stars come thru my room While your loving attitude Is like a flame that lights the gloom. On the wings of every kiss Drifts... IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD by Sarah Vaughn.
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