The 1960’s and 70’s
As the decade of the 60’s opened, a few of the large clubs, like the Chez Paree and the Empire Room, were still holding on but they couldn’t afford the big headliners who now were making Las Vegas their home. A place called the Sahara Inn on Mannheim Road tried with top entertainers of the day like Patti Page but only lasted a few months. When Lake Shore Drive was widened in the 1950’s, the boardwalk in front of the Edgewater Beach Hotel was eliminated. Gradually, the hotel’s Marine Room lost much of its business and the hotel was finally torn down in the mid 1960’s.
Smaller venues, such as Mr. Kelly’s, became the popular spots. They were able to book upcoming stars such as Barbra Streisand before she became an international sensation, comedians such as Mort Sahl and folk groups like the Kingston Trio, who were the rage of the day.
People were now going out to restaurants that featured smaller dance bands, cabaret singers and other entertainment on a much more reduced scale than the elaborate floor shows that were in vogue during the 1930’s and 40’s.
A young kid from New York City made his debut at the famous Pump Rom in the Ambassador East Hotel with his so called “East Coast Society Orchestra” (who really were all Chicago musicians). At the Continental Plaza Hotel’s Consort Room, Franz Benteler and his “Royal Strings” were also a mainstay of the 60’s.
The entertainment scene on Rush Street was going full swing with fabulous jazz players in small nightclubs too numerous to mention here. Also, Wells Street in Old Town was teeming with nightly throngs of young people.
By the early 1970’s, much of the entertainment was being described with a new word called discotheque, where the audience became the entertainment. Also, “go-go” girls and girls on swings seemed to be everywhere.
As we close our walk through entertainment history from the 1920’s to the 1970’s, WOW, what a change it was!!!!!
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Editors’s Note: This concludes Stanley Paul’s Classic Chicago series, That Toddlin’ Town. Watch for the continuation of Stanley’s popular column, THIS AND THAT, after the first of the year.