Balaban and Katz
The first incarnation of the Balaban and Katz Theatre corporation appeared in 1916 in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 by A. J. Balaban
A. J. Balaban
Abraham Joseph "A. J." Balaban was a Chicago-based showman whose particular influence on popular entertainment in the early 20th century led to enormous innovations in the American movie-going experience.Following the leasing and operation of a modest nickelodeon house in 1909, Balaban oversaw...

, Barney Balaban
Barney Balaban
Barney Balaban was president of Paramount Pictures from 1936 to 1964, and innovator in the cinema industry. The eldest of the seven sons of grocery store owner Israel Balaban, Barney worked as a messenger boy and a cold storage company employee until 1908, when he was persuaded, at age 21, to go...

, Sam Katz, and Morris Katz. It held its first meeting as a Delaware corporation on January 21, 1925. Famous Players-Lasky Corporation bought a controlling interest in Balaban and Katz Corporation in 1926. The company was officially dissolved as an Illinois corporation on July 31, 1970. It was reopened on July 13, 2010 as Balaban and Katz Theatres LLC by David Balaban, the grandson of one of the original owners. The Balaban and Katz Historical Foundation now owns the Famous Players trademark.


Balaban and Katz chose to build their theatres—many designed by famous architects Rapp and Rapp
Rapp and Rapp
The architectural firm Rapp and Rapp was active in Chicago, Illinois during the early 20th century. The brothers Cornelius W. Rapp and George Leslie Rapp of Carbondale, Illinois were the named partners and 1899 alumnus of the University of Illinois School of Architecture...

—in rapidly growing outlying districts, convenient for the middle class population which provided the bulk of their patrons, as well as downtown Chicago. The company is notable for being the first to offer air conditioning in its theatres and for including lavish stage shows. Balaban and Katz operated over a hundred theatres in the mid western United states. There were more than 50 Chicago-area theatres operated by the Balaban and Katz company including:

Century/Diversey Theatre,
Granada Theatre
The Granada Theatre, 6427-41 North Sheridan Road was a movie theatre constructed for the Marks Brothers, who, in 1926, were major theatre operators in Chicago. Edward E. Eichenbaum was the principal designer for the architectural firm of Levy & Klein...

Riviera Theatre
The Riviera Theatre is a concert venue in the north side of Chicago, Illinois. The Riviera Theatre is capable of holding some 2,500 spectators. Built in 1917, it was designed by Rapp and Rapp for the Balaban & Katz theatre chain run by A. J. Balaban, his brother Barney Balaban and their partner Sam...

, and
Uptown Theatre (Chicago)
The Uptown Theatre, also known as the Balaban and Katz Uptown Theatre, is a massive, ornate movie palace in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. Designed by Rapp and Rapp and constructed in 1925, it the last of the "big three" movie palaces built by the Balaban & Katz theatre chain run by...


Congress Theater
The Congress Theater in Chicago, built by Fridstein and Company in 1926 for the movie theater chain of Lubliner and Trinz, is a surviving example of a movie palace. It features ornate exterior and interior design work, in a combination of the Classical Revival and Italian Renaissance styles.The...

Gateway Theatre
Gateway Theatre (Chicago)
The Gateway Theatre is a 2,000-seat former movie palace that is now part of the Copernicus Cultural and Civic Center in the Jefferson Park community area of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States. It is located at 5216 W...

Portage Theater
Located at Six Corners in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago's Northwest Side, the Portage Theater is one of the oldest movie houses in Chicago. Designed by Mark D. Kalischer and Henry L. Newhouse, the Portage Theater opened on December 11, 1920 as the Portage Park Theatre...

Terminal, and
Will Rogers.

Regal Theater, South Side (Chicago)
The Regal Theater, located in the heart of Bronzeville, was an important night club and music venue in Chicago.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.The Regal also...

Tivoli Theatre (Chicago)
The Tivoli Theatre was a movie palace in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. It the first of the "big three" movie palaces built by the Balaban & Katz theatre chain run by A. J. Balaban, his brother Barney Balaban and their partner Sam Katz, who were also owners of the Rivera Theater ...

, and

Central Park,
Senate, and

Chicago Theatre
The Chicago Theatre, originally known as the Balaban and Katz Chicago Theatre, is a landmark theater located on North State Street in the Loop area of Chicago, Illinois. Built in 1921, the Chicago Theatre was the flagship for the Balaban and Katz group of theaters run by A. J. Balaban, his brother...

Garrick Theater (Chicago)
The Schiller Theatre Building was designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler of the firm Adler & Sullivan for the German Opera Company. At the time of its construction, it was one among the tallest buildings in Chicago...

Oriental Theatre (Chicago)
The Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre is a theater located at 24 West Randolph Street in the Loop area of downtown Chicago, Illinois. Opened in 1926 as a deluxe movie palace, today the Oriental is operated by Broadway In Chicago, a subsidiary of the Nederlander Organization...

State-Lake, and
United Artists.

Suburban Chicago:
La Grange,
Valencia, and


Sam Katz, a vice president at Balaban and Katz became president of The Publix theatres group, a division of Famous Players Lasky. Its secretary, Barney Balaban eventually became president of Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

Beginning in 1939, Balaban and Katz, along with parent company Paramount, was involved in the development of television broadcasting. The company owned several experimental television licenses, and in 1943 began broadcasting over WBKB (now WBBM-TV
WBBM-TV, virtual channel 2 , is the CBS owned-and-operated television station in Chicago, Illinois. WBBM-TV's main studios and offices are located in The Loop section of Chicago, as part of the development at Block 37, and its transmitter is atop the Willis Tower.-History:WBBM-TV traces its history...

), the first commercial television station in Chicago.

Today, the trademark for the company is owned by a historical foundation called the Balaban and Katz Historical Foundation. The foundation was founded by descendants of the original Balaban brothers. Its collection of B and K corporate documents is located in New Jersey. Theatre Historical Society, in Elmhurst, Illinois, maintains an extensive collection of architectural blue prints and large format pictures of many Balaban and Katz theatres. In 2006, a documentary, Uptown: Portrait of a Palace, featured one of Balaban and Katz's most famous theatres, the Uptown
Uptown Theatre (Chicago)
The Uptown Theatre, also known as the Balaban and Katz Uptown Theatre, is a massive, ornate movie palace in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. Designed by Rapp and Rapp and constructed in 1925, it the last of the "big three" movie palaces built by the Balaban & Katz theatre chain run by...

. 2006 also saw the publication of a book on many of the B&K theatres, titled The Chicago Movie Palaces of Balaban and Katz, written by David Balaban with a foreword by theatre historian Joseph DuciBella
Joseph DuciBella
Joseph R. DuciBella, A.S.I.D., was an interior designer, founding member of the Theatre Historical Society of America , author, and noted architectural historian....

and published by Arcadia Publishing.

External links

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